Home Food + DrinkBrunch A Guide to the Best Downtowns + Main Streets of Northern New Jersey

A Guide to the Best Downtowns + Main Streets of Northern New Jersey

by Olivia Fisher
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New Jersey is home to hundreds of communities, many of which have vibrant downtowns and main streets with a plethora of restaurants, salons, and shops. These centers are characterized by their walkability and family-friendly vibe as well as the public transport options, local businesses, and community events. Finding the perfect spot for a family dinner, an afternoon stroll, or night out on the town all comes down to location. We’ve done the work and looked at numerous towns across the region to pick out the best ones. Read on for a guide to some of the best downtowns and main streets in Northern New Jersey.

Denville

prana yoga denville

Denville is a picture-perfect small town with a sweet and charming downtown. Broadway is the heart of this community and the key to their stomachs. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, head over to Beignets and grab some doughnuts and beignets. For those with allergies, Mo’Pweeze Bakery is a great spot that has cupcakes, cakes, cookies, and more, all free of the top 10 allergies. For more inspiration when you visit, we have compiled a list of spots below.

The Ivy at Chatham

Dining Options: Beignets, Church Street Bagel, Mo’Pweeze Bakery, El Mejicano, The Pasta Shop, Thatcher McGhee’s, Dante’s, Denville Dairy, Denville Dog, Hunan Taste, Denville Seafood

Exercise: Pure Barre, Renzo Gracie, Prana Yoga Studio

Events: Holiday Shopping Open House, Sidewalk Sales, National Night Out, Downtown Denville After Dark, Pink Witches Night Out

Shopping: Furniture Revival Studio, Faith + Begorra, California Beach Hut, Dash of Thyme, Sisters, Wish, Bluebird by Bullet Boots

Wellness: Moxie Salon + Beauty Bar, Tracy’s Nails, The Urban Muse

Read More: These 7 Destinations Are a Short Flight From Newark Airport

Hoboken

washington street hoboken

About a mile and a half in length, Hoboken’s main drag of Washington Street is full of cafes, bakeries, sit-down restaurants, hair salons, clothing stores, and workout spots. With views of the Manhattan skyline, this pedestrian and bike-friendly city is the perfect spot for date night, birthday celebrations, and just about anything. Naturally, Frank Sinatra’s hometown is known for its Italian food and spots like Sorellina, Sirenetta, and Grimaldi’s. Summers in Hoboken come with a variety of good music, free exercise activities, and of course food. On most Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the summer, there are free fitness classes at Pier A Park. On Wednesday nights, there are movies under the stars at various Hoboken parks. If you have room on Thursday, stop by Sinatra Park for a concert featuring rock, jazz, Latin, folk, and more. Parking can be a challenge, but no need to worry. Nine NJTransit lines and branches pass through Hoboken Terminal and can connect visitors from Manhattan, Montclair, Millburn, Cranford, Hackensack, Westwood, Morristown Rutherford, Clifton, Belmar, and so many more. Plus, the view from the terminal is phenomenal and allows easy access to both Hoboken and Jersey City.

Dining Options: Bwe Kafe, Elysian Cafe, La Isla, Benny Tudino’s, Sorellina, Sirenetta, Grimaldi’s, The Brass Rail, Alfalfa, Bin 14, Napoli’s

Exercise: SoulCycle, Club Pilates, Zapp Fitness, Project Sculpt

Events: Concerts in the Park, Fitness in the Park, Movies Under the Stars, St. Ann Italian Festival, Hoboken Italian Festival, Hoboken Mutzfest, Main Street Pops, Hoboken Arts + Music Festival

Indoor Activities: Hoboken Historical Museum, Hoboken Fire Department Museum, Ivy Mane Studio, Hudson Golf, Hudson Table

Shopping: Little City Books, Alba Boutique, Luna Rose Decor, Washington General Store, Wicked Scents, AxD, Noellery, Dune + Salt

Wellness: 718 Beauty Bar, Salon Gotto, Alley Spa, Zen Om Studio, BOND, Hello Hydration, Aspen Prime Med Spa

Madison

Madison’s quaint and historic shopping district along Main Street showcases over 50 businesses that have flavorful cuisine, gift shops, second-hand clothing, and haircuts. Diners can sample Mexican, Colombian, Japanese, Thai, French, Italian, and Mediterranean. Noon Tea Creperie is an excellent spot for crepe cakes, egg waffles, boba tea, and a variety of other drinks. For gifts and home accessories, The Pink Pear has books, candles, games, honey, coffee, and home decor. The Morristown Line of NJTransit passes through Downtown Madison connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Hoboken, South Orange, Chatham, Morristown, Hackettstown, and more.

