Located just 34 miles from Manhattan, Watchung offers residents the comfort of a quiet, picturesque family-friendly setting all while providing the convenience of living close to the city. People are enthusiastic about their love for Watchung, and residents describe their charming community as fun, unpretentious, diverse, and like family!
“[Watchung has a] great sense of community. [There’s a] rising influx of ‘young’ families from NYC/Hoboken (for the better!!). People are very friendly. There is an incredibly unique balance of privacy (larger properties offer privacy) but people are very open, friendly and authentic. Fosters great friendships for kids and adults alike. Also very close to city which makes for great commute and easy access to ‘shopping towns’ like Westfield/Bridgewater/Summit with the benefit of a sleepy town feel.” -Amy D.
WHAT PEOPLE LOVE ABOUT WATCHUNG
“I'm a huge fan of the seasonal colors of the town. I've never seen such gorgeous Dogwood in Spring time and the fall colors around the lake are spectacular. Residents are very friendly and always watch out for one another.” -Jen M.
“I love that Watchung is just a bit rural, yet there is access to anything and everything—restaurants, museums, theater, parks, the ocean—you name it! Did you know that we have several horse farms in Watchung? And residents can spot deer, turkeys, and foxes in their own yards!” -Watchung Mom
“Love how beautiful it is and how close it is to the Jersey Shore and NYC. The schools are great and have met very dear friends through the schools.” - Kristy
“Community is great. People are friendly. Atmosphere beautiful. Close to shopping and easy commute to the shore, city or mountains.” -Alys T.
“Easy access to shopping, travel and city. A relaxing environment. Friendly people. Great schools!”
“The back streets are quiet, the trees are beautiful, it is convenient in many ways, and close to Lifetime Fitness and a new Hilton Hotel. Some town leaders (politically) push to prevent the town from turning into just another NJ town filled with badly built McMansions, blue, rolled-out lawns, and residents who never get out of their SUVs except to pull into their house. They celebrate big, flowering trees and the history of Watchung, starting with the natives who cherished this area for centuries. I love that there are a lot of Indian and Chinese families moving into an area that previously had been quite homogeneous, often multi-generational. Anything to draw newcomers into ‘the community,’ stay in the local schools, and improve them according to their expectations, and share their cultures with the rest of the town, i.e. build roots, would be most welcome.” -JJ
“Small town feel but close to everything you need. Quiet, relaxed.” -Roseann S.
“Mixture of nature and humanity. Close enough to be convenient, although far enough from all the hustle.” -Paul M.
“Everyone is friendly. Stores, pharmacy, Costco, BJs, Walmart, churches and synagogues are within 3 to 5 miles.” -Lenore
From spending time at the beautiful and popular Watchung Lake and Twin Brooks Golf Course to enjoying town-wide activities, Watchung residents like to get outdoors and come together to enjoy their community. Events like the Tree Lighting ceremony, Harvest Festival, and other annual get-togethers encourage people to meet their neighbors and enjoy all the Central New Jersey community has to offer!
“I love to run around Watchung Lake. It is particularly beautiful in the springtime when the trees are just blooming. When the kids were little we also loved to take the kids to the park at the lake... So I guess you can say that the lake is a family fav.” -Jen M.
“We have a wonderful library, with a great summer reading program and a fantastic collection of movies and DVDs. One can go hiking in the nearby Watchung Reservation. We have a wonderful tree lighting ceremony each December complete with signing, hot chocolate and fireworks. We have Boy Scout and Girl Scouts. And EVERYBODY enjoys walks around the lake!” - Watchung Mom
“Amazing community feeling. It's such a small town that annual gatherings like the Ice Cream Social, Harvest Festival, Tree Lighting community picnic attract everyone!” -Amy D.
“Walking around the lake is great exercise. The park is nice. The town offers seasonal town events where you can take the kids and meet your neighbors.” - Alys T.
