Liberty Hall is a gem of historic interest tucked away in Union, NJ, where I find that most locals don't even realize it is there. Liberty Hall was originally the home of New Jersey's first governor, William Livingston. You can read a detailed history on the Liberty Hall website, but I will sum it up here by saying that for over the last 230 years the home and property have stayed under the ownership of one family (more or less), thus preserving an amazing amount of personal family, New Jersey, and American History.
The 50 room mansion, beautifully manicured adjacent gardens, and two story brick carriage house are really something special to see. General tours are now given Wednesday through Saturday from 10am-4pm and again on Sunday from Noon until 4pm. Last tour leaves at 2:30pm.
From my memory I can highly recommend two programs that are unique to Liberty Hall. The first is there Afternoon Teas. For $30 per person, you can participate in (and enjoy!) a 'high tea' served on the mansion porch on the household china. Delightful finger sandwiches, salads, and desserts are served along with tea, of course! The serving staff used to dress in period clothing, but I don't know if they do that any more. Check the Liberty Hall website for current Tea times... it's a really unique event.
The other 'best' tour at Liberty Hall that I can recall are are Christmas Candlelight Tours. Seeing the property decorated for the holidays in the old fashioned ways is really beautiful. A tour guide takes you from the blue house out to the mansion and gives you a tour through the mansion by candlelight which creates a special atmosphere that actually makes you feel like you've traveled back in time! Your guide will take you from room to room and explain how the holidays were celebrated through all the ages that the home was in use. It is a tour that is great for families, and there is a small cider and cake treat at the end. Please call Liberty Hall to see if they are still running this program because it is worth the effort!
If you're traveling with a history buff, but that is really not your thing, might I suggest that you enjoy shopping in the gift shop. They have great period-type gifts including small toys for children, all the way up to fine china and home decorations. During the holidays it is a great place to get unique and period Christmas decorations for the home. If shopping isn't your thing, you can always stroll right next store to the blue house and visit the Fire Museum. It was still being built the last time I was there, but my understanding is that the Fire Museum houses historic fire engines and equipment that the public can tour. Again, call Liberty Hall to confirm.
Kean University recently acquired Liberty Hall and all of it's contents as far as I understand. I hope this ensures the survival of this great piece of NJ history!
On the suggestion on VTer BillNJ I am working on a review of this place... How could I have missed it?!
Favorite Dish: My favorite thing to order at the Twain is a 'Happy Waitress' which is an open faced grilled cheese and tomato sandwich. They normally serve it with plain french fries, but your visit wouldn't really be complete unless you substituted in some 'Disco Fries'! Disco Fries are a plate of french fries served smothered in melted processed cheese and brown gravy....YES! I believe you also get a side salad with that, I recommend the cucumber salad or the pasta salad.
On my last trip 'home' to Union, I made a long awaited trip back to my favorite sub shop, Mr. Sub, only to find that the ownership had changed...about three years ago. I guess I need to get back here more often. Anyway, I hate change. I particularly hate change as it effects my favorite things. I spoke briefly with the new owner and was pleased to see that he didn't changed the order board (much). All the original sandwiches and order numbers are there, so I can still order my beloved #1 (as mentioned before) with confidence. Also, the simple look of the sub shop hasn't changed at all really, so kudos for that.
What was different about this 'changed' shop however, is that there is now a small cork board on the wall opposite the sandwich counter that displays printouts of online reviews of the sub shop itself. I browsed them noticing rave reviews from patrons via Trip Advisor and the like...and then it happened... Tucked away in the corner of the board was a small print out of my VT review! Has this ever happened to other VTers? Wow! It was pretty crazy to see my "Best Subs in Town" title with my 'moirholj' VT name right along side of it. The only catch was that all my text was deleted! I assume it is because my old review (see below) referenced the old owner who made sandwiches for me all those years growing up.
Well, to the new ownership I will say a huge thank you for keeping a hometown favorite virtually the same for us loyal customers while making the business your own. Your subs ARE still the best in town!
Local mom and pop sub shop. The owner has been in there to make my sub everytime I've gone, without fail, for the last 15 years. He doesn't smile very much, but his food is top notch.
Favorite Dish: You order most subs by number. My favorite is a #1 (Italian sub) with everything.
You also might light to try a 'Chestnut' sub. Turkey, roast beef, cheese with russian dressing.
They carry a good assorment of specialty sodas - not just coke and pepsi.
One thing I can say for Union is that there are a few places left where those of Italian heritage can happily get some good food to eat. At Fior D'Italia you can get almost any kind of Italian entree as well as specialty pizza and subs made fresh. This is a family run establishment where the same guys are there in the kitchen every day, working hard to serve up some satisfying dishes. Get your food to go, or stay and eat in. Either way, this local place has great grub for lunch or dinner.
Favorite Dish: A Whole Chicken Parmigiana Sandwich.
This sandwich is so good that our family has gotten it from Fior, packed it on ice, and brought it to family in Florida.
A must have when visiting home.
Local bar and grill playing the latest sporting event and sporting lots of character in the form of regulars... And I do mean REGULARS. (I am guilty of frequenting this place myself actually) Everyone is a comedian at this place and there are plenty of inside jokes to go around. Good atmosphere, good bar food (Pepperjack chicken sandwich is pretty tasty) and nice staff... once you get to know them. It's small, just wierd enough, and if you are there as much as I am, eventually everyone will know your name...kind of like Cheers...well, kind of.
Dress Code: Totally casual - come as you are. You're not going to a club... if you dress like it you'll stand out.