Dining Options: Nahm Thai + French Cuisine, Jungle Juice, Butter + Jam, iL Goccino Ristorante, Sunday Motor Co Cafe, Noon Tea Creperie

Exercise: Club Pilates, Santosha Yoga Studio, Fitness for Mankind

Indoor Activities: Museum of Early Trades + Crafts

Shopping: Home Sweet Home, The Snooki Shop, Tons of Toys, The Pink Pear, The Chatham Bookseller

Wellness: Polished Nail Lounge, Strandz Salon, NJ Advanced Acupuncture

Maplewood 

In 2021, Maplewood was voted 17 out of 25 for the coolest towns in America which makes sense as this village is bursting with charm and has a downtown full of flavors. You can enjoy Margherita Pizza at Artie’s, smoothies at Green Point Juicery, and fresh-baked cookies at The Able Baker. Every fall Maplewood hosts the Art Walk and Music Fest. Maplewood Avenue, Baker Street, and Highland Place are shut down to vehicular traffic and customers can buy ceramics, jewelry, and more. The event also features dancers, live music, and a children’s corner. Dickens Village, held in December brings various scenes to life from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Visitors can peek inside the little houses and look at fireplaces, stockings, and antique toys.

The Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch of NJTransit pass through Maplewood and connects residents and visitors to Manhattan, Hoboken, East Orange, Summit, Morristown, Bernardsville, Denville, Hackettstown, and more. You can find a variety of restaurants, bakeries, home decor stores, and more here.

Dining Options: The Able Baker, Ani Ramen, Artie’s, Village Trattoria, Palmer’s Bakehouse, Green Point Juicery, Chutzpah Kitchen, Strawberry Fields, Scratch Taco

Exercise: The Core Place, Baker-Street Yoga, Wolfpack Maplewood

Events: Maplewoodstock Music + Art Festival, Art Walk + Music Fest, Dickens Village, Sunset Saturday Music Series

Indoor Activities: Greens Indoor Golf + Cafe, Maplewood Memorial Library

Outdoor Recreation: Memorial Park, Richard G Walter Park, Memorial Playground

Shopping: Meus, Maplewood Mercantile, Words Bookstore, Brave Floral, Perch Home, Toy Division, Baker Street Market, Maker + Muse

Wellness: Victory Hair Salon, Anthony Garubo Salon, Hands-on Massage + Facial Spa, CHOP Salon

Montclair

montclair

Just over a mile long, Montclair’s main street, Bloomfield Avenue, showcases a variety of restaurants, bakeries, wellness centers, clothing stores, movie theaters, bookstores, and exercise spots. Here you can try flavors from all over the globe like Italian, French, Greek, Spanish, American, Soul, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Mexican, Colombian, Brazilian, Cuban, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Thai, and Indian. If you need a gift for someone or yourself, check out DollyMoo for bath bombs and soy candles, and Parcel for handmade decorations and apothecary.  During late April and early May, the Montclair Film Festival features fiction, non-fiction, world cinema, and student films drawing over a thousand attendees. In June, Montclair hosts a notable Pride Festival featuring music, food, and more. Not only is Montclair pedestrian-friendly, but a block-long on-street bike lane was installed on Glenridge Avenue. The long-term plan is to connect this section to the Essex Hudson Greenway project.

The Montclair-Boonton Line passes through Montclair connecting residents from Manhattan, Hoboken, Newark, Little Falls, Wayne, Montville, Netcong, and more. Those looking to reach downtown should get off at the Bay Street or Walnut Street Stations. While Bloomfield Avenue may be Montclair’s downtown, it’s not the only walkable business district. You can find a variety of restaurants, shopping stores, recreation, and exercise spots in Upper Montclair, Watching Plaza, Walnut Street, and the South End. Montclair truly offers so much and it can be a challenge to decide what to do and where to go.

