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Jersey City is fast becoming a must-visit location in New Jersey as the city has plenty of historical landmarks and is filled with vibrant, youthful, and food-centric neighbourhoods. Jersey City is diverse and has a cultural depth that the locals are only too happy to share. The city opposite New York City on the Hudson River has breathtaking views of the Big Apple’s skyline and the Statue of Liberty is clearly visible.
Despite New York having legal jurisdiction over the statue, her location is within the boundaries of Jersey City. Jersey City also has some of the oldest buildings in the United States and is the oldest city in the state. The original Dutch settlers who landed in the area built Newkirk House in the late 1600s, making it the oldest structure in the city.
Founded by Michael Reyniersz Pauw in 1630, Jersey City isn’t just about history. Atlantic magazine named it the 10th most artistic in America. There are many resident artists in the city compared to the population, and art crops up everywhere. From murals on buildings, walking tours and galleries, there is art around every corner waiting to inspire. So if you’re going on a day trip from the Big Apple, or are staying for longer in New Jersey, here are 20 things to do in Jersey City.
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Jessica Jamroz and Frederic Schwartz Architects won a design competition in 2004 to design a memorial for 9/11 with their proposal, Empty Sky, chosen from among 320 other entries.
The memorial is directly across the Hudson River and is the official memorial to 9/11 and those from New Jersey who lost their lives in the attack.
Empty Sky Memorial is formed of two 30ft (9.14m) high and 210ft (64m) long walls angled towards where the World Trade Centre was in the Manhattan skyline.
The designers wanted to give visitors to the memorial a sense of something missing and of being between the two buildings.
Sky Memorial is at 1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
Van Vorst Park lies in the centre of downtown Jersey City and is a popular destination for locals.
The park is often called ‘one of the most formal of Jersey City’s parks and its beauty and design make it clear why.
Peter Henderson, a horticulturist and florist, designed the park.
Its structure is like a town square, occupying a small rectangular block.
In 1999 the park was renovated to ensure its beauty was preserved for future generations.
There’s a gazebo, viewing fountain, and playground for children.
Numerous species of plants and trees also create a lovely green space amid the city.
Van Vorst Park is at 257-287 Montgomery St, Jersey City, NJ 07302.
If a tour on land is not for you, take to the waters on a Sea the City tour.
Sea the City offers two tours, departing from Jersey City and taking in the spectacular New York City skyline from the Hudson River.
Choose from either one hour on a Jet Ski or 90 minutes of luxury as you ride down the Hudson River in a hot tub.
On the tour, look out for a range of New Jersey and NYC landmarks, including Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge.
Sea the City Tour is at 84 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
Liberty State Park is the perfect Jersey City location to relax and unwind on the shores of the Hudson River.
The park offers spectacular views across the river towards the Manhattan skyline, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
Liberty State Park covers 1212 acres (490 ha) and encompasses the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.
It’s within walking distance to the Empty Sky memorial.
The state park is so popular because of its Manhattan vantage point that it sees approximately four million visitors a year.
Liberty Walk, a 2-mile (3.2 km) promenade, links the picnic area and terminal.
This promenade is popular as the skyline’s best views can be seen from here.
Liberty State Park is at 1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
A visit to White Eagle Hall is the perfect thing to do when in Jersey City for music lovers.
The hall is a carefully restored and renovated theatre in Downtown Jersey City.
White Eagle Hall has regular events, including live music, comedy, theatre, film, and a range of food and drinks.
White Eagle Hall’s renovations have expanded its capacity, however, with space for 800 standing, 400 seating or 250 dining, it still has a cosy and small venue vibe that locals love.
The hall has many historical and beautiful features to look out for when visiting, including a wrought iron wrap-around balcony and two large, ornate stained-glass atriums.
White Eagle Hall is at 337 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07302.
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One of the things to do in Jersey City for those interested in the arts is to visit the open-air Artist and Maker Market.
The market is packed with locals selling fine art pieces and hand-crafted goods.
During the summer season, which lasts from May to September, the market runs every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The markets also puts on special events, including live music and Christmas stalls.
