Essex County is sits in the north east area of New Jersey. It is New Jersey’s second-most populous county behind Bergen County. Its county seat (county capital) is Newark, the most populous city in the state. The county was formed within East Jersey in 1683 and was named after the English county of Essex. In 1741, parts of Essex were transferred to Somerset County. Then in 1837, Passaic County was formed with areas of Essex and Bergen counties. Finally in 1857, Union County was created from areas of Essex County.
The eastern area tends to be more affordable and urbanized, while the western tends to be more affluent and suburban. The east side of Newark is the Ironbound, a local Brazilian and Portuguese community. Belleville and Bloomfield are suburbs with historic Italian communities that now have many immigrants from Latin America and Asia bringing even more diversity.
Western Essex is more suburban residential and well off. This territory has some of the most diverse and racially integrated municipalities in the state and nation, including Montclair, West Orange, South Orange and Maplewood. Many of these municipalities are well-known magnets for people moving from New York City, such as Glen Ridge, Montclair, Verona, Cedar Grove, South Orange and West Orange.
The communities of Livingston, West Caldwell, South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, North Caldwell, and Essex Fells are some of the most affluent areas of the county. Short Hills (part of Millburn), South Orange, West Orange, and Livingston contain sizable Jewish communities. Short Hills has a chic shopping center, The Mall at Short Hills centered in affluent communities in Morris and Union counties.
Essex County homes are popular for their convenient commutes to New York City, vast network of parks, and access local attractions. In fact, it was the first county in the United States to create a local park system (Essex County Park System), to safeguard its land from development. There are over 6,000 acres of green space and more than 20 parks for residents to enjoy.
Greenwood Gardens in the Millburn community is a favorite of residents. It features a 28-acre Italianate garden, wildflowers, meadows, and ponds to entertain visitors. In addition to its peaceful and meticulously maintained grounds, Greenwood Gardens also hosts gardening workshops, guided tours, and other special events for guests.
Hemlock Falls is located nearby in the town of South Orange. After a brisk walk through the woods, visitors are rewarded with a gorgeous 25-foot waterfall. The walk is less than two miles roundtrip and is perfect for those looking to enjoy the outdoors without a strenuous workout.
Recently, the parks have undergone a complete revitalization as to continue providing recreation and open space that meets the needs of our residents and contributes to local communities. In addition, the Parks System has been expanded with five new parks.
- Essex County Cedar Grove Park
- Essex County Riverfront Park
- Essex County Veterans Memorial Park
- Essex County Kip’s Castle Park
- Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.
The playgrounds have modern equipment and rubberized safety surfaces, synthetic grass fields to maximize use for all ages.
Things to do in Essex County
Cherry Blossom Festival
The famous Cherry Blossom Festival attracts thousands to Branch Brook Park to view the over 5,000 trees that exhibit a greater display of spring color than the national collection in Washington, DC.
Free Summer Concerts
Almost every year Essex county hosts a set of free summer concerts in the various parks. They draw music enthusiasts who enjoy every genre from jazz to rock ‘n roll to rhythm and blues to classical.
The Newark Museum of Art
A holder of major collections of American art, decorative arts, contemporary art, and arts of Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the ancient world.
New Jersey Historical Society
Collects, preserves, teaches and interprets New Jersey history through their archives, research library and educational programs. A state of the art center for the study of New Jersey history with convenient access to all archival collections.
Montclair Art Museum
Through its Vance Wall Art Education Center the MAM engages a diverse community across distinctive exhibitions, educational programs, and collections of American and Native American art. With a mission is to inspire and engage people of all ages in their experience with art, including the rich inter-cultural and global connections throughout American history, and the continuing relevance of art to contemporary life.
Formerly the South Mountain Arena, Cody Arena is an ice hockey and ice skating arena in West Orange (part of the South Mountain Recreation Complex). The arena, named for former Governor of New Jersey Richard Codey, is owned and operated by the Essex County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs. South Mountain Arena originally opened in 1958 with the second, smaller rink added in 1983. During 2004 and 2005 the arena underwent major renovations and was renamed the Codey Arena upon reopening. The arena has two NHL-sized skating rinks. The main arena has a seating capacity of 2,500 and the second rink seats approximately 500. The New Jersey Devils used the arena as the team’s practice facility in 1986 until the opening of the Prudential Center. The Essex Skating Club (ESC) is the figure skating club at the arena. The club has more than 300 youth and adult members with winning records at national competitions. Several coaches at ESC are Worlds and Olympic medalists.
Turtle Back Zoo
Turtle Back has been identified as the best zoo in New Jersey and was recognized by TripAdvisor.com with its Certificate of Excellence.
Treetop Adventure Course
Next to the Turtle Back Zoo, the TreeTop Adventure Course is a world-class aerial obstacle course. Adult Courses (approx. 35ft in height) offer 30 unique challenge elements with an average run time of 1 to 1.5 hours. Junior Courses (approx. 10ft in height) offer 15 unique challenge elements with an average run time of 30 to 45 minutes. The redesigned Zip Line measures over a football field in length and stands at approximately 40 feet.
Riker Hill Art Park
A 42-acre former US Nike missile tracking base, acquired in 1977. Its former army barracks are now occupied by artists, sculptors, and craftsmen. Riker Hill Art Park was a United States Army Nike Missile Base in the 1950’s. The area was purchased from the federal government for one dollar, in 1974. Various buildings that housed army facilities have been converted into art studios where sculpture, painting, photography, and various crafts now thrive.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Visit a place where modern America was invented. Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory are a step back in time when machines were run by belts and music was played on phonographs. Discover where America’s greatest inventor changed our world forever.
Grover Cleveland Birthplace
Located at 207 Bloomfield Ave in Caldwell. The Grover Cleveland Birthplace State Historic Site is the only house museum in the country dedicated to the interpretation of President Cleveland’s life. It is the nation’s leading repository of Cleveland artifacts and political memorabilia. It is open to the public free of charge. The birthplace is open year round.
Eating and Drinking (Night life)
Local favorite boasting a modern dining room where patrons can enjoy seasonal French and Italian cuisine. With its daily specials and locally sourced a la carte menu, this BYOB spot keeps customers coming back again and again.
Staple restaurant in Caldwell since 1933 famous for their mouth-watering 7oz burgers, fresh beer battered fish-n-chips, and slow cooked fall off the bone tender baby back ribs.
Four City Brewing Company
Offering quality craft brews, the brewery began more than 10 years ago, when Roger, a physical education teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y., went to his first craft beer tasting in Montclair, N.J. After meeting a couple of passionate home brewers, he had an idea to invite his neighbors over to his house and sample some local, home brew and try beer from other breweries from across the country. That was the birth of what was to become The Brew Council. Today the three of them (Roger Apollon Jr., Jeff Gattens and Anthony Minervino) have built a 4,700 square foot brewery and taproom located at 55 South Essex Avenue, just steps from the New Jersey Transit Orange train station.
QXT’s Night Club
This is a great local spot for late-night revelers, open only on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 pm to 2 am. This dance club has been a Newark staple for over 30 years and plays a wide variety of dance music, including EDM, new wave, and alternative rock.
This Lounge is open until 3 am on weekend nights. Marbella’s offers cocktails and bottle service. Located on Broadway in downtown Newark, ample parking is found right across the street.
These are just a few of the things do in Essex County. Let me (Jeffrey) help you with all your questions about Essex County Real Estate. Feel free to contact me directly via email or phone (call/text).