City Cheat Sheet: A Guide To Bergen County, New Jersey

Photo from The Scout Guide Bergen CountyPhotography by The Scout Guide Bergen County.

WHY VISIT THIS BUCOLIC BUT BUSTLING NEW JERSEY COUNTY? The Scout Guide Bergen County editors Chris Doherty and Eileen Sweeney can name a few reasons. Both editors agree their location just across the George Washington Bridge evokes both cosmopolitan and rural sensibilities. “Our towns have a pulse of sophistication, but the neighborly feel of Mayberry,” Chris shares. Here, you can enjoy magnificent views of the New York City skyline while driving along the Hudson River, or revel in a more natural vista while hiking the tranquil trails of the Ramapo Mountains. If shopping is your thing, you can spend a weekend wandering the boutiques of Englewood, and meander through local shops owned by entrepreneurs in Westwood, Ridgewood, Rutherford, and countless other towns. Eileen reveals that in Bergen County you have one-of-a-kind clothing, home goods, and jewelry all at your fingertips. Finally, epicures need not cross the GWB to satiate their cravings. Bergen county delivers the flavors of the world with talented chefs that hail from French eateries, organic farm-to-table delights, Italian, Mediterranean, and Asian restaurants, and of course, beloved diners. Ready to plan your visit (or staycation)? Here in this spot-on guide, Chris and Eileen share their favorite local finds and activities for taking in their area.

*Please note that due to COVID-19 some of these businesses might be closed or have specific guidelines in place. We recommend calling ahead and/or visiting their websites for the latest information on their status, offerings, etc. 

WHEN TO GO // Bergen County is beautiful in every season, but the fall foliage you’ll spy while driving or biking along the scenic Henry Hudson Drive, scrambling over the Giant Stairs of the Palisades, or hiking the trails of the Ramapo Valley Reservation is some of the prettiest you will ever see. The Palisades trails offer gorgeous views of NYC, while the Ramapo Reservation waterfalls are sure to be flowing in autumn.   

WHERE TO STAY // SoJo Spa Club Hotel (660 River Road, Edgewater). This Korean bath house-inspired spa and boutique hotel brings global spa traditions and cultures together under one roof. Spend the night in complete luxury and enjoy the SoJo Spa’s unparalleled wellness experience. The Hotel and Spa features outdoor heated pools and therapeutic baths that are open year round and offer spectacular views of the NYC skyline.

Valley Rock Inn & Mountain House (27 Mill Street, Sloatsburg). Located just across the Bergen County northern border in the foothills of the Ramapo Mountains, this is a special escape. Founded by Michael Bruno of 1st Dibs, it’s no surprise that this property is a design delight. Curated furnishings, lush gardens, and fine cuisine blend together to create a relaxed oasis. Guests may enjoy the numerous outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, and kayaking, the Inn organizes.

WHAT TO DO // Bergen Performing Arts Center (Bergen PAC) (30 North Van Brunt Street, Englewood). The Bergen Performing Arts Center is the leading cultural and arts educational institution in Northern New Jersey. Each year, the theater welcomes headline entertainers such as Jay Leno, Boyz II Men, Melissa Etheridge, Howie Mandel, The Russian Ballet, and the Vienna Boys Choir, to name a few. This non-for-profit theater also offers instruction in dance, theater, voice, and music to our talented local Bergen County adults and children. 

African Art Museum (23 Bliss Avenue, Tenafly). Established in 1980, the Tenafly museum is one of only a rare few in the United States dedicated solely to the arts of Africa. Its permanent collections, exhibited on a rotating basis, offer a unique advantage in the study and research of sub-Saharan sculpture and painting, costumes, textiles and decorative arts, religion, and folklore. Temporarily closed due to COVID.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY ACTIVITIES // Van Saun County Park and Zoo (216 Forest Avenue, Paramus). We love our Bergen County Zoo. The Van Saun Park is 146 acres and home to our nationally accredited zoological park. Generations of Bergen County children have ridden the iconic Bergen County rail train that runs throughout the park and twirled on the park’s historic Millennium Carousel featuring hand-painted horses, zebras, and elephants. Pony rides, tennis, playgrounds, and picnicking can all also be enjoyed.    

MetLife Stadium (One MetLife Stadium Drive, Rutherford). Home of the NY Giants and NY Jets. They may call themselves NY teams, but they choose to live and play in Bergen County. MetLife Stadium tailgates are legendary.  

Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment (1 Race Track Drive, East Rutherford). The Meadowlands Racetrack hosts both live thoroughbred racing and harness racing and is the host of the first leg of the Trotting Triple Crown, the Hambletonian. Fans can enjoy trackside dining at its onsite restaurant. 

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE // The Cosmic Wheel (184 Main Street, Ridgefield Park). The Cosmic Wheel is your one-stop bike shop, offering a variety of levels of bicycles for sale, repairs, and both indoor and outdoor riding clubs. They say it is “the place where bicycle dreams come true.”

Golf (multiple locations). We love our golf in Bergen County. In addition to our numerous premier private clubs, the county maintains six beautifully manicured public golf courses that may be enjoyed by all.  

Campgaw Mountain (200 Campgaw Road, Mahwah). For a great day of winter fun, we recommend a day at Campgaw Mountain. The mountain offers fifteen acres of skiable terrain at 850-foot elevation and caters to beginner and intermediate skill levels. There is also a fun tubing park for kids of all ages and a cozy lodge for aprés ski.  

SCENIC MUSTS // Fort Lee Historic Park  (2400 Hudson Terrace, Fort Lee). For your Instagramable moment, this is the spot with a gorgeous view of the George Washington Bridge, Hudson River, and New York City skyline.

