A historical town with gas lamp street lights
South Orange, NJ, is a beautiful suburban community with just under 17,000 residents living in an area of approximately 2.8 square miles. Located in Essex County and east of New Jersey’s South Mountain, the town is distinguished by its gas lamp street lighting. Rich in history that dates back to 1869, residents enjoy an active lifestyle with a large business district and many restaurants. It is conveniently located only 35 minutes away from New York City and serviced by Midtown Direct.
In the most recent niche.com survey, South Orange received A+ ratings overall and in the category Good for Families. A bustling, walkable South Orange downtown is punctuated with historical landmarks, excellent cuisine, and trendy shops. The South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) is in the heart of the downtown and not far from the Stone House, the oldest building in the village and built in 1680. A brownstone mansion built by William Redmond is now used by the Orange Lawn Tennis Club, and the Village Hall, the most distinct landmark, is typically seen in photographs of the town.
The varied architecture in South Orange is stunning with many of the homes dating back to the 1800s. There are Tudors, Victorians, and Grand Colonial Revivals. One of the nicest areas is Montrose Park which is listed on both the state and federal Registries of Historic Places. With an overall A+ rating in Niche, South Orange is one of the most popular suburbs in northern New Jersey:
- 7200 students
- 10 schools
- Nationally-recognized music education program
- Highest number of Board Certified teachers of any district in NJ
- niche.com: South Orange-Maplewood School District Rankings
- SOMSD YouTube channel
Families that live in South Orange send their children to the combined School District of South Orange & Maplewood. There are approximately 7200 students enrolled ranging from pre-K to 12th grade.
In addition to the excellent education, there is a Beyond the Bell program offering numerous enrichment classes after school. These classes range from writers' workshops to cooking classes and yoga. In the most recent niche.com survey, the South Orange & Maplewood school district was rated #79 in New Jersey.
Overall, the schools received an "A-" rating and an A+ in the category of College Prep. One notable distinction in the niche.com survey is that the School District of South Orange & Maplewood was ranked #99 in New Jersey in the category of Districts with the Best Teachers in New Jersey.
Commuting To and From South Orange
South Orange has a convenient jitney service that transports residents to the Midtown Direct train station. Co-funded by the parking authority and the Village, the jitney also allows non-residents to purchase passes. Because the jitney is an important benefit of living in South Orange, potential homebuyers often check the jitney route to see a home's proximity to the nearest stop.
Complete information about the jitney bus can be found on the South Orange town website, and the most recent schedule is available here.
Parks & Recreation
The South Orange Department of Recreation & Cultural Affairs seeks to create leisure activities for residents of all ages. The extensive recreational facilities throughout South Orange include:
- Peter S. Connor Memorial Swimming Pool
- baseball and softball fields
- walking trails
- ice skating rink
- tennis courts
- basketball courts
- soccer fields
South Orange is rich in parkland and recreational options. Cameron Field has baseball and softball fields as well as a swimming pool and playground. The Duck Pond at the corner of Meade Street and North Ridgewood Road is encircled by a lovely walking trail, and visitors enjoy the resident ducks and geese in the spring and summer months.
Carter Park is known for its children's playground, and of course, South Orange is adjacent to the South Mountain Reservation. The Reservation has over 2100 acres of land and is a nature preserve. The Rahway River winds through the Reservation and residents from South Orange and nearby towns enjoy the trails, footbridges and the stunning 25-foot Hemlock Falls waterfall.
Winner of New Jersey Monthly's Hot Town Showdown in September 2017, South Orange has a trending, bustling downtown with great food and a huge variety of activities. In the heart of the downtown is the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) with world-class theater performances, music, and the occasional poetry reading.
If you prefer to be outdoors, the Downtown After Sundown summer concert series brings music to the South Orange Village Center. In October, there is a Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival in Seton Village with live music and an incredible lineup of food trucks, and there's even a Diwali Fest.
One unique aspect of South Orange is its initiative around aging in place, SOMA: Two Towns for All Ages. Coordinating resources and programs, the Two Towns' mission is to empower residents of South Orange and Maplewood to age in place within their communities.