Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in East Orange, NJ

  • Published 2023/06/18

The city of East Orange in Essex County, New Jersey, offers vast opportunities for fun recreation.

It is dubbed “The Crossroads of New Jersey” due to its convenient location at the intersection of Interstate 280 and Garden State Parkway.

It is just a few miles from Newark Liberty International Airport and less than 30 minutes from New York City.

East Orange is also adjacent to the municipalities of Orange, West Orange, South Orange, Glen Ridge, Montclair, Newark, and Bloomfield.

It was initially founded as a township in 1863 and eventually became a city in 1909.

East Orange was once an agricultural area populated by oil tycoons and industrialists.

After the Second World War, the area became a destination for migrating black middle-class people from the South.

It’s also now known for its tree-lined streets, spacious houses, and even luxury high-rise commercial buildings.

It was once called the “Fifth Avenue of New Jersey” as its Central Avenue attracted shoppers statewide.

East Orange was ranked the 20th best place to live in the country among cities of a similar size in 1945.

It was also named the “Cleanest City in America” three times.

If you want to explore the city, read this list of the best things to do in East Orange, New Jersey!

Feel the Nostalgia at Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum

Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum is a charming corner of East Orange.

It is located at 192 Dodd Street.

Whether traveling with your kids or friends, the place is the perfect place to visit.

It displays kid-sized items and furniture straight out of your childhood.

Exploring Jersey Explorer Children’s Museum will make you feel the wonder of childhood again, so add it to your list during your visit!

Spend a Day Outdoors at Watsessing Park

Watsessing Park is an expansive park that straddles the city of East Orange and the township of Bloomfield.

The Olmsted-designed landscape park may be accessed through Bloomfield Avenue and Conger Street.

It features a variety of athletic fields where you may catch a game or even play for yourself.

The park also has basketball courts, perfect for sporty visitors.

Within the 69-acre park, you may find a bandstand where live performances are sometimes held.

In addition, the senior citizens building at the park may cater to the older generation.

Watsessing Park has plenty to offer, so if you want outdoor activity, consider trying it here.

Grab a Meal at Tasha’s Caribbean & Soul Food

Try a favorite local restaurant, Tasha’s Caribbean & Soul Food, at 405 Dodd Street.

The restaurant serves various food, including a Red Snapper Platter, JW Wings, Seafood Rasta Pasta, Shark, and Hennessy Wings.

If you’ve been craving Caribbean and Soul food, this is your chance to get your fix finally.

Be sure to ask for the best-selling food from the menu so that you can try the local favorites!

Tasha’s Caribbean & Soul Food also takes pick-up and delivery orders.

Try a Local Favorite at Smoke Shed BBQ

Smoke Shed BBQ is known for its delicious barbecued products.

It is located at 72 Franklin Street.

Since 1993, the place has served small-batch and slow-smoked meat in its wood-burning pits for 14 hours.

The process ensures quality and delicious results!

The barbecue master, Chef Vinny Tarney, has been offering residents unique recipes and perfectly seasoned and cooked barbecue.

When you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to taste a local staple at Smoke Shed BBQ!

Take a Swim at Columbian Park

Go to Columbian Park if you want to take a plunge in the pool.

It is in the 5th Ward of East Orange, bordering Springdale Avenue, North Grove Street, and 4th Avenue.

The park has a pool and a pool house where you can splash around with your family.

It is especially perfect during the hot weather.

It also has a baseball field, basketball courts, and a playground.

While here, you may catch Little League baseball games, usually held at the park.

In November 2010, Columbian Park’s Field House was designated as the home base of the East Orange Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion.

Play Tennis at Elmwood Park

If you’re athletic and enjoy playing tennis, visit Elmwood Park.

The park is situated in the 3rd Ward of the city, which borders Rhode Island Avenue, Elmwood Avenue, Freeman Avenue, and Oak Street.

Here you’ll find seven tennis courts, where you can play a game or two with family or friends.

It also has a basketball court, a swimming pool, a walking track, a softball field, a baseball field, and a renovated fieldhouse.

There’s so much to do in this park if you want to stay active.

Elmwood Park also hosts Little League baseball, soccer, and summer basketball league games.

Get Active at Soverel Field Park

Soverel Field Park is the largest park in East Orange.

It is in the city’s 1st Ward, bordered by Brighton Avenue, Springdale Avenue, and North Park Street.

The park features two baseball fields, one softball field, three basketball courts, and seven tennis courts.

It is the perfect park for sporty individuals to visit.

You may take the park’s walking track to stay active while exploring the area.

A playground is also available for children.

Soveral Field Park is the practice area for the East Orange Jr. Jaguars Football Team.

Keep this in mind if you’re looking for another park to visit.

Take Your Kids to Oval Playground

Bring your kids to Oval Playground if you want them to spend more time outside.

It is located within the city’s 4th Ward, in the backyard of the Fellowship Civic Center.

Eaton Place, Fellowship Circle, North Grove Street, Greenwood Avenue, and Grove Place border the park.

Here your children won’t just be able to play but also get fresh air and potentially meet new friends from the community.

Aside from the playground, the surrounding park has a baseball field, a walking track, a field house, a volleyball court, and several basketball courts.

