Downtown Showdown

Two towns remain in our Downtown Showdown, presented by Kings Food Markets. Who will be crowned the ultimate winner? Vote now!

It all comes down to this.

Maplewood and Morristown are the two downtowns left standing in New Jersey Monthly’s Downtown Showdown, presented by Kings Food Markets. Both municipalities won their Week 3 matchups and will now square off in the Championship Round.

The initial 16 downtowns were chosen by the editorial staff of New Jersey Monthly. For Week 1 voting, towns faced off based on population, while Week 2 pitted the victors against one another. Week 3 brought a new crop of survivors to face off to see who would advance to the final round. Maplewood topped Montclair, and Morristown bested Cape May.

Montclair and Cape May were eliminated.

Maplewood and Morristown share a number of charming attributes. Both are home to various shops, a Kings Food Market, a performing arts center and a plethora of excellent restaurants, including a NJM Top 25. (Lorena’s in Maplewood, Jockey Hollow Bar and Kitchen in Morristown.)

Don’t be mistaken: Both towns burst with personality.

Maplewood Mayor Vic DeLuca says Maplewood Village’s smallness is what makes it special, giving the area “a European feel.” He says Maplewood’s uniqueness is immediately apparent, thanks to, “a winding roadway with a 15 MPH speed limit and no traffic lights, free parking throughout, and a blend of family owned shops and services.”

“Our downtown is off the main drag and we like it like that,” he says. “It’s walkable and a comfortable place to watch the world go by.”

Morristown, meanwhile, embraces largeness. Mayor Tim Dougherty says Morristown has become the hub of North Jersey, drawing visitors not only from far reaches of the state, but outside it as well.

“We recently hosted thousands of cyclists for the Gran Fondo Bike race,” he says. “Our Fall Festival on the Green [happening this weekend, Sunday September 27] brings in over 50,000 people. How many towns can handle that?”

“A great downtown is a place where you can live, work and play. That’s the key that makes Morristown unique,” he says.
Voting closes on Monday, September 28. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 29.

Who will be named the ultimate winner of the Downtown Showdown? What town deserves to be crowned the best downtown in the state? You help decide. Vote today!

What do you think of our Championship Round? Let us know how you feel in the comments!

Never been to some of theses towns? Read more about what they have to offer!

Sorry! Only one vote per person per round. Multiple submissions are disabled.

Read more Towns & Schools articles.

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.

Comments (24)

Required not shown
Required not shown

  1. Barry Rubinstein

    I live in Summit so of course I’m prejudiced! 🙂 But, hey! Where’s Chester – one of my favorite, and historic, downtowns?!

  2. Ashley Mogul

    Hey, what’s the criteria for the towns chosen? Millburn is a cute downtown

  3. MRSA

    Are you kidding? The two best downtowns are facing each other in the first round?
    They both should have been top seeds in opposite brackets.

    Also, where is New Brunswick?

    What a poorly designed poll..

  4. Louise Reeves

    Fixed. Bordentown was never even mentioned. I mean, c’mon, Somerville? If it wasn’t for Friday night Cruise Nights, Somerville would be a ghost town. Morristown has turned into a divided city, one side all Hispanic businesses, the other non-Hispanic and neither side with any flair or substance. Princeton was a great strolling town about 20 years ago. Now it’s just banks, real estate offices and insurance. Most of its cute restaurants are gone, there’s few if any unique shops and it’s over run with Millennials and upper class former hippies.

  5. New Jersey Monthly

    Hi everyone! Picking our favorite downtowns was not easy. We started with a list of 25 towns and polled our Facebook followers. Some that were cut in the polling included New Brunswick, Bernardsville, Millburn, Moorestown, Pitman, South Orange, Summit and Westwood. With their input, we visited the top contenders and checked them out for factors such as ambience, amenities, dining, shopping, cultural attractions and parking.

  6. Stephen

    Shad vs Sharks…. beautiful galleries, shops and restaurants… First Fridays (for the Arts) and free fireworks this Friday… vote for Lambertville NJ

  7. John Scott

    There is NO doubt…….Lambertville is NUMBER 1 !!!!!

