There are so many towns in New Jersey worth visiting, many of which are close to Hudson County. Walking down Main Street in Chester, New Jersey, visitors and locals may briefly forget they are in New Jersey, but perhaps in a movie setting of an idyllic small town. Just under an hour’s drive from the Hoboken area, this small New Jersey town has no shortage of fun activities and great restaurants to try. Depending on the time of year, there is always something fun to do in Chester, including flowers, farms and fresh food. Keep reading for the full rundown on how to have a fun day out in Chester, New Jersey.
^ Black River Candy Shop
Incorporated in 1799, Chester was a central point for the trade of goods in the region, and it was known over the years for its agriculture, mining and manufacturing. The town has interesting connections to the Jersey City area, including how stagecoaches would travel to town from Paulus Hook as a common route. Additionally, iron was sent from the mines to the manufacturing facilities in Jersey City via the Morris Canal.
Traveling is much easier today than in the 19th century, and visitors can travel by car, train, or bus. Travelers can hop on Route 78 and get to central Chester in just under an hour (with no traffic). Without a dedicated train and bus station, travelers can take public transport to any of the nearby stops, including Peapack-Gladstone, Morristown or Dover, and then take an Uber from there.
Where to eat
by Maria | 56 Main Street
Start the day at Maria’s for a coffee or a special drink. The menu includes specialty lattes, iced teas, paninis and baked goods. Seating outside allows for some lovely people watching, but overall seating is limited.
Bagel Chester | 17 Main Street
Locals love this classic spot for breakfast and lunch, and the line can sometimes be out the door. While the breakfast bagel sandwiches are a favorite, don’t sleep on the deli sandwiches that are named after famous places and celebrities.
Marilyn’s Coffee | 21 Main Street West
New Jersey is known for its restaurants, and this cafe is no exception. The walls are covered with photos of Marilyn Monroe and other paraphernalia, giving patrons the feeling of stepping back in time. Everything is good, but diners can’t go wrong with any of the omelettes.
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The Old Mill Tavern | 55 Highway 24
This local watering hole offers burgers, wings, 24 draft beers and more. Eat inside or out at this classic bar just outside the city center. The location makes it a perfect stop before or after a great hike, as Hacklebarney State Park and other trails are not far away. Over 100 police, fire and other first responder patches hang on the wall, and all veterans, police, fire and ER members get 10% off every day.
Aztec Mexican Restaurant | 35 Perry Street
Located just off Main Street, Aztec Mexican Restaurant offers authentic and delicious Mexican cuisine for visitors to enjoy. Customers can try various tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and more. However, we keep coming back for the chimichanga (try the chicken tinga).
Taylor’s Ice Cream Parlor | 18 Main Street
This small town ice cream shop has big flavor. A favorite with kids after a tough summer baseball or softball game, Taylor’s Ice Cream Parlor has all the delicious toppings and tons of flavors like classic rock road and mint chocolate chips, cotton candy , YooHoo, and more.
Chester Meat Market | 27 West Main Street
Although there are no ready-to-eat meal options, this store has plenty of meat and other choices like ravioli and spices to make a fantastic dinner to end a great day in Chester. While there are no bad meat choices, if burgers are a favorite, make sure you have a bunch of them because the locals love them.
Things to do
Hikes and Parks
There are many trails to try in the region, each with its own particular characteristics. Some options include Patriots Path, a 90-mile trail through New Jersey with multiple access points in Chester, trails around Cooper Grist Mill, Hacklebarney State Park, and more.
^ Black River Park
Visitors bringing children can also head to a few great parks with fun play areas, including Chubb Park and Grove Street Park.
There doesn’t seem to be a shortage of farms in the Chester area, and a few may even look familiar as they are staples for Jersey City-area farmers’ markets. Alstede Farms and Stony Hill Farms are both Chester favorites and offer seasonal produce and produce, as well as corn mazes during the autumn months.
^ Alstede Farms
Riamede Farm and Hacklebarney Farm Cider House is another favorite with extensive apple orchards.
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Speaking of autumn months, Chester is known for its seasonal activities, especially its corn mazes in autumn. Twice a year, Chester has craft fairs when artists and small businesses line the grassy terrain of Main Street. The next weekend fair is June 4-5, 2022 and admission is $4.
During the summer, there is a food truck festival where local food trucks congregate in the same field, and live music is played in the town gazebo. Dates for 2022 will be announced soon.
^ Where is the Festival of Trees held
The cold winter months don’t stop this town from continuing to host fun activities, including an annual Christmas tree lighting or tree festival, which showcases decorated trees for purchase (check out the Chester Township page for more information).
Shopping on the main street
Perhaps one of the most charming streets in the city, Main Street is a must stop on any visit to see the cute shops and delicious dining options. Antique shoppers can visit Chester Crafts, Collectibles + Antiques (28 Main Street), and other specialty gift shops including Perfect Treasure (47 Main Street), Fizzle Creations (87 Main Street) and the delicate dandelion (58 Main Street).
^ Perfect Treasure Gift Shop
The olive and the stone (58 Main Street) is a fun stop to try the different olive oil and vinegar pairings.
Another delicacy is The maple shop (105 Main Street) which sells 100% Vermont maple syrup among other delicacies.
No trip to Chester is complete without a visit to the Black River candy store (44 Main Street) to get candy by the piece or in bulk.