20 Best Things to Do in Livingston, NJ

Livingston, NJ
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Livingston is a township in Essex County, New Jersey.

Named after William Livingston, the state’s first governor, the town is an idyllic retreat for those looking for lush greenery and a rural community vibe.

It is also one of the best places to live in New Jersey, with distinguished public schools and many public resources available for residents.

Ready to explore Livingston?

Here are the best things to do in Livingston, NJ:

Meet the Animals at the Essex County Turtleback Zoo

Entryway of Essex County Turtleback Zoo
Z22, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Animal lovers should put the Essex County Turtleback Zoo on their list of places to visit in Livingston.

It’s an excellent place for family and friends to spend the day out while interacting with different types of animals.

See animals such as gorillas, lions, sea turtles, bears and river otters.

A train at Essex County Turtleback Zoo
TMBLover at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Observe the animals in their natural habitats, like the birds, the goats, turtles, and sea lions in the sound.

Besides the animal walk-throughs, the zoo offers other on-site experiences such as an ice skating rink and a mini-golf safari.

There are also multiple restaurants on-site for refreshments after a day of exploring the zoo, such as the Savanna Café and McLoone’s Restaurant.

Essex County Turtleback Zoo offers a fantastic day of nature and exploration.

Stop by the Art at Riker Hill Art Park

Formerly a United States Missile Tracking Base, the 42-acre expanse has become an art and culture hub in Essex County.

Riker Hill Art Park features 38 artist studios, with the resident artists working on painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and more.

Visitors can explore the different studios and artists’ works around the park.

Sculptures and installations are spread throughout the park, making for a great outdoor walk and exploration and great photos.

Visitors can also see the artists at work, with the studios periodically open for public viewing.

Some studios also offer workshops on-site, such as pottery basics or jewelry making.

In addition, Riker Hill Art Park also hosts community events for like-minded people to appreciate the art and culture in Livingston.

Play Golf at Cedar Hill Country Club

The Cedar Hill Country Club is an exclusive stretch of lush green fields perfect for a relaxing game of golf.

Opened in 1921, Cedar Hill feels like a “home away from home” for its members, providing a warm and family-friendly experience for all its patrons and visitors.

Golf enthusiasts can play amid the relaxing green landscape.

After a round of golf, you can eat at the club’s in-house restaurants, serving steaks and lamb chops.

The Cedar Hill Country Club also hosts private parties and community events, perfect for meet-ups.

See Fossils at the Riker Hill Fossil Site

Daytime view of Riker Hill Fossil Site
Dmadeo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Riker Hill Fossil Site is a paleontological site perfect for fossil enthusiasts or those who want to learn about a little piece of history.

This place is also known as the Walter Kidde Dinosaur Park, one of the critical sites in the continental United States that preserve dinosaur tracks.

In 1971, the fossil site was declared a National Landmark.

Visitors can explore the different tracks and fossils preserved and spread throughout the park.

Previously, you could dig for fossils.

Today, you can only view them to maintain their preservation.

It’s a fun destination for enthusiasts who want to discover dinosaurs that lived there millions of years ago.

Sample Fine Greek Cuisine at Lithos Estiatorio

Lithos Estiatorio serves the freshest Greek fare this side of the county.

This local favorite has won multiple awards for its food, drink and service from the Zagat.

It enjoys high ratings from the Wine Spectator and received New Jersey’s Greek Gem title from TripAdvisor.

Lithos Estiatorio uses sustainably farmed fresh fish from the Mediterranean, quality meat selections, and locally-sourced produce.

Sample their Greek delicacies from appetizers like the shrimp saganaki or the phyllo-wrapped feta.

For mains, try out the classic moussaka, which also comes with a vegetarian option.

Order some chicken souvlaki, branzino or their house gyro for a hearty meal.

You’ll leave full and happy after a meal at Lithos Estiatorio.

Take a Dip at the Northland Park Pool

The Northland Park Pool is open to the public and excellent for people looking to take a quick swim with family and friends.

Kids and adults can enjoy the cool splash of the water, partnered with an exciting ride down the pool’s water slide.

For more professional swimmers, it’s also a place to practice laps, as the pool has areas lined for this purpose.

You can also do other activities such as table games and play areas for children.

Stop by the Northland Park Pool if you want a relaxing activity to do in Livingston.

Spend the Day at East Hills Park

East Hills Park is a green reprieve in the Livingston suburbs.

It’s an excellent place for locals to meet, chat and relax.

East Hills Park is an excellent place for picnics to catch up with friends.

A fitness trail is also great for brisk walks and jogs for those who want to run with a view.

You can also drop by Livingston Dog Park, an excellent place for your furry friends to roam the outdoors and meet other dogs.

Find Your Next Great Read at the Livingston Public Library

Literature lovers should put the Livingston Public Library on their list of places to visit in town.

Since 1916, the Livingston Public Library has operated for over a hundred years.

