The ULTIMATE Jersey City Bucket List — A Guide to Chilltown’s Gems

Imagine it — a place so alive with culture that it’s recognized as the nation’s most diverse city consecutively. In fact, New Jersey City University was dubbed the most diverse school in the nation. 

The flavors that flow throughout the city speak to the rich cultures that have called the city home for decades. Small bodegas are just as much a part of the fabric as long-standing restaurants like White Mana and Boulevard Drinks

It was named Chilltown by the natives of the city because it’s a town that makes you want to just chill with your friends and grab a slice and a coke at throwback pizzeria’s like Larry’s and Joe’s, or take in the view of the skyline from underneath the Colgate Clock. Biryani from Little India, tacos from hole-in-the-wall taquerias, and Pan de Coco from the Philippine Bread House are a right of passage. All of the mom and pop shops that line Central Avenue, owned and operated by hard-working middle-class people are what keeps the spirit of the city alive. 

The art isn’t just within the walls of acclaimed galleries, it is spread throughout the streets from downtown to the Heights to the West Side. The city itself is the canvas. From renowned artists like Shepard Fairey to local legends like DISTORT, you’ll see some of the best art the state has to offer. 

If you look closely, you’ll see that the history of the city is alive and well and in the form of statues, buildings, parks, and train tracks. Take a ride up Route 139 and be wowed by an original General Pencil Company that has been open and operating in Jersey City since 1889, or take a trip back in time and visit the Lowe’s and Stanley Theaters in Journal Square. Learn something new at the iconic Liberty Science Center or catch a game at the Jersey City Armory. There is no place like Jersey City. It’s magical and full of life. For those who aren’t familiar with some of the city’s landmarks and must-try eateries, we’ve created a bucket list!

jersey city bucket list things to do

Things to Do:

Learn the dance of love at Salsa Fever on 2.

Crack open a book at the Jersey City Public Library. 

Bikeride, roller skate, or picnic along the waterfront at Liberty State Park.

Play baseball, tennis, or run track at Lincoln Park.

Visit the farm in Jersey City Heights, Urban Quack.

Learn about Russian history at the Museum of Russian Art

Go for a stroll along the downtown waterfront. 

Catch a show at the iconic Loew’s Theater in Journal Square.

Discover dinosaur fossils, anatomy, and watch a movie in the dome at Liberty Science Center. 

Take photos in front of the historic Colgate Clock

Tee off at the Liberty National Golf Club.

Visit the Jackie Robinson statue.

Tour the historic Central Railroad of NJ.

Explore the Barrow Mansion

Attend a concert at White Eagle Hall. 

Fish at the Heights Reservoir.

Pay tribute to the fallen New Jerseyans from 9/11 at the Empty Sky Memorial

Take Ferry from Liberty State Park to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. monument.

Tour the Apple Tree House.

Get a taste of the art scene at Mana Contemporary.

Be inspired by participating in the JCMAP mural walking tour.

Take a trip back in time at the historic St. Aidan’s Church.

Grab your friends and party on the Hudson River on a NYC Cycleboat

Explore the St. Peter’s University campus.

Watch a sports game at the Jersey City Armory.

Try your hand at paddle-boarding at the Liberty Landing Marina.

Food + Drink:

Indulge in sweets from Monteleone’s Bakery.

Dig into a cheeseburger and fries at the long-standing White Mana Diner.

Taste the best hot dogs in the area from the iconic Boulevard Drinks.

Eat an alcapurria {Spanish steak} at El Sabroso

Enjoy a pepperoni pizza at Larry’s and Joe’s.

Order biryani at Sapthagiri Taste of India.

Taste the dumplings from the Jade House.

Eat savory fried chicken at Chicken Delight.

Enjoy the coco bread from Nicole’s Caribbean Restaurant.

Pick up traditional Filipino treats Philippine Bread House

Order tacos Al Pastor from Taqueria Mi Mariachi.

Dine at Bangladesh restaurant with a nod from the NYT, Korai Kitchen.

Start your morning off right with a breakfast bagel from Wonder Bagel.

Grocery shop for Latin products at La Conga.

Cool off with house-made icecream from Torico.

Enjoy an Italian dinner in a private house at 15 Fox Place.

Dive into a stack of pancakes at Life Pancakes formerly The Brownstone Pancake Factory.

Pick up a freshly-baked Italian loaf from Bread & Salt.

Grab a slice from Charlie’s Pizzeria. 

Get Columbian empanadas to go from Angel Azul Bakery.

Slide into a booth at Miss America Diner, the longstanding 50s-style diner.

Pick up some cheeseburgers and onion rings from the White Castle drive-through.

Shop all-things Asian cuisine at the long-standing Asian Food Market.

Dig into a churrasco dish from Rumba Cubana.

Order a pasta dish from Laico’s.

Enjoy anything BBQ’d at Hamilton Pork.

Enjoy dinner over a waterfront view at Battello.

Try a slice from the acclaimed Razza, noted as “The Best Pizza in NY — in NJ” by the NYT.

Host an event at the Liberty House.

Order pizza while enjoying the rooftop at Porta. 

Dig into a burger and fried mac-and-cheese-pops at Left Bank Burger

Taste test freshly brewed beer at 902 Brewery.

Sip on a glass of wine at the speakeasy-style PS Wine Bar.

Try the different dishes from the many food trucks in Exchange Place. And yes, we know there are so many more restaurants — this is just the tip of the iceberg, but a good place to start.

Festivals, Fairs, + Events to Mark on Your Calendar

When it’s not a pandemic, make sure to check out:

Groove on Grove – May
Get your dance shoes on for the yearly series Groove on Grove. 

Grove Street PATH Farmer’s Market 
Shop for fresh fruits and veggies at HDSID’s Grove Street PATH Farmer’s Market on Mondays and Thursdays 4-8PM. 

Holi Hai Festival – May
Throw colors in the air at the Holi Hai Festival.

La Fiesta Italiana – August
Indulge in Italian classics at the annual Italian Festival. 

4th of July Fireworks – July
Set up a picnic and enjoy the 4th of July fireworks at Liberty State Park. The City of JC has also hosted a large concert with a headliner the last few years {minus 2020, ofc}.

Caribbean Carnival – July
Celebrate the island cultures at the Caribbean Carnival.

Pride Festival – August
Be an ally and celebrate with the local LGBTQIA community at Pride Fest.

Powerhouse Arts + Wine Fest – August
Sip on aged wine at the Powerhouse Arts + Wine Fest.

All About Downtown Street Fair – Septemeber
Get to know your community businesses at the HDSID’s All About Downtown Street Fair. 

Black Maria Film Festival – October
Discover local actors, producers, writers, and directors at the Black Maria Film Festival. 

Dia De Los Muertos Festival – November
Enjoy the annual Dia De Los Muertos festival at Riverview Fisk Park.

Just a few things that make this city incredible. Share this far and wide with anyone, new or old, who loves Jersey City.

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Written by:

Victoria is HG's Associate Editor and Social Media Coordinator for the Hoboken Historical Museum + Fire Department Museum. She is a fourth-generation Hoboken native, BNR in the Mile Square, and Jersey City. Through playing softball in town for fourteen years, playing the trumpet for the Hoboken High School Redwings Band, and graduating from New Jersey City University, these two cities have a special place in her heart. When she isn’t Style Assisting or volunteering at Symposia Bookstore, she’s exploring everything the Concrete Jungle has to offer. You can catch her at art exhibitions, local festivities, traveling, diving into a new book, thrifting, or indulging in some form of arts and crafts.