Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in West Orange, NJ

  • Published 2022/11/10

West Orange is a suburban paradise in Essex County, New Jersey.

It’s well known for many things, such as its beautiful environment, warm community, and historically famous residents.

The township is a great place to visit if you’re looking to get away from the chaos of the city and find something more relaxed.

Don’t let the laid-back environment fool you because this is still a place that brims with culture and life.

Here are the best things to do in West Orange, New Jersey:

Learn about a Genius Inventor at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park

View of Thomas Edison National Historical Park

George Wirt /

Thomas Edison is one of the most influential inventors of all time.

The Thomas Edison National Historical Park gives you a glimpse of the magic he created with his machinery.

Initially, his laboratory and home, the place give you a unique view of the man’s life and history.

You can visit the facility buildings and the laboratory buildings on special days.

View of Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Joseph Sohm /

One of the best places to visit is the Glenmont Garage which houses the inventor’s historical vehicles.

While there, stop by Edison’s library, machine shop, and other exhibits at the Thomas National Historical Park.

View of Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Joseph Sohm /

Savor the Dishes at Folklore Artisanal Mexican Eatery

Artisinal Mexican food isn’t easy to find.

However, if you find yourself in West Orange, check out the Folklore Artisinal Mexican Eatery.

In every dish, you can taste the care, love, and passion that every staff member put into making it.

Mexican food, in general, offers a spectrum of unique and exciting dishes, which this store highlights above anything else.

Tacos sit at the center of their dining experience, coming in a wide range of types and flavors.

All tacos come in a corn tortilla, onions, cilantro, or mixed cabbage.

You can also choose up to four sides of salsa verde per order.

Mix and match whatever flavor you’re looking for, and you may find something new and uniquely yours.

You can also try their specialty cheese taco, where you can pick out your choice of meat, mixed in a unique blend of melted cheese and stuffed inside a corn tortilla.

Whatever you pick, the Folklore Artisanal Mexican Eatery will definitely give you an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

Grab a Boat at the Paddle Boat Launch

On the shores of Orange Reservoir, you can find the Paddle Boat Launch, and it’s the perfect place to visit if you’re looking to have more adventures in the water.

Take in the lovely sights surrounding the reservoir by sitting right in the middle.

You’ll see a breathtaking view of trees towering over the shores, the clear blue sky shining above you, and the clear waters glittering below you.

Bring a companion to the Paddle Boat Launch to complete the experience.

After all, everything is better with company.

It’s hard not to appreciate the world around you when surrounded by incredible beauty and with people you care about.

The service is available seasonally for a fee, so plan accordingly if you want to go there.

Have Fun at the South Mountain Reservation

View of South Mountain Reservation

Vadim 777 /

The South Mountain Reservation is a nature reservation spanning over 2,000 acres.

One of the reserve’s highlights is a segment of the 36-mile Lenape trail, a unique urban/suburban trail that connects various communities throughout Essex County.

The reservation has experienced little change over the years, with its caretakers endeavoring to preserve as much of its wilderness as possible.

View of South Mountain Reservation

Vadim 777 /

When you find yourself in just the right spot, you can get a stunning view of the vistas of New York, Staten Island, Elizabeth, Union, and Newark.

If you want to appreciate nature’s majestic and elegant beauty, visit the South Mountain Reservation site.

View of South Mountain Reservation

Vadim 777 /

Support the Zoological Society of New Jersey

The Zoological Society of New Jersey was started in 1973 to stimulate people’s interest in local zoos.

If you’re a passionate animal lover or just interested in learning more about different creatures, then you should add this to your itinerary.

The members often have fundraising initiatives to help promote the caretaking of local zoos, and a quick visit to their offices will tell you how you can help them out.

The Zoological Society of New Jersey also hosts events throughout the year to promote awareness about their cause.

So, give them a visit if you can, and support their initiatives.

Try Fine Dining at Primavera Ristorante

Fine and exquisite cuisine uses natural flavors, fresh ingredients, and a touch of simplicity.

No other place does it better than the Primavera Ristorante.

The intoxicating aroma of Italian spices is one of the first things that’ll hit you when you step into the establishment.

Moreover, the experience only gets better from there.

Their menu consists of great dishes made using traditional Italian recipes.

If you get the chance, you should try out the pasta offered by the Primavera Ristorante, especially the lobster ravioli or the tortelloni Michelangelo.

Visit the Eagle Rock Reservation

View of Eagle Rock Reservation

Joseph Sohm /

Located in the ridge line between West Orange, Montclair, and Verona, the Eagle Rock Reservation is a place to visit if you’re interested in exploring the area’s natural wonders.

The park’s entrance, which sits at Eagle Avenue, is also home to a 9/11 memorial.

View of Eagle Rock Reservation

AMzPhoto /

If you get the chance, stop by and pay your respects.

The hiking trails in the Eagle Rock Reservation crisscross through the woods, giving a great sample of the natural environment.

Walking through the reservation is an adventure that you won’t want to miss out on.

View of Eagle Rock Reservation

quiggyt4 /

Catch a Performance at the Luna Stage

A trip to the theater is one of the best things to do when visiting any new place.

In West Orange, there’s no better way to do that than watching a show at Luna Stage.

