Montclair, New Jersey is a vibrant city that is home to an array of artists, students, writers, musicians, and media professionals. The New Jersey town boasts a variety of things to see and do, from unique shops and eclectic boutiques to theaters, art galleries, museums, and charming restaurants. The bohemian arts scene draws a diverse crowd who come to savor the worldly cuisine, take in a show, or revel in the sights and sounds of Bloomfield Avenue. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Van Vleck House & Gardens
© Van Vleck House & Gardens
Established more than 140 years ago as a private estate, the Van Vleck House & Gardens was the creation of successful businessman Joseph Van Vleck Sr when he moved to Montclair in 1868. While there have been several changes to the property in the decades since, the exquisite U-shaped Italianate villa and landscaped grounds have remained the same.
The gardens are home to mostly ericaceous plants that have been developed over generations, including hybrid species of rhododendrons and azaleas. The private gardens are open to the public all year round from dawn to dusk and play host to a variety of special events, fundraisers, and other occasions throughout the year.
21 Van Vleck Street, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-744-4752
2.Montclair Art Museum (MAM)
© Montclair Art Museum
The Montclair Art Museum (MAM) is dedicated to engaging and inspiring the community with art through its incredible collection of American and Native American art. Home to a collection of more than 12,000 items comprised of paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints dating from the 18th century to the present, the museum also showcases a variety of contemporary artworks highlighting life in a global context.
The museum is home to the only gallery in the world solely dedicated to showing the work of the 19th-century American painter George Inness, who called Montclair his home between 1885 and 1894. The intimate space, known as the George Inness Gallery, features a curated selection of paintings and etchings by the artist, as well as works by famous sculptor William Couper.
The Montclair Art Museum sponsors a wide variety of educational programs together with local organizations, as well as formal instruction for both students and amateurs at the Yard School of Art.
3 S Mountain Ave, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-746-5555
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© Wellmont Theater
Built in 1922 as a theater, the Wellmont Theater was converted into a motion picture theater in 1929 and saw the likes of famous inventor Thomas Edison as one of its haloed guests. Initially opening onto Bloomfield Avenue and later Seymour Street, the theater was triplexed in the 70s, and the original lobby is now a restaurant.
The Wellmont Theatre went through a multi-million dollar renovation and is now a popular concert venue with new bars in the orchestra and mezzanine areas, flexible seating, and a dance floor. The Wellmont Theater has a seating capacity of 2,600 for standing shows and is the largest venue in the area.
5 Seymour Street, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-783-9500
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4.Montclair Historical Society
© Montclair Historical Society
Originally founded in 1965 to save the Israel Crane House, the Montclair Historical Society (MHS) is dedicated to promoting, preserving, and appreciating the local history of Montclair. The MHS consists of two important historic sites, namely the Israel Crane House, a Federal Revival style landmark home built by a local entrepreneur in 1796, and the 1818-built Nathaniel Crane House.
Together, the two Crane Houses are open to the public as historic museum houses that showcase the history of the buildings and the surrounding town and provide space for educational workshops, lectures, and classes for the public and students alike. The society also owns Charles S. Schultz House on North Mountain Avenue known as Evergreens. Built in 1896, the Clark House is home to an excellent research library that serves as a valuable resource for scholars, historians, and local teachers.
108 Orange Road Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-744-1796
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5.Presby Memorial Iris Gardens
© Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens is the world’s largest non-commercial garden dedicated to irises. Spread over 6.5 acres in a park-like setting on Upper Mountain Avenue in Montclair, the unique gardens are open to the public without charge.
Established in 1927 to honor noted horticulturist Frank Presby, the gardens feature a world-class collection of over 10,000 individual plants representing 6 species and over 3,000 different named varieties of irises.
The Walther House, an excellent example of Victorian architecture, sits adjacent to the gardens, which are also home to a museum shop and the headquarters of the Citizens Committee that oversees the gardens.
474 Upper Mountain Ave, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043, 973-783-5974
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6.Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center
© Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center
The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center is a museum based on the campus of Montclair State University that serves to honor the career of world-renowned baseball player and National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Yogi Berra.
The Yogi Berra Museum stands next to the Yogi Berra Stadium and is home to a variety of artifacts and items from Berra’s career, as well as the history of baseball and his contribution to the game. The museum also offers a variety of summer camps and a three-day sports and business academy designed to give high school and college students advice and insights into careers in sports.
Established to preserve and promote the values of respect and sportsmanship, the Learning Center offers culturally diverse sports-based educational programs to empower students and learners to take an interest in sports.
