20 Things To Do In Newark

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Known as Brick City, Newark in New Jersey is a 30-minute drive or train ride from Manhattan and Jersey City, making it perfect for a day trip from New York. It is also an ideal location for those seeking a city break somewhere different and exciting. Although its airport connects the world and New York, Newark is relatively unknown and is quiet and easy to explore.

There are many exciting festivals you can attend while in New Jersey. From June to September, the Newark hurricane festival runs daily, and every Wednesday through Sunday, the Newark Garden fest is held once a month from the end of August to the middle of October. A must-visit festival for music lovers is the Newark Jazz Festival, which runs in the city centre, with many bars, restaurants and venues hosting events.

The city also has a rich cultural heritage around its Ironbound neighbourhood. There are museums, theatres, zoos, restaurants and parks, all offering unique and exciting experiences for families and locals. These things to do in Newark are perfect for a New Jersey break.

Newark, New Jersey

20 Things To Do In Newark

things to do in newark city ckyline reflected in the water
It’s large enough that you’ll find enough things to do in Newark if you’re looking to escape from the madness of NYC.

1- Visit Newark Museum

New Jersey’s largest museum dates back to 1909, although several additions and expansions have been made to the museum over the years.

The museum is famous for its Tibetan gallery, which has one of the best collections of Tibetan artefacts worldwide.

It has a Buddhist altar consecrated by the Dali Lama.

Other galleries and exhibitions within the museum include the Victoria Hall of Science, home to more than 70,000 specimens, a planetarium and a collection of ancient and contemporary art.

Newark Museum is at 49 Washington Street, Newark, NJ 07102.

2- Explore Riverfront Park

things to do in newark nj
It may not be as exciting as New York but if you’re looking for a quieter city, there are lots of things to do in Newark too.

Riverfront Park overlooks the Passaic River and lies on its south side.

Green spaces are minimal in Newark, so the park is a welcome space of tranquillity for the residents of the nearby Ironbound neighbourhood, as well as other locals and tourists.

The park is an excellent location for a riverside stroll, and many events are also hosted there.

From early morning yoga classes to Zumba and running clubs, there is something for everyone at Riverfront.

Riverfront Park is at 709 Raymond Boulevard, Newark, NJ.

3- See A Concert At New Jersey Performing Arts Centre

New Jersey Performing Arts Centre is an important cultural location in Newark, and if there is a performance during your stay, it is certainly worth the visit.

The centre was built on the site of the former Military Park Hotel. Barton Myers designed the building, which opened in 1997.

New Jersey Performing Arts Centre is one of the largest in the United States and is unrivalled by many, thanks to its arts education program.

The centre offers scholarships, residencies, and classes in dance, music and theatre.

New Jersey Performing Arts Centre is at 1 Center Street, Newark, NJ.

4- Eat Gelato At Nasto’s

For those with a sweet tooth, calling into Nasto’s is a must when in Newark.

Frank Nasto opened Nasto’s back in 1939 to serve traditional Italian ice creams to the locals.

Nasto’s is famous in Newark for its tortoni, spumoni, tiramisu and reginetta, as well as a wide variety of traditional gelatos and ice creams.

All the recipes prepared at Nasto’s come from Frank Nasto’s hometown of Nocera in Italy with locally sourced ingredients, and the ice cream is freshly prepared.

For those who can’t get enough of Nasto’s chilled treats, the company now deliver and ship across the United States.

Nasto’s is at 236-240 Jefferson Street, Newark, NJ.

5- Enjoy The Project For Empty Space

PES Studios is a creative hub for a wide variety of creative outlets.

The space covers three levels and is connected to Penn Station’s transit hub, making access for tourists and visitors easy.

It’s part of a wider project set out in neighbouring New York City called Project for Empty Space, which was set up in 2012 as a non-profit organisation.

The project aims to transform empty office spaces or vacant stores into pop-up art displays and venues.

In Newark, various pop-up locations display a range of exhibitions featuring local and international artists.

Special events are also offered, including access to art studios and the option for local artists to become an artist in residence.

PES Studios is open to the public on weekday afternoons and on weekends for special events.

PES Studios is at Two Gateway Centre, Newark, NJ 07102.

6- New Jersey Historical Society

newark george washington statue
Did you know that there’s a statue of George Washington in Newark’s Washington Park?

For those keen to find out more about Newark and the state it is in, look no further than New Jersey Historical Society.

The Historical Society is located inside a beautiful 1926 Georgian-style building that belonged to the Essex Club.

