Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Newark, NJ

  • Published 2021/12/09

Newark in New Jersey is well-known for being a great alternative to the busier Manhattan.

With just an hour’s drive west of Manhattan across Hudson, you can treat yourself to a short excursion filled with scenic parks, museums, international cuisines, sports, and entertainment, all found within a bustling city.

Despite being the most populous city in New Jersey with around 300,000 inhabitants, Newark maintained its charm as a vibrant neighborhood of different ethnicities.

Visiting this city is worth your effort and time as you can roam around the state’s most extensive museum or stroll beside the scenic Passaic River.

Or perhaps explore its diverse neighborhood with dozens of food shacks and hole-in-the-wall restaurants that serve delicious gourmet cuisines from different parts of the world.

Newark is also home to a world-famous symphony orchestra and modern contemporary artists who thrive in this city.

This city’s unique heritage, art, and cuisine are combined to create a wonderful multicultural community that will surely provide you with a whole new travel experience.

If you don’t know what to do in this great city, here are the 15 best things to do in Newark:

Witness the Charming Cherry Blossoms at the Branch Brook Park

View of  Branch Brook Park

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Aside from Military Park, another pocket of urban space in Newark that you can visit is Branch Brook Park.

This 359-acre park is popularly known for having hundreds of cherry blossom trees spread throughout this place.

People frequently visit this place because of its picturesque cherry blossom trees that bloom every April covering the entire park with a sea of light fuchsia pink.

View of  Branch Brook Park

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To celebrate this beautiful natural occurrence, people hold the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in April, similar to that of celebrated in Japan.

The Branch Brook Park is at & Park Avenue, Lake St, Newark, NJ.

Explore the Grammy Museum Experience

The Prudential Center also houses one of the top attractions in Newark, the Grammy Museum Experience.

It’s where most of the memorabilia from iconic artists of New Jersey are well-kept through its interactive exhibits.

The museum, which occupies 8,200-square feet of space in Prudential Center, opened its doors in 2017.

Since then, thousands of music lovers have visited there to look at the memorabilia from famous musicians.

Furthermore, the museum educates visitors about American music history and heritage while encouraging aspiring musicians and artists.

The Grammy Museum Experience is open the entire week from 11 am to 6 pm.

Watch Live Performances at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Front View of New Jersey Performing Arts Center


For more than two decades, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark has remained one of the most magnificent performing arts centers in the Garden State.

The New Jersey Performing Arts at 1 Center St, Newark, still hosts major theatrical and musical performances from homegrown to international talents.

It also hosts events like the regular jazz festival, stand-up comedy shows, R&B gigs, jazz sessions, and classical ensemble, which all draw a massive crowd from the greater Garden State area and the neighboring New York.

To find out about the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s upcoming shows, visit their official website.

Front View of New Jersey Performing Arts Center


Unwind at the Riverfront Park

The Riverfront Park is perfectly nestled beside Passaic River bend and slowly turns around Newark’s central district.

It’s perhaps Newark’s best place to chill and stroll around while watching the sunset while being replaced with the city lights after dark.

From an ordinary boardwalk, the Riverfront Park got transformed into a famous attraction in Newark through several renovations.

Spending an hour or two there will surely alleviate any stress from your mind and body.

You can do several outdoor activities like jogging or strolling on its boardwalk.

Also, the Riverfront Park is where most of Newark’s festivals and community activities happen every summer.

You can access the park’s entrance at Somme Street.

Take Photos at the Military Park

View of Military Park

Felix Lipov /

The Military Park is Newark’s oldest and well-preserved urban green space.

It’s perfectly situated in the middle of Newark’s downtown and a stone’s throw away from major attractions, such as the New Jersey Historical Society and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

The place has a historical significance since it was once a staging area for Union soldiers during the American Civil War.

Eventually, it turned into the city’s main focal point as the years passed.

View of Military Park

Felix Lipov /

Don’t miss taking photos of the Wars of America edifice and the John F. Kennedy bust when visiting the Military Park.

To visit this park in Newark, it is at 51 Park Pl, Newark, NJ.

The Military Park is open from 7 am to 9 pm daily.

Indulge in Delicious Food at Spanish Tavern

Newark’s culture is diverse, and it translates to the food served in most of its restaurants.

If you want to dive into Newark’s diverse culinary flavor, head to the Spanish Tavern at 103 McWhorter St A, Newark, NJ.

The Spanish Tavern is a family-run restaurant famous for its authentic and traditional Spanish Paella and its delectable seafood cuisine.

They are well-known for being the best Spanish restaurant in the city.

When you’re planning to dine there, don’t miss out on trying their best sellers and fresh seafood cooked the authentic Spanish way.

Plus, the dining experience in this restaurant virtually feels like home because of its cozy atmosphere.

The Spanish Tavern starts serving from 11:30 am to 10L00 pm daily.

Treat Yourself to Delicious Food at the Nico Kitchen and Bar, Newark

The Nico Kitchen and Bar is one of Newark’s largest restaurants inside the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

It can fit around 200 people while more than 60 can fit in at their bar.

The restaurant is often packed, especially during lunch and nighttime.

The restaurant maintained its elegant and cozy dining experience despite being packed with people.

Since this restaurant is frequently packed with diners, you can book a reservation or be there before it opens at 3 pm daily.

Be Amazed by the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart’s Architecture

View of Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart's Architecture

Jim.henderson, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The towering Gothic design of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart serves as the main attraction in Branch Brook Park in Newark, aside from the cherry blossom trees.

This massive church is one of the country’s biggest basilicas.

Its construction took 29 years to complete after it started dating back to 1898, wherein the builders meticulously followed a medieval Gothic style for its design.

