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How to Spend a Day in Madison, New Jersey

by Diana Cooper
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We are continuing our New Jersey day trips by spending a day in Madison. About 25 miles west of downtown Manhattan, this quaint little city in Morris County is definitely worth a day trip, especially if you’re coming from a crowded area and want to get away from the hustle and bustle. Madison was spotlighted on a national level thanks to Nicole “Snooki” LaValle — whose shop, The Snooki Shop, was featured on the MTV hit show Jersey Shore Family Vacation. While it’s sure a must-see for Jersey Shore fans, there are many other fun things to do, shops to check out, restaurants to dine at, and things to do in this New Jersey town. Read on for your guide to a day in Madison, New Jersey — a quick drive from Hudson County.

Places to Check Out

Museum of Early Trades & Crafts {9 Main Street}

Museum of Early Trades & Crafts

{Photo credit: Museum of Early Trades & Crafts}

The museum’s mission is “to inspire a connection with New Jersey’s history, culture, trades, and crafts.” They also have school programs that are available as live virtual field trips and crafts-to-go, which are activity kits with all the supplies you’ll need to create a fun craft at home. In addition to virtual programming, the museum has various exhibits throughout the year. Currently, you can check out the “Cholera to COVID-19: Epidemics, Pandemics & Disease” exhibit.

Millionaire’s Row

Millionaire’s Row, which is a stretch of mansions along Madison Avenue between Madison and Morristown, was formed in the latter 19th century and required not only wealthy owners but legions of staff to run the houses. Per the city’s website, “Immigrants, particularly from Italy, were attracted to Madison for the opportunities to play traditional skills in landscape gardening and masonry at the estates. They clustered in Madison, and in other nearby towns, adding a vibrant new cultural overlay to the town.” Glynallyn Castle on Canfield Road was completed in 1917 for George Marshall Allen and his wife, Charlotte. The 32,000-square-foot mansion featured 66 rooms and 12 bathrooms. It was purchased in 1997 by Chris and Melitta Shields who have made every effort to restore it to its original condition.

James H. McGraw’s Former Home

At 82 Prospect Street, you’ll find the former home of James H. McGraw. McGraw was the co-founder of the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company who lived in the house with his wife, Mildred F. Whittlesey, and five children. The Queen Anne home was coined “Edgewood” by McGraw. It was constructed in 1900 and today is used to host many Madison Historical Society events and gatherings.

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Drew University {36 Madison Avenue}

Drew University Campus Madison NJ

{Photo credit: @drewuniversity}

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If you have time for a stroll in Madison, Drew University is worth checking out. It was nicknamed the “University in the Forest” because of its wooded 186-acre campus. Drew is a small private university that has three schools: the College of Liberal Arts, the Theological School, and the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. It was founded in 1867 by financier and railroad tycoon Daniel Drew who purchased what was an estate at the time to establish a theological seminary to train candidates for Methodist ministry. As of fall 2020, the University enrolled more than 2,200 students.

Read More: A Day Trip Guide to Lambertville

Giralda Farms Preserve Trail

What a better way to start your morning than a walk on Giralda Farms Preserve Trail. The 1.5-mile loop trail features a lake and is primarily used for walking, hiking, dog walking, and bird watching. Open all-year-round. Giralda Farms was the former estate of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge who used to host dog shows at the property.  It was converted into a corporate park containing the headquarters for Quest Diagnostics, Pharmaceutical giant Allergan, and Pfizer Inc, among other corps.

Things to Do

Shakespeare Theatre of NJ {36 Madison Avenue}

Shakespeare Theatre of NJ

{Photo credit: Shakespeare Theatre of NJ}

The curtain is closed for now but hopes to open in 2021. However, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey has launched an online program that brings high-quality live performances of theatrical classics from a number of eras to your home via Vimeo. The cost for each show will be $10.

Escape Room NJ {19 Waverly Lane}

The Madison location currently has two escape rooms you can choose from: The Lost Cabin Book of Souls and Wonka. You have 60 minutes as a group to escape.

Stryxe {300 Main Street}

Stryxe Bowling Madison NJ

{Photo credit: @stryxe}

This boutique entertainment venue features bowling lanes, three gaming rooms, an upscale eatery, wood-fired specialty pizza, two bars, and private event space. The space is currently open and strictly follows Covid-19 protocols such as enforcing wearing a mask while playing.

Cooking Class at Healthy Italia {55 Main Street}

Healthy Italia

{Photo credit: @healthy_italia_official}

You can take a cooking class on-site or virtually with Healthy Italia. Some of the classes include “Cooking with the Kids,” “Pizza and Tiramisu with Beer Tasting,” “Saturday Night Out,” and “Family Cooking Time.” Prices range from $25 for a virtual and up to $105 for on-site.

Shanghai Jazz Restaurant & Bar {24 Main Street}

Shanghai Jazz Restaurant & Bar

{Photo credit: @shanghaijazznj}

At Shanghai Jazz, you’ll find one of the few restaurants offering live music. The upscale Asian restaurant featuring live jazz hosts performances from big-name artists. It’s currently open for both outdoor and limited indoor dining. The live music continues to be outdoors.