The society covers two floors of the building. Inside are exhibition spaces, a lecture hall, gift shop, library and reading room.

Local citizens founded the society in 1845, and as well as documenting and preserving the state’s history, the society also hosts walking tours of Newark and publishes an academic journal exploring the area’s history.

New Jersey Historical Society is at 52 Park Place, Newark, NJ.

7- Relax And Reflect In Military Park

From 1667 to 1869, Military Park served as a location for soldiers to train to prepare for battle.

Today the six-acre park is a tranquil spot offering somewhere to relax and reflect.

Inside the park is a large memorial to the Wars of America, celebrating the lives of those who fought in America’s wars.

Gutzon Borglum, the creator of Mount Rushmore, sculpted the monument.

Aside from exploring some military history, the park is a popular green space in the city.

The park hosts yoga and Zumba classes, offers lawn games to interested visitors and is open for special events.

Military Park is at 51 Park Place, Newark, NJ 07102.

8- Admire The Blossoms At Branch Brook Park

things to do in newark nj cherry blossom festival Branch Brook Park
One of the most popular things to do in Newark is to see the cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park.

Branch Brook Park is Newark’s largest public park and was established by Essex County Parks Commission in 1895, making it the first country park in the United States.

The park covers 360 acres (146 ha) of woodland, large open spaces and flowerbeds.

Branch Brook Park is famous for its beautiful pink cherry blossom trees, which, when blooming, sees an influx of visitors marvelling in the natural spectacle.

There are more than 4300 trees in Cherryblossomland, the area of the park renowned for its blossom.

The park hosts a yearly event in April to celebrate the arrival of the blossoms.

The park also has lakes, bridges and sculptures to explore and discover.

Branch Brook Park is at Park Avenue, Lake Street, Newark, NJ 07104.

9- See The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is a marvel of Gothic Revivalism architecture.

Jeremiah O’Rourke and Monsignor George Hobbart Doane designed the cathedral following a visit to Europe to gain inspiration.

Building began in 1898 and took 29 years to complete.

Inspired by their European journey, O’Rourke and Doane included Anglo-style flying buttresses and French medieval spires in their work.

There are exquisite examples of stained glass on all sides of the cathedral, and the ceiling is high and vaulted, creating a beautiful yet haunting sound when music is played.

After a visit to the cathedral, head into neighbouring Branch Brook Park to immerse yourself in nature.

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is at 89 Ridge Street, Newark, NJ 07104.

10- Wander Around Ironbound

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From gardens and parks to museums and galleries, these are some of the things to do in Newark NJ to keep you busy.

The Ironbound neighbourhood is a four square mile (10.36 square km) area bordered by the river to the north.

The neighbourhood is filled with people from multiple ethnicities and has a multicultural vibe.

The community is close-knit and is very active within the local area.

Ironbound has more than 170 restaurants varying in cuisine, making it the perfect place to head for a bite to eat.

There are also numerous shops, bars and cafes to explore.

While in Ironbound, stop by Nasto’s Ice Cream and Fornos and Mompou for delectable tapas.

Ironbound is located south of the Passaic River. The neighbourhood can easily be found when leaving Newark’s Penn Station, which is considered the gateway to Ironbound.

11- Explore The City Without Walls

Another of Newark’s incredible art exhibitions is City Without Walls.

The exhibition space on Crawford Street aims to inspire cutting-edge art and creativity within the city.

The space provides an area for contemporary artists from across the city to showcase their talents and artworks.

Visitors to City Without Walls will see an eclectic mix of creativity on display, with exhibitions varying regularly.

Past exhibitions have included large sculptural pieces, installation works, and canvas paintings and sculptures.

City Without Walls also aims to encourage the local community to engage in art and creativity with classes like urban mural painting and street art.

City Without Walls is at 6 Crawford Street, Newark, NJ 07102.

12- Dine at Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant

Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant has been serving hungry residents of Newark for more than 50 years.

This delicatessen and restaurant is a traditional Jewish Deli and serves up its legendary corned beef daily.

The considerable menu includes Cajun-spiced burgers, salads and frankfurters, Philly cheese steaks, and loaded fries.

Top of the menu is their legendary corned beef cooked in a vat.

For those who feel an affinity with the deli, there is a range of souvenirs, including t-shirts.

Hobby’s becomes very busy on game days when the New Jersey Devils are playing as hungry fans flock to fill up before, during and after the big game.

Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant is at 32 Branford Place, 2723, Newark, NJ 07102.

13- Watch Ice Hockey at Prudential Centre

Nicknamed ‘The Rock’, the Prudential Centre is the largest multipurpose indoor arena in the United States.

