Our Favorite Downtowns: Summit

Though perceived as a Duxiana town, Summit's shops allow shoppers to get plenty of bang for their buck.

The Summit Diner.
The Summit Diner.
Illustration by Greg Betza

Outsiders sometimes refer to Summit as a Duxiana town, meaning it’s posh and expensive. Indeed, downtown Summit has a Duxiana luxury bedding shop. But shoppers get a lot of bang for their buck, including plenty to choose from in the charming downtown—and all within walking distance of the Midtown Direct train station.

The downtown—which claims 200 boutiques, chain stores, restaurants and service businesses such as salons and spas—was designated historic in 2014, but it’s certainly not resting on its laurels. It’s undergoing an update that, by the end of 2016, will include upgraded lighting and possibly the underground installation of bundles of fibers and electrical wires to facilitate downtown communication. The conduits, explains Marin Mixon, executive director of the Summit Downtown organization, can increase security and “even let shoppers find parking places.”

For now, benefits include great service from committed business owners like Andrea Goldberg of A to Zoom, a destination for tween-targeted gifts and cool gift wrap. It’s the sort of place that keeps shoppers coming back to downtown instead of heading to the nearby Mall at Short Hills. “You get the personal touch,” says Goldberg.

WHERE TO EAT: Brownie Points for duffins (a donut-muffin hybrid); Boxwood Coffee for honey-cinnamon lattes or a Tres Santos pour-over; Pizza Vita for perfectly charred Neopolitan pies baked in 90 seconds (try the Melanzana, with eggplant, caramelized onion and ricotta); Roots Steakhouse for when you crave a 14-ounce bone-in filet; and the Summit Diner, one of the last, authentic railroad-car types around.

WHERE TO SHOP: For women’s clothes there’s Willow St., an indie boutique with a clever mix of brands and prices that appeal to multiple generations. Also try the trendy Femmebot; the boutique’s owner, Tina Setia, is a protégé of costume designer Patricia Field of Sex & the City fame. (The original location is in Ridgewood.) For men, John Hyatt offers an artfully curated selection of shirts, pants, sweaters and outerwear. For antiques and home décor, visit Great House.

DON’T MISS: Take a break at one of the four quadrants of green space near the train station. Pack a picnic and let the kids explore the playground while you check out the sculptures selected by Summit Public Art, a volunteer group that places contemporary art, some of it by well-known artists, in favorite gathering spots. On Sunday mornings, a farmers’ market sets up in a downtown parking lot.

THEN AGAIN: Summit is trying hard to remedy its parking shortage—but at downtown Bar Method and Exhale Spa’s Core Fusion classes you’ll still find Lululemon-clad ladies blaming their tardiness on their inability to find a space.

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