One of the happiest of places to wander surprised us this weekend.

When we can’t find the time to wander for countless hours and miles…we escape to “our happy place” — Natirar Park. Spanning 491 acres, through Peapack-Gladstone, Far Hills and Bedminster, Natirar Park reminds us of the hills, streams, vistas and open spaces still alive with wonder and beauty in New Jersey.

We have sat on every bench, appreciated the beauty of the spring wildflowers, followed sights and sounds of migrating birds, used the shade of the large trees to nap after spending the day sipping wine at the Wine Festival, breathed in the crisp air of autumn as the scenery changed to bright yellows, oranges and reds, and have reminded ourselves what it was like to have a true snow day; sledding until our bones ached and all we craved was hot chocolate.

Yet, this weekend our routine trip to Natirar still managed to surprise us.

We walked the lower and upper loop, stopped to sit on our favorite bench and even met an English White Golden Retriever. After returning to the car, a pitstop at the porta potty and a couple of “Are you hungry’s?” and “I don’t know, are you hungry’s”, we decided to go get something to eat.

But this time, instead of heading back toward home we put our faith in Yelp (which we do a lot when we are traveling, so why not when we are close to home, right?). And to our surprise, we were just 3 miles from satisfying our hunger. We set out for Gladstone Market thinking we would grab a quick sandwich or soup; yet when we reached our destination, we realized that the Gladstone Market shares a parking lot with the Gladstone Tavern. So after getting over the fact that we were probably under dressed, we walked left instead of right and landed on the porch of the Tavern quickly noticing the large horse statue that occupies the front entrance. (Very fitting, especially with the Far Hills horse race held each year just up the road.)

The first impression is very open, friendly, and inviting. If we were underdressed, we would of never known. We sat by the window looking out at the porch and that large horse. After some debating (because the menu is that good) we decided to share a few of the appetizer options. Guacamole (made to order) with warm Tortillas, Crab Tots, and Chicken Quesadilla with shredded brussel sprouts. We licked the plates clean! Perfect portions and the 3 sauces that accompany the Crab Tots really manage to bring out the flavor. But after having appetizers that good, we would have done a disservice to ourselves if we did not look at the dessert menu.

Not only do they have a dessert called “Hot Chocolate”, but they house churn the ice cream! So we went with the Little Apple Pie. A scoop of maple walnut is included and we added an extra scoop of the peanut-chocolate chip! It was delicious! We will definitely be back! A great surprise Sunday adventure indeed!

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