Recognized for its close proximity to New York City and known as the “Gateway to New Jersey,” Newark is often overlooked in favor of Goliath-like Manhattan and destinations along the Hudson River, such as Hoboken. However, the city is the urban heart of Jersey and has much to offer travelers in search of an affordable city escape.
7 am: Start Your Day Right With Some Delicious Breakfast Fare at One of Newark’s European Bakeries
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Delicia’s Bakery Café and the Teixeira Bakery both serve traditional favorites including pancakes, French toast, and omelets, and are just two of the many breakfast options for hungry travelers keen to kick-start their day.
9 am: Head Out to One of the City’s Free Cultural Attractions
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Newark is fast building a reputation as a sophisticated urban center in its own right, and if you know where to look, inexpensive cultural highlights can be found. Spend a few hours marveling at the stained-glass windows within the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Explore the free exhibits at the city’s numerous contemporary art galleries, and take a stroll through Liberty State Park (on Morris Pesin Drive) to admire the restored, historic railroad terminal.
12:15 pm: Experience One of Newark’s 200+ Live Performances, Events, and Festivals
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The city hosts over 200 live events throughout the year, many of which are held at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s Prudential Hall. Center your chakras and “ommmmmmm” away an hour of the day during a free yoga class in Military Park. Schedule your stay during April, when Essex County’s Branch Brook Park (just eight minutes from downtown Newark) welcomes the arrival of spring with Bloomfest, a spectacular cherry-blossom festival. Plan your stay to coincide with the noted McDonald’s Gospelfest (a music competition held in Prudential Hall every May), or explore Portuguese culture and cuisine close-up during Portugal Day celebrations.
3 pm: Spend Your Afternoon Exploring Liberty State Park
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Catch an IMAX movie at the Liberty Science Centre, explore their program of interactive exhibitions, and meander along the miles of tree-lined walkways as you soak in waterfront views of the Manhattan skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island. If you’re so inclined, hop aboard the New Jersey ferry and get up close and personal with Lady Liberty herself by visiting Liberty Island; then either make your way back to Liberty State Park, or jump on a connecting ferry to New York City and spend the evening in Manhattan.
5 pm: Visit the Ironbound District to Sample the City’s Best Eats
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An influx of Portuguese immigrants during the mid-20th century rooted an Iberian influence in the Newark neighborhood of Ironbound. While Ecuadorian and Brazilian sways have since taken residence in this eclectic quarter, it has retained its European roots, and consequently offers some of the city’s more mouth-watering “must-eats.” For fresh seafood and sangria, head to Seabra’s Marisqueira (87 Madison Street), and for delectable tapas try Mompou (77 Ferry Street).
Must See: Explore the City’s Riverfront Regeneration Project
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A vibrant-orange stretch of riverfront boardwalk, part of Newark’s recent urban renewal, invigorated the banks of the contaminated Passaic River, and reconnected local residents with the waterway that was once closely linked to the city’s growth and prosperity. Cityscape views, cycling and walking trails, and swaths of public parkland have been reclaimed from derelict land that once blighted the waterfront. During the warm summer months, a program of yoga classes by the water, movies under the stars, kayak rentals, and boat tours are offered.
Budget-Friendly Lodges in Newark Offer an Alternative to the High-Priced Hotels in Manhattan
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Just eight short miles from Manhattan, accommodations in Newark are an affordable alternative to the high-priced hotels in New York City. Thanks to the city’s compact size and its comprehensive public transport system, budget travelers can check into well-appointed hotels such as the Courtyard Newark Downtown which starts at $119 per night or the Best Western Plus Robert Treat Hotel at $104 per night, and still enjoy all that Newark and New York City have to offer. You can also find Airbnb rentals in Newark that start from as little as $50 per night.
With comfortable hotels in Newark from $68, a mix of attractions offered year-round, and a skyline of impressive, 20th-century architecture which mirrors that of its high-powered neighbor Manhattan, Newark is well worth considering for your next city escape.