n the shadows of New York City, just five miles and a seventeen minute train ride away, Newark, New Jersey has plenty to offer visitors, or the New York City tourist who chooses to visit or stay nearby at less expensive restaurants, and hotels.
This is not a city to spend a considerable amount of time in, but it’s an excellent destination for a day trip or weekend getaway, or even for the budget conscious tourist looking for a place to stay when visiting NYC.
One of the nation’s oldest cities, after Boston and New York, Newark was a thriving 19th-century industrial giant and at the turn of the century made huge investments in cathedrals, museums, parks, a major art deco train station, and other art deco architecture, that today stand as world class attractions.
Newark also has a good Subway system. The system is a subway-surface light rail line which runs underground downtown and above-ground in outlying areas. The line is 5.3 miles long and runs between Newark Penn Station and Grove Street in Bloomfield.
After World War II, similar to other urban U.S. cities where loss of manufacturing jobs and urban decay began to occur, Newark experienced similar decline that continued until it reached bottom with 1960s riots. Since then the city has been slowly climbing back.
While its churches, museums, schools and public buildings are certainly to be admired, they also are off the tax rolls and with brings an unusually high burden of tax exemption that has held back the pace Newark’s revitalization programs.
Since the sixties, the city has made great strides forward with a major drop in street crime, a downtown that can be walked around, and the development of major downtown entertainment venues and hotels that bring to Newark an arena, a professional NHL Hockey team, a 6,200 seat minor league baseball stadium and a performing arts center with a concert hall and theatre that attracts the world’s best performers. Coincident with the development of entertainment venues, office skyscrapers have risen as homes to corporate employers and jobs. These are all attractions that can be easily accessible by public transportation or car with plenty of safe, affordable downtown parking. The hub of rail transportation is the restored Penn Station, an art deco landmark, used by over 70,000 commuters per day.
Major Attractions Cherry Blossom Festival The second largest Cherry Blossom display in the Unites States with the National Cherry Blossom display in Washington, DC being the largest and usually occurs about two weeks earlier. Held in Branch Brook Park, there are over 2,700 cherry trees. The blossoms can be best enjoyed by a casual walk or picnic in the park. The cherry trees usually flower in the second and third weeks of April. This is a week long festival with many events including a 10K race, trolley bus tours, and family Day with Japanese cultural activities, including demonstrations on origami, bonsai, ikebana, and martial arts.
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The fifth largest cathedral in North America. The French Gothic structure took more than fifty years to build and earned Basilica status from Pope John Paul in 1955. Located near Branch Brook Park on Ridge Street, the architecture closely resembles two of the world’s great cathedrals at Cathedral Notre Dame at Chartres in France and the Cathedral of Rheims in Germany.
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Houses two venues that attract the world’s best performers in Prudential Hall, one of the world’s great concert halls, and the Victoria Theater. It is also home to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.
The Newark Museum New Jersey’s largest museum provides experiences in the arts and natural sciences. In operation since 1909, it includes an 1885 brick-and-limestone restored mansion, the Dreyfuss Planetarium, and a zoo with more than 100 animals. Take an inspirational journey through 80 galleries of world-class collections including American, Asian, African and Classical. Take a walk through the beautiful sculpture garden, visit the museum shops and enjoy a delicious lunch or snack at the cafe.
The Prudential Center This new 18,000 seat arena is one of the finest in the country and home to the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey team and other college basketball, indoor soccer, concerts, family shows and special events.
Contact: (201) 507-8900
Riverfront Stadium A new $30 million 6,200 seat, state of the art stadium, is the home of the Newark Bears minor league baseball team. Situated in the downtown area, the stadium enjoys a terrific urban setting surrounded on three sides by the city with a view of the Manhattan skyline off in the distance.
Hilton Newark Gateway
The hotel is located in the heart of the downtown business district in the prestigious Gateway Center. The Hilton hotel is directly connected to Penn Station and the Gateway Center, which makes it very convenient for travelers to reach it via Amtrak, New Jersey Transit or PATH.
Robert Treat Hotel
The contemporary and elegant Robert Treat Hotel is located in the heart of the downtown district with views of New York and the city’s skyline.
The Ironbound section, is a Portuguese neighborhood with Ferry Street, being its commercial hub, is noted for its moderately priced Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian restaurants. In the mood for an ethnic lunch or snack? Try one of Ironbound’s cafes and bakeries. Enjoy a sandwich or some pastry and a cup of dark South American coffee. With the revitalization of the city, new restaurants are beginning to emerge that offer the diner a variety of different dining choices.
Adega Grill – Spanish-Portuguese
130-132 Ferry St
Casa Vasca – Spanish-Portuguese
141 Elm St.
Maize Restaurant – Traditional American fare
Robert Treat Hotel, 50 Park Pl.
Theater Square Grill – Creative American fare.
New Jersey Performing Arts Ctr.
1 Center St.