The centre is the home of the New Jersey Devils, a National Hockey League team who regularly sells out its 17,000-plus seats.

The centre also hosts basketball games.

Aside from sporting events, the centre also hosts Disney on Ice yearly and many music concerts.

While seeing a show or game at the centre, stop by the restaurant to enjoy hearty traditional American foods and drinks.

Prudential Centre is at 25 Lafayette Street, Newark, NJ.

14- Listen To Classical Music At Newark Symphony Hall

newark things to do violinist
Catching a performance of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at Newark Symphony Hall is one of the lovely things to do in Newark.

For a special evening out, head to Newark Symphony Hall, where you can watch performances from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and other public and private events.

Aside from being a performance venue, the hall also runs several educational programs, including the Production Assistant Training program, which prepares young adults who want to work in TV or film.

The building itself is impressive. Frank Grad designed the hall in a neo-classical style on its exterior.

Inside are many ancient Greek and Egyptian motifs, large marble columns and plenty of gold leaf.

Newark Symphony Hall is at 1020 Broad Street, Newark, NJ 07102.

15- Go Walking In Weequahic Lake and Park

In the South Ward, Weequahic Park and Lake is a tranquil location to escape the city’s noise.

The lake is the largest in Essex County and is nestled inside a well-cared-for country park.

A 2.2-mile (3.54 kilometre) trail runs around the lake’s perimeter and is popular with walkers and cyclists.

The park has an 18-hole golf course, sports fields and picnic areas with grills to welcome the summer months.

On the lake, seasonal paddle sports such as kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding are available and you can hire gear in the park.

Weequahic Lake and Park is at 1 Thomas Carmichael Drive, Newark, NJ 07114.

16- Sample Spirits At All Points West Distillery

Named after the Jersey Central Railroad that carried immigrants from Ellis Island to all points west, All Points West Distillery is a must-visit location for spirits fans.

The distillery applies old-world American distilling traditions to its range of fine spirits.

Whiskey, rum, vodka and gin are all distilled at All Points West.

When visiting the distillery, try one of their artisanal cocktails, which combine their traditional spirits with modern-day flare.

For those seeking a behind-the-scenes experience, the distillery runs 30-minute tours on Saturdays, followed by a 40-minute testing experience where three spirits can be sampled.

All Points West Distillery is at 73 Tichenor Street, Newark, NJ 07114.

17- Dine In The All-American Tops Diner

An American vacation would not be the same without calling into a traditional American diner.

Tops Diner is one of the United States’ most historic diners and has been serving delicious food since 1942.

The family-run diner regularly serves more than 15,000 customers each week and is open from early morning to late at night.

Try the eggs Benedict, Belgian Waffles, or creative omelettes.

For something a little more special, order huevos rancheros, fried chicken or chicken jambalaya.

The diner is famous for its Fatty Melt, an all-beef patty nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tops Diner is at 500 Passaic Avenue, East Newark, NJ 07029.

18- Explore The Grammy Museum

For music lovers visiting Newark, visiting the Grammy Museum Experience offers an interactive exhibition of the famous musical award, its history and the artists who have won the prestigious trophy.

Within the exhibition is a hall dedicated to the New Jersey musicians who have received the award.

Grammy Music Experience is at 165 Mulberry Street, Newark, NJ 07102.

19- Go On A Mural Walking Tour

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Looking for things to do in Newark to kill a few hours? Here are 20!

As in most cities, Newark is filled with various bus, river and walking tours.

The Mural Walking Tour is a private tour around the city in small groups to explore some of Newark’s most unique and eye-catching murals.

It can be challenging to find some of the more powerful pieces alone and well-worth joining a tour.

The Mural Walking tour takes two to four hours to complete, with an expert guide leading you through the city to take in the best works.

While exploring the murals, your guide will take you into less touristy neighbourhoods with a more local and authentic feel.

Mural Walking Tour begins at Grove Street, Bloomfield, Newark, NJ.

20- Discover History At The Jewish Museum

The Jewish Museum of New Jersey aims to support, represent and chronicle the Jewish community in New Jersey.

The museum hosts regular cultural workshops, integration programs, inter-faith dialogues within the community and exhibitions of Judaism in artwork.

Previous exhibitions at the Jewish Museum of New Jersey include programs on the Jews of Assisi between 1943 and 44.

There are photographic collections of Jewish-American life taken by Jewish-American photographers and discussion forums covering various topics.

The Jewish Museum of New Jersey is at 145 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104. 

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.