Located just across the Hudson River from downtown Manhattan, Jersey City is New Jersey’s second largest city (after Newark) with a population of around 300,000. It has been cited as one of the most diverse places in the nation in terms of the number of nationalities who call it home, and has undergone a significant, decade-long transformation thanks to a surge of new residents, many displaced from New York City and Brooklyn . This in turn has led to the opening of countless new and excellent restaurants and bars. All this growth has even caught the attention of the French: last year it was announced that an external campus of the Parisian library Center Pompidou would open here in 2024.
It’s one thing to read about the transformation of Jersey City and quite another to visit—whether just for a day as part of a major New York City trip or as a pit stop on the way down to the Jersey Shore. The PATH train departs from downtown Manhattan, and Ubers and Lyfts will take you anywhere public transportation can’t go. Just don’t call JC a suburb of New York or the Sixth Ward; Proud Jersey residents won’t appreciate that.
Here are the best activities for a day trip in Jersey City.
The best artworks and attractions in Jersey City
One of Jersey City’s top attractions is Liberty State Park, a lush, 1,212-acre, multipurpose space that welcomes millions of visitors each year and is connected to Ellis Island by a bridge. Inside the park itself, you can hike around the estuary, bird watch at Caven Point, visit the Central Jersey Railroad of New Jersey terminal for a small immigration history exhibit, or just picnic on the lawn for a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline.
Although the Pompidou Jersey City doesn’t open until 2024, there are already some truly extraordinary art destinations here. The Deep Space Gallery in the Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood is a major advocate for emerging and local artists. One of the most popular shows is the all-female Mothership exhibition, which runs through August and features mixed-media collages by Deming King Harriman, whimsical tufted acrylic yarn pieces by Jersey City’s Sarah Grace Johnson, and more.
Mana Contemporary, an arts center housing several 100-year-old redbrick manufacturing buildings in the Journal Square area and with offices in Miami and Chicago, is a 1 million square foot arts and culture complex spanning the Middle East Center for the Arts ( MECA), the Richard Meier Model Museum and lounges and scholarship rooms for changing artists. Ongoing exhibitions include Dan Flavin’s large-scale fluorescent installations and original screenprints by Andy Warhol. If you prefer street art, we have plenty of that too. In fact, since 2013, over 200 works by some 139 artists (such as Shepard Fairey and Pixel Pancho) have been commissioned as part of a dedicated mural art program; You can rent a CitiBike and track them all down yourself.
If you stay late, see what’s on the calendar of events at White Eagle Hall, a historic 1910 building that’s now an 800-person concert hall. Originally built by Polish immigrants, the building features the Coat of Arms of Poland and the busts of several Polish heroes and is considered Jersey City’s premier performance and events venue. It hosts events like a Taylor Swift-themed dance party, Cat Power concerts, and open-mic storytelling competitions.