For too long, Jersey City has been looked at as an affordable alternative to hotels in the New York City area, with tourists only staying long enough to catch some shut-eye. But the city on the other side of the Hudson River has started to emerge as a destination in its own right.
From galleries to shops and landmarks to restaurants—The New York Times famously, and debatably, declared a Jersey City restaurant the home of the best pizza in New York—this city has plenty to offer. Here, you'll find the DEPARTURES guide to Chilltown from a local.
9:30 a.m.: For years, most travelers spent all of their time Downtown, if not headed straight to New York. While the views at Exchange Place are beautiful, there are so many different neighborhoods to explore. Things are changing in this town and pockets across the city are seeing an influx in new restaurants, creative spaces, and shops. Square 1 in the city's Journal Square area is a prime example. The restaurant opened in 2016 after a full remodel of its historic space and now offers small bites for breakfast and lunch. It's the perfect spot to grab a coffee and an egg, bacon, and pesto sandwich before hitting the pavement.
11 a.m.: Just around the corner from Square 1 you'll find Mana Contemporary. Opened in 2011 in a former tobacco warehouse in the city's Journal Square neighborhood, the art space offers a regularly changing roster of exhibitions. Additionally, the building houses artists' lofts so visitors will get an immersive experience while touring the two-million-square-foot space.
12:30 p.m.: After exploring Mana Contemporary you're sure to have worked up an appetite. About a five-minute drive from Journal Square you'll find The Hutton, a quaint restaurant with a sprawling backyard patio. Centered in the middle of a residential neighborhood known as The Heights, The Hutton offers an unbeatable brunch with decadent dishes like bourbon caramel French toast and raisin bread crostini with fig jam.
2:30 p.m.: You may not know it but you can catch a trip to both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty without ever leaving New Jersey. While it would be difficult to fit in a trip to both monuments in just a couple of hours, it's possible to check out one or the other. Visitors can catch a ferry without going into Manhattan by heading to Jersey City's Liberty State Park. There, you can catch a ride to both of the monuments. Ferries run often, but keep in mind that the last one departs Ellis Island between 5:15 and 7 p.m. depending on the time fo year, so plan accordingly. If you've already visited these famous attractions and want to check out something more local, the Liberty Science Center in Liberty State Park is the perfect adventure for families. There, you can visit the planetarium or explore one of the many exhibitions, like a dinosaur dig or learn about the dozens of animals on site.
7 p.m.: While the area around Grove Street is filled with trendy restaurants and quaint eateries, a trip to Oak on Pine in the city's Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood is worth the trip. It's always best to stray from the norm to explore new and interesting places, and this one won't disappoint. The southern-inspired spot offers delicious dishes in a cozy, inviting environment with an East Village vibe. Their signature dishes include crawfish mac n' cheese and salted honey fried chicken. Their rotating menu offers a litany of delicious options that all offer a unique spin on traditional southern fare. Make sure to head back on a Wednesday night as guests are treated to live music while enjoying their dinners.
10 p.m.: About a five-minute car ride from Oak on Pine is Corgi Spirits at Jersey City Distillery, where you'll be treated to some delicious cocktails featuring locally crafted spirits. Favorites are the Corgi Cuppa, made with earl grey gin, lemon, honey syrup and Angostura bitters, and the Killer Queen, made with gin, cucumber, lime, ginger, mint and simple syrup.
If you're still not tired and want to keep the party going, head to Cellar 335 in The Village. The Tiki-inspired spot has some of the best cocktails in town and shouldn't be missed. Try the Smoldering Bastard (rye, Bacardi 8, ginger, passion fruit, and lime) or the Mermaid's Revenge (Hendricks, mezcal, chartreuse, peach, pineapple, honey, lime, and mint). The sprawling space allows you to grab a quiet corner and cap off the night without having to elbow your way to a bar.