Day Trip: Chester

This little Morris County town can teach the malls a thing or two about the shopping experience.

Courtesy of chesternj.org.

Looking for the perfect destination for a shopping day? In the Morris County town of Chester, you’ll find shop after shop offering unique clothing, collectibles, and gifts—most within walking distance of each other. You can also dine in an historic tavern or a tidy tearoom.

Something Old: Antiquing in Chester ranges from the tasteful Chester Antiques (26 Main Street, 908-879-2900) to the stimulating clutter of Pegasus Antiques (98 Main Street, 908-879-4792), with its endless cases of china, depression glass, pottery, bric-a-brac, toys, magazines, and more. If that’s not enough to satisfy your craving, the Chester Antique Mall (427 Route 24, 908-879-7836) is a short drive east of downtown and has more than 25 dealers.

Plenty New: There’s a multitude of boutique shopping in Chester. Check out Bellisimo (44 Main Street, 908-879-4483) for its cute “Jersey Girl” tops, plus gift baskets, stationary, and accessories. Ladyfingers (76 Main Street, 908-879-8533) has a wide selection of Vera Bradley bags and an array of jewelry and gift items. For higher-end jewelry, designer bags, and bracelets, try Objects of Desire (57 Main Street, 908-879-1968). More eclectic gifts can be found at Midnight Owl (75 Main Street, 908-879-1717), which specializes in myth-inspired collectibles.

Time for Tea: For a delightful lunch or a light snack there’s no place better than Sally Lunn’s (15 Perry Street, 908-879-7731), a rambling little tearoom tucked in the public parking lot behind Main Street. Start with a pot of fresh-brewed tea and one of their amazing over-sized scones. Move on to soup, salad, sandwiches, or something from the oven—like Cornish pastie ($10.50) or cockney pie ($11.75). The food is fresh and delicious and the atmosphere even better—from the mismatched chairs to the endless shelves of antique teapots and English porcelain. Be forewarned: on weekends this place is jammed; a weekday visit is highly recommended.

Pet Peeves: Even if you have no intention of bringing home a winged thing, a stop in A World of Birds is a must (15 Perry Street, 908-879-2291). You’ll be fascinated by the array of finches, parakeets, and canaries, and the open-air pen full of majestic parrots. Pet Grooming Plus (25 Perry Street, 908-879-8333) specializes in organic and holistic pet foods. Well Bred (25 Main Street, 908-879-6569) has unique pet gifts and fresh-baked treats.

Eat in the Inn: The Publick House Tavern (111 Main Street, 908-879-6878) fills the sprawling first floor of a restored 200-year-old inn. A large lunch menu includes an array of soups, salads, sandwiches, pastas, and entrees, including a grilled vegetable and portabella salad ($12) and Kobe skirt steak ($14.50). Dinner means an even larger menu and slightly higher prices. A kids’ menu is available at all times. Other dining options include Benito’s Trattoria (44 Main Street/rear, 908-879-1887), Redwoods Grill and Bar (459 Main Street, 908-879-7909), and the cute little sandwich shop Mama’s Grace Café (55 Main Street/rear, 908-879-5044).

Have a Seat: Chester Country Furnishings (60 Main Street, 908-879-8707) is a multi-level, mini-department store full of furniture, quilts, braided rugs, and country kitchen accessories. Don’t miss their collection of drawer pulls. If English country furniture is your cup of tea, try the Whistling Elk (44 Main Street, 908-879-2425). For linens and fabrics, you can spend hours pondering the goods at Philosophy (15 Perry Street, 908-879-0055).

Sweet Stuff: Taylor’s Ice Cream Parlor (18 E. Main Street, 908-879-5363) is the place for a quick dip, with 48 flavors of homemade ice cream and yogurt in an old-fashioned atmosphere. For some really sweet treats, do not miss Black River Candy Shoppe (44 Main Street/rear, 908-879-1233). Here you’ll find endless barrels full of candy sold by the pound.

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