What To Do With The Rest Of Your Summer In Jersey City
These are truly the dog days of summer. Despite what your acquaintances wrote in the pages of your high school yearbook, it can be hard to H.A.G.S. when it’s 90º or more every day, the sun is beating down like it’s got nothing better to do, and all your regular summer activities have grown stale, overdone, and overcrowded.
What to do with the rest of these hot, interminable days?
I mean – you’ve got options:
Events, attractions, and institutions for the local tourist in you:
Even if you’re skipping the European tour this summer (you know, with the economy being what it is…) you can still have fun and make memories within the bounds of Jersey City. If you’ve ever found yourself saying “Aw, I’ve always meant to go there!” when asked by out-of-town friends and relatives about this-or-that landmark, now’s your chance to pry that phrase free from your vocabulary.
Check out the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island!
Good news for history buffs, sightseers, and those who are looking for a little day trip to take with the family: both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are open daily. Take the ferry from Liberty State Park to Liberty Island, where you can wander the grounds and explore the Statue of Liberty Museum. Though Lady Liberty’s crown is currently closed, visitors can still climb to the statue’s pedestal for a spectacular view of the surrounding area.
Ferry tickets also include entry to Ellis Island. Here, you can visit the National Museum of Immigration, which is located in the same building that millions of immigrants once passed through on the journey to America. For an additional fee, visitors can also take the Hard Hat Tour of the island through the unrestored Immigrant Hospital Complex, which features the art installation ‘Unframed – Ellis Island’ by French artist JR.
Both islands are free to enter with the price of the ferry ticket and offer audio-guided tours. It is recommended that visitors book their tickets ahead of time.
Explore the Liberty Science Center!
Located within spitting distance of Liberty State Park, the Liberty Science Center’s spherical rooftop is impossible to miss. That iconic dome houses one of the world’s largest planetariums – just one of the Liberty Science Center’s attractions for both children and adults. Visitors can also take in a movie at the 3D Science Theater and explore immersive, educational exhibits covering everything from the tiniest of microbes to the tallest of skyscrapers.
For the 21-and-over set, be sure to check out the Science Center’s LSC After Dark event series. The summer’s two remaining events include a wine tasting and prehistoric dance party on August 18th and a beer garden on September 1st (situated in the outdoor Dino Dig exhibit, of course), and both feature talks, food, art, and science-themed entertainment. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online ahead of time.
Celebrate the LGBTQ+ community at Jersey City Pride!
View this post on Instagram
While most of the country celebrated LGBTQ+ Pride back in June, Jersey City’s Pride month is August, which means more exciting events to let your various freak flags fly on this side of the Hudson River. This month’s calendar is jam-packed with events for everyone – from bar crawls and performances for the grown-ups and drag queen story hours for the kids.
On August 27th, be sure not to miss the Equality March, which will begin at City Hall and end at the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza, or the Pride Festival afterwards, which promises all the music and dancing your gay little heart can handle.
Shop locally in Jersey City!
If your ideal warm-weather activity is rummaging through racks of vintage clothing, sampling the fare from local restaurants, or enjoying mother nature’s summer bounty, all in an outdoor setting, Jersey City’s got you covered at least until the Fall Equinox.
If summer to you means strawberries, zucchinis, and (hot take) the only tomatoes worth eating, you need to hit up at least one of the numerous farmers’ markets that pepper the city. Every Sunday through October, the Farmers’ Market at Lincoln Park boasts over a dozen vendors and occasionally hosts other community events like yoga. Additionally, the Historic Downtown Farmers’ Market, just off the Grove Street PATH, operates Mondays and Thursdays through December, playing host to vendors selling baked goods, fruits and veggies, and more.
Also, be sure to check out Smorgasburg JC – Jersey City’s outpost of the iconic street food extravaganza. Every Saturday, head to their location overlooking the waterfront, just a few blocks from the Exchange Place PATH and across the street from the Harborside Light Rail Station for munchies like bao, fancy hot dogs, and empanadas.
