Home Fashion + BeautyAccessories How to Spend a Day in South Orange, New Jersey

How to Spend a Day in South Orange, New Jersey

by Christina Mastroeni
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Sometimes it can be easy to forget how much Essex County has to offer. There are so many restaurants, cute shopping spots, and fun things to do in the area. While many have busy lives, sometimes it’s nice to have a daycation and explore a nearby neighborhood. Those who aren’t familiar with the South Orange area are missing out. Keep reading for more information about eateries, things to do, and places to shop in South Orange.


The history of South Orange dates back to as early as 1666 when Connecticut soldiers landed on the shores of the Passaic River. Families wishing to farm moved toward South Orange and its surrounding areas. South Orange Avenue was once an Indian trail that served as the main pathway (funny how history repeats itself as South Orange Avenue is arguably still the main drag in town).

South Orange’s transition from farmland to residential community is largely in part by John Gorham Vose. Vose purchased a home on Scotland Road in 1858. Four years later he began buying large plots of land to create a conversion. In a few years, Scotland Road and Center Street were complete. Other successful businessmen followed a similar path of buying and building. As the city continued to build, the Village Hall (built in 1894) originally housed the fire department. The town’s First U.S. post office (opened in 1841) was at 71 South Orange Avenue.

The Ivy at Chatham

South Orange was originally part of Newark until 1806. The name Orange came into play in the second half of the 18th century. The name South Orange first appeared in a newspaper advertisement in 1793. It replaced older names like Chestnut Hill + Mountain Plantation.

Read More: How to Spend a Day in Belleville, New Jersey

Where to Shop

The Co-Lab | 57 South Orange Avenue

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Located in Downtown South Orange, The Co-Lab is a space where people can shop small. It’s a non-profit organization that serves as a space where small businesses can begin to launch brick-and-mortar locations. When visitors walk in they will see pop-up shops on the right side that change every weekend. On the left side are more permanent stores that have leased a space in the building. Some of these include Grā, Daily Greatness, Noble Hungers, Cereal Dreams, and Soma Wheelhouse. The Co-Lab is open from Thursday through Sunday.

Garden of Edith Floral Design LLC | 54 South Orange Avenue


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Visitors can stop by the Garden of Edith for flower and plant needs. Shoppers can find floral arrangements for many occasions such as seasonal + lobby decor, and gifts for any holiday. Fruit + gourmet baskets can also be purchased here.

Kitchen a la Mode | 59 South Orange Avenue

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Located on South Orange’s ever-busy South Orange Avenue, Kitchen a la Mode is where anyone can shop to find all things kitchen-related. The store holds everything from state-name dish towels, kitchen gadgets, linens, wine accessories, cookware, cutlery, baking supplies + more. Kitchen a la Mode also has knife sharpening services for knives and ceramic + serrated scissors. Kitchen a la Mode doesn’t stop its services there. Shoppers can also participate in an oil + vinegar tasting or take one of its available classes like a mozzarella-making class, international soups + stews class, or a plant-based cooking class.

Martin’s Handmade Pretzels | 108 West South Orange Avenue


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Martin’s prides itself on using only five ingredients to achieve pretzel perfection, using a sourdough recipe of flour, water, yeast + salt. Since 1982 Martin’s team has brought its handcrafted Pennsylvania Dutch Pretzels to New York’s Union Square Greenmarket, but its pretzels have been coming out of a drying oven for over 80 years. Each pretzel is hand-rolled + twisted before boiling pretzels in water + soda. Some options to buy here are New York Soft Pretzels, Extra Dark Pretzels, Pretzel Pieces, mustards, Unsalted Pretzels, + Hand-Dipped Chocolate Covered Pretzels. Whole Wheat pretzels are coming soon.

Neighbors Wine Shop | 61 South Orange Avenue


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Neighbors Wine Shop recently moved to the South Orange Avenue location in March of 2023. The wine shop is cozy where customers may feel like they’re tasting wine in a friend’s living room. Neighbors Wine Shop specializes in natural, organic, + biodynamic wines. It also has beer + spirits available. On Fridays + Saturdays the store has tastings. The owners also taste wines before purchasing them and most wines within the store are from small batches. Regular events happen monthly and some include a Galentine’s Day event and champagne tastings.

Rocky’s Crystals + Minerals | 113 South Orange Avenue

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Rocky’s is a women-owned, black-owned business in Downtown South Orange. A team member from the store mentioned Rocky’s is that place to “come for any of your spiritual needs.” The store sells crystals, herbs, tarot cards, and books. Some stones have also been turned into jewelry like necklaces, bracelets, and rings. In addition to the South Orange location, Rocky’s also has four other locations: one in Montclair, one in Millburn, + two in Philadelphia.



Sadie’s | 19 South Orange Avenue

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Sadie’s has clothing and accessory options for men, women, and children. Some clothing includes graphic book tees, furry coats made from recycled plastic, blazers, jumpsuits, and more. For those who aren’t sure where to start, a styling session can be booked through the website.