With a rich history dating back to the 19th century, the Livingston Public Library is an excellent resource for locals and visitors.

Explore the thousands of titles they have on hand, from fiction to business, philosophy, and the sciences.

There is also a Chinese and Indian language selection if you want to study these languages.

The library also has rooms and activities for kids and teens, designed to educate and have them interact with each other in a fun manner.

Shop at Livingston Mall

Exterior of Livingston Mall
Scott Brody, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Livingston Mall is a two-level shopping complex that has become a city fixture since the 1960s.

It’s the go-to place for Livingston locals and those from Essex, Morris and Union counties.

Shop for classic American brands such as Aeropostale and American Eagle.

The shops inside Livingston Mall
Orizan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can also pick up a book or two at Barnes and Noble or look for perfect gift items at Macy’s.

The food court is also excellent for hanging out and chatting with friends while enjoying snacks like French fries or cinnamon rolls.

You can’t beat the Livingston Mall for a good and reliable place to shop for essentials and more.

Interior of Livingston Mall
Orizan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Grab Comfort Food at the Livingston Diner

The Livingston Diner has served homemade comfort food to locals for over 45 years.

This diner serves American classics in a homey atmosphere.

Order classics such as pancakes and omelets, with an option for bacon on the side.

Also, try dishes like the Disco fries, Ceasar salad with steak, or the Philly cheesesteak panini.

You will surely be happy and full after a meal at Livingston Diner.

Get Active at the West Essex YMCA

The West Essex YMCA is a hot community hub in Livingston.

It’s a great place to get active with other locals and visitors.

Try the multiple fitness amenities on-site, such as their fitness centers, with cardio exercise machines and free weights.

Play basketball or swim a few laps in the pool.

Swimming lessons are also available for those looking to master the sport.

For those looking to work a little bit on their fitness, join group classes for dance, yoga, pilates and spin.

The West Essex YMCA is a great place to work up a sweat with family and friends when visiting Livingston.

You always want to get a workout in wherever you are!

Exercise Your Creativity at Imagine That!!!

Those with young kids would love stopping by Imagine That!!!

It’s an interactive museum that encourages fun and creativity.

Kids should see, touch, interact and explore the over 16,000-square-foot space nearby Florham Park.

Different activities are available around the museum to fuel all kinds of creativity.

Kids can have fun mixing colors to create stunning pictures.

They can use all the different blocks to create their own towering structures.

Likewise, they can interact and have fun with other kids visiting the museum.

Imagine That!!! also hosts private functions and community events, such as Halloween parties or school field trips.

Kids will love Imagine That!!!

Don’t forget to put it on your list of places to visit when in Livingston.

Let Toddlers Enjoy Hours of Play at Exceptional Explorers

For fun play and learning, bring your little ones to Exceptional Explorers.

This open play space area is located at The Shoppes at the Livingston Circle.

Little kids will surely enjoy this travel-themed space, along with arts and classes that promote their motor and speech development.

The play space also encourages interactive indoor play and allows little kids to learn and get exposed to different cultures.

Adults are also free, so you can accompany your kids and watch them have fun.

Drop by on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Fridays, and let your kids join the complimentary Music Class; likewise, you can sign them up for the Robotics Class, a STEM curriculum to help improve their creative skills and communication.

Looking for a place to celebrate your child’s birthday? The facility caters to kids’ birthday parties to make your celebrations more memorable.

Spring Class and Spring-Break programs are also offered by Exceptional Explorers.

Have Fun at BelieVR Virtual Reality and Gaming Studio

Get ready to put your game mode on at BelieVR Virtual Reality and Gaming Studio.

Right inside Livingston Mall, this amusement studio offers hours of gaming fun for the whole family.

Get to enjoy hundreds of retro games from classic arcade-style, consoles to table-top games.

Play a friendly competition of air hockey, foosball table, or basketball hoops; likewise, there are other activities you can enjoy like table tennis, pool, skee ball, or corn hole.

Try Multiplayer Games like After the Fall and Beat Saber, or go for Open Play Games like The Room VR: A Dark Matter, Sports Scramble, or the Walkabout Mini Golf.

You’ll also enjoy Full Immersive Experience Games like Fighting Clans, Twisted Arrow, Blacktop Hoops, and others.

Have a next-level experience with the 360 Motion Chair Simulator Games and Experiences, along with exciting Free Roam Arena Games like Dead Ahead, Cyber Shock, and Arrowsong.

Likewise, you’ll have more fun with the Quantum Arena Laser Tag and Cops vs. Robbers game.

Experience the fun and excitement at BelieVR Virtual Reality and Gaming Studio.

Grab a Cup of Fresh Coffee at The Twisted Tulip

If you want a quick perk-me-up and delicious food, drop by The Twisted Tulip on Eisenhower Parkway.

The coffee shop opened in 2019 and offers a cozy casual setting both indoors and outdoors, perfect for a place to hang out and relax.

