20 Free Things to Do in Jersey City, NJ

Jersey City, NJ

Welcome to Jersey City, a haven for budget-conscious explorers!
This vibrant and eclectic urban gem offers countless activities that won't cost a dime.

Marvel at the mesmerizing views of the Manhattan skyline, take in the diverse art exhibits, or enjoy the lively music festivals - the many faces of Jersey City are sure to captivate.

This guide is designed to help visitors delve into the city's rich history and thriving culture, all while keeping a close eye on the budget.

Get ready to embark on a journey through the best things to do in Jersey City, New Jersey!

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Alma Merrick, Della Huey, Mavis Dunlap, Rafael Diaz, Robin Kelly, Joanne Heitz and Helena Hooper.

Make a Getaway to Liberty State Park Walkway

Daytime view of Liberty State Park Walkway
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I've always found solace in places encouraging a slow pace, where you can escape the city's noise and breathe.

The Liberty State Park Walkway is precisely that for me. It's become my sanctuary, a place that never fails to offer a sense of peace.

My open invitation to tranquility is the wide, clean pathway stretching out before me.

Every week, like clockwork, you'll find me there, walking along the board, taking in the fantastic sights of New York City from a distance.

It doesn't matter whether the weather is in my favor or not, good days or bad.

I'm there, strolling at my own pace, enjoying the feeling of freedom that this walkway generously offers.

It's also a joy to bike here, and there's plenty of space for everyone.

People along Liberty State Park Walkway
Robi Jaffrey / Shutterstock.com

With ample parking available at the state park parking lot, I never have to worry about where to leave my vehicle.

And did I mention the breathtaking views?

My weekly walks accompany the awe-inspiring sights of the city that never sleeps.

It's a beautiful sight to share with your family as well.

Trust me, you wouldn't want to miss it.

If you want to join me sometime or wish to experience this tranquility, here's where you can find the Liberty State Park Walkway.

I hope it becomes a sanctuary for you, too.

Take a Peaceful Stroll Through the Grove of Remembrance

The other day, I strolled through the Grove of Remembrance, feeling the peace and tranquility enveloping the area.

It's not your typical bustling city park but a place where quiet coexists with the memories of those we've lost.

This grove has small trails perfect for a quiet walk or even a run if you're up for it.

As I meandered along these pathways, I found myself surrounded by the beauty of nature.

I particularly enjoy visiting the grove in spring, when the trees are bursting with life, and the skyline looks stunning from this vantage point.

This grove reminds us of lives lost through the years.

The tribute stone at the heart of the Grove is etched with the names of those we remember, adding a profound significance to its tranquility.

This is a place where memories live, where we can take a moment to remember and honor the ones who are no longer with us.

Although it's not a "destination" per se, visiting the Grove of Remembrance offers a serene pause on the journey.

It's a spot in which you may find yourself spending only a few minutes, but those moments are sure to be filled with reflection and peace.

From this humble grove, the view extends beyond the greenery to the lower Manhattan skyline, offering a stunning juxtaposition of quiet natural beauty and the bustling city beyond.

A visit to the Grove of Remembrance is a poignant reminder of our past, present, and future convergence.

It is a beautiful spot to cherish and a peaceful pause in our busy lives.

Remember a Tragedy at the Empty Sky Memorial

View of Empty Sky Memorial
365 Focus Photography / Shutterstock.com

Every afternoon, I walk along the waterfront, often leading to one of my favorite spots, the Empty Sky Memorial.

It's here where I pause from my routine and take a moment to honor New Jersey's victims of 9/11 etched onto the steel walls.

These walls seem to reach Ground Zero, making it an emotionally powerful and profound site.

On weekends, the memorial gets lively with the visitors who've missed their ferry to the Statue of Liberty or are waiting for their return journey.

It’s moving to see them resting here, taking in the beauty of the World Trade Centre from here.

It also invites a fair share of water sports enthusiasts, making the place vibrant and energetic.

Closer view of the panels at Empty Sky Memorial
365 Focus Photography / Shutterstock.com

It usually costs around $7, but the tranquility that engulfs you here makes it worth every penny.

You'll often see couples posing against these metallic walls, capturing their special moments.

As someone who has witnessed countless sunsets here, I can say the backdrop of the setting sun reflecting on these walls can create some genuinely mesmerizing photographs.

What I truly love about this place is the energy it holds. Despite its purpose as a memorial, it does not envelop you in sadness.

Instead, it fills you with strength, resilience, and unity.

And that is what makes my daily visits to Empty Sky Memorial an enriching and humbling experience.

Night view of the Empty Sky Memorial
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Unwind at Beacon Park

Every city has its hidden gems; in my neck of the woods, it's Beacon Park.

This place offers a fantastic view and gives a sense of community, which is difficult to find in a city like this.

Just a short visit to Beacon Park will convince you of its charm.

This park is located within a luxury apartment complex, acting as a sanctuary for the residents.

I often find myself going there after a long day at work.

The tranquility and calmness it offers are indescribable.

I love sitting near the campfire, sometimes alone and sometimes with friends.

One of the things I love about Beacon Park is that it caters to everyone - from kids to elders, there's something for everyone.

Two firepits are perfect for those chilly nights when all you want to do is toast marshmallows and make memories.

And let's not forget about the four BBQ grills available for everyone's use.

It's always fun to have a cookout with friends and neighbors.

While the park may not be open for unlicensed access, it hosts several events yearly. It's during these times when the park truly comes alive.

From barbecues to music festivals, there's always something exciting happening.

To me, Beacon Park is a place where I can unwind, relax, and enjoy life's simple pleasures.

So whenever you're in the area, drop by Beacon Park. You won't regret it.

