Delight in Activities Across Downtown Montclair

The bustling township beckons with culture and cuisine.

downtown montclair

Montclair’s Church Street. Photo by Laura Baer

Once considered a bedroom town, 21st-century Montclair stops just short of bustling metropolis. Its downtowns (arguably, there are three) teem with afternoon strollers, shoppers and restaurant goers. Warm weather brings street performances, sidewalk dining and pop-up events—like this year’s Point of Action art installation, an interactive experience through May 6 in Crane Park (1 Greenwood Avenue, behind Lackawanna Plaza).

Start a sunny day with a morning walk through Presby Memorial Iris Gardens (474 Upper Mountain Avenue) and its grand display of 75,000 blooms in 3,000 registered varieties, some more than 100 years old. (Maximum blooms usually arrive in late May.) More blooms abound at the historic Van Vleck House & Gardens (21 Van Vleck Street), another lovely spot for a stroll. Stop for breakfast or brunch at Raymond’s (28 Church Street), where you can sit outdoors and watch the passing scene (there’s often a wait). The vibe is retro, and yummy favorites include a yogic chai latte and short-rib hash. Browse Church Street’s tony shops for jewelry, clothing and antiques. Head to Upper Montclair for more boutique shopping at the Valley Road/Bellevue Avenue crossroads. On Saturdays, Walnut Street (the third downtown) comes alive with a busy farmers’ market and more sidewalk dining options. Don’t miss the fresh-baked treats from Brick + Dough (110 Walnut Street).

The Montclair Art Museum (3 S. Mountain Avenue) shines as the township’s cultural gem, with its extensive collection of American and Native American art.

downtown montclair

The rooftop lounge at the MC Hotel. Courtsey of the MC Hotel

STAY: Have no fear that a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel in town means Montclair has lost its artsy edge. If anything, the 159-room MC Hotel (23 Orange Road) embraces the town with subtle nods—from minibars chock-full of Montclairian-made goodies to local artwork to the bands that perform at the bar and the oh-so-cool rooftop lounge, with its awesome view of Manhattan.

For a more intimate experience, The George (37 N. Mountain Avenue), a 32-room boutique hotel, ramps up the allure of old Montclair with a gorgeous historic mansion reinvented for today’s aesthetic. Here, architectural details and antiques coexist with conveniences such as Nespresso machines, Dyson blow-dryers and comfy Casper mattresses.

DINE: Montclair is justly considered one of the Garden State’s top dining destinations. Options span the globe—including Ethiopian, Thai, Cuban, New American, Japanese, Mexican, Italian and French—and many are BYO. Among the hottest tables with outdoor options: Fascino (331 Bloomfield Avenue) for elegant Italian, and Turtle and the Wolf (622 Valley Road) for New American. Both were on the November 2020 New Jersey Monthly Best Restaurants list.

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