8 Yogi Berra Drive, Little Falls, NJ 07424, 973-655-2378
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7.Montclair Film Festival
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The Montclair Film Festival is a community-based film festival that showcases filmmakers from around the world and helps put Montclair on the map. Established in 2012, the film festival is in its fourth year, and thousands of film-lovers, aficionados, and critics flock to the city each year to take in more than 80 films screened at multiple venues around Montclair.
The Montclair Film Festival also presents a growing schedule of dynamic educational and public programs and events for children and students alike, including Kidz Shortz Filmmaking Competition, Free Summer Series Under the Stars, and free African American Heritage Month screenings.
© Watchung Booksellers
Watchung Booksellers is Montclair's favorite community bookstore, founded in 1991 by Kathy Linsk. The bookstore, which is located above Bradner's Pharmacy, specializes in general collections of fiction, nonfiction, biography, and history volumes, with a focus on educational titles, travel books, and poetry and arts selections. Books are chosen carefully to reflect the character and values of the Montclair community, with input from local readers. The works of more than 60 published local authors are showcased on the bookstore's shelves, making it an important home base for New Jersey's literary community. A charming children's room offers family reading spaces and a lively Teen Corner. Special events hosted throughout the year at the store include poetry readings, children's storytime events, book groups, and author signings.
54 Fairfield St, Montclair, NJ 07043, Phone: 973- 744-7177
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© Da Pepo
Da Pepo is a delightful Italian comfort fare joint in Montclair, owned and operated by Pasquale Orrico. The restaurant is known for its high-quality Southern Italian fare, which is crafted with fresh ingredients according to longstanding Orrico family recipes. It is located within popular local bookstore Watchung Booksellers, showcasing a rustic, family-friendly dining space with comfortable decor. Hearty pasta selections include penne puttanesca, gnocchi telefono, orecchiette barese, and ravioli funghi trifolati, available with vegan mozzarella cheese upon request. Panini sandwiches are also served up, stuffed with delicious ingredients like pears, fresh mozzarella, grilled chicken, and pesto mayo. The restaurant is open for dinner service Mondays through Saturdays.
54 Fairfield St, Montclair, NJ 07042, Phone: 973-655-8825
10.Yogi Berra Stadium
© Courtesy of Pam Walker - Fotolia.com
The Yogi Berra Stadium is the official home of the New Jersey Jackals, a professional baseball team in the Northeast League and the Montclair State University Red Hawks. Opened in 1998 and named after New York Yankees catcher and Hall of Fame inductee Yogi Berra, the stadium has a capacity of 5,000 people with permanent seating for 3,784 people and lawn seating for 1,500.
The stadium is flanked by the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center on its first-base side and enjoys a reputation as “the home of champions.” All dimensions in the field of the stadium end in the number 8 to honor Yogi Berra, who wore the number 8 when he played for the New York Yankees and the stadium has two picnic areas, an outdoor birthday party area, a game arcade and Kid’s Zone area, and a souvenir shop.
One Hall Drive, Little Falls, NJ 07424, 973-746-7434
11.Samba, Montclair, New Jersey
A tiny Brazilian restaurant in the heart of Montclair, Samba serves home-style Brazilian fare in a stylish, rustic space. Boasting weathered rustic décor, vintage tableware, antique pots, and soft lighting, Samba’s young, easygoing staff presents the eclectic menu created by ebullient owner Ilson Goncalves. Inspired by the simple, home-style dishes he grew up with in southern Brazil, Goncalves uses the same home-style spirit in his dishes.
Picture a trio of lightly fried fritters called salgadinhos sortidos made with yucca flour, mandioca frita (deep-fried yucca served with Brazilian sausage and sauteed onions), and salada de rúcula com manga, a marvelously balanced salad of arugula, mango, and caramelized pistachios with an orange vinaigrette. Three huge ornate mirrors reflect the sultry ambiance of the restaurant while bossa nova and other Latin music play softly in the background.
7 Park Street, Montclair NJ 07042, 973-744-6764
12. Greek Taverna
© Greek Taverna
Enjoy a culinary journey to the magnificent Mediterranean country of Greece by visiting the Greek Taverna on the vibrant Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. Steeped in old world charm, the cozy restaurant oozes the timeless tradition of the Mediterranean through its authentic décor and mouth-watering cuisine. The open-air kitchen allows guests to see what goes on behind the scenes in the preparation of the delicious genuine Greek specialties found on the menu.
Made from fresh, hand-selected ingredients, signature dishes include Ouzo Keftedes (special meatballs from the island of Mytilini in a tomato ouzo sauce), Kalamarakia Sharas (tender chargrilled calamari drizzled in olive oil and lemon juice), and Lamb Glovetski (braised lamb and orzo pasta in a delicate white wine sauce). Greece has some of the best desserts in the world, so don’t miss the homemade Baklava, Greek Bougatsa, and Galaktoboureko.
