Situated on the Hudson River, Jersey City is just across from Manhattan and offers stunning views of the New York City skyline and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island situated in New York Harbor. At nearly 15 square miles, this bustling city is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the state and has a population of nearly 300,000. Many travelers may know Jersey City as the location of the Holland Tunnel, one of the main access points that takes travelers back and forth from New Jersey into Manhattan…but it’s a great spot to visit as it offers so much to see and do. Located in Hudson County and home to many commuters who work daily in Manhattan, Jersey City is vibrant and filled with historical sights, parks, restaurants, an array of shopping, and many other activities. Here are several fun activities available in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Walk Through Liberty State Park
Attracting over 4 million visitors each year, Liberty State Park is the most popular destination in Jersey City. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, this sprawling and well-cared-for park is over 1,200 acres of green space and features a 2-mile-long promenade called Liberty Walk. This area includes a picnic area, music venues, lovely pathways, playgrounds, and nature walks—along with incredible, unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyscrapers. While visiting, you can also pay your respects at the “Empty Sky” 9/11 memorial that honors those who perished on Sept. 11, 2001. The sculpture showcases the names of nearly 800 individuals inscribed on the stainless-steel walls.
Learn at Liberty Science Center
Liberty Science Center is a fascinating and fun state-of-the-art 300,000 square-foot science museum located in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. This world-class museum attracts over 750,000 visitors each year with several exceptional features, including a live animal collection with over 100 species, twelve exhibit halls, galleries, massive aquariums, a 3D theater, and tornado simulators. Although it’s made for children, visitors of all ages can easily spend an entire day exploring this exceptional museum. And if you get hungry, there is a café on-site, and there’s a gift shop that sells some cool souvenirs. It’s best to book tickets in advance, as this attraction tends to get crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. Family memberships are also available annually.
Visit the Statue of Liberty
No need to drive into Manhattan to see the Statue of Liberty! Tourists can remain in New Jersey and visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration from Jersey City’s Liberty State Park. In fact, this is the only location in New Jersey with ferry service to these incredible historic landmarks. Check out the departure schedule online before you go. There are several different ticket options available that include interior access to the statue and priority access—so be sure to choose carefully.
Explore Richard W. DeKorte Park
A former landfill site that has been completely reinvigorated and transformed into a safe, beautiful space, Richard W. DeKorte Park is an eco-oasis in the middle of urban Northern Jersey—and a fun and educational destination for everyone. With over three miles of scenic pathways, this peaceful park offers fantastic views of wetlands, marshes, and waterways—along with a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline. The park’s trails and gardens are well marked and offer descriptive signs that provide information for visitors. You’ll also spot plenty of wildlife in this tranquil destination…it’s a favorite for birdwatchers, as nearly 300 species have been sighted here. It’s situated along the famous Atlantic Flyway, a major route for North American migratory birds, such as hawks and osprey.
Kayak on the Hudson River
Love the water? If you wish to get some exercise and enjoy paddling on the water, you can soak in the sunshine by renting a kayak or taking a guided kayak tour to the nearby Hudson River Estuary. Lead by a professional environmentalist, this two-hour kayak tour showcases the local wildlife in the Caven Point area. Paddlers will be treated to a fascinating experience learning all about the habitats along the Hudson River. (All tours include a brief safety and paddle instruction prior to beginning). Be sure to sign up in advance online and get more details from the Liberty State Park Interpretive Center’s website.
Shop at the Newport Centre Mall
Shoppers can have a great time in Jersey City, and an excursion to the Newport Centre Mall is a must, as it offers an abundance of consumer goods at a variety of price points. With over 130 retail stores, about 20 different dining experiences, and a multi-screen movie theater, this air-conditioned indoor mall is home to three levels of stores. It is considered the largest shopping destination in Hudson County. A few of the favorite shops are Macy’s, Kohl’s, Zara, Michael Kors, and many more. The best part about this shopping experience is the tax-free shopping on clothing and the 3.5 percent sales tax at many of the stores.
Admire the Colgate Clock
This legendary landmark is located in Jersey City—at the famous Exchange Place. It’s a clock in the shape of an octagon with the brand name “Colgate” prominently displayed on the front. Facing the Hudson River, this clock is significant to the city’s history as it is very close to the actual spot where the Colgate-Palmolive headquarters was formerly located. The company left the area in the mid-80s but the clock is an important piece of the city’s history and now it stands as a tourist attraction.
See the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal
Located in Jersey City’s Liberty State Park, the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal was built in the late 1800s. It provided a reliable transportation mode for both passengers and cargo across the Hudson River. For many immigrants who arrived at Ellis Island, this railroad was their first experience traveling to their new home in the United States. Today, visitors can visit this intriguing and historic site by touring the adjacent museum that shares the area's history.
Visit the Unique MoRA Museum of Russian Art
The MoRA Museum of Russian Art in Jersey City is a small yet robust destination that displays a wide variety of Russian artwork, sculptures, and artifacts, with an emphasis on Soviet Nonconformist art. Located in the Paulus Hook section of town, it was originally opened as the CASE Museum of Contemporary Russian Art and was later renovated and re-opened in 2010. This museum is situated in a lovely historic brownstone and is considered a world-class destination for these specific works of art.
Sail on a Catamaran on the Hudson River
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights on this small and exclusive catamaran that takes intimate groups out on the Hudson River and along the New Jersey and Manhattan coastlines. The Hudson Cat is a favorite among sightseers who wish to enjoy the river in luxury. The boat embarks from the Liberty Harbor Marina in Jersey City and takes guests on a ride around the river. You’ll see so many landmarks up close, including the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. Cruises must be booked in advance.
Stroll Along the Hudson River Walkway
This picturesque and paved walkway along the Hudson River stretches for over 18 miles and runs through nine distinct municipalities. This connected flat pathway is thirty feet wide and allows people of all ages to enjoy sights along the river. Created by the Hudson River Waterfront Conservancy, the walkway can be used for jogging, fishing, biking, kayaking launching (in certain locations only), and public transportation access. The Hudson River Walkway can be accessed in Jersey City, as well as several other towns: Bayonne, Hoboken, Weehawken, West New York, Guttenberg, North Bergen, Edgewater, and, at the northernmost point, the town of Fort Lee.
Visit the Light Horse Tavern
Enjoy a contemporary meal at the Light Horse Tavern. This popular restaurant is situated in a renovated building in the historic Paulus Hook neighborhood in Jersey City. The tavern, originally built in the 1850s, is named after a revolutionary war hero, “Light Horse Harry” Lee III, who led his troops in the successful Battle of Paulus Hook in 1779, a major turning point in the war. The menu here offers a wide array of specialties (seafood, meat, and more). The classic ambiance attracts many repeat guests—a great spot for a leisurely dinner after a day of sightseeing in Jersey City.