West of Hudson Rugs + Home LLC | 219 Valley Street, 2nd Floor


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Shoppers can stop by West of Hudson to find the piece that can make a home feel like a home. Established in 2013 the store’s co-owners bring 30+ years of experience to their store in South Orange. Rugs are available in sizes ranging from 2×3 to 10×16 in various beautiful colors like watermelon, hot pink, teal blue, copper espresso, and others with patterns. There are also runners available.

Places to Eat + Drink

Elitist Coffee | 154 Valley Street

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This coffee shop has a cozy-meets-industrial vibe. Elitist Coffee is a mother-daughter business on Valley Street in South Orange serving up freshly brewed coffees, mocktails, and food items six days a week. This space is also available for events. In addition to serving coffee beverages, these local roasters also have international coffee beans for sale. Beans include a golden blend, espresso, dark roast, + house blend.

The Fox + Falcon by David Burke | 19 Valley Street

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This multilevel establishment has many areas for dining including a main dining room and a smaller pub area. Some menu items include Grilled Shrimp Tacos (with flour tortilla, pineapple salsa, + sweet chili aioli), Foxy Burger (lettuce, tomato, onion, DB sauce, cheddar cheese, English muffin, + french fries), and Butternut Squash Ravioli (mushrooms, spinach, pomegranate, brown butter, + balsamic glaze). There’s also a special menu for Pink Himalayan Salt-Aged Beef + Cuts. Finish the meal with a Sugar Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich (vanilla ice cream, strawberries compote, candied pistachio, toasted marshmallow, + warm chocolate sauce) or share DB’s Cotton Candy Cake Pop Trees (cotton candy, cake pops, + bubblegum whipped cream). The Fox + Falcon also has space for private events and Brunch on Sundays.

Gaslight Brewery + Restaurant | 15 South Orange Avenue


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Explorers can stop by this brewery and restaurant in South Orange for a bite. Gaslight has options like BBQ Moink Balls (Moo + Oink = Moink!! Beef meatballs are wrapped with bacon, dusted with our BBQ rub & smoked. Served with House-made Big Dog Porter BBQ sauce.), Gaslight Beer Cheese Soup (A delicious blend of cheese, beer, chicken stock, carrots, onions, celery, + peppers. Served with grilled garlic focaccia.), Twin Wursts (choice of wursts that are grilled and served on a bed of mashed potatoes and roasted sauerkraut with brown gravy.), and more. Its beer list includes a variety of ales, lagers, IPAs, and stouts.

Jackie + Sons | 134 South Orange Avenue

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Located at the corner of South Orange Avenue and Prospect Street, Jackie + Sons is a great place to stop and grab a bite to eat for breakfast, lunch, or brunch. For breakfast, try the Shakshuka (two eggs, spiced tomato sauce, feta, parsley, + sourdough toast), or Blueberry Pancakes (powdered sugar on top, with maple syrup on the side). For lunch try the Kafta Kabab (spiced ground beef and lamb, with a side of rice, chopped salad, pita, + tahini), or the Santino Special sandwich (lemon grilled chicken, burrata, roasted red peppers, basil, + balsamic on an Italian sub). There’s also a variety of baked goods like scones and breads.

La Villa Mexican + Salvadoran Food | 261 Irvington Avenue


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La Villa’s goal is to season and give color to its food by using fresh ingredients. Serving lunch and dinner, this restaurant has options like Chile Relleno (Poblano pepper stuffed with cheese or pulled chicken, covered with red or green spicy sauce + melted cheese, rice, refried beans, salad + two tortillas on the side.) and Pupusas (Stuffed corn tortillas, cabbage, pickles, + tomato sauce on the side). MG suggests ending the meal with some churros or tres leches cake.

The Order | 50W South Orange Avenue


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Opening its doors in 2019, The Order serves breakfast, lunch, + brunch. For breakfast try the Katarina (ricotta pancakes, banana, blueberry, + cinnamon-bourbon infused organic maple syrup) or the Susegad (spicy egg omelet + Ronnie sauce rolled in paratha accompanied by fresh greens). For lunch try the Snape (fried chicken + spicy coleslaw on a buttery pav or buttermilk biscuit. House salad with Catherine Dressing. Pomme frites served with Garlic Aioli + Ronnie Sauce.) or the Rani (tandoori chicken, garlic rice, kachumber, + mint-cilantro chutney). The Order also has an extensive coffee list including drinks such as flat whites, mushroom coffee, cortados, marocchino, and many more. After hours, The Order has events like Burlesque Nights + Drag Brunches.

