Known to many as the sixth borough, Jersey City might be just across the Hudson River from New York City; however, it’s a growing city that has a character all its own. From the diverse neighborhoods and rich history to the multicultural eats and vibrant nightlife, there are many things you can do, see and learn there.
Are you planning a trip to Jersey City? Whether it’s only for 24 hours or a few days, here are the city’s 20 must-see attractions.
With immigrants coming through the Immigration Station on Ellis Island in the late 19th century, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal became their first experience on American soil. They were able to take trains to anywhere throughout New Jersey and into other states. It became one of the busiest stations in the area until its eventual shutdown in 1967. Now part of Liberty State Park, the restored terminal serves as a historic site and a place where visitors can get the ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
The Empty Sky Memorial honors the 749 people from New Jersey who lost their lives during the September 11th attacks. Their names are engraved into two tall silver walls that make up the memorial. When visitors walk down the granite path between the walls, it will lead them to where the World Trade Center buildings once stood across the Hudson River. Located near the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, the memorial “remembers those lost while simply and powerfully connecting New Jersey to Ground Zero.”
From the late 1800s to the mid-1900s, people who immigrated from different parts of the world entered America by going through Ellis Island. And while it’s no longer a working inspection station, the site has been transformed into a museum to teach visitors about immigrants who came to the New York City area. From the moment they stepped off the boats to how a medical examination was performed, many will get to relive their ancestors’ histories by walking through the halls of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. And while the address is based in New York City, Ellis Island is technically part of New Jersey. So it’s perfect to add to your Jersey City exploration checklist. And if you’re at Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, you can get ferry tickets for Ellis Island.
The Liberty Science Center has been showing people—both young and old—about the wonders of science and the world around us. Located by Liberty State Park, the interactive museum features various permanent exhibitions, including the Touch Tunnel, an 80-foot (24.3-meter) dark path that will force you to use all of your senses except your eyes, and Pixel Art, which will allow you to create a masterpiece by using a multitude of color combinations. While most of the museum is geared toward children, the Liberty Science Center also hosts an after-hours party on the third Thursday of every month called LSC After Dark. Guests will be able to explore the museum at night, try a variety of foods and shake it all off on the dance floor.
The Colgate Clock has been ticking since it was built in 1924. It initially sat on top of the former Colgate factory in Jersey City. Now in an empty lot near the Goldman Sachs building, its 50-foot (15.2-meter) diameter makes this timekeeper one of the largest in the world. It is definitely a sight to see as it’s been a fixture of Jersey City’s waterfront for the almost a century.
While locals who are running to catch their rides to work may pass the Katyń Massacre Memorial, visitors to Jersey City’s Exchange Place may find the statue a bit chilling. With the soldier’s hands bound at the wrists and then his body speared with a bayonet, it is quite the sight to see. Polish sculptor Andrzej Pitynski created the bronze piece to pay homage to the victims of the Katyń Massacre of 1940.
Journal Square is a central transportation hub for those commuting to Newark, Hoboken, and New York City. However, The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre has been proudly standing across the street since the 1920s. Although it’s used more as a space for live concerts, theatre and other performing arts, The Loew’s still shows classic films throughout the year.
Jackie Robinson was known for being the first African American to ever play in Major League Baseball when he joined the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. However, he became the first black player in the minor leagues the year prior when he played with the Montreal Royals against the Jersey City Giants. To commemorate that day, the Jackie Robinson Statue by Susan Wagner was dedicated on February 25, 1998.
The Newkirk House is one of the oldest standing structures in Jersey City. The two-floor Dutch home on 510 Summit Avenue dates back to the late 1600s. Centuries later, it turned into a restaurant that is now also closed. While locals wonder what this building’s next life will be, you can stop by, snap a photo and take a piece of history home with you.
Another Man’s Treasure Vintage Store has been serving Jersey City’s style needs for more than a decade. From 1920s lingerie to 1990s acid washed denim, the vintage shop has a variety of clothing pieces from various decades. They also stock a lot of jewelry, accessories, vinyl records and even luggage. Whether you’re looking for a dress for a dinner party or something to complete your Halloween outfit, this store will likely have something for your fashion needs.