292 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-746-2280
13.Egan & Sons, Montclair, NJ
© Egan & Sons
Egan & Sons is an authentic Irish pub with a vibrant atmosphere and a menu of traditional Irish fare. Situated on Walnut Street in the heart of Montclair, the lively bar is an ideal spot for casual drinks with friends or a quiet bite after work.
The menu features dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients from the surrounding farms, and it includes starters of jumbo crispy chicken wings, steamed Newfoundland Moules Frites, freshly shucked oysters, and falafel platters. Mains include cider-glazed salmon, pan-seared scallops, traditional fish and chips, and chicken pot pie.
Beef burgers are a popular choice and come with with thick-cut fries, onion rings, and garden salads. Homemade house dressings include lemon mustard, shallot vinaigrette, and blue cheese, and delicious toppings range from farmhouse cheese and bacon to jalapeno peppers and cheese rarebit.
118 Walnut Street, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-744-1413
14.Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
© Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
A favorite for vegetarians, Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant is a delightful restaurant that serves delicious authentic Ethiopian food. Located in the bustling Bloomfield Avenue, Mesob boasts casual, comfortable atmosphere in which to enjoy mouth-watering Ethiopian fare for the whole family.
The menu features dishes prepared from fresh ingredients and seasoned with spices imported from Ethiopia, and the popular Injera (warm sourdough Ethiopian flat bread) is freshly baked on site every day. Their vegetarian dishes are prepared in the authentic Ethiopian way without the use of animal products.
Signature plates include choices such as Gomen Be’Siga (diced lamb tossed with fresh greens, seasoned with spices and herbs and simmered in a mild sauce) and Doro Tibs (marinated and sautéed scalloped chicken breast sautéed with red onions, garlic, jalapeno pepper, fresh tomato, herbs, and spices). The interior of the restaurant is adorned with works from the Mengistu’s collection of Ethiopian and Eritrean art, including traditional tribal papooses made from leather and trimmed with seashells from the Red Sea.
515 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-655-9000
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15.The Woodhouse Day Spa
© The Woodhouse Day Spa
The Woodhouse Day Spa is a spa and wellness center that offers more than 70 rejuvenating treatments, ranging from a variety of therapeutic massages and massage therapy to a variety of skin and body treatments such as microdermabrasion, body waxing, Vichy shower body treatments, seaweed body wraps, manicures, and pedicures.
Indulgent massages include essential oil treatments to induce deep relaxation and foot cleansing rituals, with each massage focusing on releasing tension, enhancing circulation, and overall health and well-being. The spa offers a variety of packages that are perfect for gifts and special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings.
56 South Park Street, Montclair, NJ 07042, 973-509-8488
16.Edgemont Memorial Park
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Edgemont Memorial Park is a large children’s playground with an array of structures that provide hours of entertainment for children of all ages. A rubber ground covering provides safety for the little ones, and a giant spider web structure with a variety of slides is a favorite among young visitors.
The eastern section of the park features a tranquil pond, which is fed by fountains and flows into Toney’s Brook. The park is renowned for its famous World War I memorial, which stands on an island in the middle of the pond. Created in 1924 by Charles Keck, the monument is a tall obelisk surrounded by bronze sculptures on which the names of those who fell in the First World War are etched. In front of the memorial are small plaques to commemorate those who died in the Vietnam, the Korean War, and World War II.
Other park amenities include a baseball/softball diamond, bikeways and footpaths, ice-skating in winter, and a concert pavilion for bands in the summer.
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© Mishmish Cafe
Mishmish Café is a cozy little eatery and artisanal food shop that serves healthy Mediterranean-style cuisine made with seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Owned by Chef Meny Vaknin, who neatly weaves his family’s Moroccan Jewish tradition with the influence of having grown up in Israel into all of his food, Mishmish (apricot in Arabic) serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner to a crowd of regular diners.
Flavors are clean and crisp at Mishmish – think 48-hour cured salmon marinated in olive oil and served with labne and wedges of green olive or the delicious Shakshuka, which consists of Moroccan-style runny egg yolks, stewed tomatoes, soft feta cheese, and za'atar, all mixed together and served in a cast iron pan. Lunch and dinner menus boast delights such as Marrakesh mussels with dried shatta peppers, garlic, cilantro, and oven dried tomatoes and local shishito peppers with fleur de sel, olive oil, and a hint of fresh lemon.
