Today’s guest post is by my bestie Elsa. I feel so lucky that we met after I moved to Morris County a few years ago. I had been stalking her Instagram and had planned to reach out to meet up when we moved… and she beat me to it! We had a coffee “date” together and hit it off right away! Beyond just being on the most stylish and funniest person I know (seriously, she makes me literally laugh out loud on the daily), she is also my go-to expert for all things Morris County. She knows all the good gems in the area!! She was gracious enough to offer her expertise and put together this guide to Morristown (where she lives) and Madison (where I live).
Hi, guys! Elsa here. I’m so excited to be a guest on Carly’s blog today while she is enjoying motherhood with sweet baby Jack. It’s pretty special when your closest friends start new life chapters and you’re able to be there for the joy of it all. Almost three years ago, Carly and I met by way of Instagram, but became attached at the hip living all but ten minutes from each other right here in New Jersey. Not a week goes by where we aren’t meeting up at a favorite local spot or popping by each other’s part of town just to say hi, which very much embodies the neighborly spirit this area is all about. So, it felt fitting that I share a little guide to our next-door towns, Morristown and Madison, that serve as the backdrop for most of our adventures!
I may be biased, but I absolutely love New Jersey, especially greater Morris County. After spending time in the city, my husband and I planted roots in Morristown around 2015 and we’ve been here ever since. We both grew up only about 20 minutes away, so to say it feels like home would be an understatement! I love how the area is so welcoming and has charm around every corner. I can’t wait to raise my family here and feel so fortunate that we’ll be able to do so! From historic neighborhoods to a bustling city-like downtown, the Morristown-Madison area has everything that makes for a perfect weekend escape or, in my opinion, place to live. Whether you find yourself here by chance or by choice, there’s no shortage of things to do.
A little bit about the towns:
Morristown is a small city, with a robust downtown complete with a vibrant food and drink scene, shopping and social community. My favorite part is that you can turn a corner from the city feel and be in a historic district lined with charming houses and gardens. Morristown actually expands far beyond the downtown itself, with rolling hills and country-like suburbs surrounding the downtown.
A five minute drive away lies Madison, a town that definitely has Stars Hollow vibes, with beautiful neighborhoods, a charming downtown, adorable shops, and a strong sense of community. It feels like it’s from a simpler time where you would ask your friend for a cup of sugar or find kids walking home from school to jump in piles of their neighbors’ leaves.
WHERE TO STAY
Morristown and Madison are both accessible by train from New York and Hoboken. You can even just take a day trip from the city! You can travel between Morristown and Madison by train, or most easily, by Uber/Lyft/Car.
The Madison Hotel (Madison): A charming and historic hotel with beautiful grounds, a popular tavern, steakhouse and cocktail bar. The rooms aren’t exactly trendy, but they are timeless, comfortable and lovely. If you choose to stay at the Madison Hotel, you will need transportation, however Ubers are readily available by the dozens.
The Hyatt Regency (Downtown Morristown): Location, location, location! If practicality is paramount, check out The Hyatt Regency. They recently re-did a lot of the rooms and they’re great. Nestled behind the Morristown Green, you truly cannot find a better spot if you plan to spend most of your time downtown. With a Hyatt Regency, you know exactly what you’re going to get and it makes for a lovely city-stay.
WHERE TO GET COFFEE + JUICE
The Artist Baker (Morristown): A grandmillenial’s haven and my favorite spot in town for coffee and baked goods. They usually serve sit down brunch and breakfast, but with Covid, they’re offering to-go options, even the grab and go experience is lovely. They’re closed on Sundays, so my husband and I love walking here early on Saturday mornings to admire the charm and get the chocolate croissant (they only bake them on Saturday)!
Lokl Cafe (Morristown): A coffee spot with funky vibes and a great atmosphere. Carly and I like to meet up here and needlepoint, they have fantastic sandwiches, pastries and Matcha! They have some pretty creative coffee options on the menu, too.
Green Point Juicery (Morristown): There are a lot of juiceries in Morristown, but Green Point is my favorite! The staff is so friendly and you can get juices, smoothies, acai bowls and coffee, too.
Sunday Motor Car (Madison): I’m assuming if you’re a reader of Carly’s blog that you know about Sunday Motor. Well, it’s the absolute best coffee shop in Morris County. The interior is immaculate, so chic and inspiring. The food is fantastic, and makes for a great breakfast, lunch or brunch spot. Another place we love to meet!
WHERE TO EAT
Morristown has so. many. restaurants. Not to mention an endless amount of bars and cocktail clubs, you can easily stroll South Street on any given day and find some great food or a place for a drink outside of my recommendations, too.
Jockey Hollow Bar + Kitchen (Morristown): Hands down the best culinary and aesthetic destination in the area. Jockey Hollow consists of four dining/cocktail experiences. The oyster room (so chic), the main dining room (even more chic), the vail bar, and the rathskeller. Right now, the oyster room and vail bar are only open due to Covid, and they have the best seafood, pasta and general dishes. Andrew and I love it here!
Stirling Tavern (Morristown): We love to frequent Stirling Tavern with friends! A fantastic laid-back, yet elevated experience with some really great American food. The burgers and sliders are very popular. They also have a rooftop which is really cool and outdoor dining available as well.
