Category Archives: Garden State Living

Hip New Jersey spotlights the businesses and communities that are making the Garden State fabulous!

Hidden Gems of New Jersey: Lake Hopatcong

Written by: Suzanne LaVoie


Spring has arrived.  Flowers are in full bloom, daylight stretches even longer for you to enjoy the outdoors, and life overflows with excitement to get out there and put the last remnants of winter behind you.  Nature is calling.  Why not spend it in a beautiful area known as Lake Hopatcong (cited as the largest freshwater body in New Jersey) located between the counties of Sussex and Morris?


Water is therapeutic in many ways.  It relaxes you and allows for contemplation and meditation; or you could enjoy some of the diverse activities offered throughout the warmer months, including boating and waterskiing

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Welcome back, lady!

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Boat cruises provide spectacular views of the lake and gorgeous homes that line the surrounding grounds.  Weekend pontoon boat cruises supply opportunities to learn the history of Lake Hopatcong, including some of the specific dwellings that come into focus as you take in all that is around you. 

There are signature cruises on a special vessel to avail yourself of as well during the season from May through October.  Lake Hopatcong additionally offers a “floating classroom” for people of all ages to enjoy and get hands-on experience on an amazing educational adventure (not to mention time in the breathtaking Hopatcong State Park).    


Every outing deserves to begin with a sensational breakfast.  What better place to begin than the Jefferson Diner which was featured on the Food Network with Guy Fieri?  The portions are incredible and if you desire to take home an amazing reminder of the scrumptious delectable, the lobster bisque is it!  You will bask in the chunks of lobster from this favorite soup!

If you crave something mid-day, then you can travel to the Jefferson House right on the lakefront.  Awesome food and beverages in a casual atmosphere along with a catching view!  Who could ask for more?  And yes, there is live music throughout the summer months! A perfect combination!  If you are looking for a terrific dining place to treat Mom on Mother’s Day, the Jefferson House is accepting reservations for Brunch and Dinner.

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Beautiful night…finally.

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How about the evening meal?  Look no further than the Windlass Restaurant, which is also located on the lake.  Indoor and outdoor dining is available and the cuisine caters to all taste buds! This charming restaurant even has outdoor gliders to take delight in!  Oh, and be sure to check out their website which includes a fascinating account of the history of the Windlass and a once-famous amusement park from decades ago!


Lake Hopatcong is a hidden gem in New Jersey.  It exudes its own peace and serenity when you take the time to take pleasure in its gorgeous sights.  It is a fundamental place for amateur and seasoned photographers to get their cameras and phones rolling to capture this natural wonder of New Jersey (there are never enough photos of nature, so go for it and click/snap away). 

There are nearby trails to hike if you are searching for more adventure and fitness.  Numerous events pop up throughout the heaviest tourism months which include various fun activities sponsored by the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club.  A fireworks display will be held this year on June 28th with a rain date of July 7thBridge Marina also offers events centered on boating enthusiasts.  Come check it all out!


Do it.  Give yourself permission.  Life is busy and often hectic and stressful.  You deserve to treat yourself to a day of tranquility, exquisite eats, entertainment, and experience.  Seek out Lake Hopatcong and be forever changed.      

Feature Image: Flickr/jrzykat

Gwenn Seemel: Her Art and Her Message

The only thing more colorful than Gwenn Seemel’s paintings is her vibrant personality. #HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino recently sat down with this French-American artist to discuss her unique painting style and her powerful messaging.

Gwenn’s unmistakable style has been crafted for years, having been inspired at an early age to pursue a career in art when she received positive feedback from her brother. From there, with a push from her family, she attended art classes and her career has blossomed ever since.

Gwenn specializes in portrait work, as well as conceptual pieces, like the work she did for her book Crime Against Nature: a more accurate telling of what’s natural. The book seeks to shatter gender and social norms through evidence found in nature as well as Gwenn’s paintings of the corresponding species that shatters the existing concept.

While Gwenn’s paintings have been shown all over the United States – and even in some photo filters – she recently made headlines for something that happened right in New Jersey. During the opening day of the Love and Fear Exhibition at the Montclair Public Library, one of Gwen’s six pieces, featuring imagery of President Trump, was removed during the first 30 minutes. The library originally cited ‘profanity’ as the cause for the removal but has since issued a statement and rehung the painting.  

Lucky for us, Gwenn brought in some of her paintings to show off. They included a sunset modeled after where she lives in Surf City, two portraits, and a dinosaur image with bunny ears. Together, Gwenn and Lisa Marie discussed the meaning behind each of the paintings and the inspiration behind their creation.  

Gwenn’s paintings are so striking that they command your attention, however seeing them in person is absolutely hypnotizing. Our studio found itself much like a traffic jam, everyone gathering around to stare, mouths open, at Gwenn’s work. The attention to detail is apparent in every deliberate stroke; all seeming independent from the other, but all adding up to tell one story and paint one picture. Everyone had a differing opinion in which piece was their favorite and why.  Everyone found something that spoke to them, directly. 

You can see Gwenn’s work in person during her three current shows: “Love and Fear” at the Montclair Public Library, “Empathetic Magic” at Lyceum Hall in Burlington, NJ and “Crime Against Nature” at the FIAF in Montclair, NJ. 

For more information on Gwenn, visit and be sure to visit one of Gwenn’s three current exhibitions:

Crime Against Nature
Open: through May 8th
Hours: Monday through Thursday 8:30 AM to 6 PM, Friday 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM, Saturday 9 AM to 4:30 PM
FIAF Montclair
7 North Willow Street, Suite 7
Montclair, NJ 07042

Empathetic Magic
Open: through 29th by appointment
Lyceum Hall
432 High Street
Burlington, NJ 08016

Love and Fear
Open: through April 29th
Hours: Monday through Thursday 10 AM to 8 PM, Friday and Saturday 10 AM to 6 PM, Sunday 1 to 6 PM
Montclair Public Library Gallery
50 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042

Janine Strafaci of ShoreTV New Jersey

Anyone from the Garden State probably recognizes Janine Strafaci. Her award-winning career spans nearly twenty years, and it’s all thanks to her desire to share the stories of others.

Now she’s telling her story to #HipNJ’s Lisa Marie Latino.

Janine is most widely recognized for her near seventeen-year career as a main news anchor for New 12 New Jersey. As the longest running female news anchor, it’s no surprise that her accolades include two Emmy Awards, nine Emmy-award nominations, an Edward R. Murrow Award and seven National Telly Awards. With the launch of ShoreTV New Jersey, Janine has now added female entrepreneur to her impressive resume.

A born and raised Jersey Girl, Janine knows the ups and downs that come with news; reporting during 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. When she left News 12 New Jersey, she wanted a platform for all the positive, feel-good stories that make New Jersey so special. This is the inspiration for ShoreTV New Jersey – an exclusively online news outlet that focuses on all thing Jersey Shore.

It’s a place for local business owners to tell their stories, and features like “For Goodness Sake” put a spotlight on local community outreach. With recent topics like where to go for the best Jersey Shore Happy Hours and everything you need to know about Shore Beach Badges, there’s something for everyone at ShoreTV New Jersey.

You can check out ShoreTV at