631 1/2 Valley Rd, Montclair, NJ 07043, 973-337-5648
18.Alexander Kasser Theater
© Alexander Kasser Theater
Owned and operated by Montclair State University, the Alexander Kasser Theater is a contemporary performance venue that presents student dramas and music and dance performances. Designed in the Spanish mission style similar to that of the University's historic buildings, the modern, intimate venue boasts a sweeping plaza and broad, arcaded loggia.
Guests enter into a 4,600 square foot lobby with gallery and exhibition space and an elegant grand staircase, which flows into the heart of the theater – the beautiful 500-seat auditorium.
Featuring an oversized stage, orchestra pit, and state-of-the-art technical characteristics, the auditorium has outstanding acoustics, as well a variety of extra rooms and suites, including scenery/props construction shop, a makeup and wardrobe room, an electric shop and control room, and a guest artist suite. The theater is also home to a recording studio, green room, and the unique Harry Parch Institute.
1 Normal Ave, Montclair, NJ 07043, 973-655-5112
20 Best Things to Do in Montclair, New Jersey
- Van Vleck House & Gardens , Photo: Van Vleck House & Gardens
- Montclair Art Museum (MAM), Photo: Montclair Art Museum
- Wellmont Theater , Photo: Wellmont Theater
- Montclair Historical Society, Photo: Montclair Historical Society
- Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, Photo: Courtesy of schankz - Fotolia.com
- Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center , Photo: Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center
- Montclair Film Festival, Photo: Courtesy of click_and_photo - Fotolia.com
- Watchung Booksellers, Photo: Watchung Booksellers
- Da Pepo, Photo: Da Pepo
- Yogi Berra Stadium, Photo: Courtesy of Pam Walker - Fotolia.com
- Samba, Montclair, New Jersey, Photo: Samba
- Greek Taverna, Photo: Greek Taverna
- Egan & Sons, Montclair, NJ, Photo: Egan & Sons
- Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant, Photo: Mesob Ethiopian Restaurant
- The Woodhouse Day Spa, Photo: The Woodhouse Day Spa
- Edgemont Memorial Park, Photo: Courtesy of AjF - Fotolia.com
- Mishmish Cafe, Photo: Mishmish Cafe
- Alexander Kasser Theater , Photo: Alexander Kasser Theater
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of B. and E. Dudzinski - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Montclair History Center
The Montclair History Center is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the study and promotion of local history and the preservation of four historic homes in Montclair, New Jersey; as well as a partnership with Montclair Community Farms Coalition to produce a microfarm.
The original purpose of the founding of The Montclair History Center in 1965 was to preserve the Israel Crane House. This landmark home was designed in the Federal Revival style in 1796 and was moved from in original location on Glen Ridge Avenue, to where it now rests on Orange Road right next to the Nathaniel Crane House (1818) which was donated to the Montclair History Center in the 1970’s by the Sampson family. The two homes were turned into public Crane House Museums and spaces for educational demonstrations, including having even once served as a YWCA for the African American community in the 20th century.
The Clark House is also located on Orange Road and was purchased by the Montclair History center in 1984. This home is a newer build than the Cranes homes having been built just before the turn of the 19th century in 1896 and is used as the Terhune Research Library and also houses several administrative offices. The last home acquired by the Center was the Evergreens which was donated in 1997 by Molly Shultz. The only home not on Orange Road, Evergreens is found on North Mountain Avenue and has been left unchanged for 100 years and still holds collections belonging to Charles Shultz, a late Montclair Banker, in science, art and travel.
The public hours of the houses are very limited; however, private tours can be arranged by calling or emailing to schedule ahead of time. Admission information for private tours can be found on the website. Hearth Cooking Demonstrations can also be added for additional cost to private tours.
Crane House and Historic YWCA Museum- First belonging to Israel Crane, a wealthy, young business man, this mansion was located on over 80 acres of farm land stayed in the Crane family until it was bought by the YWCA in 1920. This YWCA was the only one in America that was not affiliated with a white YWCA, as they were segregated at the time. In August of 1965, the YWCA donated the house to a group of preservationists, who founded The Montclair History Center to save the home, and the home was moved to Orange Road where restoration efforts were started. These efforts included making the home reflect life as Crane’s family would have known it and recreating a working hearth kitchen that would have been true to 1937 building designs.
Nathaniel Crane House- Nathaniel Crane, cousin to Israel Crane, built his farm house in 1818, but parts of the home date back as far as 1731. The home is made from solid oak as is fastened using all wood joints rather than nails. The home remained in the Crane family for only one generation and was sold in 1851 with 25 acres of land to a man named Stephen Paul. The home was purchased and sold several more times until 1894 when it was moved it its Orange Road location where it was used by its newest owner, Dr. James Henry Clark Jr. as a carriage house or barn. After being purchased in 1962 by Dr Martin Sampson, they donated the home in 1974 to The Montclair History Center where it was moved to be on the property of the Israel Crane House, less than 80 feet South.
