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15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City

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Things To Do In Jersey City

Located across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan, some consider Jersey City to be the sixth borough of New York City. But Jersey City has its own unique character, with lots to offer visitors.

It’s got a rich history and some awesome outdoor spaces with jaw dropping views. Read on for our selection of the 15 best things to do in Jersey City.

1.Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

Things To Do In Jersey City
Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island | Photo Credit – subherwal

Visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is one of the best things to do while in Jersey City. Take the ferry from the historic Central Railroad Terminal in Liberty State Park. It’s one of only two locations in New York and New Jersey where you can catch the official Statue Cruises ferry to the islands.

Stop at Ellis Island first. Take some time to go through the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. Afterwards, board the ferry to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty. A grounds-only ticket will provide you access to the island.

If you want to explore the museum, pedestal or crown of the Statue of Liberty, you must make advanced reservations. Tickets are are very limited so it’s best to book far in advance.

2.Liberty State Park

Things to do in jersey city
Liberty State Park, Jersey City | Photo Credit – Ken Lund

With a prime waterfront location, and several of the top attractions in the area, Liberty State Park is easily one of the best things to do in Jersey City. Spanning 1,200 acres, the park offers fantastic views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island and Brooklyn.

Catch the ferry to Ellis Island and Liberty Island from the park. The park is also home to the Liberty Science Center, the “Empty Sky” 9/11 Memorial, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal and a Nature Interpretive Center.

Besides all that, it also offers miles of trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, gardens, and estuary and a marina. Numerous live concerts, festivals and other events are also held here throughout the year.

3.Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal | Photo Credit – Ken Lund

See where millions of immigrants once passed through after being processed at Ellis Island at the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. Built in 1889, this now defunct terminal saw up to 50,000 people pass through its doors on hundreds of trains and ferries daily at its peak.

Part of Liberty State Park, the terminal has been restored and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, you can catch the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island from here.

But take some time to explore this historic site. Interpretive exhibits provide insight into its rich history. Artifacts, such as original trunks and table clothes are also on display.

4.Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Jersey City Memorial | Photo Credit – Paul VanDerWerf

Located within Liberty State Park, the “Empty Sky” 9/11 Memorial honors the 749 people from New Jersey who lost their lives in the September 11th attacks. The memorial comprises twin 210-foot-long and 30-foot-high brushed stainless steel walls.

The names of the 749 people are engraved in random order on the walls, facing each other. A granite path runs in between the two walls. As visitors walk down the path, they are directed to the location where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once stood, across the Hudson River. Visitors are invited to pay their respects, and look to the empty sky in memory.

5.Liberty Science Center

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Liberty Science Center, Jersey City | Photo Credit – Ken Lund

The Liberty Science Center is one of the best things to do in Jersey City for families with kids. This massive museum makes learning about science and technology fun through interactive and hands-on exhibits. It features 12 exhibition halls, massive aquariums, the largest and most advanced planetarium in the Western hemisphere, a 3-D theater, classes, labs and more.

Come face to face with more than 100 animal species. Navigate a pitch-black touch tunnel. Scale a climbing wall. Learn what it’s like to be an astronaut. Or create an artistic masterpiece. There’s a wide range of live shows and demonstrations. And for toddlers, there’s a special play area. There’s also a great gift shop and a full cafe.

6.Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
J. Owen Grundy Park | Photo Credit – Andy Atzert

Enjoy incredible views from the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. Located on the western banks of the Hudson River, the entire walkway stretches for 18.5 miles, from the tip of Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge. In Jersey City, the walkway stretches from Newport Green Park to Liberty State Park.

Along the way, it passes by several landmarks. Highlights include the Colgate Clock, J. Owen Grundy Park, Lefrak Point Lighthouse, Paulus Hook and Harsimus Cove. Enjoy a leisurely stroll and take in the spectacular views of lower Manhattan, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Sunbathe on the artificial beach at Newport Green Park. Or refuel at one of the many waterfront cafes and restaurants along the walkway.

7.Mana Contemporary

Explore the latest in contemporary art at Mana Contemporary. Founded in 2011, it’s one of the largest contemporary art organizations in the United States. Their flagship facility in Jersey City is a former tobacco factory located just west of Journal Square that will eventually cover more than 2 million square feet of space.

It’s home  to the Richard Meier Model Museum, the Florence Academy of Art and the International Center for Photography, along with numerous artist studios and exhibition spaces.

They are also responsible for the Mana Urban Arts Project, and the many massive murals painted on the exterior of the former ice factory on Monmouth Street.

8.Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Harsimus Cemetery | Photo Credit – Romer Jed Medina

The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery has been several things in its long history. It was once a battleground during the Revolutionary War. Then it was an ammunition bunker during the War of 1812. In 1829, it became one of the first garden-style landscaped cemeteries in the country.

