Day Trip: Madison

Day Trip to Madison - New Jersey Monthly - Best of NJ

Il Mondo Vecchio
Jim Kirkikis

This haven on the Morris & Essex train line offers one-stop shopping with a little bit of everything.

Originally called Bottle Hill, the community was renamed in 1834 to honor James Madison. Known also as Rose City for its once thriving flower industry, Madison was home to greenhouses that sent 25 million roses to markets between Boston and Richmond from the late 1800s to the late 1950s.

Fancy feast: Although it’s on the pricier side, Il Mondo Vecchio (72 Main St, 973-301-0024), a BYO, serves up superb old-world Italian cuisine.

Riding high: Visit the Madison Bicycle Shop (14 Kings Rd, 973-377-6616, for the latest in bikes, helmets, footwear, and more.

Read: Looking for used or out-of-print books? Stop by the Chatham Bookseller (8 Green Village Rd, 973-822-1361) and browse through the shelves. For everyday reads, check out Pandora Book Peddlers (9 Waverly Pl, 973-822-8388).

All that jazz: At Shanghai Jazz (24 Main St, 973-822-2899), a supper club serving Chinese and Pan-Asian fare, catch live jazz Tuesday through Sunday.

Funny pages: Visit Dewey’s Comic City (13 Park Ave, 973-593-0042, for the latest in comic books.

Hands on: Creative Hands Art Studio & Atelier (14 Kings Rd, 973-377-2848) offers classes in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, and pottery.

Dapper Dans: Prima (44 Main St, 973-377-9256) carries everything for men from Vineyard Vine ties to Ralph Lauren tuxedos.

Blast from the past: Time After Time Vintage Clothing (81 Main St, 973-966-6877) sells clothing dating from Woodstock to Queen Victoria. Owner Bette Moore even outfitted Angelina Jolie in The Good Shepherd.

Grab a slice: Rocco’s Restaurant (30 Cook Pl, 973-377-4838) is a sure thing for a great slice of pizza in-house or to go.

Burger and a beer: Poor Herbie’s (13 Waverly Pl, 973-966-0211), with Guinness, Smithwicks, Harp, and Bass on tap, has been dubbed by some as the Cheers of Madison.

Before machines: At the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts (9 Main St, 973-377-2982), which is housed in Madison’s original public library building, view a collection of hand tools and the products they produced in the preindustrial age. Check out “Designing Tools: Form & Function,” on display through June.

Let’s all go to the movies: You don’t have to go far to see great films. The Chatham-based Clearview Cinemas (14 Lincoln Pl, 973-470-CLVW) shows independent films, such as the Oscar-winning Capote and Good Night, and Good Luck.

Give a gift: Seasons (35 Main St, 973-822-8210) and the Lazy Daisy (2 Lincoln Pl, 973-593-6826) are great places to find that one-of-a-kind gift.

A little cul-chah: Check out the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (F. M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, Drew University, 36 Madison Ave, 973-408-5600).

Tiny worlds: Know someone who’s looking for a small version of a Cheerios box or a 3½-inch-tall pram? Send them to Miniatures & More (39 Main St, 973-822-0240,, which has been creating original dollhouses since 1978 and carries many lines of Colonial and Victorian miniatures that can be shipped anywhere in the country. 

Old style: San Francisco Clothing Boutique (4 Green Village Rd, 973-377-5513) features women’s clothing and accessories with a California flare.

Tasty treat: McCool’s Ice Cream Parlour (26 Main St, 973-301-0303) is home to the best milk shakes in New Jersey—according to this magazine.

Togs for tots: Kids Haven (7 Waverly Pl, 973-377-6363) carries clothing ranging from infants’ to children’s sizes, as well as unique wooden toys.

Gourmet to go: Not in the mood to cook? Stop by Gary’s Wine & Marketplace (121 Main St, 973-822-0200) and pick from one of the gourmet dinner meals. The shop also has a large selection of wines, cheeses, and chocolates.

A rose by any other name: If you like garlic, you’ll love the Garlic Rose (41 Main St, 973-822-1178), whose menu features West Coast Garlic Chowder, Garlic Angels on Horseback, and Garlicious Rigatoni.

Riding high: Founded in 1965, Madison Bicycle Shop (14 Kings Rd, 973-377-6616, has a real mom-and-pop feel and offers the latest in clothing and bikes. The shop performs repairs in-house and conducts maintenance seminars.

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