The Nathaniel Crane House is used as a visitor’s center today and is home to an exhibit of a 19th century general store on the first floor that is a replica of what would have been used in the days of Israel and Nathaniel Crane. The second floor has a replica of a 19th century school room that illustrates the education setting of the Montclair in this time. The home is not completely open to the public. During tours the home’s interior can be viewed through a glass window to be able to see the simple framing techniques that were used in the construction.
Clark House and Albert P. Terhune Archives and Library- The Queen Anne Style two story home was built by Dr. James Henry Clark and his wife in 1894 on Orange Road. Clark’s family had links to signers of the Declaration of Independence and Mayflower Compact as well as Civil War heroes. The home was occupied by members of the Clark family for almost 100 years until 1962 when the Sampson’s purchased the home with The Nathaniel Crane House. The Montclair History Center acquired the house in 1985 and uses it today for educational purposes and as a research center. The Albert P. Terhune Archives and Library preserves local resources that are unique to the Montclair region such as tax and county maps, history books, vintage photos and year books, oral histories, Crane family genealogy, scrapbooks and more.
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Charles Shultz House (Evergreens)- The newest of the four homes, the Evergreens was built in 1896 by the Hoboken Bank President Charles S. Shultz. The home is 3-stories tall with 21 rooms that have been left unchanged in 100 years. The family’s belongings and collections including furniture, books, journals, kitchen wares, are all still right where they were left as those expected to be used again. The home is surrounded by numerous evergreen trees and sits on a picturesque hill with a view of New York City.
Microfarm- The Montclair History Center partnered with The Montclair Community Farms Coalition to produce a Microfarm on Orange Road. This Microfarm brings produce to affordable housing communities through a mobile farm stand every summer to sell fresh produce to low income seniors for a fraction of a cost that they could find at the super markets. There are many ways that the farms serve to involve and engage the community through hands-on resources to teach visitors about urban farming, sustainable agriculture, affordable food, healthy lifestyles and more. There are also smaller farms and gardens located at schools and co-ops throughout Montclair. The Microfarm is always looking for volunteers during the growing and harvesting seasons.
The Montclair History Center is committed to promoting and preserving the rich local history of Montclair and offers several programs from kids of all education level from preschool through college. Groups from a few students up to 50 can be accommodated at one time.
Our Little Historians- Preschool-K. First time history lesson that includes story time, scavenger hunt, fireside chats and a visit to the chicken coops. This tour is a fun, quick one hour tour for little ones.
Life in Early New Jersey- Grades 1-4. Go back 200 years to experience what life was like to early American settlers. Tour includes the Crane House and a hearth cooking demonstration, students will also compare what learning was like in a 19th century school room before ending the tour in the farm. 2 hours long.
Discovering Black History Through Primary and Secondary Sources- grades 7-12. Students explore documents that are over 200 years old to discover the history of African Americans in Montclair using primary and secondary sources such as slavery bill of sales and memoirs.
Homeschool Programs- Homeschool programs run seasonally at Montclair History Center and parents can call ahead if interest in a program to find out more about dates. More information about homeschool classes is available on the website and registration is required as classes fill up quickly and there are maximum class sizes. Classes include crafting, hands on projects, learning about history without textbooks, the civil rights movements, learning how to use archives, research and discussion based assignments, and more.
Classroom Lessons- The Montclair History Center provides resources that engage 11-12 grade students in lessons on discrimination and segregation in the first half of the 20th century. Lesson plans are available to be downloaded on the website and include lessons on Jim Crow and Segregation in New Jersey and Suburban Housing Discrimination.
Farm Camp- Montclair History Center partners with The Montclair Community Farms and Rutgers Cooperative extension 4-H to host summer camps at the Microfarm. Summer Camps are divided by age groups and include themes such as Down on the Farm, Homegrown living, Farm to Table, and Back to the Future: Learning from the past to make a better future.
Girl Scouts- The Crane House and Historic YWCA Museum offers many opportunities for Girl Scouts to earn badges through programs that educate on the life of occupants of the home, cooking hearth demonstrations, visiting the chicken coops, and community gardening projects. Projects can be customized for badge requirements and each project includes a 2 hour visit and 6 scout minimum.
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108 Orange Road, Montclair, New Jersey, 07042, Phone: 973-744-1796
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