Soldiers from many different wars, and early Jersey City leaders and residents are buried here. Underground crypts and tunnels are said to have been used as part of the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves.

The cemetery was also used to film several scenes for the HBO hit show, The Sopranos. Special fundraising events are held here from time to time, including Shakespeare plays, film screenings, lectures and tours.

9.Another Man’s Treasure

Visit Another Man’s Treasure for a well-curated selection of vintage clothing and goods. A Jersey City staple for more than a decade, Another Man’s Treasure has been listed on several best places to shop vintage in the US lists.

And their finds have appeared in magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire and Harpers Bazaar. They offer affordable and seasonally appropriate classic, on-trend, high fashion and designer vintage items. In addition to clothing, they also stock accessories, jewelry, luggage and even vinyl records.

Leave yourself enough time to browse their spacious 2-story showroom and who knows what treasure you might uncover.

10.Lincoln Park

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Sunrise in Lincoln Park | Photo Credit – Kai Schreiber

The jewel of the Hudson County park system, Lincoln Park is one of the best things to do in Jersey City. It’s one of the oldest parks in the county and covers 243 acres. Lincoln Park West spans 123 acres along the Hackensack River and is home to wetlands and trails.

Lincoln Park East is home to numerous trails, athletic fields, children’s play areas, historic monuments, a 3-acre lake, a public golf course, dog park, gazebos and picnic areas. Don’t miss the massive Lincoln Fountain, one of the largest concrete fountains in the world. During the summer, free jazz concerts are held here.

The park is also home to several memorials, including a Civil War Memorial, Farrier Memorial and Great Irish Famine Memorial.

11.Little Manila

For a taste of the Philippines, head to Little Manila, the area around Manila Avenue and the Five Corners District of Jersey City. Around 7% of Jersey City’s population is Filipino. As a result, there are a lot of Filipino-run businesses in the city, and in particular restaurants.

Highlights include Max’s Restaurant, a chain from the Philippines that’s known for their delicious fried chicken. Red Ribbon is another popular chain from the Philippines, known for their breads and desserts. The Philippine Bread House is another great option. And for all your grocery needs, Phil-Am Grocery is the largest and oldest such market in Jersey City.

12.Grove Street

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Grove Street Path | Photo Credit – Dov Harrington

For great dining and vibrant nightlife, be sure to visit Grove Street. Located in Downtown Jersey City, this street has a high concentration of excellent restaurants, shops and bars. Find popular venues such as Razza, Skinner’s Loft, La Taqueria Downtown and Luna here.

It’s a great place to bar hop, and many of the bars here turn into small clubs later in the night. Over the summer, visit Grove Street Plaza on Wednesday nights for the popular Groove on Grove festival, featuring free live concerts.

The Artist & Maker Market is also held on the first, third and fifth Wednesday over the same period.

13.Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Loew’s Jersey Theatre, Jersey City | Photo Credit – Rob DiCaterino

Located in Journal Square, the Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre was one of five “Wonder Palaces” built by Loews in the 1920s in the New York City area. Inspired by European palaces and opera houses, these opulent movie palaces allowed people from all walks of life to escape daily life.

Saved from demolition in the 1980s, the theater has been undergoing a process of renovation to restore it to its former glory, with Baroque style facade and Italian Renaissance interior. There’s even an original crystal chandelier inside.

The theater still shows classic movies throughout the year, in addition to live concerts, theater and other performing arts shows.

14.Colgate Clock

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Colgate Clock | Photo Credit – John Wisniewski

The Colgate Clock has been a fixture on the Jersey City waterfront since it was built in 1924. The massive octagonal clock is one of the largest in the world. It’s 50 feet in diameter and features an hour and minute hand that is more than 20 feet in length.

It’s a replacement for the original clock face built in 1908 that once stood on top of the Colgate-Palmolive factory on this site. The factory was torn down and a Goldman Sachs building put up in its place.

But the iconic clock was saved and placed in an empty lot next door. The clock is especially striking at night, when you can see its giant neon-red hands from miles away.

15.Apple Tree House

15 Best Things To Do In Jersey City
Apple Tree House | Photo Credit – dotpolka

The Van Wagenen House, better known as the Apple Tree House, is one of the oldest houses in Jersey City. It got its name from an unsubstantiated folk tale, that George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette supposedly shared a meal and planned battle strategies under an apple tree on the property.

Built in the 1740s, it’s been renovated and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it’s home to the cultural affairs and tourism office of Jersey City. Stop by on Wednesdays for the weekly tour. Free lectures and other special events are held at the house throughout the year.

Also read our article on things to do in Portland.


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