It’s time to call Jersey City the Comeback Kid. After decades of hardship and struggle, this community is experiencing a true revival and is reminding everyone why it’s so great (and always was) in the first place. Not just known for being Manhattan’s sixth borough, Jersey City has enough character, culture and community to win anyone over.
If you’re planning on visiting this vibrant and bustling waterfront locale, now is the best time to do so. To help you prepare for your trip, here are 15 things to know before visiting Jersey City.
Located on a large peninsula that’s also home to Hoboken and Bayonne, Jersey City is surrounded by water on nearly all sides. It sits at the mouth of the Hudson River, adjacent to New York City and behind it is the Newark Bay not far from the Newark International Airport.
The second-largest city in the state, only behind it’s neighboring Newark, Jersey City has eight expansive areas of town. Unless you plan on sticking to a few neighborhoods nearby one another, you won’t be able to get around just by foot.
Once a booming city of industry, it was home to two large corporate factories, Dixon-Ticonderoga and Colgate, decades ago. Since then, it’s gone through hard times and experienced many transformations along the way. Jersey City continues to evolve today, seeing more and more urbanites relocate out of Manhattan for a short commute and more budget-friendly living options.
In the 1970s, many immigrants moved to Jersey City for cheaper rent and its close proximity to New York. Thanks to that, the city remains one of the most diverse areas in all of New Jersey – a true melting pot of culture, ethnicities and community. This has most definitely left its mark on the city which visitors will notice in everything from restaurants to shops and more.
For all the same reasons that so many Manhattan-dwellers are making the move across the river, Jersey City has also become a second location for many companies. Over the years, there have been so many new high-rise buildings and additional offices built to house those from lower Manhattan and Wall Street that it has earned the nickname, “Wall Street West.” Take a walk around Exchange Place neighborhood and you’ll quickly see what we mean.
A mere 10 minutes from the Newark International Airport, you can catch a cab for $40 or hop on the AirTrain to Newark, transfer once on NJTransit to Newark Penn Station and hop on the PATH which will take you to multiple areas of Jersey City downtown.
It’s also fairly close to the two other major airport hubs: LaGuardia International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport. So if you’re flying in or out of either one of these two, be prepared to shell out about $100 for a cab ride.
Driving in and out of Jersey City is a breeze, just don’t try and find a parking spot. Most streets require permits that are only available to residents and with the amount of people living there, finding a parking spot is like finding a needle in a haystack. You’re better off taking public transportation, biking or calling a cab.
Most of the city is accessible by the PATH train, which makes stops at popular destinations including, Journal Square, Grove Street, Exchange Place and Pavonia/Newark. The PATH train also runs in and out of Manhattan and can connect you to alternate forms of transportation such as the NJ Transit train and bus lines. Plus, it’s pretty cheap at only $2.25 a ride.
There’s also the Light Rail which connects you to the waterfront area and bordering towns including Hoboken, Bayonne, Weehawken and Union.
History buffs will love the fact that Jersey City is the only place in the state with direct access to both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island by boat. To get there, head to Liberty Park and take the one of the Statue Cruises to visit both of these historic sites.
From the Beaux-Arts structures such as the H&M Powerhouse and Court House that represent a time gone by to the old Colgate Clock, a remnant from the factory, Jersey City is a storied site. Visitors will also enjoy the Loews Movie Theater, which was formerly one of Loew’s flagship movie theaters outside of New York. Today it remains a restored and functioning space that hosts special events.
So bring your walking shoes! The walkway runs parallel to the Hudson River and showcases stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. There are also several piers that pedestrians can walk out to including the pier near Exchange Place that juts out 250 meters into the river.
The famed Liberty State Park is a must-see when visiting Jersey City. This green space is as large as New York’s Central Park and connects you directly to places such as the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, lower Manhattan and Jersey City’s own, Liberty Science Center. You can easily spend an afternoon walking or biking the two-mile loop and enjoying the scenery of the Manhattan skyline.
As previously mentioned, Jersey City is largely a diverse community and that absolutely includes their restaurants. Whether its authentic Puerto Rican food, Cuban fare or American-fusion menus, you name it, you can find it here. There’s also a range in price options too, so you can easily find a delicious eatery to no matter if you plan to splurge or save. There’s simply no shortage of choices in this food scene from chic bistros to cozy cafes, to Mom and Pop dining and more.
Locals and natives know that even though Jersey City is changing, the beloved old-school bodegas aren’t going anywhere. You can grab a newspaper and a fresh empanada at the La Nueva Isla Meat Market or one of the many similar bodegas in town. It’s one of the things that gives Jersey City the neighborhood feel, despite the ongoing development.
In general, most of the neighborhoods in Jersey City are safe to walk around in during the day, however, at night the crime rate is know to increase. It’s a good idea to avoid the southern areas of the city close to Bayonne, such as Greenville, due to it being an impoverished and high crime section of town. Try to stay off the light rail at night, as it’s known for muggings.