Series: Planning for 36 Hours in Fanwood, New Jersey

Planner’s Travel Series 

About the series: Welcome to our ongoing travel series. These are all posts written by planning students and professionals about what to do in a given city when looking for Brunch, a Brew, or a good idea on a Budget. To cap it all off, we include a fun planning fact!  

By Kathryn Cunningham

About the visit:

Fanwood is a small suburb in Central Jersey (yes, Central Jersey does exist) that is not exactly the most interesting destination in the world. It is, however, where my family lives, and where I call home. I went home for winter break and was reminded of the small town’s charm and lovability. Through the 36 Hours series, I hope to transport you all to this small enclave in the often sneered-upon state of New Jersey that is only a mere 30 miles outside of New York City. Here are a few of my favorite spots:


Fanwood Bagels & Deli

Fanwood Bagels & Deli, known affectionally in town as Fanwood Bagel, is THE place to get your bagel fix in the local area. It is also the place to run into the town mayor, your best friend from 3rd grade, or the nice librarian who always recommends you the perfect book. It is a fixture in town. I recommend the sausage, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel – but you cannot go wrong with any combination.


Sheelen’s Crossing: Bistro & Irish Pub   

Sheelen’s Crossing is Fanwood’s neighborhood pub, and when you enter, you are immediately embraced by the bar’s convivial and good-natured atmosphere. And while it has an authentic Ireland-pub feel to it, it is also brimming with Fanwood pride. As a bonus, it has great burgers, large salads, and fresh seafood.


Fanwood-Scotch Plains Service League Thrift Shop

This thrift shop is technically in Scotch Plains (Fanwood’s next-door neighbor), but it is too good of a find to not include. Like many thrift stores, you need to walk in with the right attitude and prepare to scrounge. If you put time into it, however, you will walk out with some gems. Some CHEAP gems! 

Fun Planning Fact 

Fanwood won the Smart Growth Award in 2014 for its downtown growth strategy. The award is put on by New Jersey Future, a nonprofit that promotes responsible land-use strategies and policies. The town’s downtown is not large by any measure, but it is inspiring to see how a small suburban town can inject liveliness and add walkability through smart and collaborative design.

Featured Image: Photo of Fanwood’s train station with the Victorian station house built in 1874 in the background. Photo Credit: Kathryn Cunningham

Kathryn is a first year Master’s student with the Department of City and Regional Planning whose interests include climate change adaptation, parks, and public space. She studied Environmental Studies at Williams College, and before coming to graduate school, she was in the San Francisco Bay Area managing sustainability projects for a law school. When not in class, she enjoys reading, running, and checking out all the many concert venues the Research Triangle has to offer.