Buy some tickets, get comfortable in your seats, and savor the experience of watching vibrant plays about local and global affairs.

Established in 1992, the theater troupe became a professional theater three years later.

Luna Stage hosts various plays from different genres, so you’ll get the chance to immerse yourself in the art and culture of the place.

You can expect high-brow Shakespearean productions like Richard III or new and modern stories like Two Elizas.

The theater also has a pay-what-you-choose policy to honor its commitment to equity and access, which means that visitors only have to pay what feels comfortable to them when seeing a performance.

Try the Food from McLoone’s Boathouse

McLoone’s Boathouse sits on the edge of the reservoir.

The moment you see it, you can’t look away from the spectacular views alongside it.

However, a lovely venue is the least of what this place has to offer.

One of the highlights is the exquisite food they serve.

Try their Asian ribs, Ahi Tuna crisps, or chilled lobster salad for the appetizer.

Once you’re ready to move onto the main course, many options are available at your fingertips.

You can try out their miso Chilean sea bass, Mako shark, or grilled swordfish; every dish is good, so if you still have room, try as many meals as possible.

McLoone’s Boathouse also serves different flavors of sushi, so give them a shot when you get the chance.

Whatever your preferences, this place is ready to serve it on a delicious platter.

See the Animals of Turtle Back Zoo

Front view of South Mountain Recreation Complexs

Amy Lutz /

A visit to the zoo is a fun and magical experience wherever you are, and the Turtle Back Zoo is no exception to this rule.

The establishment is committed to providing a fun and enriching experience for its visitors and promoting wildlife education and protection.

There’s a lot to see when you visit this place.

You’ll see sea lions, penguins, big cats, and much more.

The Turtle Back Zoo also hosts behind-the-scenes tours where you can see the animals and have a meet-and-greet with one of the keepers.

Explore Llewellyn Park

In 1857, a New York businessman founded Llewellyn Park, the first planned community in America.

The place has long, winding roads, a beautiful view, and lovely residents that anyone would be lucky to meet.

There are many top-notch golf courses, facilities for horseback riding, and easy access to various world-class malls and sites.

It also boasts proximity to various historical sites and has served as a home for many familiar historical names, such as the inventor Thomas Edison.

Llewellyn Park is truly magical, and even a short visit should reignite your love for your community.

Grab a Fun Meal at Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen

Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen is named after the founders’ longstanding tradition of having their meals together as a family.

It represents their values and mission to provide all their patrons with a warm and welcoming dining experience with their own families where they can create fond memories.

The food in the restaurant evokes a sense of comfortable nostalgia, encouraging people to share stories and memories with their loved ones.

If you get the chance to dine there, make sure to try their braised short ribs or the seafood risotto.

You can also order a plate of pasta for you and your loved ones; the Tuscan rigatoni or the penne Sicilia are great options.

Or, if you’re looking for something more fun and casual to have, pizza’s always a safe bet.

Nicholas Anthony’s Family Kitchen offers them various flavors, including classic, eggplant, mushroom, and peppered pig.

Whatever meal you choose, you can be sure that it will become all the more delicious by spending more time with your loved ones.

Let Your Kids Play at Children’s Regatta Playground

Inspired by the nearby reservoir, the Children’s Regatta Playground features various play equipment designed to look like rubber boats.

It’s the perfect place to take your little ones to if you’re looking for a site designed to entertain and accommodate young children.

Let them play around with other kids while you engage with the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.

The Children’s Regatta Playground also has a large open area with synthetic grass and stamped concrete pathways.

This provides a direct link from the playground to the nearby paddle boat area so families can move quickly from one activity to another without much fuss.

Relax at the South Mountain Recreation Complex

The South Mountain Recreation Complex is along Northfield Avenue and Cherry Lane.

It’s a great place if you want to do recreational activities with your friends and family.

There’s a place for minigolf, boating, and ice skating.

If you want to relax, the South Mountain Recreation Complex has many spots where you can get comfortable.

There are picnic areas where you can sit back and have a nice meal with your loved ones.

Afterward, you can also walk along walking paths and appreciate the natural beauty of your surroundings.

Dine at Chit Chat Diner

Chit Chat Diner is a lovely little place that’ll bring you all the comfort and magic you’re looking for when visiting a new location.

Wandering through new and mysterious places late at night is a great way to understand the feel of the area.

You’ll find yourself in unique and exciting situations usually hidden from the average visitor.

With their late-night dinner menus at Chit Chat Diner, you’ll get to know West Orange before heading back to the diner for fun and relaxing meals.

Try their sampler with chicken fingers, mozzarella sticks, chicken wings, and waffle fries.

If you’re looking for something unique, order one of their specialty burgers.

They have Texas, Bourbon Street, and Patty Melt burgers.

If you’re with company, you can each order one and compare the flavors and dining experience.

Don’t forget to complete your meal with a serving of sides, whether classic fries, tater tots, or a seasoned waffle.

You don’t want to miss the magic of late-night dinners, so give it a shot with your friends and family at least once.

Final Thoughts

Those are just a few things you can do when you end up in West Orange, mixing and matching activities to suit your preferences.

However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Discover the best things to do in West Orange, New Jersey!

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