The artist and Maker Market is at Grove Street, Path Plaza, Jersey City.
Maritime Parc is a top spot on the Hudson River inside Liberty State Park.
This traditional seafood restaurant serves delicious dishes with a modern twist.
The restaurant has a friendly vibe and serves fresh, organic and local produce.
Executive Chef and owner of Maritime Parc Chris Siversen curated the menu to include bold flavours to excite diners about seafood.
The restaurant also offers a raw bar where patrons can purchase fresh fish to cook at home.
Architect Stephanie Goto kept location in mind when designing Maritime Parc.
The restaurant is designed so that every table has a view over the Hudson River, the Manhattan Skyline, and the open-plan kitchen.
During the summer, the doors are kept open to allow a welcome sea breeze.
Maritime Parc is at Liberty State Park. 84 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
Central Railroad of New Jersey commissioned a waterfront rail terminal in Jersey City in 1860, with the terminal’s construction completed in 1864.
The original terminal soon grew too small for demand, and in 1889 was expanded.
The terminal was critical in moving arrivals to nearby Ellis Island to their onward destinations, again seeing an increase in use and demand.
More than 10.5 million people entering the United States through Ellis Island passed through the terminal.
The terminal was closed in 1967 however, you can explore this important historical location today.
The station has been carefully restored to its former glory, but many tracks leading out of the railroad are overgrown.
As the terminal sits on the banks of the Hudson River, it is also a great place to take in the Manhattan Skyline.
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal is open daily from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm and free to enter.
Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal is at 1 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
Visiting the Liberty Science Centre is one of the things to do in Jersey City for kids.
The science centre aims to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and to rekindle excitement around the subjects in adults through interactive and interesting exhibitions.
The centre has 12 museum exhibition halls, a 3D theatre, and simulators to mimic hurricane and tornado-force winds.
There is also a live animal collection featuring 110 species and gigantic aquariums.
A $5 million donation has helped Liberty Science Centre’s IMAX theatre become North America’s largest planetarium.
Liberty Science Centre is at 222 Jersey City Blvd, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
Another thing to do in Jersey City for art fans is to visit Mana Contemporary gallery.
The gallery is vast, spanning 1 million square feet (92,903 square metres) and was constructed in a former 1920s manufacturing building.
The gallery provides exhibition spaces for fine arts and sculptures and spaces and programming for artists, students and performers.
Inside the building is a museum dedicated to architectural models by Richard Meier, accompanied by sculptures and collages.
Mana Contemporary is at 888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306.
Exploring the Historic Downtown area is one of the fun things to do in Jersey City.
Located by the waterfront, Historic Downtown is named for its brownstone low-rise buildings which date from the 19th century.
The tree-lined streets are lovely to explore and the architecture is spectacular, with buildings from various architectural movements and points of history.
Historic Downtown is packed with independent shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, upscale hotels, museums and music venues.
This variety makes it the ideal place to spend a few hours wandering the streets.
Historic Downtown is at Downtown, Jersey City, NJ 07302.
Liberty Landing Marina is a great place to visit for skyline views and to depart on a boat trip.
The marina is within Liberty State Park and has two restaurants, access to the New York Ferry and a variety of boat tours taking in the harbour and the Statue of Liberty.
Luxury tours of smaller group sizes depart from here, as well as adrenaline-filled jet-ski rides.
The marina is ideal for lunch if you spend time in the park while looking at the views or take a relaxing lunch cruise.
Liberty Landing Marina is at 80 Audrey Zapp Drive, Jersey City, NJ 07305.
After making a reservation with Jersey Girls Food Tours online, prepare for a three-hour walking and eating tour of Jersey City.
The tour locations vary depending on the length and group size but typically take in dishes from around five restaurants.
The tours focus on key areas of the city, and take in some of the best sights and dishes.
Tours are frequently between 8 and 10 people in size, and everyone shares the same foodie passion.
As you explore the city your knowledgeable guide will point out important historical buildings and recommend music venues and bars.
Jersey Girls Food Tours are bookable online. Starting locations vary depending on tours.