“In the future, hopefully some of the meadows and other strengths of Watchung's natural beauty will be preserved as public spaces. Currently, many natural places can be seen between the more graceful homes that celebrate and fit into the landscape, and wildlife preserves and parks are 10-15 drives from Watchung. There are also two man-made lakes in town (originally built to produce ice to sell in Cuba, before freezers existed!), around which residents like to walk. Sidewalks have been constructed for this purpose. There is also a non-profit arts center which seems to be quite active, and a library that promises to be rebuilt to become more of a community center. A community center in a safe building would be a much needed and much used selling point of the town, along with homes that respect the natural world, and Watchung's history and draw to more woodsy people.” -JJ
“Watchung Lake [is] very popular with walkers/runners [and for] fishing.” - Roseann S
WHERE LOCALS LOVE TO DINE
Marino's: Not only does this Watchung staple have a huge menu, they also do online ordering, pickup, and delivery.
“Good food, good prices.”
“Great pizza for years.”
Water and Wine: Featuring lakeside dining in a beautiful setting along with an exquisite menu and wine selection, Water and Wine is a popular destination for special occasions.
“Great food and atmosphere!”
Stone House: While Stone House is technically in Warren, it’s tucked in the Watchung Mountains on the border or Watchung. This gorgeous setting offers a summer patio, private dining, event spaces, and more.
“Stone House has a gentle and relatively elegant atmosphere, and a menu that tries.” - JJ
WATCHUNG COMMUTING INFO
Many who choose to live in Central New Jersey do so for the close proximity to the city. Here’s everything you need to know about commuting from Watchung, NJ, including tips directly from locals!
“So many options. Drive to downtown, bus from many locations, train from Westfield of Berk Heights!” -Amy D.
“When I commuted into NYC I either drove to Millburn and took the bus or drove to Hoboken or Jersey City and took the PATH. For NYC commuters, unfortunately, the trade-off for a nice house, good schools and property is a commute with several legs. There's no direct route.” - Jen M.
“Buses to/from NYC is just over the bridge in North Plainfield. Catch a train from any of the surrounding towns. Don't let the traffic to the circle scare you. There are plenty of back roads the locals use to navigate away from the traffic.” -Alys Tyler
“If you can avoid coming down Hillcrest Road during rush hour, do. There are plenty of other routes to get into town.” -Kristy
“Avoid the Watchung circle at rush hour.” - Roseann S.
Although Watchung is just 20 miles from New York City, commuting to the city via train is not advisable, at least until the Raritan Valley train line becomes a direct commute from Fanwood (the closest station to Watchung) to Penn Station. Currently a door-to-door commute from Watchung to midtown Manhattan (east side) is about 2 hours each way, and that does not include frequent delays. - JJ
It’s town’s eastern location is very close to Rt 78, which makes it an ideal choice to hop on this highway and drive to either Summit, Jersey City or Harrison PATH station. - Judy W
The result is that more educated (aside from finance or accounting) and arts oriented people are not drawn to the Raritan Valley Line. Watchung is most convenient for local business owners and employees working at companies like Verizon and other local pharma corporations -- if their commute can be staggered to avoid the overwhelmed local roads, like the train tracks, were conceived and built several hundred years ago. -JJ
LEARN ABOUT WATCHUNG SCHOOLS
The Watchung Borough School District is a small school district that includes a preschool, Bayberry Elementary, and Valley View Middle School. Many children attend The Giving Nest preschool. High school students attend Watchung Hills Regional High School in nearby Warren, NJ.
Here’s what locals love about the schools in Watchung:
“Bayberry is a dream. Most surprising to folks who don't know about Watchung is just how small the community is—only one elementary and one middle school which are incredible! Small schools provide a confident close knit support network, and excellent larger high school offers an opportunity for kids to expand and nurture any number of interests and skills!” -Amy D.
“One daughter spent a year at Valley View. She enjoyed the teachers and the way they took an interest in her. Two daughters went to the public high school. They enjoyed the wide variety of AP classes and the opportunity to experience different honors courses.” -Jen M.
“Very nurturing and stimulating environments.” -Kristy
“Great teachers at Bayberry.” -Diana
“Wonderful, caring teachers, excellent education.” - Roseann S
“The teachers are the best.”
“Great teachers. Wonderful curriculum. High standards.”
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