Where to Shop

The Snooki Shop {32 Madison Street}

The Snooki Shop

{Photo credit: The Snooki Shop}

Owned by Jersey Shore star Snooki, The Snooki Shop has many women’s clothing and accessories as well as “The Snooki Shop” branded items, such as coffee mugs, sweatshirts, makeup bags, hats, and many more. You’ll also find Snooki’s makeup and eyelash collection as well as the fashion moments she posts on her Instagram. If you’re lucky enough you might even get to see her in person when she visits.

New Leaf Consignment {16 Park Avenue}

New Leaf Consignment opened its doors in 1994. The mission was to be more mindful of the Earth’s environment, to be a catalyst for clients to recycle the more exceptional merchandise, and to allow locals to shop high-end merchandise without paying retail prices. Here, you’ll find affordable upscale and designer women’s clothing and accessories.

The Chatham Bookseller {8 Green Village Road}

The Chatham Bookseller

{Photo credit: The Chatham Bookseller}

The Chatham Bookseller is worth checking out to find some collector’s items. They not only buy and sell used and rare books and ephemera, but they also have hard to find and out of print books. For example, they have The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe for sale for $950.00

Tons of Toys {64 Main Street}

Tons of Toys Shop Madison NJ

Hat Shop Madison {18 B Main Street}

Hat Shop Madison

{Photo credit: @hat.shop.madison}

The shop that has a hat “for every head!” Per the shop’s owner Monika, “I want to create a place where you can find a hat for every head. Whether it’s a unique custom made piece of art or an everyday hat. Whether your head is big or small. Whether you want to blend in or stand out, I can find you a hat.”

Once + Again Consignment {52 Main Street}

Once And Again Madison NJ Consignment Shop

{Photo credit: Once + Again Consignment}

Another consignment shop that’s unlike any other. You’ll find designer handbags, unique furniture, and household items, women’s clothing, and Madison, NJ-branded items. It’s worth checking out, even if it’s to get some inspiration for your own home.

Sugar Rush Candy & Gift Boutique {10 Waverly Place}

If you’re in need of a sugar fix, Sugar Rush is the place to go. They have a large variety of chocolates and candy, and the box assortments and candy containers make for great gifts. You’ll also find some candy-themed accessories, journals, pillows, kids’ clothes, and many more.

See More: A Guide to Exploring Princeton

Places to Eat 

Crowley Cupcakes {9 Waverly Place}

Crowley Cupcakes Shop Madison NJ

{Photo credit: @crowleycupcakes}

There are so many different flavors of cupcakes, it may be hard to pick just one at Crowley Cupcakes. From the minis to the average size cupcakes, Crowley’s has some offerings you won’t find anywhere else in town. Opt for the mint brownie cupcake, a brownie in the shape of a cupcake, topped with peppermint buttercream, dipped in a dark chocolate ganache, and a brownie on top. Or, the snowball, a double chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting topped with a fluffy white sweetened coconut.

Daddy Matty’s BBQ {6 Elmer Street}

Daddy Matty's BBQ

{Photo credit: @daddymattysbbq}

Not only do they have great reviews online, but Daddy Matty’s BBQ also has great connections with the community. Their motto is “Everybody Eats,” they have partnered with Morris County Interfaith Food Pantry to give back to neighbors who need it most. The eatery is available for catering, takeout, outdoor dining, and special events.

Slamwich Scratch Kitchen {143 Main Street}

{Photo credit: Slamwich Scratch Kitchen}

A well-known restaurant in town, at Slamwich Scratch Kitchen you can find breakfast and lunch offerings, creative artisan sandwiches with housemade bread, and everything “made by hand, with love.” There’s a reason why they have ranked No. 1 restaurant in Madison by Tripadvisor.

54 Main Bar & Grille {54 Main Street}

In the heart of downtown Madison, you’ll find 54 Main Bar & Grille. The “homey restaurant” is the perfect place to stop for some new American food while strolling along Main Street. While watching a game at the sports bar, you can have a drink from what they call the “largest selection of single malt scotches and single barrel bourbons around.” You can also find 37 types of beer, a wide variety of wines, and a large selection of top-shelf cordials.

Osteria Trevi {4 Park Avenue}

Osteria Trevi

{Photo credit: @osteriatrevinj}

Known by locals as the best authentic Italian restaurant around, at Osteria Trevi, you won’t be disappointed by the “delicious” food. The upscale restaurant features one small dining room that brings Italy to Madison. You’ll find photographs from Italy, an “old school vibe” from the wait staff, and as reviewers put it the “best cannoli” they’ve ever had. Although it’s BYOB, you can indulge in plenty of pasta and dessert.

McCool’s Ice Cream & Frozen Yogurt {26 Main Street}

McCools Ice Cream Madison NJ

Known for being the “home of the best milkshake in New Jersey,” McCool’s serves over 50 flavors of ice cream {with neat names like Lil Blue Panda, LlamaLicious, and Graham Central Station} and has a variety of low-fat frozen yogurt. You’ll also find smoothies and cupcakes, as well as custom-made cakes.

Begum Palace {300 Main Street}

One of the few Indian restaurants you’ll find in Madison, but according to reviews it’s “the best authentic Indian food around.” You’ll find a variety of vegetarian and vegan options as well as gluten-free options.  Since opening in 1996, Begum Palace has been serving “extremely tasty, well-prepared food” that’s nothing less than fresh and high quality.

Do you have a favorite spot in Madison, NJ that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below!


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