ICONIC MUSTS // The Hermitage Museum, (335 North Franklin Turnpike, HoHoKus). A historical landmark, The Hermitage holds a special place in the hearts of history buffs. The original house was built in the 1750s and visited by George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr. It still maintains its Revolutionary War aura and hosts the reenactment of Revolutionary War camps, antique car shows, craft fairs, food truck festivals, and special events on an annual basis. 

Historic New Bridge Landing (1201 Main Street, River Edge). Step back in time with a tour of three major Colonial properties: the Steuben House, Demarest House, and the Westervelt Barn. 

WHERE TO SHOP // Sal Lauretta for Men (621 Godwin Avenue, Midland Park). Outfitting the most dapper men in Bergen County, for over 50 years this family-run men’s shop has been known for its fine custom suits, expert tailoring, and refined sportswear lines.

Suite 201 (11 South Walnut Street, Ridgewood). A unique and chic boutique that houses a well-curated selection of women’s fashions. The owner Alina and her team’s attention to personal service and styling make your shopping experience a pleasure.

Backyard Living (235 Franklin Avenue, Ridgewood). This is your one-stop-shop for amazing outdoor furniture, home decor, gifts, and a Holiday Shop designed by Santa himself. 

Wostbrock Home (225 Goffle Road, Ridgewood). Here you’ll find not only a home furnishing showroom but a full-service design center. Owners Heidi and Krista Wostbrock and their talented team curate the finest home interior design accessories, fabrics, and furniture to help clients create their dream home, one room at a time.

Ramsey Farmers’ Market (2 West Main Street, Ramsey). We love hitting the Farmer’s Market every Sunday. The produce is plentiful, but we also love the fine Alpaca wool stand, the guacamole guy, and the bread vendor.  

WHERE TO EAT // Breakfast: Willow and Whisk (319 Franklin Avenue, Wyckoff). New on the Scene in 2020, Willow and Whisk serves a fantastic breakfast in a bright, cheery cafe. We highly recommend the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes.

Brunch: La Vie en Rose (10 West Prospect Street, Waldwick). While their weekday breakfast is always fantastic, the weekend brunch is a pure delight. The cafe always puts a unique twist on the old standards and we continually wonder how the chef can cook so many yummy items in this cozy cafe’s kitchen. You can always leave with a sweet treat for your furry friend, their homemade dog biscuits are a favorite of our pups.

All-Around Favorite: Elia (249 Hackensack Street, East Rutherford). This place does everything right and is a favorite for brunch, cocktails, and dinner. Beyond its beautiful setting which makes you feel like you are transported to a Mediterranean island, the food, service, and lively music keep us coming back. Executive chef Jose Luis Falcon makes every culinary dish with zeal and a devotion to exceptional Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting alongside some local Bergen County celebrities. 

Lunch: Annamaria’s Deli (216 Hoboken Road, East Rutherford). This charming deli makes you feel like you’ve crossed the bridge to Arthur Avenue. Every sandwich is served on freshly-baked artisan bread and the simple ingredients reveal their amazing flavors. We love the Louie, and don’t even get us going about their pasta carbonara.

Allendale Bar & Grill (67 West Allendale Avenue, Allendale). The ultimate neighborhood joint featuring the best burgers and steak sandwiches. The AB&G is where locals have gathered for generations for great times with friends. The perfect place to watch the big game, or celebrate with your own team. The Kunish family makes everyone feel welcome and gives back to our local community in countless ways. 

Dinner: Caffe Anello (11 Madison Avenue, Westwood). The inspiration for Caffe Anello came from a honeymoon trip to Tuscany and led to one of Bergen County’s favorite spots for a spectacle of Italian cooking both to eat in and carry out, including Sunday Night Carry-Out Dinners, just like Grandma used to make.

Special Occasion: Saddle River Inn (2 Barnstable Court, Saddle River). A fine-dining contemporary French restaurant nestled along the banks of the Saddle River. Chef Jamie Knott never disappoints. Truly one of the most romantic restaurants in the state and worth the wait to get a reservation.

The 130 Club (130 County Road, Tenafly). New on the scene and one of the most gorgeous dining rooms in the county. Designed as a small supper club worthy of Gatsby, the 130 Club is an exceptional dining experience where hand-crafted cocktails are an art.   

Local delicacy: Bagel Nosh (24 East Prospect Street, Waldwick). They line up outside the door for these hot, delicious bagels. Eileen even stops in on every trip home to bring a dozen back to her friends in Cincinnati.

WHERE TO DRINK // Coffee: Erie Coffeeshop & Bakery (10 Franklin Place, Rutherford). Simply said, the county’s best banana bread and apple pie! And yes, the coffee is great as well.

Juice Shops: Juice Journey Cafe (1 Main Street, Edgewater). Juice with the best view in the county, located directly on the bank of the Hudson River. We also love their Three-Day Juice Cleanse, ready for pickup whenever you feel motivated.

Rockin’ Roots (434 Hillsdale Avenue, Hillsdale). Whether it’s a smoothie, a juice, or a healthy family-style dinner, Rockin’ Roots is the place. Check out their weekly family-style dinners on Instagram and call to order.  

Bars: The HoHoKus Inn & Tavern (1 East Franklin Turnpike, HoHoKus). The corner table in the main bar room is one of the most sought after tables in the county as it’s the perfect place to unwind on a cold winter night. The lower tavern bar is the place to catch up with friends and family and the upstairs private rooms are perfect for special celebrations such as rehearsal dinners and christenings.

LOCAL PRO-TIP // Bergen County covers a lot of ground, but it’s very easy to traverse, with no more than $20 spent on an Uber ride to any location. 

You can download this Bergen County cheat sheet by clicking here. For additional recommendations for what to do, see, and experience in Bergen County,  follow The Scout Guide Bergen County on Instagram.