Top Town: Central:
Overall Rank: 2
The borough of Peapack Gladstone, with its stately homes, equestrian culture and quaint downtown, seems fit for a king—in fact, Hassan II, the king of Morocco, once lived here. The community, nestled in the hills of northern Somerset County, remains rural in character, but its proximity to major highways, as well as two train stations, makes it desirable for professionals and commuters.
Real estate also is attractive in this borough, which was formed in 1912 when the villages of Peapack and Gladstone incorporated into a single municipality. Despite the tough housing market, the median home price soared 29.8 percent from 2007 to 2010. “Peapack Gladstone’s home values have held up much better than any other area around here,” says Peter Engelmann, a Realtor with Weichert and a borough resident. He credits the school system and the borough’s efforts “to keep taxes down.”
Charm doesn’t hurt either. “The town is a throwback,” says Engelmann. “I do not have a key to my house. You can get milk delivered here. It’s a safe haven at the end of the train line.”
As for Hassan II, his former home is now Natirar, a county park that boasts the restaurant Ninety Acres, a cooking school and trails for walking, biking and horseback riding. —Ashley J. Cerasaro