What do we love most about West Orange, NJ?
Shoveling a red velvet cupcake into my face from Supreme Bakery downtown
Saying “hello” to Dante, the draft horse at the Turtleback Zoo after I drop my son off for the day at Turtleback Zoo Summer Camp
Visiting friends who live in Llewelyn Park and taking an opportunity drive around and look at all the amazing homes and under-utilized gazebos
Ordering enormous vats of skirt steak with chimichurri sauce with beans and rice from Pepe’s BBQ
Wandering through the halls of the Thomas Edison National Historic Park and imagining what it would be like to be born at the dawn of the American Industrial Revolution
Ordering a glass of wine at the AMC Dine-in Movie Theatre with my feet up in the recliner seat while I watch a summer blockbuster in chilly AC
Swinging my way through the Safari mini-golf course in frustration
Celebrating birthdays with the BEST ice cream cake from Mark and Julie’s Homemade Ice Cream on Pleasant Valley Way
Sneaking a peek at the new interior design of the Starlite Italian Restaurant & Bar ambushed by Robert Irvine of “Restaurant Impossible”
Catching a world premier show at the Luna Stage in the Arts District of West Orange
Speed walking around the waterfront at the South Mountain Recreation Complex in yoga pants and thinking about the hot dogs at Jimmy Buff’s on Washington
Letting my son loose at the “pirate ship” Regatta Playground by the picnic pavilion & paddle boat house at the South Mountain Recreation Complex
Showing my son the 9-11 Memorial at the top of the hill in Eagle Rock Reservation
Yumming on the wings at Egans & Sons on Harrison Ave
Having a drink on the patio of McLoone’s Boathouse overlooking the Waterfront
Bowling a few frames at Eagle Rock Lanes
Sitting on a picnic blanket by the side of the road on Main Street watching one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day parades in NJ go by
Horseback riding lessons at the Essex Equestrian Center on Woodland
Experiencing local music at the Oscar Schindler Performing Arts Center
Ice skating (and cursing) at the Codey Arena
Attending a sweet 16 party on the giant rotating dance floor of Club 4Sixty6 and being shocked this high party space exists in town
Gorging on fancy brunch at The Manor on my mother’s birthday
Sadly, being the “designated driver” for Brew At The Zoo (craft beers, food trucks and exotic jerky vendors – best birthday ever!)
Dominated by the Edison legacy, West Orange has come into its own as a destination suburb of 45,000 with a huge mix of affordable and luxury homes, and a number of appealing, distinct neighborhoods stretched over it’s huge, 12.2 square mile frame. First-time visitors are often surprised by the richness of the geography and the architectural choices ranging from vintage colonials to mountainside contemporaries, and everything else in between. With about a dozen major developments, such as Eagle Ridge, The Pointe, Bellaire, Crystal Woods, The Highlands, and Vizcaya, the town has also become the destination for condo and townhouse dwellers in all price ranges. It’s also one of the few towns so close to Manhattan to embrace new single-family construction.
A magnet for creative New Yorkers, West Orange is now home to an international summer jazz and brew festival at the town’s Oskar Schindler Performing Arts Center that draws, in large measure, from its own talented citizens, including Bill Charlap, Vic Juris, Dave Stryker, Nat Adderley, Jr. and Cecil Brooks, to name a few. Actress Whoopi Goldberg and Kool & the Gang’s Robert Bell are among the well-known homeowners in West Orange’s historic Llewellyn Park, one of the first private, gated communities in the US and home to Thomas Edison, whose stunning mansion stands today as a National Park Service monument to its most famous citizen.
While West Orange has no direct train service to NYC, many neighborhoods have town jitney service during commuter hours to nearby Midtown Direct stations – and there are express buses as well as Park & Ride services located adjacent to the exquisite 36-acre South Mountain Recreation Complex featuring the Turtle Back Zoo, Codey Ice Arena, MiniGolf Safari, Children's Regatta Playground, Tree Top Adventure Course, paddle-boating, and a scenic 1.7 mile lakeside walkers’ paradise. There are also multiple public and private golf courses, generous parklands and lots of shopping opportunities, including a Whole Foods superstore. West Orange is excellently positioned between the Essex County towns of Montclair, South Orange, Maplewood, and Livingston.