Loew’s Jersey Theatre is one of five theatres that together form Loew’s Wonder Theatres.
Their locations are across the New York City area.
The Jersey City location opened in 1929 with a performance of Madame X starring Ruth Chatterton and Lewis Stone.
During its heyday, the theatre hosted Bing Crosby and Russ Columbo performances.
The theatre is designed in the Italian Renaissance style and is as spectacular from the outside as inside.
The lobby is topped by a towering three-story rotunda held up by columns in rich jade green.
The theatre was sold to a private company intent on demolishing it in 1987, however it was saved and preserved.
The theatre is currently closed for renovations, which are due to finish in 2023 but it’s still worth admiring from the outside.
Loew’s Jersey Theatre is at 54 Journal Square Plaza, Jersey City, NJ 07306.
For those looking for a home cooking experience while visiting Jersey City, book one of Zesty Basil’s cooking classes.
Classes are available at their apartment or your home if you are a Jersey City resident.
Chef Shruti is the owner and founder of Zesty Basil. Each class is tailored to dietary requirements, and Chef Shruti specialises in vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free dishes.
After class, take home a recipe packet to practice the dishes you have made and you can sample what you cooked at the end of the class.
Zesty Basil Cooking Class is at 1 Shore Lane, Apt 2007, Jersey City, NJ 07310.
J Owen Grundy Park is another of Jersey City’s waterfront parks beside of the Hudson River, offering some of the best views of the New York skyline.
The park has a boardwalk with plenty of shaded benches and seats, grassy lawns, and places to purchase refreshments.
Locals often head to J Owen Grundy park to cycle, take photographs, or relax and enjoy the view.
J Owen Grundy Park is at Hudson Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302.
Jersey City is filled with vibrant and welcoming bars, unique decor, and attractive theming.
If a speakeasy bar is perfect for you, look no further than The Archer, which has a relaxed and low-key vibe in Downtown Jersey City.
A favourite haunt of locals, the bar is cosy and welcoming and filled with reclaimed wood, brick walls and plenty of candles.
Many of the cocktails on the menu have unique names, such as the Arsenic & Old Lace, a gin-based cocktail, and the Sidewinder’s Fang, a rum cocktail.
Stop in during happy hour, from 5 to 7 pm nightly, for $8 cocktails.
The Archer is at 176 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.
Another highly recommended food tour for a unique thing to do in Jersey City is to book the Jersey City: Taste the Heights tour.
Tours run every Saturday at 12 pm, last approximately 2.5 hours, and each tour has a maximum of 10 diners.
More than 50 restaurants serve varying cuisines over the stretch covered by the tour, meaning each trip is varied.
On your tour, expect to sample four savoury dishes and one dessert.
Your knowledgeable guide will talk you through the history of the area and the dishes, and you will get to meet and chat with local chefs and food experts.
Tours depart from Central Avenue in Jersey City Heights. As an alternative, another tour you may like is the Jersey City: Taste of Downtown.
Battello is one of the most popular restaurants in Jersey City.
The restaurant is on the banks of the Hudson River with unrivalled skyline views, whether dining inside or out.
Their extensive menu focuses on the freshest ingredients, using local produce wherever possible.
The menu features Italian cuisine and takes advantage of the waterfront location by serving, alongside other dishes, plenty of seafood.
Inside the restaurant is both industrial and luxurious, creating an all-round enjoyable dining experience.
Battello is at 502 Washington Boulevard, Jersey City, NJ 07310.
The Museum of Russian Art, or MoRA, is dedicated to displaying Russian art, focusing on the Soviet Nonconformist era.
The museum was founded in 1980 and primarily features a collection from Alexander Glezer, a human rights activist.
MoRA is packed with a range of Russian works of art, particularly focusing on art from the early 1980s to the 1990s.
Works from Ernst Neizvestny, Lidia Masterkova and Evgeny Kropivnitsky are all displayed within the gallery.
The museum has also formed a key location for Russian culture and community within the local area. Talks are regularly held alongside more formal lectures and events.
The Museum of Russian Art is at 80 Grand Street, Jersey City, NJ 07302.
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