“A tiny town that’s big on charm”
In the heart of bustling Essex County is a tiny town with just 2,000 residents and no stores, restaurants, or even traffic lights. This hidden gem is called Essex Fells and it’s one of the most desirable places to live in New Jersey.
Essex Fells is an idyllic town just 23 miles west of Manhattan. But the town’s proximity to the city isn’t felt on the winding roads dotted with century-old dogwoods and oaks. Here, unique, stunning homes, ranging from smaller colonials to palatial Tudors, sit on lush acres of grass where deer sightings are common. Residents form a tight-knit, civic-minded community where 150 volunteers run the fire department and many more raise money for a host of charities.
Essex Fells has plenty of public green space, including gorgeous Grover Cleveland Park, which it shares with neighboring Caldwell. Perfect for a play date, its playground has two large structures for climbing and exploring and several swings, including two made from tires. A babbling brook meanders past the playground and wanders along walking paths and picnic groves. There are also tennis, bocce, and shuffleboard courts, a baseball diamond, and a fishing pond. Throughout the year, the park hosts a variety of events like the Halloween Parade, the Arbor Day celebration, a fishing derby, and free summer concerts. With over 41-acres of rolling hills and broad meadows, this park offers endless opportunities for relaxation, recreation, and community fun.
But that’s not the only place to frolic and play. The town’s picturesque Memorial and Bicentennial Gardens and the Trotter Tract, an 83-acre area with many species of flora and fauna, are also not to be missed. At the Essex Fells Country Club, members can play 18 holes of golf or take a dip in the family-friend pool. And during colder months, Essex Fells Pond, a quaint spot that feels more like New England than New Jersey, is a hub of winter activity. Popular activities at “The Pond” include hockey and ice skating or gathering around a campfire for s’mores and conversation.
Essex Fells School, the town’s National Blue Ribbon elementary school, serves K-6 and is ranked one of the best in the state. Older students attend West Essex Regional Junior and Senior High Schools, along with their neighbors from Fairfield, North Caldwell, and Roseland, on a shared 70-acre campus. The high school students repeatedly score well above state average on their SAT’s and typically 98% attend college. In addition to its competitive academic program, West Essex High School also offers extracurricular activities that include girls’ field hockey, a debate team, and a photography club.
Although the town is without commerce, quick drives to neighboring areas make shopping and dining-out convenient. There’s Montclair’s five downtowns, Caldwell’s busy Bloomfield Avenue, and West Orange’s Whole Foods and wide range of restaurants. The upscale Short Hills Mall is less than 25 minutes away and the Livingston Mall is even closer.
And while the town doesn’t have its own train station, residents still have a variety of ways to get to NYC. The Harrison Station is a quick drive away and commuters can board the Trans-Hudson line for a 20-minute trip to Penn Station. There are also buses to catch in Caldwell that run express to Port Authority.
So if you’re looking for small-town living in the shadow of the Big City, come fall in love with Essex Fells.