View this post on Instagram
If vintage is your game, don’t miss Pacific Flea, which takes place on the second Saturdays of the month through September. This Saturday, August 12th – and their last date for the year, Saturday September 10th – check out their cozy space in JC’s Bergen-Lafayette neighborhood, bursting with antiques, clothing, and crafts. Then, pop on over to Corgi Spirits for a cheeky little afternoon pick-me-up…
For the heat-resistant, outdoorsy types among us:
Anybody wanting to work on their tan, soak up the sun, or get the blood a-pumping in these last few weeks of summer is in luck. Jersey City is filled with outdoor adventures for those who are willing to look past the urban, post-industrial façade.
If you’re a real nature kid, check out the parks!
Everybody knows that JC’s park game is hard to beat. With the sprawling grounds of Liberty State Park overlooking the Hudson and Lincoln Park just off West Side Avenue – and all the smaller parks in between – Jersey City’s green spaces offer tons of room to walk, bike, or relax.
If you’re seeking a more active outing, Urban Paddle offers kayak tours from both Liberty State Parks and Lincoln Park West. Skyway Golf Course, nestled deep in Lincoln Park West, is also a strong option. It’s Hudson County’s only public golf course, and the views of the surrounding bridges and nature preserve are unmatched.
Or, go on an urban adventure!
Jersey City is decked out with dozens of murals and other public art. Sure, you’ve driven or walked past them a million times, but making a stop to check out the sky-high paintings can be well worth the time. Start with a downtown walking tour, like this one from Hudson County’s website, and branch out using resources like last year’s Jersey City Mural Festival website to find your new favorites.
Also, be sure not to miss Bike JC’s monthly light-up rides on the second Friday of each month. There are two left this summer (August 12th and September 9th) and a few scheduled for the fall. This Friday’s ride is themed especially for Pride, so deck out your bike in lights, make sure to wear a helmet, and get ready to roll out for the evening!
For the indoor kids, and by kids, we mean adults:
For those who would prefer to spend the dog days of summer in a darkened, air-conditioned room, the next few weeks don’t have to be a total loss. There are plenty of non-sweaty (or low-sweat, let’s be honest) activities for you to enjoy. Perhaps, try…
… having a drink in a bar with a ton of elbow room?
If drinking in a small, crowded bar is going to make you feel even sweatier than you did on the walk from the PATH station to the front door, save your regular neighborhood haunts for the Fall and check out some watering holes with a bit more square footage.
Zeppelin Hall, located just off the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail stop, has a massive indoor space, as well as an outdoor patio for the more adventurous (read: heat resistant) set. Zeppelin boasts an impressive beer menu and a full bar for when you “really need a cold drink” and a menu with biergarten-style fare for when you “really need a giant pretzel” to go with. Their giant communal tables are great for playing board games with your friends who also hate being outdoors in August. Do yourself a favor, though, and try to stick to the front dining room – the larger, back room tends to be a little on the warm side.
View this post on Instagram
If gin-based cocktails rank among your preferred summer bevs (or, if you’ve just spent the afternoon at Pacific Flea and need to unwind), perhaps give Corgi Spirits a try. Their specialty gin is distilled on the premises, which are tucked away in an unassuming industrial area near Liberty State Park, and their large, low-lit tasting room is the perfect spot to while away the brutal late-August heat in (relative) comfort. With a rotating, seasonal cocktail menu, Corgi’s tasting room is with the trek, but you can also buy their gin – in flavor profiles like Bee Blossom and Earl Gray – by the bottle to take home, and well, make your own cocktails to enjoy in front of the air conditioner.
Corgi also hosts events – like the Fringe Fest Equality Rocks Spectacular this August 22nd as a part of the Jersey City Pride festivities. Their tasting room is BYOF (bring your own food), but they also host food trucks in their outdoor space on the weekends.
… getting in some culture?
The Mana Contemporary is just a few minutes’ walk from the Journal Square PATH station and features huge exhibition spaces for art and dance. They offer hour-long tours which are free, but must be booked 24 hours in advance.
And hey, if the unforgiving summer sun has completely sucked the life out of you and rendered you incapable of doing anything but sitting still in a cold room (no shade – we’ve all been there), the Newport Mall does have a movie theater.
And lastly, for your inner God of Destruction who cares about the environment and wants to have fun on a budget:
Stomping on spotted lanternflies is free, fun, and encouraged by the Department of Agriculture!