Home Best of Guides The ULTIMATE Montclair Bucket List

The ULTIMATE Montclair Bucket List

by Victoria Marie Moyeno
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A hub for artists, performers, industry moguls, and students alike — Montclair is truly one of a kind. With the rich history of icons from Yogi Berra to Stephen Colbert to respected institutions and organizations like Montclair State University, Van Vleck Gardens, and the Wellmont Theater, this town is special in so many ways. Thousands pass through for events like Montclair Film Festival and highly acclaimed restaurants throughout the year. In short, the culture is rich and there is always something new to do in “the Brooklyn of New Jersey.” Read on for a must-do Montclair bucket list to get the most out of what the city has to offer.

the ultimate montclair bucket list

Things to Do

Visit the historic Van Vleck Gardens during the spring and summer to take in the beautiful flowers and plants that originated all over the world. The estate itself used to serve as a family home for the renowned Van Vleck family in 1868.

Tour the Montclair Art Museum which opened in 1914 for interactive and educational exhibits about American and Native American art.

See the WW1 memorial that was constructed circa 1925 in Edgemont Park, a public park that is great for a serene picnic or outdoor activities with a group of people.

Book tickets to a concert at Wellmont Theater which was founded in 1921 as a vaudeville and stage play venue and has evolved into a staple for all types of live entertainment.

Reopened under the ownership of Montclair Film, The Claridge was founded in 1922 and serves as a film venue that hosts exhibits and other film events throughout the year.

Built in 1925, Montclair Public Library provides endless opportunities for learning, discovery, and community engagement through a vast collection of books, films, historical documents, events, and more.

Walk the expansive Montclair State University campus and even catch baseball or football games.

Stop by the Alonzo F. Bonsal Wildlife Preserve, a 30-acre wilderness and wildlife sanctuary that is a prime location for nature trails, camping, fishing, and more.

Book a tour of the historic Crane House and YMCA or attend educational in-person programs at Montclair History Center, founded in 1965.

Walk through Presby Iris Gardens, a 6.5-acre garden that was built in 1922 and contains over 10,000 irises of approximately 1,500 varieties and produces over 100,000 blooms over the course of the season.

Catch a New York Red Bulls II soccer game when the sport is in season.

Discover more about the iconic baseball player for the Yankees + Mets at his namesake museum, Yogi Berra Museum, located on Montclair State’s campus.

Pick up a new book to dive into at Montclair Book Center or Watchung Booksellers, both longstanding shops in town with good reads in every genre available.

Stop at the city’s first-ever sculpture park, across from Hillside School, to view works by local artists.

Try your hand at indoor rock climbing (all levels welcome) at The Gravity Vault.

Attend a jewelry-making class at The Eclectic Chic Boutique. Add-ons like gemstone wire wrapping and pearl knotting are available if you want to take it to the next level.

Put golf skills to the test at Montclair Indoor Golf Club.

Create custom-fragranced candles, home, and body products with a variety of scents at Alchemy Scent Bar.

Take pottery classes at Montclair Mud Clay Studio.

Shop paper goods and unique vintage objects at Parcel.

Grab a crystal-infused drink at Thought in Motion Waterbar and recharge from a long day.

Sip on morning brew while in the company of adorable cats at Catfe Montclair.

Visit Avis-Campbell Gardens, a 70-year-old property dutifully cared for by The Garden Club of Montclair. The garden hosts a variety of other plants, like yarrow, azaleas, lambs ears, ferns, and alliums.

Montclair is home to various unique boutiques — and we have a roundup of the best ones here

Read More: How to Spend a Day in Upper Montclair

Places to Eat

Pick up a box of the highly sought-after doughnuts from Montclair Bread Co.

NJ’s first 100% gluten-free restaurant, Samba — which specializes in Brazilian cuisine, is a must-try. We recommend… everything.

Originally a farm in the 1840s, Applegate Farms has been a longstanding spot for handmade ice cream and other classic treats.

Dive into a pasta dish at De Pepo — we recommend the spaghetti carbonara. Also, Watchung Booksellers is right next to the restaurant — be sure to stop by to grab a book to read.

Enjoy a plate of fish and chips with a side of a Guinness at Irish pub Egan + Sons.

Take in the beautiful views at Montclair’s only rooftop bar, Alto, located in the MC Hotel. While you’re there, have dinner downstairs at The Allegory.

Try authentic Ethiopian cuisine at Mesob.



Clink IG-worthy cocktails at Faubourg, an expansive and modern French brasserie.

Treat yourself to Laboratorio Kitchen, an upscale Cosmopolitan eatery that specializes in American cuisine.

Indulge in Mediterranean dishes at Zeugma Grill – the babaganoush is a must-try.

Book a reservation for your next large party at Turtle + the Wolf which serves delicious family-style meals.

Eat fresh seafood at Halcyon. The lounge upstairs is beautifully decorated.

Cure your hangover with none other than Raymond’s, a diner and staple in the community.

Everything at Nicolo’s Italian Bakery + Deli is made fresh, a true old-school deli with something for everyone.

Pick up freshly made pastries at Mattarello Bakery + Café.

Kai Yang’s menu is inspired by the owner’s upbringing in Thailand, making it a go-to for the authentic Thai in the area.

With over ten pies and additional home-baked British sweets and savories, The Pie Store has something for every craving.

Plan your next brunch at The Corner — an eclectic cafe-style restaurant.

Aesthetically-pleasing design + packaging is just the tip of the iceberg at Vesta Chocolate. The organic cocoa beans used for the housemade chocolate treats are worth the visit.

Enjoy wood-fired pizza at Brick + Dough — there are gluten-free and vegan options as well.

Order your next special occasion cake from Sweet Kitchen, it won’t disappoint.

If you love soul food, Sweet T’s Southern Eatery should be at the top of your list.

A staple in the Upper Montclair community since 1923, Montclair Diner is a true gem.

Stop into Marcel Bakery + Kitchen for seasonal Mediterranean eats.

Grab-and-go with freshly churned artisanal gelato at Benvenuti Montclair.

Dig into Thai cuisine at SLA Thai, a low-key spot with a beautiful outdoor dining space.

A vibrant Syrian and Middle Eastern restaurant, Le Souk serves up great food and sells unique gifts.

A family-owned bakery, Le French Dad Boulangerie is a must-visit for French desserts.

See More: Your Ultimate Hudson County Bucket List for 2024

Festivals + Events

Montclair Literary Festival — May

The Montclair Literary Festival was first launched in 2017 to promote literacy and reading for all in Montclair’s vibrant and diverse literary scene. The festival raises funds and awareness to further the work of Succeed2gether.

Montclair Pride Festival — June

The Montclair Pride Festival is a day filled with performances, art, culture, food, and music celebrated across downtown Montclair, with special guest speakers and LGBTQIA+ talent, surrounded and supported by institutions and businesses.

Montclair Jazz Festival — August-September

Locals can enjoy live jazz performances and events throughout the summer in the heart of Montclair leading up to the Montclair Jazz Festival.

Montclair Film Festival — October

Montclair Film Festival is a highly-anticipated event that features the year’s latest movies and celebrities for exclusive viewings and Q+A panels. The festival provides a platform for filmmakers from around the world and gives special recognition to New Jersey artists.

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