Keep Oval Playground in mind when you’re looking for an outdoor space that is perfect for playtime.

Catch a Game or an Event at Paul Robeson Stadium

During your visit, a scheduled sports match or an event may happen at Paul Robeson Stadium.

The stadium is located at 217 North Clinton Street.

It was once named Martens Stadium after the retired mayor Charles Martens who served the city from 1918 to 1951.

In 2002, however, it was rebuilt and renamed Paul Robeson Stadium.

It honors Paul Robeson, an iconic athlete, social activist, scholar, poet, and singer.

Today, the stadium serves as a venue for local athletic events.

You should see the Paul Robeson Stadium if you’re a sports fan.

See the Old Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Peek into local history at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

You may find it at 125 Central Avenue, with half of the cemetery straddling the neighboring city of Newark.

The area is split into two by the New Jersey Garden State Parkway.

You may even find some headstones a few feet away from the roadway.

It was established in 1859 and is now maintained by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark.

It still offers in-ground burials, but you may see the old headstones when you go there.

Some of the records of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery are also available at the LDS Family History Center Library.

Other Things to Do Nearby

After exploring the entire city of East Orange, feel free to visit nearby attractions.

Popular attractions are located in neighboring cities and townships, which you may reach in less than 30 minutes.

Get Closer to Nature at South Mountain Reservation

A creek running through the South Mountain Reservation

George Wirt / Shutterstock.com

Go to the South Mountain Reservation to explore the surrounding nature.

The 2,112-acre reservation is a part of the Essex County Park System.

It straddles multiple locations, including Maplewood, Millburn, West Orange, and South Orange townships.

You may find it in West Orange, New Jersey, 13 minutes from East Orange.

Here you’ll find a dog park, the Wildflower Sculpture Park, and some parts of the South Mountain Recreation Complex.

Fairyland set up at South Mountain Reservation

Vadim 777 / Shutterstock.com

A hiking and walking trail is also available for a mild-intensity workout.

In addition, the place has picturesque views that are perfect for clearing your mind and meditating.

The South Mountain Reservation is a wildlife refuge so you can encounter some animals here.

Don’t miss out on this one if you want to see New Jersey’s nature at its finest.

A group of people examining the mushrooms at South Mountain Reservation

Nova Patch / Shutterstock.com

Try Axe Throwing at Bury the Hatchet Bloomfield

If you want to try something new and fun, go to Bury the Hatchet Bloomfield in Bloomfield, New Jersey, six minutes from East Orange.

Its branch nearest East Orange may be found at 672 Bloomfield Avenue.

It is one of the best axe-throwing venues in New Jersey.

Bury the Hatchet Bloomfield is also one of the premier axe-throwing clubs in the country.

They have helped make the sport accessible to the public.

If you want to try a new sport, this is your chance!

Learn about America’s Great Inventor at Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Entrance to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park

George Wirt / Shutterstock.com

Thomas Edison National Historical Park preserves American inventor Thomas Edison’s laboratory and residence.

It is located at 211 Main Street in West Orange, six minutes from East Orange.

Here you may tour the Glenmont Estate, the grounds of Edison’s historic home.

Exterior view of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Sandra Foyt / Shutterstock.com

The Thomas Edison Laboratory Complex and Glenmont Grounds are also open to the public but book a schedule in advance to ensure availability.

From historic photographs to preserved items from Edison’s life, there’s much to explore and appreciate at this place.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park is truly a history buff’s happy place.

Don’t miss out on this attraction if you’re near East Orange.

Interior view of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Acroterion, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the Newark Museum of Art

Facade of the Newark Museum of Art

Jim.henderson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Newark Museum of Art is the largest art museum in New Jersey.

It is located at 49 Washington Street in Newark, New Jersey, nine minutes from East Orange.

It features a vast art collection from the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the ancient world.

Among its American art collections are the works of Hiram Powers, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Tony Smith, and Joseph Stella.

The museum was established in 1909 through the efforts of founding director John Cotton Dana, a group of public officials, top businessmen, and local collectors.

If you’re an art enthusiast, take the opportunity to visit the one-of-a-kind Newark Museum of Art.

Meet Animals at Turtle Back Zoo

Entrance to the Turtle Back Zoo

Davidng913, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Turtle Back Zoo is a facility managed by the Essex County Parks Department.

You may find it at 560 Northfield Avenue in West Orange, 12 minutes from East Orange.

It entertains and educates the residents of the county and surrounding areas about animals.

Peacock at the Turtle Back Zoo

Gianpaolo_Photo / Shutterstock.com

Turtle Back Zoo opened in June 1963 with only 140 animals of 40 species.

The number of animals under the zoo’s care has grown along with the facility.

The American Zoo and Aquarium Association also accredits it.

If you want to see and discover more about animals, check out the Turtle Back Zoo.

Flamingo at Turtle Back Zoo

Saydi Wilson / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

The city of East Orange in New Jersey isn’t just rich in culture and history but also recreational areas that attract visitors and potential residents.

Whether you’re looking for outdoor or indoor activities, there’s something to try here.

If you want to visit soon, refer to this list of the best things to do in East Orange, New Jersey!

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