6 reasons to visit Jersey City this summer (2024)

Just a 10-minute metro ride from Greenwich Village, historic Jersey City is fast emerging from the shadow of Manhattan’s iconic skyline. This is no longer a city defined by its history as the gateway to the US. Instead, 21st century ‘JC’ — as the city is affectionately known by locals — is now one of the most diverse cities in the US, with a thriving calendar of events encompassing music, cuisine and LGBTQ+ celebrations.

Jersey City’s pedestrianised bar-and-restaurant-flanked streets are home to a growing collection of art galleries and innovative museums, which can be easily explored on dedicated walking routes and open-house events. The city has also recently renovated the Hudson River waterfront, allowing for expansive views of Manhattan from a number of new parks, restaurants and hotels. With all this development, there’s never been a better time to get ahead of the travel curve and enjoy Jersey City at its most creative. Here are six experiences not to miss this year.

1. Explore outdoor art

Jersey City is awash with public and street art created by local, nationally known, and internationally renowned artists. Along the Hudson River waterfront, for example, sits Water’s Soul — Spanish artist Jaume Plensa’s 60ft-high sculpture of the head of a woman with a finger to her lips in serene self-contemplation, looking across the river towards Manhattan and acting to unite the cities in quiet appreciation of the water.

Elsewhere, the Jersey City Mural Arts Program, launched in 2013, has bedecked approximately 200 walls around the town with colourful murals. Many of the artworks offer intriguing political statements, reflecting Jersey City’s growth from a once-gritty working-class manufacturing centre to a thriving hub of art and creativity. The Jersey City Mural Arts Program website offers an interactive map of the sites to make it simple to plan a walking tour.

2. Listen to live music in Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park, or ‘LSP’ as it’s known to locals, is a swathe of greenery that hugs the Hudson on the southern end of the city. Visitors are drawn here throughout the year to soak up exceptional views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and to visit the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. However, it's during the warmer months that the park bursts into action, as the city puts on a series of live concerts and film screenings here. Expect to hear everything from concertos and cantatas by the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra to pop performances by global artists — in the past, Jack Johnson, Selena Gomez, and Radiohead have all graced the park’s stage.

3. Discover cutting-edge science

Even if the performance period isn’t in full swing, a visit to the park is highly recommended to experience the vast Liberty Science Center. Its planetarium was the largest in the world when it opened in 1993 — and is still the fourth largest. The Liberty Science Center now spans 300,000sq ft, encompassing hands-on exhibits and popular mainstays like the Infinity Climber, 35ft -tall mesh-enclosed climbing apparatus where adults and children can ascend. Don’t miss the fascinating permanent exhibit, Skyscraper! which details the science of these magnificent buildings.

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4. Head to Jersey City’s home of creativity

If you had any doubt about Jersey City’s artistic credentials, a visit to Mana Contemporary will swiftly assuage them. This one-million sq ft arts centre is housed in a multi-floor former manufacturing building from the 1920s, but first swung open its doors in its current iteration in 2011. The space now consists of artists’ studios, galleries, the archives for art centres such as the International Center of Photography, and the Richard Meier Model Museum — a collection of proposed buildings in miniature created by the famous architect. Events, open studios and exhibitions are held regularly, with current openings including Infância, an examination of childhood wonder and curiosity, curated by Amelia Shields.

5. Prepare for parties and parades

Jersey City brims with energy all year round, but as the weather begins to warm, parades and festivals start to seriously light up the city. On 4 July, America’s Independence Day celebration, visitors can watch a display of fireworks along the Hudson River. From 8 to 11 August, learn about Italian American heritage in Jersey City with La Festa Italiana, where food, song, and dance will create a fittingly festive fair. And on 24 August, the city’s annual Pride event comes to town. It may not be as large and loud as its equivalent across the river in Manhattan, but this is not bad thing, as it fosters a more intimate party atmosphere, complete with a pub crawl, a parade, concerts and dancing.

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6. Visit the most creative kitchens

Five years ago, the New York Times’ restaurant critic, Pete Wells, penned a rave review of Razza, a Neapolitan pizzeria in Jersey City. The headline read, ‘Is New York’s best pizza in New Jersey?’ That’s one debate that will rage for all time, but visitors to Jersey City will testify that great pizza isn’t just confined to New York. Bread & Salt, located in the Heights neighbourhood, is a bakery that makes thick square slices of Roman-style pizza that many people would argue is a rival for any pizza slice on the other side of the Hudson.

Jersey City doesn’t just excel at pizza, though. Hamilton Pork is one of the best US barbecue spots this side of the Mason-Dixon line. Meanwhile ‘India Square’ allegedly contains the highest concentration of Indian restaurants in the Western Hemisphere. Plus, there are scores of Filipino restaurants, Egyptian seafood spots, Teutonic-style beer gardens and variations on the theme of Caribbean cuisine, among many other mouthwatering eateries throughout the city.

Plan your trip
Fly from international hubs to Newark Liberty Airport. Alternatively, getting to Jersey City from Manhattan is easy: take the PATH underground from one of several stations, including West 33rd Street, West 23rd Street, West 14th Street, West 9th Street, Christopher Street and World Trade Center for $2.75 (£2.20). For more information, go to visitnj.org

This paid content article was created for Jersey City. It does not necessarily reflect the views of National Geographic,National Geographic Traveller(UK) or their editorial staffs.

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6 reasons to visit Jersey City this summer (2024)

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