15 Best Things to Do in Elizabeth, NJ

Elizabeth, NJ
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Elizabeth is a historical city in New Jersey that dates back to the 1660s.

Many historical figures from the American Revolutionary War have graced this city.

Just minutes away from New York City, Elizabeth is a prime destination spot for those who would like a quick trip to New Jersey.

Because of its significance in modern U.S history and its multicultural urban life, Elizabeth is a destination on its own.

To give you an idea of where to go, here are the best things to do in Elizabeth, New Jersey:

See a Play at the Ritz Theater

Exterior of Ritz Theater
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Ritz Theater is another historical treasure of Elizabeth.

Unlike Boxwood Hall, Ritz Theater finished much later, during the 1920s.

The 1865 Drake Opera House previously occupied its site, which has since overcome many obstacles throughout the years, including demolition attempts.

Marquee of Ritz Theater
Jim.henderson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

After many tumultuous ownership changes, Ritz Theater now stands beautifully, with modern renovations while retaining its 1920s design.

Ritz Theater offers many live performing arts and other events throughout the year.

Considered part of Elizabeth's Midtown Historic Business District, you can visit the place along East Jersey Street, a few blocks away from Boxwood Hall.

Cycle along the Elizabeth River Trail

Elizabeth is home to the beautiful Elizabeth River, which extends for a couple of miles until it converges with the Chesapeake Bay.

Because the river runs along the city's border, cycling along the Elizabeth River Trail is a great way to enjoy the city's landscape.

The path of the trail also features local art that portrays the historical contexts of the city's development.

You can feel a sense of community here, as many people are always enjoying the trail, whether on foot or on wheels.

Start your trip along the Elizabeth River Trail on South Broad Street, across from Elizabeth Public Library.

Play Sports at Mattano Park

Is your favorite sport not at Warinanco? Fret not. There are more parks in Elizabeth to choose from.

Although smaller, Mattano Park has several unique sporting facilities that may pique your interest.

The park has basketball courts, baseball fields, and a skateboarding area on top of its soccer fields and splashes playground.

It also has direct access to the Elizabeth River as it juts across the park, giving it a unique charm.

Mattano Park is east of Warinanco Park, along 5th Avenue.

Relieve History through Boxwood Hall State Historic Site

Exterior of Boxwood Hall
Dmadeo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Boxwood Hall is Elizabeth's historical treasure.

It was initially the home of Elizabeth native Elias Boudinot, a statesman who served as the President of the Continental Congress during the American Revolutionary War.

Boudinot is one of the pioneers of the Treaty of Paris.

Many Founding Fathers, including U.S. President George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, graced his home.

Built in 1750, the Boxwood Hall has been carefully maintained and managed by the New Jersey Historical Sites.

You can see remnants of the country's colonial and aristocratic past throughout Boxwood Hall, including its vintage Georgian design and architecture.

Boxwood Hall offers free admission, a can't miss destination in Elizabeth.

Visit the landmark site at 1073 East Jersey Street.

Marvel at Historic Architecture in Midtown Historic Business District

Elizabeth exudes a rich historical ambiance reminiscent of the American Revolutionary War era.

Many buildings and constructions contain noticeable accents of the 1700s, and the Midtown Historic Business District captures this aesthetic best.

Here, you can see various landmark sites, such as the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabeth, which dates back to 1783.

Its churchyard even goes further—having existed since 1687 with now over 2,000 graves.

Other historic structures that offer a scenic view in the area are the Union County Courthouse, the Hersch Tower, and St. John's Episcopal Church, to name a few.

Grab your camera and take photos of this historic area or take a stroll and enjoy the district.

The Midtown Historic Business District is at the heart of Elizabeth, encompassing parts of North Broad Street, East Grand Street, and East Jersey Street.

Visit the Elizabeth Public Library

Exterior of Elizabeth Public Library
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Like the Ritz Theater, Elizabeth Public Library is also a part of the Midtown Historic Business District.

Like its neighboring buildings, its architecture and design showcase the aesthetic of 19th-century America, making its exterior Instagram-worthy on its own.

The interior also looks quaint, fit for studying and reading without any distractions.

The library also has several events that may interest you, be sure to check the calendar available on their website.

You can visit Elizabeth Public Library along the corner of South Broad Street and Rahway Avenue.

Take Scenic Photographs at Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park

The Veterans Memorial Waterfront Park is a distinct scenic location on the eastern end of Elizabeth.

Because of its location, it's known to offer the best views of New York City's skyline from Elizabeth.

Right along the Elizabeth River, it has amenities that let you enjoy your visit here, whether during the day or at night.

It's a family-friendly spot where you can bike, skate, play frisbee, or enjoy watching the boats ply across the river.

You can also have a picnic near its plaza, distinctly marked by giant U.S. flag poles lined together.

You can access Veteran Memorial Waterfront Park through Elizabeth Avenue and Front Street.

Play Table Sports at 1 & 9 Billiards & Entertainment

If clubbing and drinks are not your thing but you still want a lively and fun night, then play games at the 1 & 9 Billiards & Entertainment.

Located a little farther up north from the cluster of nightlife establishments, 1 & 9 Billiards & Entertainment is more laid back than other all-night establishments in Elizabeth.

It offers you 20 pool tables and various other games like arcade and table tennis.

It also has a sports lounge where you can watch your favorite team while munching on their delicious food.

You can visit this excellent pool hall at 701 Spring Street.

Visit the Liberty Museum Hall

Exterior of the Liberty Museum Hall
Dmadeo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Liberty Museum Hall is right along the Elizabeth River on Morris Avenue.