Three Daughters Baking Co. | 12 Vose Avenue

three daughters baking

In 2018, Three Daughters Baking Co. opened its doors to begin a business founded with the family. Erica Leahy left her career in the restaurant industry to build this bakery and spend more time with her… three daughters. Three Daughters’ menu includes breakfast items like sweet + savory scones, croissants, quiches, and a GF/DF option: a carrot walnut muffin. Sweet treats include items like lemon bars and double chocolate brownies (GF). There’s also a beverage menu including a spiced latte, matcha latte, espresso, and more.

Town Hall Deli | 74 First Street


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Town Hall Deli opened its doors in 1927 and is known for its Sloppy Joe sandwich. Town Hall’s sloppy joes are made to share, so if traveling to the South Orange area with friends, be sure to stop by and taste one the way it was meant to be enjoyed. There are over 10 options to choose from, plus a make-your-own option. Town Hall has other sandwiches and breakfast options available.

Village Hall | 101 South Orange Avenue 


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This historical building brings a lot of life to South Orange. Village Hall has an eatery, events, an event space, a beer garden, and more to the area. The restaurant includes appetizers + salads, a raw bar, entrees, some options for the table, and a kid’s menu. There are also flight options for wine and whiskey. The Beer Garden has a separate menu for bites and brunch. The extensive beer list gives guests the option to choose from 40 different beers.

Walia Ethiopian Restaurant | 11 Village Plaza

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This family-owned restaurant opened its doors just over ten years ago. Menu options include Kay Watt (Lean beef cubes simmered in Ethiopian berbere sauce, flavored with seasoned butter), Salmon Tibs (Sautéed Salmon with Ethiopian Spices and cooked with onions, tomatoes, garlic, + seasoned butter.), and Shambusa (Pastry shells filled with chopped prime beef or lentils mixed with onions, scallions, garlic, and Jalapeno pepper, + herbs.). There are also beef and vegetarian combo options for sharing. MG recommends finishing the meal with banana pudding or a slice of Baklava.

Things to Do

Indigo Road Studio | 10 Vose Avenue

Visitors can take a pottery class alone or with friends in the South Orange area at Indigo Road Studio. Art educator Lindsey Shevkun Aguayo built a home pottery studio in 2019 that soon became a full-time position as Indigo Road Studio was established in 2020. Classes typically run on a seven-week program. Some pottery class options to take are intro + intermediate wheel classes, and a pottery wheel experience. The space can also be reserved for a private event if traveling to South Orange with a group. Information to reserve can be found on the website’s FAQ page.

JaVaFlo Aesthetics | 76 South Orange Avenue

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Based on a philosophy that self-care is not a luxury but a necessity, JaVaFlo Aesthetics provides a variety of services for self-care and relaxation. Services include body contouring, skincare, detox, waxing, teeth whitening, intimate care, and massages. It also has the option for spa parties for up to ten people with four different services. 

Rock Spa Club | 154 Valley Street 

Established in 2022 Rock Spa Club may be a relatively new business to South Orange, but its experience totals over a decade. Rock Spa services include massages ranging in pressure and time from 60 to 120 minutes. The spa also has facial options that include deep pore cleansing, a facial mask, lymph massage, and more. Facials range in time from 45 to 80 minutes.

Sew Leana | 12 West South Orange Avenue


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Located on South Orange Avenue, above Bunny’s Pizza, Sew Leana is a sewing place to take classes and shop. Adult classes include options for beginner and intermediate-level seamstresses, and quilting classes. There are also options for private sewing lessons. Crafters can pick up sewing supplies including sewing patterns, fabrics, sketchbooks, and more.

South Mountain Reservation | Cherry Lane, West Orange

Visitors can take a hike if the weather permits. While the South Mountain Reservation is technically in West Orange, it borders nearby towns including  South Orange. The reservation has a total of 2,112 acres of nature to explore. In addition to hiking, some other activities to consider are fishing, enjoying the scenic overlook, visiting the dog park with furry friends, and more.

South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) | 1 SOPAC Way


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SOPAC is a staple in the South Orange and Maplewood communities. The venue provides diverse arts + entertainment with performances like James Gibbs III + The Brick City Soul Collective, Colin Quinn, Kenny Garrett, Rufus Wainwright, and more. There’s also a loft section of this venue, a 2100+ square foot space. The loft also has events like Jammin’ in the Loft (a close-up, more intimate experience with favorite bands), and Laughs in the Loft (a monthly series featuring local comics).

See More: Things to Do in Jersey City Heights

The Local Yarn Store | 57 Academy Street


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Crafters can stop by The Local Yarn Store for all yarn needs or take a class. Items for purchase include yarn, needles + hooks, books + patterns, notions, bags, and embroidery needs. If interested in taking a class, options include beginner levels for knitting, crochet, + brioche, Next Step Knitting, Visible Mending Workshop, Color Theory Workshop, Introduction to Embroidery + more. The Yarn Store also had trunk shows listed under its Special Events tab. Some vendors include Simply Vintage, Homemade Yarn Co., and Murphy Depths.

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