Maplewood

“A Bit of Brooklyn in the Burbs”

If you’re looking for a socially and environmentally conscious town with a Bohemian vibe, then Maplewood is the place to park your Prius.  With its collection of Victorian, Colonial and Tudor-style homes, Maplewood’s pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and timeless charm attract city folk looking for a unique suburban alternative.

Often called “Brooklyn West” or “Montclair’s Little Sister,” artists, writers, and musicians abound and contribute to the town’s friendly and inclusive atmosphere.  On most spring or summer weekends, people come together for block parties and nearly everyone participates in Maplewoodstock, the town’s two-day art and music festival.  The annual Pride Festival, Halloween parade, Fourth of July Spectacular, and winter holiday celebrations are also A MUST for the nearly 24,000 residents.

Residents flock to the downtown “village” where innovative mom-and-pop shops thrive and chain stores aren’t allowed.  At the Able Baker, a cozy patisserie, you can sample scrumptious treats like their gluten/dairy/nut-free banana bread. Stop by [words], the independent bookstore that hosts Saturday storytime for “kids and their adults.”  Take in the latest film at The Maplewood Theater, whose retro façade conjures up memories of yesteryear.  Or dine at any number of the town’s superb restaurants like The Conscious Fork, which offers vegan fare, or Arturro’s Pizzeria, which serves up artisanal pies made from farm-fresh ingredients.

Steps from the hustle and bustle, Maplewood residents can also get their nature-fix.  The town is home to six parks and playgrounds and also a section of the South Mountain reservation – a 2,000-acre nature reserve complete with hiking trails, picnic areas, a dog park, and magnificent views of the NYC skyline.  There’s also the community swim club where an Olympic-sized pool, a shallow pool for beginners, a baby pool, and two waterslides offer fun for all ages.

Consistently voted one of NJ’s best places to raise a family, Maplewood shares its schools with sister town South Orange.  Children attend one of six elementary schools, Maplewood or SO Middle School, and Columbia High School. The high school offers a wide variety of AP courses, visual and performing arts classes, athletic programs, and extra curricular activities like the robotics club, which has repeatedly gone to the world championships.

For commuters, Maplewood offers easy access to NYC.  Residents can hop aboard the New Jersey Transit Mid-town Direct line for a 35-minute train ride to Penn Station or various buses that run direct to Port Authority.

So if you’re looking to leave Park Slope but not your New York-state-of-mind, the vibrant town of Maplewood should make your short list of relocation destinations.