Metuchen is Jersey’s Best 2024 Destination of the Year
Discover this town In Middlesex County which honors its history while keeping a contemporary pace
After much deliberation, anticipation and confabulation, it’s once again time to announce a celebration in the tiniest town clamoring for attention from the editors of Jersey’s Best.
With no disrespect to the fabulous four runners-up, the is none other than the Brainy Borough of Metuchen – let the Downtown Break Dancing begin!
The accolades are amassing in this Middlesex County hub, with our lofty designation coming on the heels of it receiving the 2023 Great American Main Street Award in March and the “Best Walkable Town in New Jersey” from Only In Your State in January. Metuchen’s cohesive community of residents, businesses, landlords, municipal leaders and a vast pool of tireless volunteers have worked in concert to create a downtown district best described as historic, modern, quirky and chic. Now add bustling and vibrant to the list: Downtown Metuchen’s vacancy rate is just 4%.
There’s so much to discover in that robust 96% of Metuchen’s downtown and beyond — and every destination is just a stroll away from the centrally located train station. Now that we’ve declared Metuchen is THE destination, let’s tell you why we’re 100% sure you should visit (and often) in 2024.
Destined for shopping? Discover the unique, homey, diverse and welcoming vibe on this award-winning Main Street. Drop in to the ever-changing Newmarket at 19 New St., a collaborative indoor/outdoor market for independent small businesses and pop-up shops. Current Newmarket residents (at time of publication) include Amelia & Rose for custom cakes and treats; Be My Guest for meal prep, personal chef and catering services; Coastal Candle Company for coastal-inspired, hand-poured candles; Sebby’s House, a creative design studio and shop; and Creative Twist Events for everything you need for anything you celebrate. Consult the Newmarket calendar for special events and workshops throughout each month, and be sure to check for new tenants and pop-ups, too.
A former Newmarket tenant now located at 450 Main St., FK Living features lovingly curated, one-of-a-kind home design and décor, offering a delightfully eclectic mix of home accessories, accents, jewelry, toys, crafts and games. Experience Papillon at 418 Main St., a more-than-a-gift-shop social gathering place hosting yoga, wine tastings, craft workshops, poetry readings and more.
Find luxury consignment at The Concrete Sunflower at 323 Main St., featuring authentic designer labels from Alexander McQueen to Yves St. Laurent on handbags, jewelry, accessories and more to purchase or sell.
Destined for service? Discover beauty, fitness and even your future (courtesy of Mrs. Ann Zinn Psychic Readings) up, down, and all around town. There’s no shortage of opportunities to pamper and heal yourself from head to toe at the plethora of hair and nail salons, barber shops, and massage and skincare spas. Sign up for yoga (some like it hot), power through Pilates or get a good stretch at Stretch Lab.
Destined for dining? Discover breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and all sorts of confections in every direction from all corners of the world. From the classic American Metuchen Diner at 338 Lake Ave. to the Dominican cuisine of Angie’s Café at 275 Amboy Ave. (don’t pass up the empanadas), there’s nary a cuisine you won’t find in between. Case in point: Asian (Pink Lotus), Cajun (Nauti Cajun Crab), French (Café Paris), Greek (The Greek on Main), Indian (The Kabab Factory), Irish (Hailey’s Harp & Pub), Italian (Torino 2 Restaurant), Japanese (Sushi Suzuki), Latin (Lola Latin Bistro), Mediterranean (Pita Grill & Creperie), Mexican (Mariachi Mexican Restaurant), Portuguese (Tribos Peri Peri), Thai (Phattra Thai Restaurant), and Vegan (Soul Bowls). Told ya — and that’s just a sampling!
Grab coffee and baked treats along the way at spots like Brewed Awakening, Beans and Bread, or Cai’s Café; and for cooler cravings, try DiCosimo’s Italian Ice or What’s the Scoop.
Destined for Arts and Entertainment? Discover Metuchen, period.
Metuchen fosters the arts not just on gallery walls, but in public spaces across the city. From the intricate tombstone carvings found in the historic Colonial Cemetery on Main Street to private and sponsored commissions for sculptures, murals, banners and memorials, art is woven into Metuchen’s landscape. In partnership with The Seward Johnson Atelier, three of the sculptor’s works are installed around town as part of a year-long series; and you’re guaranteed to encounter such life-sized bronze sculptures as Marilyn Monroe, Mona Lisa or a Roller Derby girl as you explore downtown. Your stroll may also lead you through “Imagination Alley,” a whimsical mural depicting Metuchen’s history. Perhaps you’ll visit the historic Metuchen Public Library to view a current gallery exhibit, featuring works of local and emerging artists.
You’ll discover disappointment if you miss the biggest event presented by the Friends of Metuchen Arts: The Middlesex County Jazz Festival each September. This Thursday-Sunday county-wide event lands in Metuchen on Saturday night; it’s free, it’s festive and its headliner performers are good for every jazz lover’s soul.
Discover the heart of Downtown – the Metuchen Town Plaza – at 33 Pearl St., where many of Downtown Metuchen’s year-round weird and wonderful events take place. The fun starts with the Lunar New Year in January, spices up winter with Restaurant Week in February, warms up with the Spring Bazaar in May, and really starts to heat up with Downtown Pride, Breakdancing, and the Juneteenth Celebration in June. The Hispanic Heritage Celebration hits in September, and the hits keep on coming with Downtown Rumble Wrestling to kick off October while Haunted Downtown is a treat at month’s end. Shop Small Business Saturday in November and Winter Market in December, then come for a grand New Year Party to celebrate the end of yet another exciting year.
Speaking of exciting years, Metuchen is having a bounty of them. It’s taking the reins from Lambertville to reign as our Jersey’s Best 2024 Destination of the Year; and we invite you to discover this town which honors its history while keeping a contemporary pace, which serves its local community while engaging neighbors near and far, and which is destined to be a destination of choice, whether we say so or not, for years to come. Congratulations, Metuchen!
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2023 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.
Discover this town In Middlesex County which honors its history while keeping a contemporary pace After much deliberation, anticipation and confabulation, it’s once again time to announce a celebration in the tiniest town clamoring for attention from the editors of Jersey’s Best. With no disrespect to the fabulous four runners-up, the is none other than…