The town of Clinton, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in the spring of 2015, is a charming city that offers a historic mix of more than 80 small businesses, locally owned shops, restaurants, hotels, as well as two museums—the Red Mill Museum Village and the Hunterdon Art Museum—all surrounded by beautiful countryside.
An annual tradition of the town is Dickens’ Days, the weekend following Thanksgiving where the entire downtown celebrates its roots as a Victorian Village, with shop owners and residents dressing in old-fashioned costumes, taking part in horse and carriage rides, and Father Christmas and characters from popular Dickens’ novels have been known to stroll downtown Clinton entertaining shoppers.
Clinton also offers some great locales for corporate meetings, company functions and plenty of other activities for event attendees.
Where to Stay
With over 13,000 square feet of meeting and event space, the Holiday Inn-Clinton represents the perfect place to host a celebration, meeting or banquet. Its main ballroom is 4,500 square feet, and it regularly holds conferences, conventions and events for as many as 350 guests.
“We have the Regina Room, which is 1,500 square feet and good for smaller meetings and events for upwards of 70 people,” says Kkunal Dhupaar, director of sales. “There’s also a waterfall patio available in the summer, and we do barbecue events there as well.”
Additionally, the hotel has smaller 550-square-foot rooms available to rent, and a complete line of A/V equipment is available. These rooms accommodate 50 people theaterstyle or 30 in a classroom setting.
“There are a lot of small businesses who may want to do a presentation for a client and our boardrooms are perfect for this,” Dhupaar says. “We also rent the rooms for half-day meetings so companies don’t need to spend too much money if they only need a shorter time to meet with a client.”
The Riverside Victorian B&B is a historic sight to behold, and guests at the charming inn enjoy the laid-back ambiance and tranquil setting. A large living room with a roaring fireplace can fit 20, and the dining room sits 40.
Monnie McElroy, who co-owns the hotel with her husband Owen, says that it also can accommodate small events or gatherings, with guests staying in the inn and taking advantage of the charm of the B&B. Although it doesn’t frequently host meetings, informal business gatherings are welcome.
Another hotel that welcomes functions is the Hampton Inn Clinton, which regularly plays host to events, parties and corporate business meetings. “We have two rooms, which are each about 640 square feet of meeting space,” says Valerie Beeler, sales manager. “We accommodate them with tables, cloths and chairs, and offer complimentary coffee, tea and water.” The hotel also takes care of any A/V needs.
Where to Eat
If you’re looking for a luxury dining experience with a comforting feel serving American seafood and steak classics, look no further than the historic Clinton House. The restaurant dates back to the late 1820s and has long been a favorite of townspeople for dinner and special occasions, and that includes meetings and events.
“We offer a warm, rustic dining area with the original fireplace that can accommodate up to 50 people,” says co-owner Anna Maria Gialias. “We have hosted everything from business luncheons and dinners to seminars and parties.”
The restaurant’s signature dish is its crab cakes, but patrons rave about all of its seafood offerings. “We offer high-quality meals, expert service and a beautiful, cozy and welcoming setting,” Gialias says. “We’ve been here a long time, and we try to make each night special for our guests.”
Ever since opening in 1981, the small family-owned Irish-style pub Finnagel’s has been a local favorite, best known for its wings. “We make all of our sauces in house. Everyone’s favorite is our Finnagel’s sauce, a sweet and spicy honey Buffalo style is the best way to describe it,” says Katie Tallman, bar manager. “We have daily specials including slow roasted prime rib and racks of baby back ribs in our own savory barbecue sauce, and a South of the Border night with Mexican favorites featuring fajitas, burritos and quesadillas all made to order.”
Finnagel’s is also the ideal place to host a meeting or small gathering. It offers a banquet room that holds up to 40 people comfortably and has been utilized for many events. It also has a private upstairs dining room that holds up to 12 people for smaller get-togethers. “Finnagel’s is the perfect place for events or meetings because of our relaxed environment and our amazing wait staff,” Tallman says. “We have an extensive banquet menu with great prices. We are also an easy access from 78, 31 and 22.”
Known to locals as the “Cheers” of Clinton, because everyone knows your name, Riley & Jake’s is famous for its great homemade food at fair prices, as well as a very friendly staff. The employees are also there to help with any meeting or event function, which the restaurant regularly hosts throughout the year.
“We have a private banquet room in our lower level that can hold up to 40 people comfortably. We also have a private area in our dining room that holds about 20,” says owner John Sweitzer. “We can do anything our guests request, whether it be special menus, room arrangements, budgetary restrictions, etc. We also have a great staff experienced in private functions.”
What to Do
A favorite of Clinton residents, the Hunterdon Art Museum offers a changing exhibition of contemporary art, craft and design, and for 65 years the museum has been home to incredible work by some of the most prominent internationally recognized and emerging contemporary artists.
“We’re located in the quaint historic downtown Clinton, where guests can take a break to shop in unique boutique shops, dine in several fabulous local restaurants or simply enjoy one of New Jersey’s most scenic views on our terrace overlooking a waterfall and the historic Red Mill Museum,” says Dave Harding, communications coordinator
The Hunterdon Art Museum also offers an elegant, versatile and unique setting for a wide variety of social and corporate events including receptions, lectures and holiday parties.
“Guests are surrounded by contemporary art in the distinctive ambiance of a 19th-century stone mill,” Harding says. “The museum features three floors of space for special events.”
Cheese lovers will want to stop by Fourchette, where the owners (husbandand-wife team Meredith Hyland and Brahim Sadouni) will delight you with tastings of some of the world’s best cheeses. “Fourchette is all about new experiences—tasting new things, sharing stories, and discovering the unexpected,” Hyland says. “We have a great town here and I enjoy all it has to offer.”
One of her favorite things in town is the Haunted Village, a Halloween attraction that transforms the historic Red Mill Museum Village into a place of terror, where screams can be heard throughout town for every weekend in October, managed by an impressive 100-plus team of volunteers and benefiting the Red Mill Museum Village.
Originally in operation as a wool mill in 1810, the Red Mill was productive until 1928, but closed when the Clinton Water Supply Company acquired the property that year. In 1963, the Red Mill opened as a museum and today houses exhibits featuring a small part of the history of the building and its everchanging role within the Clinton Community.
“We’re a 10-acre cultural and agricultural history museum,” says Paul Muir, executive director. “We feature more than 40,000 agricultural, industrial and domestic artifacts, exhibited on both a permanent and rotating basis.”
The Red Mill also has space available for approximately 30 people for a corporate meeting or celebration, and guests are encouraged to walk through the museum and grounds to sample its history.