As one of the most diverse states in the country, New Jersey is loaded with culture. It’s made apparent by our authentic ethnic food scene, but there are so many more ways to experience other cultures without ever leaving New Jersey. You can travel the world vicariously through local festivals, enclave communities, cultural centers and incredible restaurants; here are just a few of your options.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Schnitzelfest, Trenton
The German-American Society of Trenton hosts spectacular events that will transport you straight to Germany. Schnitzelfest will be held on April 10th, and features all-you-can-eat pork jägerschnitzel, pork & chicken schnitzel, spätzle, mashed potatoes, red cabbage, vegetables and dessert along with live entertainment for just $18. Other events include Bierfest, a European auto show, Schlachtfest and Oktoberfest.
2. Sebastian's Schnitzelhaus, Wrightstown/Black Forest Inn, Stanhope
For incredible authentic German cuisine, head to Sebastian's. You'll find bratwurst, kartoffelpuffer, spaetzle, and other traditional favorites. If you're in North Jersey, visit Black Forest Inn for similarly spectacular dishes.
3. Pilsener Haus & Biergarten, Hoboken
This Austro-Hungarian spot offers indoor and outdoor dining with an authentic Czech feel. Besides the brews, be sure to try the Bavarian Soft Pretzel and spectacular Saturday Brunch.
4. Holi Festival, Marlton
Holi is a springtime festival in India, also known as the Festival of Colors. Nowhere in New Jersey can you celebrate this vibrant event quite like you can at the Indian Cultural Center of South Jersey. This year's festival featured a traditional celebration and live music with authentic food and a Holika Bonfire.
5. Turkish Cultural Center of New Jersey, Palisades Park
The cultural center offers spectacular classes and events that everyone can enjoy. Choose from calligraphy, ebru (water marbling), stitching, ceramic painting, and cooking classes.
6. The Ironbound, Newark
With over 30,000 Portuguese-Americans congregated in and around the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, you'll feel as if you're actually in Portugal. Portuguese shops, restaurants and food markets abound, and you can easily find the local Lisbon newspapers. Check out the Dia de Portugal Festival in June and the top-rated Portugalia Bar.
7. Koreatown, Palisades Park
Palisades Park has a higher population of Korean Americans than any other city in the United States. You'll find amazing Korean food here and in surrounding neighborhoods like Fort Lee. The local library has a memorial dedicated to the victims of the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry off the South Korean coast, and a massive Chuseok Festival (similar to Thanksgiving) in a nearby park.
8. Afro-Brazilian Cultural Center, Bloomfield
Visitors are welcome to enjoy capoeira classes and cultural performances featuring music, dance and more.
9. Spring Lake Irish Festival, Spring Lake
On May 21st from 11-5, take a trip to Ireland on the streets of Spring Lake. After the festival, be sure to enjoy the Spring Lake Theatre Company's "Imagine Ireland" show. There will be authentic music, dancing and more.
10. St. George Greek Orthodox Church, Piscataway
St. George Greek Orthodox Church will be celebrating its 100th year this year in a big way. They offer one of the best Greek Festivals in New Jersey, bringing in thousands of visitors over the course of 4 days. This year's festival will be held May 12--15 and will feature Greek Folk Dancing, live music, traditional Greek dishes and so much more.
11. Pithari Taverna, Highland Park
Is this New Jersey, or is it a charming cafe in Greece? No one can really be sure. The food and atmosphere are both amazing, resulting in top ratings on review sites like Yelp.
12. Ancient Order of Hibernians, North Wildwood
The Ancient Order of Hibernians is part of an Irish-Catholic organization that has been around for 175 years, dating back to before the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s. The Cape May County branch puts on an incredible Irish Festival each fall, featuring bagpipers, traditional music and dance, a beer garden, Irish food court, and free Irish dance lessons.
13. Mesob, Montclair
Traditional Ethiopian cuisine served in an upscale atmosphere inspired by Ethiopian art. Food is meant to be eaten by hand, but silverware is available. The New York Times said that there is one thing you won't want when you dine here, and that is to leave.
14. Garden State Discovery Museum, Cherry Hill
This museum hosts regular cultural events for families which often include live performances and interactive events. Children will be immersed in a variety of cultures to better understand the world around them. This year's Passport to Discovery Program features stories from around the world. Upcoming events will be held on April 9th and 16th.
15. Havana on the Hudson, Union City
Union City has the largest Cuban population in the United States outside of Miami. You'll find fantastic Cuban food and shops, along with a massive Cuban Day Parade each year, typically in June.
16. Taj Mahal, Atlantic City
Though the interior is nothing like India, the architecture is amazing. For a moment you may feel as if you're actually across the ocean.
17. Hoboken Italian Festival, Hoboken
This massive, multi-day event celebrates the Feast of the Madonna De Martiri. Visitors can enjoy a parade, street fair, live entertainment, and incredibly authentic food. For an idea of what the festival has to offer, here's a short video by YouTube user LoveMolfetta:
Which of these are you most excited to check out? What other ways can you experience the world without leaving New Jersey?