Dining Options: Ani Ramen, Raymond’s, Leone’s, Tacoria, Plum Bakery, Samba, Sweet Kitchen, Nami Nori, Bareburger, Faubourg, Kreme + Krumbs, Porta, Sweet T’s Southern Eatery, Uncle Momo, Teglia Pizza Bar, Trend Coffee + Tea House, Rooster’s Hot Chicken, Absolute Zero Ice Cream, Cuban Pete’s

Exercise: CYCLEBAR, Row House, Anytime Fitness, Montclair YMCA, Club Pilates, Pure Barre, The Bar Method

Events: Montclair Pride Festival, Montclair Film Festival, Winter Wonderland

Indoor Activities: Doin’ Dishes, The Claridge, Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Public Library, Studio Montclair, Wellmont Arts Plaza, Mud Clay Studio, Montclair Indoor Golf Club, Alchemy Scent Bar

Shopping: Giftbar, Parcel, Anthropologie, DollyMoo, East Side Mags, Montclair Book Center, Oasis, Curated Home + Living, The Eclectic Chic Boutique, Forever Welded, Moss + More, Noellery, White Rabbit Black Heart

Wellness: Hand + Stone Massage + Facial Spa, Bangz Salon + Wellness Spa, Woodhouse Day Spa

Morristown

washingtons headquarters morristown national historic park

Since the birth of this nation, Morristown has been at the crossroads of culture, commerce, and community. This vibrant and diverse town has over 100 businesses in its downtown and so much to offer. Patrons travel the streets of Morristown and sample American, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Italian, Irish, French, German, Polish, Greek, Mexican, Thai, and Japanese food. The Morristown Green, situated in the center of downtown, serves as a fantastic spot for picnics and getting takeout. NJTransit’s Morristown Line passes through Downtown Morristown connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Hoboken, Orange, Millburn, Summit, Denville, Netcong, and more.

Dining Options: Millburn Deli, The Godfather of Morristown, End of Elm, Beenie’s Ice Cream, Stack Creamery

Exercise: The Yoga Way, Powerflow Yoga

Indoor Activities: AMC, Mayo Performing Arts Center, The Morristown + Morris Township Public Library, Morristown Masonic Center Museum + Library, Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, Washington’s Headquarters

Shopping: Athleta, Merzatta, 23 South, Apricot Dried Fruits + Nuts

Wellness: Laboratory Hair Studio, Bloom, Massage Heights, Salone Pisani, Blowout Salon

Ridgewood

sook pastry ridgewood

Ridgewood has a charming downtown that has Eastern European, Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Szechuan, Korean, Iranian, Mediterranean, and American cuisine. Grab some Korean fried chicken from Don Chicken and head over to Van Ness Square. This is a great spot to eat your takeout and soak in the beauty of the area. This walkable community offers a lot of parking for shoppers interested in purchasing clothing, olive oil, stationery, and more. The Main and Bergen County of NJTransit passes through Downtown Ridgewood connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Hoboken, Clifton, Ramsey, Rutherford, Waldwick, and more.

Dining Options: Park West Tavern, Green Fusion, Felina, Sook Pastry, From Scratch, Don Chicken

Exercise: Real Hot Yoga, Meadowlands YMCA

Indoor Activities: Ridgewood Public Library, Pinot’s Palette

Shopping: Suite Paperie, Olive R Twist Olive Oil Co, Majestic Yarn, Victor’s

Wellness: Salon Toujours, Hiro’s Day Spa, 21 Godwin, Cozy Nails, Namaste Organic Spa

Rutherford

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Rutherford’s main street, Park Avenue, features a variety of restaurants, bakeries, and cafes. Lining the block are restaurants serving Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Iranian, Italian, French, German, Greek, Mexican, and American cuisine. For a handmade Danish or other bakery treat, stop by Varrelmann’s Bake Shop, an authentic German bakery. If you are looking for a pretty quiet downtown, Rutherford is the spot. The Bergen County Line NJTransit passes through Downtown Rutherford connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Garfield, Ridgewood, Allendale, Ramsey, and more.

Dining Options: Dumpling Dojo, Suprema, Fiorentini, Varrelmann’s Bake Shop, Ondubu, Greek Town Gyros

Events: Fall Festival

Indoor Activities: Williams Center for The Arts, Rutherford Public Library 

Shopping: Soldato Books + Records, Goffin’s Hallmark Shop

Wellness: Substance Salon + Barberspa, Michele’s Station Square Hair Salon, Fond + Faye

South Orange

 

 
 
 
 
 
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South Orange has a walkable vibrant downtown community boasting a variety of flavorful cuisines. Visitors can enjoy gluten-free empanadas from Miti Miti or fresh-made juice from Dancing Blender. There are a plethora of spots for outdoor recreation. Just north of downtown are several baseball fields, tennis courts, and a basketball court. During the summer, residents can soak up the sun and swim laps at the Peter S. Conner Memorial Swimming Pool. Since 1991, the South Orange Farmers Market has been a source for the community with local produce and products from nearby vendors. The Downtown on Display program partners with downtown businesses to curate unique events highlighting the best of South Orange. Small businesses showcase their products and services during Small Business Saturday and the Holiday Market.

The Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch of NJTransit pass through Downtown South Orange connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Hoboken, Summit, New Providence, Morristown, Bernardsville, Denville, Hackettstown, and more. The architecture of the buildings, churches, and businesses add a charm like no other, especially the South Orange station which is conveniently located downtown. 

Dining Options: The Order, Miti Miti, The Dancing Blender, Village Trattoria, Grid Iron Waffle Shop, Walia Ethiopian Restaurant, Bay Leaf, Sonny’s Bagels, Jackie + Son, Elitist Coffee

Exercise: Three Birds Yoga Studio, D+I Fitness

Events: South Orange Farmers Market, Pride Month Celebration, Halloween Spooky Spiotta, Holiday Tree Lighting, Holiday Market, Live Music, Seton Hall Welcome Back Week, Small Business Saturday Street Fair

Indoor Activities: The Village at SOPAC, South Orange Performing Arts Center, South Orange Public Library

Shopping: Victor’s Florist, Rocky’s Crystals + Minerals, Pet Wants, Kitchen a la Mode

Wellness: Oranges Spa, Rock Spa Club, YK Salon, Gladys Nails, 7’s Barbershop

Summit

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Summit has a walkable downtown with a variety of restaurants, nail salons, hair salons, clothing stores, and gift shops. If you’ve always wanted to eat inside a train car, then Summit is the place. For nearly a century, the Summit Diner has been serving American comfort food to thousands of people. Patrons can order the famous corn beef cabbage and a slice of cheesecake for the road. Every Sunday starting April 28th, Summit Farmers Market has a variety of fresh baked goods, tomato sauce, jam, produce, pizza, and more. During the summer, neighbors can enjoy performances by artists from numerous genres at the Summit Street Sounds. This event takes place Thursdays and Fridays from 5PM-8PM in June and July. The Morristown Line and Gladstone Branch of NJTransit pass through Downtown Summit connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Hoboken, Orange, Millburn, Chatham, Morristown, Denville, Dover, and more.

Dining Options: Summit Diner, Pizza Vita, Boxwood Coffee, The Committed Pig, Summit House, Bake Bakery, BarBacoa, Batavia Cafe, Zappia’s

Exercise: StrechLab, The Bar Method, LoYa Loft of Yoga, Vita Athletics, Summit YMCA, The R3finery 

Events: Summit Farmers Market, Summit Street Sounds, Summit Has Pride

Indoor Activities: Pinot’s Palette, Summit Public Library

Shopping: Bluemercury, Paper Source, Fleet Feet, Wool & Grace, The Papery

Wellness: Drybar, Blow In Blow Out, Joinus Nails, Place Vendome, Bellissima Waxing + Spa

See More: How Hoboken’s Lackawanna Train Station Changed Transportation Around the World

Westfield

the westfield inn

Come shop, dine, and stroll through the streets of Downtown Westfield. Grab a slice of pizza from Casa di Pizza or a burrito from Tinga. Spend hours walking down East Broad Street and Elm Street shopping at Urban Outfitters, The Town Book Store, and J McLaughlin. Every Tuesday night in July and August Westfield holds its Sweet Sounds Downtown Music Festival where residents, visitors, shoppers, and diners can enjoy free music and various outdoor venues. The Raritan Valley Line of NJTransit passes through Downtown Westfield connecting residents and visitors to Manhattan, Newark, Union, Cranford, Plainfield, Somerville, Lebanon, and more.

Dining Options: Orgreen Poke, Chutzpah Kitchen, Chez Catherine, Fresh Bui, Surreal Creamery, Bareburger, Casa di Pizza

Exercise: Club Pilates, The Bar Method, OsteoStrong, Barre3, 908 Athletics 

Events: Sweet Sounds Downtown Music Festival, AddamsFest

Indoor Activities: Yestercades, Westfield Historical Society, Westfield Memorial Library

Shopping: Fleet Feet, Beyond Trends, Hope Chest, The Town Book Store, Urban Outfitters, J McLaughlin

Wellness: Salon Visage, Radiant Waxing, Blende, Foot + Body Massage Spa

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