View of Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart's Architecture

Bestbudbrian, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The long construction created beautiful French medieval spires and Anglo-inspired flying buttresses, commonly found in European churches.

The basilica is so massive it is seen from a distance through its 71-meter towers.

While inside, you can pray, reflect, or just be amazed by its beautiful architecture.

This iconic church in Newark is at 89 Ridge St, Newark, NJ, adjacent to Branch Brook Park.

Have a Unique Dining Experience at the Priory Restaurant and Jazz Club

This restaurant’s uniqueness comes from its building, a former church, the St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, along Hudson St.

Aside from being a restaurant operating inside a former church, the Priory is also famous for its jazz music.

Crowds usually gather every Friday night for their musical performances and parties.

Also, the restaurant is packed with people every Sunday for their famous brunch cooked the traditional Cajun and Creole way.

The Priory Restaurant and Jazz Club are run by the New Community Corporation, which offers employment and training for locals in Newark.

It also aims to keep Newark’s jazz culture alive with its regular musical performances.

The Priory Restaurant and Jazz Club are open from 9 in the morning.

Uncover Newark’s Rich History With the New Jersey Historical Society

Front View of New Jersey Historical Society

Siddharth Patil, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Across the Military Park is the New Jersey Historical Society, a museum in downtown Newark.

The building, which is the former Essex Club, has been listed by the United States National Register of Historic Places.

It has a Georgian design that stands out among the buildings along Park Place St.

The entire museum has two stories featuring exhibits that house artifacts, artworks, photographs, equipment, and other memorabilia of Newark’s past.

Also, it has a lecture hall, a library, and a gift shop which you can visit.

After you finish roaming around the museum, you can sign up with the New Jersey Historical Society’s walking tours to further explore Newark’s history through its landmarks, old buildings, streets, and culture.

To visit this Newark attraction, it’s at 52 Park Pl, Newark, NJ.

The New Jersey Historical Society is open from 10 am to 5 pm but is closed every Sunday to Monday.

Listen to the Harmonious New Jersey Symphony Orchestra

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is known across the Garden State and worldwide.

The group has been performing worldwide for nearly a century after its founding in 1922.

They regularly perform at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and perform across six other venues in New Jersey.

Watching a live performance of this renowned group is an extraordinary experience you shouldn’t miss.

To watch one of their live performances, visit their admin office at office 60 Park Place, Suite 900, Newark.

Or perhaps, visit their official website to see their list of events.

Learn Newark’s History at the Newark Museum of Art

Font View of Newark Museum of Art

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This century-old museum in the center of Newark City is not just New Jersey’s most extensive museum but a major hub for diversity, arts, and culture.

It’s along Washington St. in Newark’s downtown area, so it’s highly accessible if you want to start your travel adventure there.

Its collection includes ancient artifacts, ancient art, decorative art, contemporary art, and more.

Its main highlight is its Tibetan galleries that feature Dalai Lama’s consecrated Buddhist altar, along with other significant religious collections of Buddhist artifacts.

The Victoria Hall is where you can see the museum’s natural sciences department, which houses more than 70,000 specimens and a huge planetarium.

The Newark Museum of Art is open from Thursday to Sunday (10 am to 5 pm) but is closed every Monday to Wednesday.

Stroll Around the Vibrant Ironbound Neighborhood

The entire four-square-mile Ironbound neighborhood in Newark is a community that has multi-ethnic working-class who thrive in the city.

Despite being a residential area, Ironbound has more than a hundred food shacks and hole-in-the-wall restaurants that offer a diverse set of cuisines ranging from Asian, European, Spanish, Cuban, and Cajun.

You can visit and try different cuisines from some of the best restaurants in Ironbound, such as the Adega Grill, Iberia, Fornos of Spain, The Taste of Brazil, Krug’s Tavern, and Wilson Ave. BBQ.

Or perhaps, explore the neighborhood on your own and discover hidden gems along the way.

Watch Exciting Live Games at the Prudential Center

View of Prudential Center

Benjamin Clapp /

The Prudential Center in Newark is the city’s main sports venue.

This massive multi-purpose indoor arena can accommodate as many as 20,000 people.

After it opened in 2007, it already hosted countless sports events, specifically the National Hockey League (NHL) featuring the home team, New Jersey Devils, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Seton Hall Pirates.

View of Prudential Center

Christopher Penler /

Also called “The Rock” by locals, this arena hosts musical concerts and other special events throughout the year.

After it opened, the arena became a vital part of Newark’s effort to revitalize its downtown.

Dig Into Delicious International Cuisine at Manu’s Kitchen Bar & Sushi Lounge

Situated in the vibrant Ironbound neighborhood, Manu’s Kitchen Bar & Sushi Lounge is a popular dining spot in Newark that is a must-try.

The restaurant is located in a well-preserved old building in the predominantly Portuguese and Spanish community in Ironbound.

The restaurant serves Italian and Japanese dishes in its elegant and cozy two-level dining area.

If you want open-air dining, they have sidewalk tables outside the restaurant.

Their Portuguese Chorizo and their Mediterranean sushi fusion are must-try on their menu.

Manu’s Kitchen Bar & Sushi Lounge is at 90 Ferry St, Newark, NJ, and they start serving their scrumptious food from 2 pm to 12 midnight.

Final Thoughts

Newark is a perfectly balanced city with a diverse multi-ethnic culture that you can experience through its neighborhood, food, and arts.

With its proximity to New York and its accessibility to an international airport, Newark allows you to explore its hidden gems and attractions anytime you want.

Whenever you’re ready to visit Newark, don’t forget to revisit this post and check out the list’s 15 best things to do in this great city.

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