South + Pine (Morristown): The best brunch spot. It’s so adorable and the comfort food is delicious. The chef was Bobby Flay’s sous chef and happens to be a Morristown native, she decided to return to her hometown to bring something different to the restaurant landscape. It’s BYO and a cozy experience with unique decor and great service.
Fig + Lily Garden (Morristown): Eastern Mediterranean food with a farm to table mentality, not to mention the loveliest outdoor garden space. In the evenings, you walk through a wrought iron gate lit with twinkle lights right in the heart of downtown. At night, it feels like an ethereal little escape. Always ask the staff what is good on the menu, they really know their stuff!
Roots Steakhouse (Morristown): Roots is a Morristown staple! They now have several locations in popular areas of NJ (Summit, Princeton and Ridgewood), because it’s that good. An elevated steakhouse with a creative menu that goes beyond traditional steaks and sides. The atmosphere feels refined and vibrant with an incredible energy that is palpable. Get the butter cake!
54 Main Madison (Madison): The place for dinner in downtown Madison. 54 Main has been around since I was a kid, and for good reason. Every time I’ve been I either run into someone I know, or the person I’m with is experiencing the same. Sitting outside is so lovely and you really can’t go wrong with their burgers or calamari!
Honorable mentions: Tacoria, The Office, The Committed Pig, Chef Freddy’s Table, Sushi Lounge, End of Elm, The Homestead.
PLACES TO SHOP
Morristown has shopping that includes stores like Athleta, Blue Mercury and Talbots. Nearby Summit also has Serena & Lily, LuluLemon and more. Other local Morristown boutiques include Alba, Merzatta, and Willow Street.
- F. Gerald New (Morristown, the country mile): F. Gerald New is a true landmark in this area! They are a home decor, jewelry, fine jewelry and fine gift shoppe that will make you never want to shop anywhere ever again. The assortment is incredibly timeless, classic, and stunning, I could spend hours in here. Mrs. Jaeckle, the F. Gerald New matriarch, was recently featured as a J.McLaughlin style icon!
J.McLaughlin (Morristown, the country mile): If you stop by F. Gerald New, you have to pop in J. McLaughlin! It’s the most adorable store you will ever see, a small barn turned into a little slice of heaven, just a few steps from F. Gerald New.
The Depot (Morristown, the country mile): The Depot consists of three shopping experiences: Baby Crossing downstairs, The Depot Home and Gifts on the main level, and Paradise, a Lilly Pulitzer store upstairs. I love how this family owned business has remained such a staple over the years and it’s so fun to explore.
Collyflowers (Morristown): Oh my gosh, visiting Collyflowers is a Morristown MUST. If you took all your Pinterest botanical dreams, Nancy Meyers flower shop visions (with an artful twist) and created a space, this would be it. Their flowers are incredibly fresh and carefully picked, but beyond that they also have an adorable assortment of books, gifts, plants, paper goods and candles. I love going here!
The Sunroom (Madison): A little antique and vintage shop right next to Sunday Motor. This darling space has wonderful gifts, treasures and is perfectly curated. Grab some coffee and stop in!
Cambridge Street Papers (Madison): Be still my preppy paperie loving heart. Cambridge Street Papers has adorable paper goods, gifts, decor, books and more. One time I went in for a card and ended up staying until they were closing. A must if you find yourself in Madison.
THINGS TO DO
Here are some of my favorite things to do. Depending on what you’re into, there’s something for everyone. Most of the town is centered around the arts, it’s history, and cuisine, so come hungry and with an appetite for museums!
VISIT THE MORRIS MUSEUM, A SMITHSONIAN AFFILIATE (Morristown): The Morris Museum always has great exhibits. They’re a Smithsonian affiliate museum, which speaks to the quality of the collections. They also have a theater here where you can catch symphony performances and more.
EXPLORE MORRISTOWN HISTORIC LANDMARKS & MUSEUMS (Morristown): There are so many historic landmarks and museums peppered throughout Morristown. Washington’s Headquarters is a must, the grounds are stunning! Macculloch Hall is another favorite in the Historic District downtown.
SEE A SHOW AT THE MAYO PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Morristown): The MPAC is phenomenal and located right in the middle of all the restaurants and things to do. We love checking out what’s on the roster, they get some pretty big names here and also support local theater groups. You really feel like you could be off Broadway, plus they have a full bar inside as well!
WALK DREW UNIVERSITY CAMPUS (Madison): Fun fact, so many movies have been filmed in Morristown and Madison, many of which use Drew University as a set! Drew is a beautiful campus that’s a great place to walk if you’re wanting to get moving in a lovely setting.
MORRISTOWN GREEN & WALKING TOUR APP (Morristown): Aside from strolling downtown, you can also take a reprieve and check out the Morristown Green. The heart of Morristown, it’s vibrant and like a little oasis. One block has a bunch of food trucks, too. You can also download a walking tour app for historic morristown and start right on the green!
VISIT WIGHTMAN FARM: Wightman Farm is almost like a rite of passage if you live in the area. They have experiences for every season: apple picking, pumpkin picking, summer fruit, and Christmas trees in the winter. Inside, they have an adorable market with so many goods they’ve made or sourced from local farmers.
TAKE A FLOWER ARRANGING CLASS: Pre-2020, Colly Flowers offered insta-worthy flower arranging classes in their black room which are so much fun. Depending on when you visit, check to see if they are offering them!