You’ll enjoy roasted brews by La Colombe Coffee Roasters, with coffees sourced from Africa, Colombia, and Indonesia.

Homemade syrups like Vanilla Bean, Honey Caramel, Peppermint, and Spiced Lavender are also used to flavor your drinks.

Try the Drink of the Week and see what’s on the menu every Monday.

You’ll also enjoy bites of Blueberry and Strawberry Muffins and delicious Chocolate Chip Cookies baked personally by Debbie, the coffee shop owner.

Choose from delectable sandwich options like Caprese & Turkey on Baguette, Caprese on Baguette, Ham & Brie with Honey mustard on Ciabatta, and Egg & Cheddar on Ciabatta.

If you’re looking for gluten-free or vegan items, you can order snickerdoodles and energy bars or have a brownie for snacks.

Aside from serving good food and coffee, The Twisted Tulip is also a local business that promotes ecology and sustainability by using reusable and environment-friendly materials.

Find Cool Collectibles at Hidden Treasures

Exterior of Hidden Treasures
Curlyrnd, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you a die-hard collector? Drop by Hidden Treasures and you’re sure to find something you’ll like.

Located inside Livingston Mall, the shop is New Jersey's largest collectible store.

You’ll find antique and cool items you can add to your collections from Pokémon and Funko Pops to rare sports cards.

Browse the vinyl collections and check out some collector’s items like signed memorabilia, statues and figures, and comic books.

Are you a Star Wars or Transformers fan? See the stocks and surely, you won’t leave empty-handed.

You can also sell or trade your collections at Hidden Treasures.

Book Your Stay at the Westminster Hotel

For relaxing accommodation you can enjoy with the family, Westminster Hotel offers superb service and amenities in downtown Livingston.

Accessible at West Mount Pleasant Avenue, this AAA Four-Diamond hotel features a classic modern style with elegant suites and welcoming guest rooms.

You can choose from Standard, Deluxe, or Superior rooms, all provided with excellent amenities.

Have a memorable dining experience at any of the in-house restaurants; you’ll enjoy the variety of sumptuous fares served by the Steakhouse, Lounge, and Sushi Restaurant.

Do your workout routine at the fitness center or relax at the indoor heated pool or Jacuzzi.

Westminster Hotel is also pet-friendly so even your furry family member will have an enjoyable stay here.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Greenwood Gardens

A house at Greenwood Gardens
Lebrsm, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Greenwood Gardens is in Short Hill, New Jersey, ten minutes from Livingston.

Greenwood Gardens is a former private estate spanning over 28 acres of beautiful greenery and lush flora.

It’s a beautiful reserve of manicured lawns, terraced gardens, vast woodlands and meadows that makes for a great day outdoor adventure.

A small waterfall at Greenwood Gardens
Tomwsulcer, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend the day exploring the grounds and admiring the different species of plants and flowers.

Likewise, learn about the history of the different houses and buildings, taking you back to the humble beginnings of Greenwood.

The landscape of the plants and structures make scenic photographs to remind you of your visit.

Feel the Adrenaline Rush at the Treetop Adventure Course

The Treetop Adventure Course is an excellent activity for those seeking exciting experiences.

It’s in West Orange, New Jersey, 11 minutes from Livingston.

The course is an outdoor aerial obstacle course, offering unique challenges 35 feet up in the air.

The course takes you through over 30 challenges, designed to take about an hour to an hour and a half.

Enjoy activities such as zip-lining, bridge runs and rope jumps while seeing the view of Essex County from above.

There is also a smaller junior course available for kids who want to experience a bit of aerial adventure of their own.

The Treetop Adventure Course is a can’t-miss destination.

Traverse the South Mountain Reservation

Nature trail with fall foliage at South Mountain Reservation
Vadim 777 / Shutterstock.com

The South Mountain Reservation is near Millburn, New Jersey, 14 minutes from Livingston.

It’s also a nature reserve covering over 2,000 acres in Essex County.

The park’s beginnings date back to the 19th century.

Not much has changed in the intervening years.

A beautiful waterfall at South Mountain Reservation
Richard Scalzo / Shutterstock.com

A considerable part of the reserve remains undeveloped, but public areas of interest include the Essex County Turtle Back Zoo and the Richard J. Codey Arena.

Visitors can explore the different trails on the open part of the reserve, including the Orange Reservoir Walkway.

The grounds also make for a great hike to take in the beauty of the New Jersey outdoors as you walk along the different dirt and wood paths.

You can also see wildlife roaming throughout the year, such as deers, chipmunks and squirrels.

A stream at South Mountain Reservation
George Wirt / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Livingston is a relatively unknown but bustling destination just a few miles from New York City and Newark.

True to the state’s moniker “Garden State,” Livingston has a lot to offer in terms of lush greenery, scenic landscapes and an abundance of nature that would excite any traveler.

Book your visit to Livingston today!

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