Known affectionately as the "sixth borough," Jersey City is staking its claim as a destination in its own right within the New York City metropolitan area. Young professionals, artists and families have flocked to the Jersey side of the Hudson in recent years and have created a city that is both an extension of Manhattan and a place where you can see and feel an authentic Jersey vibe. Visitors to New York City will find that Jersey City not only offers more reasonably-priced accommodations with easy access to the Big Apple, but also noteworthy parks, restaurants, bars and other attractions that will make for a fun and memorable trip.
Must see in Jersey City
The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are located just off the coast of Jersey City, and cruises depart from Liberty State Park every day to these top attractions (with shorter lines than those that depart from New York). While you're visiting the park, stop in to Liberty Science Center where interactive exhibits and IMAX movies delight both kids and adults alike. Finish your day with a race or two at Pole Position Raceway, where drivers can race high-speed electric go-karts on an indoor track.
Where to stay in Jersey City
The Newport neighborhood in Downtown Jersey City is a great place for families with kids to stay. Situated on the waterfront across the river from Tribeca, families can admire the views of Manhattan from Newport Green Park, get silly at the 2,300 square foot indoor playground Wild at Play, shop at Newport Centre Mall, or take the Light Rail to Liberty State Park and the Statue of Liberty.
Young travelers more interested in culture and nightlife should stay near the Grove Street PATH station in historic Downtown Jersey City, home to a wide range of hip restaurants and bars, including Bar Majestic and LITM. Or hop on the PATH train and be in Manhattan in 15 minutes.
Budget travelers will find the best deals in the Journal Square neighborhood. This up-and-coming area is easy to access via the Journal Square PATH station and is home to India Square and the historic Landmark Loew's Jersey Theatre.
Best and worst time to go to Jersey City
For travelers looking to economize, the best time to visit Jersey City is in off-peak season from January to April. While you may have to deal with snow, there are fewer crowds and it's a great time to score some bargains at post-holiday sales since New Jersey has no sales tax on clothing. The worst time to visit Jersey City is in August. You'll discover that residents decamp to the Jersey shore at this time of year to escape the oppressive heat and humidity.
Where to get lost in Jersey City
Paulus Hook is a charming district in Downtown Jersey City where you can wander down brownstone-lined streets and duck into quaint restaurants and bars like the romantic Light Horse Tavern or the European-style Zeppelin Hall Biergarten. Keep a lookout for Lady Liberty, who is easily spotted from several vantage points in this neighborhood.
The best deal in Jersey City
The best place to experience what is special about Jersey City is along the waterfront. The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, which extends from Bayonne in the south to Hoboken and beyond in the north, offers panoramic views of the Manhattan skyline and won't set you back a dime.
Transportation in Jersey City
Jersey City has an excellent public transportation system that will take you anywhere you need to go; renting a car is unnecessary. The PATH train has four stops in Jersey City, which connects travelers to lower Manhattan and Midtown. The Hudson-Bergen Light Rail system connects Jersey City to Hoboken and Bayonne and to the NJ Transit rail system. NJ Transit busses connect to major hubs such as Newark Penn Station and New York's Port Authority bus terminal, while NY Waterway provides scenic ferry service to Manhattan from four locations in Jersey City.
Getting in from Newark Liberty International Airport
Jersey City is accessible from all the New York City metropolitan area airports, but is most easily reached from Newark Liberty International Airport. AirTrain connects the airport to NJ Transit and PATH trains, but requires a couple of transfers. Taking a taxi from the airport is the quickest and most direct option and takes approximately 15 minutes.
Local tip for visitors to Jersey City
While Jersey City is big on charm with its tree-lined streets and beautiful brownstones, remember to keep your wits about you. Always be aware of your surroundings, keep to lighted streets at night and keep your handbag closed when riding public transportation. Crime is at an all-time low, but it isn't non-existent.
Author's bio: Amy Clites is a writer and actor who called New Jersey home for eight years – long enough to consider herself a lifelong Jersey Girl. She writes about her adventures on her blog ZeitClites and on Twitter @AmyClites.