Formerly known as the Van Wagenen House, the Apple Tree House got its name because George Washington and Marquis de Lafayette supposedly stood under an apple tree on the same property as the house and broke bread and planned battle strategies in August 1780. While there’s no actual historical evidence of this, the folktale is still told today. The historical significance of the house was that it was the first immigrant settlement in New Jersey and was under the Van Wagenen family’s ownership for more than two centuries. It’s now part of the National Register of Historic Places.
The Historic Jersey City and Harsimus Cemetery was once the site for the Revolutionary War and an ammunition bunker for the War of 1812. Since then, it has been the place where soldiers from many iconic wars and the city’s earliest leaders and residents were laid to rest. HBO’s The Sopranoshas also filmed various scenes in Harsimus Cemetery. Nowadays, volunteers keep the cemetery clean and take care of the goats on the grounds. And there are special events that take place during Halloween and Veterans Day.
Since June 2015, Newark Avenue between Grove and Erie Streets was closed to cars and turned into a pedestrian mall. It’s a great place for people to leisurely enjoy a night stroll or relax at one of the tables and enjoy their drink from one of the restaurants or bars that line the pathway. Families tend to spend a lot of time in the area, especially during the summer.
Corgi Spirits at the Jersey City Distillery wants to bring the art of gin to the city. The independent small-batch distillery makes a number of spirits including their signature Earl Grey gin and the Saddlecoat Vodka. The distillery hosts tours every hour while it’s open and also has an all-day happy hour on Thursdays when menu cocktails are $8. You can get 10% off a bottle purchase on that day too. Aside from the Tasting Room, Corgi Spirits also has another space for private events.
Looking to bring some Jersey City goodies back home? Head to Kanibal & Co. The shop sells everything from clothing and organic skin care to vintage furniture and crystals to help you fix your aura. Aside from many of the quirky mom-and-pop companies, Kanibal & Co. sells many Jersey City-branded souvenirs such as tees, mugs, and cards but also items crafted by local JC artisans.
Second Street Bakery has been making great crusty Italian bread since the 1920s. One of the oldest food establishments in Jersey City, the family-owned bakery makes simple food but does it very well. Whether you’re craving one of the freshly made cold sandwiches or St. Joe’s Sweet Ricotta Pastry, the Second Street Bakery really puts heart into everything they serve. And you won’t be breaking the bank for a hearty lunch!
Imagine drinking cocktails during the golden hour while sailing on the Hudson River. Well, that’s what the Honorable William Wall will give you. Although it technically is a New York establishment, ferries to the floating clubhouse also leave from Jersey City. The Honorable William Wall is open from May to October and is the perfect warm-weather activity.
One of the oldest parks in Hudson County, Lincoln Park comprises two parts and is not only full of history but also covers more than 250 acres. Lincoln Park West is home to wetlands near the Hackensack River. Although it’s still undergoing a wetland restoration project, Lincoln Park West has a few trails to explore. Meanwhile, visitors can play some tennis, run the track or have a picnic by the lake in Lincoln Park East. They can also pay a visit to the statue of the former president at the top of the park.
If you’re looking for authentic Indian food, Jersey City locals will likely point you to Rasoi. With a variety of options on their menu, everyone will be able to leave the restaurant satisfied. It’s also perfect for vegetarians as the food spot has a lot of meatless options. And since Rasoi lies in the middle of Jersey City’s Little India, it’s definitely worth exploring the other shops along Newark Avenue. Whether to satisfy your sweet tooth or hunt for a colorful sari, this area is a lovely pocket that shows the diversity in Jersey City.
Opening its doors in 2015, Departed Soles Brewing Company is New Jersey’s first craft brewery that offers craft beers made with 100% gluten-free ingredients. With fun beer names like “Departed Soles GoodbIPA: Four My Homie” or “Philoso-Rapper,” it’s a casual place with lots of energy and perfect for catching up with old friends. And if you can’t just choose one pint, grab a flight, which is served on a mini skateboard.