Sometimes, New Jersey cities get overshadowed by our neighbors, New York and Philadelphia. It’s understandable since these massive metropolises have so much to offer, but so do we. We have some spectacular attractions hidden in our big cities, though they’re often avoided due to safety and security concerns. While this is reasonable, New Jersey residents are really missing out on some great destinations. If you’re willing to head to Manhattan, why not give say… Jersey City a chance? Use caution and common sense, head out and have some fun!
Newark is a diverse city with a wide variety of fantastic ethnic restaurants. Spanish Tavern, Hamburgao, and Forno's of Spain are local favorites. Besides unique dining opportunities, Newark is home to massive entertainment venues providing access to sporting events, live music, and more. The Prudential Center and New Jersey Performing Arts Center both bring in some big names! If you're a fan of museums, Newark Museum is spectacular, and you can also visit the Jewish Museum of New Jersey. If art galleries are more your style, there are many to enjoy including Gallery Aferro, City Without Walls, and Aljira, A Center For Contemporary Art. Don't forget to take a stroll through Branch Brook Park during the Cherry Blossom Festival.
Yes, Camden. Pick those jaws off the floor. Definitively on the more dangerous side, the city is home to some spectacular attractions, especially along the waterfront. Besides stunning views of Philadelphia and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, check out Adventure Aquarium, Battleship New Jersey, Camden Children's Garden and the Walt Whitman House. If you're interested in seeing a good show, head to Waterfront South Theatre to enjoy performances by the South Camden Theatre Company. Shows vary by season and ticket prices are $20, though you can see four shows for $70 with a season pass. The theatre is a non-profit dedicated to enriching the community. Though there isn't much of a food scene here, you will find Donkey's Place, home to better Philly Cheesesteaks than Philadelphia, according to celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain.
Also known as the Silk City, Paterson played a major role in the nation's silk production throughout the 19th century. Today it is home to historic gems like Lambert Castle and natural wonders including the Great Falls National Historic Park. Other great places to visit include the Paterson Museum and Paul's Bar and Bowling. Grab some grub at Al-Basha, La Hacienda, Libby's Lunch or Guernsey Crest Ice Cream Company while you're in the area.
Even our state capital goes unappreciated. Sadly, the city has seen better days, but I certainly won't be missing out on all there is to do and see here. History buffs will love the Old Barracks Museum (pictured), New Jersey State Museum (and planetarium), the historic William Trent House and Pennsbury Manor. Other amazing attractions include the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie, Waterfront Park, The New Jersey State House, and Trenton Farmer's Market. Dine at local favorites Settimo Cielo, Amici Milano Restaurant, and Bagels N Cream.
5. Jersey City
Jersey City may have some bad neighborhoods, but it has some great neighborhoods as well. You could easily spend a week here, with all there is to do. Liberty State Park is one of my favorites, along with Liberty Science Center. You can also visit the massive Colgate Clock, Barrow Mansion, Jersey City Museum, Afro-American Historical and Cultural Society Museum, and Museum of Russian Art. Visit Loew's Jersey Theater for live entertainment, shop at Newport Centre Mall, or take a private sailing trip on the Hudson at Sail Gotham. Entertainment options are endless and dining choices are unlimited. Banyan Cafe, 15 Fox Place, ME Casa Restaurant, Carmine's Italian Deli and Morgan's Fish Market are all top-rated favorites.
Statistics show that the crime rate here is much higher than the New Jersey average, but skipping this city means missing out. Bridgeton is home to Cohanzick Zoo, New Jersey's first zoo and one of the state's few free zoos. Other wonderful attractions include Bridgeton Southern New Jersey All Sports Hall of Fame Museum and the Woodruff Museum, with over 30,000 Native American artifacts. Stop by the Bridgeton Splash Park in the summer and dine at Tio Santos or The Green Olive.
Sometimes seen as an industrial wasteland off the Turnpike, there's actually plenty to do here. Visit Boxwood Hall, former home of Elias Boudinot. Elias was the president of the Continental Congress and George Washington visited him here. Stop by The Mills at Jersey Gardens for excellent outlet shopping or get active at Warinanco Park. Last but not least, dine at Valenca Restaurant for top-notch steak.
Need a reason to visit Millville? I'll give you 10: Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Maurice River Cruises, Levoy Theatre, Millville Army Airfield Museum, New Jersey Motorsports Park, Riverfront Renaissance Center for the Arts, Southwind Vineyard & Winery, Maurice River Bluffs Nature Preserve, Wildflower Earthly Vegan Fare, and Jim's Lunch. Creative types will love the Glasstown Art's District.
This city is significantly safer than many others on the list, but it is still underrated. Sure, it's a popular nightlife destination for the under-30 crowd, but Hoboken offers much more than bars and clubs. The parks and piers along the water are absolutely stunning, perfect for picnics and serene strolls with New York City views. The food scene is also spectacular. Check out Amanda's, La Isla, and Elysian Cafe for casual dining, Schnackenberg's Luncheonette or Stacks Pancake House & Smoke House BBQ for quick, delicious grub, and Benny Tudino's for massive portions of pizza. The Hoboken Museum is a personal favorite, and a great place to start your visit. Other places of note include the non-profit Symposia Book Store and Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse.
10. Toms River
Another safer city, it still doesn't get the attention it deserves. Visit Toms River and enjoy lunch or dinner cruises on the River Lady, take in nature at Cattus Island County Park, shoot for the stars at Robert J. Novins Planetarium or take the family to Insectropolis Bug Museum. Other places to check out include the Ocean County Historical Museum and Tardi's Ristorante Italiano.
Are you considering giving any of these cities a chance? Do you live in or love one (or more) of these cities? If you’re familiar with them, share your favorite spots!