Having grown up in Montclair, New Jersey, I’m pretty jaded to its charm. It’s only when I mention the town to anyone in the New York City-area (and are met with an ever-familiar “Oh yes Montclair, such a cute town”), or bring my friends to visit that I’m reminded of its allure. The New York Times has described it as being part of “the Brooklyn triangle” (despite it being about an hour’s drive away) and it’s often referred to as “Park Slope West.” Yes, I can see all of the eye rolls from New Yorkers from here. In its defense, the descriptions aren’t far off.
New Jersey often gets a bad rep. As a recent New York transplant, I know that more than anyone. But put your misconceptions about Jersey strip malls and pollution-driven factories to the side for a minute—Montclair is more Stars Hollow than Jersey Shore. It hosts film festivals, jazz concerts, farmer’s markets, and fairs in its quaint urban-suburban setting. And it’s home to adorable parks, vintage boutiques, eclectic restaurants, and even a museum. This is not me bragging (this might be me bragging), these are just facts.
Just ask celebrities, like Stephen Colbert, makeup artist Bobbi Brown, and actor Frankie Faison, who call Montclair home. It has a cosmopolitan vibe minus the exorbitant prices. I’m not suggesting you pick up and move here anytime soon (although, many New Yorkers are infiltrating flocking to the town to get a break real estate wise), but consider it for a weekend day trip. It’s only a 45-minute train ride away. Yes, you have to endure NJ Transit and step foot in Penn Station to get there, but it’s worth carving out the time. Ahead, we outline the draws. Who knows, you might end up staying a lot longer than you expected.