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Cleopatra Meyer runs from a goose while enjoying the Bergen County Zoo at Van Saun Park on a rainy Wednesday morning. (Photo by Tyson Trish)
Posted: Monday September 3, 2012, 9:00 AM
By Bergen.com

Paramus was once a robust agricultural community with acres of celery, corn and tomato farms. Housing booms in the second half of the 20th century created tree-lined streets dotted with Cape Cod, bi-level and ranch-style homes. Today, Paramus has grown to a community of nearly 30,000 residents with a competitive school system and an abundance of parks, shops and restaurants. More than a dozen routes to New York City make this a popular town for big-city commuters.

PARKS AND RECREATION

Summer concerts are offered at the BANDSHELL behind the library on Century Road. The cliff Gennarelli Sports Complex, adjacent to the Garden State Plaza, is a great place for a ball game or some Fourth of July fireworks. Petruska Park features a baseball field, a practice football field, a playground, a handball wall, picnic tables and a basketball/roller hockey court. And just on the border for west-siders is the Ridgewood Duck Pond, with a walking trail and children's play area. It is literally a stone's throw from Paramus Road.

MINI MARVELS

Paramus has not one but two mini golf courses. The first, Paramus Mini Golf, is a charming course with 18 holes surrounded by sites that follow a New Jersey theme. And then there's Monster Mini Golf, an indoor, glow-in-the-dark experience that's fun all year round. What's your handicap?

Not to be missed is the Bergen County Zoo at Van Saun Park. And at the New Jersey Children's Museum, kids have a ball exploring a pint-sized museum just for them. Bounce U makes kids' birthday parties non-stop fun.

ON THE "FRITZ"

Long before it was the shopping capital of the Northeast, Paramus had a rich farming history. For a charming peek into Paramus' agricultural heritage, visit the Fritz Behnke Historical Museum on Paramus Road for a nostalgic look at the Behnke family's personal collection of memorabilia and farming equipment.

GRASS ROOTS

Eisele's Nursery has been a family-owned Paramus mainstay for more than 70 years with flats of flowers, shrubs, trees and everything you need to beautify your garden. Victoria's Nursery is both wholesale and retail, with an excellent selection. And there's Metropolitan Plant & Flower Exchange on Route 17. Seems like Paramus homeowners have a real green thumb.

PAWS UP

The truth about cats and dogs is that they choose Oradell Animal Hospital, one of the oldest veterinary clinics in Bergen. With more than 30 veterinarians on staff, it's no wonder this comprehensive medical facility for pets is purrfect!

POOL CUE

A municipal pool on Midland Avenue is open to borough residents and families in neighboring communities. It features kiddie, intermediate and Olympic-sized pools for swimmers of all ages and skill levels. Don't miss the snack bar.

BEST OF BERGEN 2012

Some of the county's most popular businesses are in Paramus, so stop by these locations.

BEST MALL
Westfield Garden State Plaza

The largest mall in New Jersey is also our readers' favorite. From its humble beginnings as an open-air mall in the 1960s, Garden State Plaza has grown to encompass hundreds of stores, kiosks and services. The sheer volume and quality of choices in shopping, dining and entertainment make the plaza a tough place to beat.

BEST PAINT STORE
Norton Paint

A long-standing family business in Bergen, Norton Paint recently underwent a dramatic makeover and has become a Benjamin Moore Signature store with interior design services on premises.

BEST JAPANESE
Kiku

Take a huge dining room and fill it with the sights, sounds and smells – oh, the mouth-watering smells – of hibachi, and you've got (201) readers' favorite Japanese restaurant. From the sushi to the tableside show, Kiku does it right.

Best outdoor/ camping store
Campmor

Whether you're a serious camper or outdoor enthusiast, or whether you just need sleeping bags, mess kits, rainwear and other gear for your kids' sleepaway camp, Campmor has got it all. Born from a garage business in Bogota in 1978, Campmor has grown to be one of the largest retailers of recreational equipment in the county. Tents, stoves, tools – you name it, Campmor has it.

Best hair stylist
Auri Reynoso, David Michael Hair Studio

When it comes to beauty, stylists at David Michael Hair Studio have their eyes on the most fashionable looks for women.

BEST INDIAN
Mantra

This popular lunch and dinner spot combines a romantic, dimly lit interior with stellar food in an obviously winning combination. Don't be thrown off by its unassuming strip-mall location – Mantra makes some mighty fine cuisine.

POPULAR EATERIES

CHAKRA: A romantic restaurant with awesome martinis, Chakra is also a popular destination for a girls' night out.

EL CID: Traditional Spanish fare, super sangria and homemade potato chips to die for.

THE FIREPLACE: restaurant Smack dab in the middle of "Spartan" country, this burger joint has been a crowd pleaser for decades. Kids go after games, and the place is jammed with excitement. Don't miss the hot roast beef on a hard roll. Oh, and the pickles cannot be ignored!

THE ORANGE LANTERN: A popular hangout for Paramus locals, this is a great place to go for sports night.

BOBBY's BURGER PALACE: Celebrity chef Bobby Flay brings his delectable burgers to Bergen. Order up!

TOM SAWYER DINER: This diner is like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It is totally renovated with a new menu to match.

New to Bergen?

(201) Welcome magazine tells you the best places in the county for shopping, dining and more. For a free copy, call (201) 646-6954 or visit 201magazine.com.

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