South Orange

“A place to feel homey while still staying hip”  OR  “A hip, homey place just west of the city”

South Orange, a suburb with an eclectic arts scene and bustling downtown is so cool that even a tried-and-true New Yorker will love it.

Most of the action happens in and around the vibrant Village Center, a walkable downtown with unique shops and an extensive sampling of world cuisine.  There’s Ariyoshi for Japanese, Reservoir for Italian, Toro Loco for Mexican, Falafel-ly Yours for Middle Eastern, and South Mountain Tavern for new American fare and a great wine selection.  For quick bites and treats, there’s The Dancing Blender Smoothie Company, Cait & Abby’s Daily Bread and BGR, a new fast-casual burger joint.  There’s also the upscale grocer Ashley Marketplace, a one-stop-shop for your everyday and specialty needs.

Located in the heart of the Village is The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC). This multidisciplinary facility, with its intimate 440-seat theater and industrial loft space, hosts a wide variety of live music, dance, and other cultural events. SOPAC is also home to a five-screen movie theater, an art gallery and the SOMA Film Festival, an annual event sponsored by South Orange and Maplewood.  Over the course of three days, attendees screen independent and documentary films while youth programs give kids a crash course in movie making.

Juxtaposed against the hip, urban vibe, the town’s gaslamp-lit neighborhoods have an old fashioned façade.  Listed on the state Registry of Historic Places, the Montrose Park section showcases grand Tudors and Victorians on lush, rolling lawns.  In other areas, magnificent Colonials and lovely mid-century homes stand closer together but are just as charming. And, for those looking for condominium living, luxury buildings around the Village Center grant walkable access to most local happenings.  So no matter your taste and whatever your budget, South Orange has nearly 3 sq. miles of housing that you can call home.

Beyond their backyards, residents get back to nature at various green spaces around South Orange. Flood’s Hill is the perfect place for sledding in the winter and it’s a hot spot in summer for arts fairs, free concerts, and al fresco films.  At the South Mountain Reservation, a 2,000-acre nature reserve, visitors can hike, explore waterfalls, play fetch in the dog park or just take in the magnificent views of the NYC skyline. And there’s the Cameron Field complex where a playground, tennis courts, athletic fields, and the community pool serve up enough fun to last an entire summer.

Repeatedly ranked among the Top 50 Best School Districts in NJ, South Orange shares its district with neighboring Maplewood. Children attend one of six elementary schools, Maplewood or SO Middle School, and Columbia High School and benefit from a 12:1 student-teacher ratio.  The high school offers a wide variety of AP courses and a rich slate of activities including the champion fencing team, award-winning literary magazine, and social justice clubs like Diversity Rocks.

At the South Orange train station, conveniently located in the Village Center, commuters can grab a coffee at Starbucks and then board the Morris & Essex line for the 30-minute trip to Penn Station.  And don’t worry if you’re not in walking distance to the train, Jitney service picks up commuters from four different sections of town.

So don’t leave the city kicking and screaming.  You can trade in the Big APPLE for South ORANGE and your life will be just as sweet.