Arts and Culture in Maplewood, NJ: Things to Do and SeeMay 13, 2022
Maplewood, New Jersey is truly a hidden gem. The downtown area exudes a quaint, nostalgic vibe and offers a wide range of dining options and cultural activities. In addition, Memorial Park and the nearby South Mountain Reservation’s lush green spaces make Maplewood a prime destination for picnics and other outdoor activities.
Whether you live in Maplewood or are just visiting, here are some activities you’re bound to enjoy.
- Art Galleries and Theaters
Maplewood takes its art culture seriously. If you simply enjoy looking at art, you can wander through the wide variety of galleries downtown or admire the train station underpass’ vibrant mosaics.
On the other hand, if you are an artist who wants to display your talents, you will find a platform for your creativity among the range of programs the town offers.
For those of you who have grandchildren that are budding artists, there are also venues like the Theater Project at the Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts, which holds workshops for children.
The Burgdorff Center is a 100-seat theater that houses the Strollers, a community theater troupe that has been in operation for almost a hundred years.
Pick up a souvenir of your trip at one of the art shops or take home the memory of a live music performance at the Annual Art Walk and Music Fest.
- The Durand-Hedden Historic House and Garden
The Durand-Hedden House and Garden is another attraction you should not miss.
The Township of Maplewood owns the Durand-Hedden Museum, which is managed by a non-profit group of citizen-trustees. This historic museum house hosts exciting ways to explore the town’s vibrant past through music, food, architecture, nature, dramatic reenactments, and other participatory activities.
In addition, it is dedicated to providing educational programs and exhibits designed to foster public awareness and appreciation for Maplewood’s history, which dates to the late 17th century. One of these exhibits is a sculpture of a rake and oars from an old ash tree that fell on the museum property.
Highlights of activities at the Durand-Hedden House and Garden include concerts by regional artists and the Revolutionary War Muster, an annual re-enactment of 18th century military and civilian life activities including tent building, military drills, musket firing, natural dyeing, and weaving.
- South Mountain Reservation
South Mountain Reservation is a vast nature reserve sprawling over 2,100 acres of trails, dog parks, and other attractions. One such trail is the half-mile path starting at Locust Grove along which you will find the miniature homes of fairy-sprites created by local artists.
You can also visit the Turtle Back Zoo in the South Mountain Reservation, open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $14 for seniors 62 and older. The zoo is home to sea turtles, wolves, prairie dogs, alligators, black bears, and several other species from around the world.
- Vibrant Downtown Experience
Maplewood won the title of Most Vibrant Downtown in the September 2015 edition of New Jersey Monthly Downtown Showdown. The Village, as locals know the area, offers several attractions that you’d expect from a larger city. On any given block, you’ll come across artisan merchants, boutique shops, and various delicious restaurants.
Visitors can also stop on Maplewood Avenue to shop at [words], a community bookstore that creates jobs for autistic youth.
- Halloween Parade and Costume Contest
The annual Maplewood Halloween Costume Contest, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, offers an opportunity for boys, girls, and ghouls to take part in a cultural tradition.
Starting in the early afternoon, the city shuts down the entire downtown area and allows anyone of any age to enter in the contest. Participants from infants to adults then go around the nearby shops for trick-or-treating as music blasts from a flatbed stage. At the end of the afternoon, winners are chosen in one of many categories.
July in Maplewood is filled with fun arts and cultural activities, but Maplewoodstock is easily the biggest annual event.
This two-day festival features live music by local artists and other art by the residents of Maplewood. The first Maplewoodstock was in 2004, lasting only one day and featuring only a handful of bands. Since then, the festival has become more popular, allowing it to grow to the weekend-long experience it now is.
Usually, Maplewoodstock occurs on the weekend following the annual circus and fireworks display on Independence Day, but sometimes it’s a week later. The festival starts around noon in Memorial Park and ends by 9 p.m. Maplewoodstock is 100% funded by sponsors, advertisers, and sales.