You can find it in Union, New Jersey, eight minutes from central Elizabeth.

The museum, declared a national historic landmark in 1973, is formerly a residential mansion where many notable politicians resided, including the first governor of New Jersey.

Built in 1772, this mansion looks elegant with its Victorian Italianate design.

Touring the house will be an excellent opportunity to relive life back then through the lens of the 19th-century political elite.

Spanning over 50 rooms with a sprawling garden, the Liberty Museum Hall will surely keep you occupied as you check out various historical documents and antique items.

There are also plenty of exhibits throughout the year, so plan your visit here ahead of time.

Explore Elizabeth's Multicultural Nightlife

Like New York City, New Jersey has a rich nightlife culture that offers you a lot of fun, and Elizabeth is no exception.

The city's heart features various notable establishments providing several ways to enjoy the night, whether clubbing, sports, or a lax drinking environment.

Places like Chupitos and Barcode offer a high-energy Latin-American bar and club experience.

The First Republic Lounge, meanwhile, provides a fantastic Haitian experience.

The historic districts of Elizabeth also have several clubs and bars, making it seem like a different place at night.

You can explore many of these establishments by going to Elizabeth's Central Business District along Elizabeth Avenue, Morris Avenue, and Broad Street.

Go Shopping at the Largest IKEA in the New York Tri-State Area

Entrance to IKEA
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While IKEA is not a unique destination, the one in Elizabeth is unique because it is the biggest IKEA in the tri-states of New Jersey, New York City, and Connecticut.

Its exterior is already a sight to behold, as you can easily view its gigantic structure from a distance.

While the selection of IKEA items may not differ much from where you are, it pays to know that Elizabeth is under New Jersey's largest Urban Enterprise Zone.

Buying stuff at the IKEA in Elizabeth means cutting some of your taxes and making your purchases much cheaper than neighboring states.

Bedroom section in IKEA
Mihai_Andritoiu / Shutterstock.com

Even better, its restaurant and cafe offer a great view of Newark International Airport's runways.

So whether you're just craving Swedish meatballs or want to buy new furniture, this IKEA in Elizabeth is a great place to visit.

IKEA is along IKEA Drive, accessed through North Avenue.

Interior of IKEA
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Party on Wheels through the Chivas Bus Tour

Is clubbing or bar-hopping too common for you? Elizabeth's got you, as its nightlife also features the quirky Chivas Bus Tour.

The Chivas Bus Tour, which can accommodate around 45 people, is an authentic Latino party bus that goes around town and beyond Elizabeth, depending on the service.

The bus has a loud and festive Latino design from the outside.

Its interiors are quirky yet comfortable, urging you to party all night.

Of course, the party bus also has a wide range of drinks and music.

The party typically goes for around four hours, touring Elizabeth.

If you have a special occasion or wish to party with a large group of friends, then the Chivas Bus Tour is a great way to enjoy it.

You can arrange your pickup with the company by contacting them ahead of time.

Learn About Agriculture at Groundwork Elizabeth

Are you interested in agriculture?

How about sustainable farming?

Maybe you're concerned about the environment?

Groundwork Elizabeth is a non-profit organization with a micro-farm and greenhouse that promotes all of these, and it might be worth checking out.

The micro-farm has several events throughout the year but focuses extensively on providing immersive and service-based learning.

Urban farming, water conservation, and climate resilience are some of their specialties.

You can visit the warm and welcoming micro-farm and greenhouse of Groundwork Elizabeth at 1st Street near Mattano Park.

Splurge at the Mills at Jersey Gardens

Welcome sign of the Mills at Jersey Gardens
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

If you're not yet content with a trip to IKEA, perhaps your next destination is The Mills at Jersey Gardens.

The Mills at Jersey Gardens is New Jersey's biggest indoor outlet mall.

It should have a little bit of everything for the avid shopper.

Because of the Urban Enterprise Zone, you get 0% taxes on clothing and shoe purchases!

Interior of the Mills at Jersey Gardens
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Some of the famous retailers are Nike, Adidas, Victoria's Secret, Bed Bath & Beyond, Marshall's, Bloomingdale's, and Michael Kors.

There are more activities here, such as a wide array of dining options and an AMC IMAX theater.

Drop by the supersized Mills at Jersey Gardens through Kapkowski Road near Elizabeth River and Port Newark.

Shops in the Mills at Jersey Gardens
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Other Things to Do Nearby

Get Lost in Warinanco Park's Fun Activities

Lake at Warinanco Park
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Warinanco Park is one of the biggest recreational spaces in the city.

Renowned architect Frederick Olmsted designed the park.

Olmstead also designed the world-famous Central Park in New York City.

Stretching 200-plus acres containing a beautiful lake, its outdoor space is a haven for all sports enthusiasts.

It has pull-running trails, soccer fields, and a cycling circuit.

Vibrant tulips at Warinanco Park
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Likewise, it has boats for rent and fishing spots along its lake.

Warinanco Park also has a sports complex with an ice-skating rink.

Are you worried about the kids?

The park also has a splash area for them to enjoy.

The Warinanco Park is a cousin of New York City's Central Square, located in Roselle, New Jersey, five minutes from Elizabeth.

Magnolia blossoms at Warinanco Park
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Final Thoughts

Elizabeth is a fun and bustling urban community with rich historical roots from the 19th and 20th centuries.

It's also a fantastic place to do many recreational activities thanks to the Elizabeth River and its well-maintained parks.

When the sun comes down, its multicultural nightlife is a haven, whether you're a partygoer or a chill drinker.

If you're planning a trip to the New York City area, let this list of the best things to do in Elizabeth, New Jersey guide you through your adventure!

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