  8. JazzyT

    Downtown Somerville “Gets Better and Better with Time” Music, Wine, Comedy, Arts, Outside theater, Courthouse Lawn Concerts and much much more!!!

  9. somer

    Somerville has so much more than cars on Friday nights, if you’d bother to come other times. I’m a huge fan of Somerville. Movies on Wednesdays, Concerts on Thursdays and Saturdays, numerous events being held at least twice a month. Charitable 5k’s and historic tours. Recreation everywhere you turn! Did you know that you can bike/walk/run from one end of town to the other? Besides, what a great place to live. There are so many choices of homes in our town….ranging from 100,000 some to over a half a million! Great starter town for young families who can stroll the streets safely. try it ! I promise you’ll like it. It’s 2.2 square miles of heaven!

  10. Stephen

    cape may is nice… Lambertville is nicer. Ok I am biased, I live here. BUT we do have a much better- more diverse and robust downtown. come visit and see for yourself. #lambertville #stingofdefeat #westillrock

  11. Richard Nicoletti

    I really like Somerville.The Irish pub rocks. Lots of good Asian restaurants. The bad people are inside the county jai downtown. Need a train? Catch it from Raritan.

  12. Patricia Beck Peace

    Cape May is the absolute best!

  13. Jeff Demos

    I agree, Cape May is best with all the fabuolus restaurants they have like “The Blue Rose Inn”, “Washington Inn”, “Union Park”, “Peter Shields” and “The Ebbit Room” to name few… The Victorian buildings just set this town apart from all others. I think they should win….

  14. Goodstein

    Kudos to Maplewood Mayor Vic De Luca who is working overtime to get the word out! Vote Maplewood!

  15. Jackson

    Glad MWood made it this far, but alas, is no match for Montclair

  16. Germanicus .

    All are nice. I have been to all four but I have to give it to Maplewood. Monclair is too spread out with a busy highway running through the middle of town and sketchy neighborhoods within a block or two of the cbd. The outskirts of Cape may is nice and its location at the beach is great, but it is a developer downtown, not an authentic one. Morristown has a nice green and some nice bars but the nicest parts are only a block or two from some ghetto-y sections. Maplewood has the small town charm, convenient train platform right on the main street, nice bars and restaurants, it is accessed by local roads rather than busy highways and is directly adjacent to a beautiful park with activities all year round.

    • Dorothy

      I completely agree! Maplewood has authentic old time charm!

  17. Karen Solomon

    Tried to vote for Maplewood before noon but it wasn’t possible – no link

  18. Tammy Creech Bolden

    Please vote for Maplewood. Too much traffic in Montclair as it is…

  19. Corey Ayla-Fagundez

    The best things about Maplewood is its big town, small feel. The downtown is nestled into the communitys center, accessible yet tucked away with an old town feel, however all the big town feels are there too. We share our town with people from all walks of life, many different family makeups, and most importantly we are an inclusive town, everyone who choses to live here is welcomed and valued for their differences. The local train is a midtown direct for residents that commute to Manhattan, jitneys too, there are fantastic events throughout the year, holiday events, concerts big and small, most notable Maplewoodstock. Halloween festivities sponsored by our local merchants, Fourth of July circus, races, ice cream eating contests, baking contests, dog show, interactive art installations and others. Memorial day parade and Rubber Duck Races in the river! Winter holiday events almost every weekend in December. Art Walk event, Springfest….it all happens here! Eateries go from very casual to top notch highly noted restaurants. A movie theatre, a theatrical venue, a beautiful events hall, Our downtown has everything anyone could want in order to enjoy a day/evening with friends, family, neighbors…..or themselves. Eat, drink, play, pamper, shop..its here in Maplewood’s downtown.

  20. Bill Robinson

    Born and raised in Maplewood. Loved it. Lived in Morristown, not so much.

  21. John Serratelli

    Both are nice, but Morristown’s downtown is the perfect balance of modern vibrancy and history. And nothing beats The Green.

  22. Barry Shovitz

    Maplewood all the way, especially Springfield Avenue right near the bus depot.

  23. JRC