Experience the Charm of Liberty State Park

Statue of liberty at Liberty State Park
ELEPHOTOS / Shutterstock.com

I've always felt fortunate to call Liberty State Park my local haunt.

This verdant oasis, tucked away amidst the bustling cityscape, offers a striking juxtaposition that never ceases to amaze me.

Every morning, I lace up my sneakers and head towards the park, ready to inhale the crisp, fresh air and soak in the breathtaking panorama of Manhattan, the proud Statue of Liberty, and the historic Ellis Island.

There's no better way to start the day than a stroll on Liberty State Park's miles of tree-lined walkways.

But the park is a bustling hive of activity.

Whether families galloping around the wide-open spaces, flying kites, or having picnics, there's never a dull moment here.

Speaking of picnics, the park even provides picnic tables and grills – perfect for a weekend BBQ.

Trail at Liberty State Park
Mariusz Lopusiewicz / Shutterstock.com

Don't worry about parking; there's plenty of space for that, too.

My favorite spot is the Flag Plaza, where the view of Lady Liberty is unmatched.

One thing that makes this park a gem is its immaculate upkeep.

For anyone who hasn't had the chance to experience the tranquillity of Liberty State Park, I'd say you're missing out.

This place truly has magic, and I couldn't be more grateful to have it in my backyard.

Promenade at Liberty State Park
Edi Chen / Shutterstock.com

Explore the Wonders of The Interpretive Center

I always had a knack for exploring, and recently, I've found a hidden gem right in the heart of Liberty State Park - a small yet fascinating spot known as The Interpretive Center.

Despite its size, the center is brimming with interactive displays designed to engage the senses and spark the creative corners of the mind.

Children's faces light up as they discover, learn, and explore through puzzles, match games, and hands-on craft activities.

Perhaps one of the most remarkable features is the building itself.

It was designed by the famed architect Michael Graves and has been beautifully restored to house the exhibits.

The center is in the middle of an alluring wetland environment, surrounded by picturesque trails that are a treat for nature lovers.

Moreover, there's a small Monarch butterfly nursery, binoculars for wildlife watching, and even refreshing AC, making it a perfect stop for exploring Liberty State Park.

This center has quickly become one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon.

Whether you’re a local or a tourist, this place is a must-visit if you're ever in the area.

Make a Peaceful Escape to J Owen Grundy Park

Entrance to J Owen Grundy Park
Sindii / Shutterstock.com

Living in the city can be pretty stressful, but my escape has always been the J Owen Grundy Park.

There's something about standing on that riverfront pier, the cool breeze gently tugging at my clothes, as I gaze out at the grandeur of the NYC skyline.

It's spectacular. You can see the towering buildings, the shimmering lights, and a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty on a clear day in the distance.

No matter how often I go there, it's a sight that never gets old.

Interestingly, the park isn't just a great spot for soaking up the views.

It's also a social hub where you'll find many activities happening.

From game tables for those who fancy a round of chess to the pavilion that often hosts festivals and shows, there's always something engaging to do.

One of the greatest pleasures I've had was witnessing an impromptu performance by an acapella group right there at the park.

Their harmonious voices blended with the city's soft murmur, creating a beautiful symphony.

Sitting area at J Owen Grundy Park
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

Another favorite pastime of mine at the park is watching the day transition into night.

It's a magical time when the city lights twinkle like stars mirroring the night sky.

The reflection on the water adds another layer of beauty to the breathtaking view.

If you have kids, they'll love the playground nearby.

It's a safe place for them to run around and have fun while you relax and enjoy the scenery.

Plus, plenty of outdoor seating is available when you want to sit down, read a book, or watch the world go by.

It's my peaceful escape amidst the city chaos, a little slice of tranquility where I can be myself.

View from J Owen Grundy Park
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Take a Stroll Through Hamilton Park

Every time I lace up my shoes and embark on my daily trot around Hamilton Park, I can't help but fall in love with it all over again.

The flurry of cherry blossoms in the spring that carpeted the ground is etched in my heart forever.

It is well-maintained and always neat, making for a delightful walk around the beautiful block.

But Hamilton Park isn't just a spectacle in spring. It's a year-round delight.

It boasts gleaming tennis and basketball courts, a charming gazebo, and a striking fountain that's the cynosure of all eyes.

My kids adore the playground and the splash pod, but it gets pretty crowded in the afternoons when the weather is fine.

One of my favorite activities is the farmers market on Wednesdays, which runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., from May through November.

It's as if the park dons a festive look, with vendors selling the freshest produce, and it's an excellent opportunity to mingle with fellow residents.

Hamilton Park is Jersey City's small green island, an oasis in the city's bustle.

It's quiet, friendly, and equipped with everything one can ask for a day out in the open.

Whether you're a family, a pet lover, a sports enthusiast, or just someone searching for a serene spot to lay down your picnic blanket, Hamilton Park is a green and clean sanctuary for rest and fun.

Take it from me, you won't be disappointed!

Visit Riverview-Fisk Park

Men playing Basketball at Riverview Fisk Park
stockelements / Shutterstock.com

You can't beat a weekend morning at Riverview-Fisk Park.

The morning dew, the breathtaking Manhattan skyline, and the tranquil vibe that sets in as I watch the sunrise from the park's gazebo - there's something magical in the air.

Having lived in the city for years, I've realized there's no better place to start your day than at this park.

The view of New York across the river is something out of a postcard, more so at sunrise and sunset. It truly offers a fantastic panorama of the city.

Since this park is near some tremendous local joints, I often grab coffee from the nearby shop and enjoy it while relishing the morning calm.

The park is always buzzing with activity - kids playing around in the playground, joggers taking their morning run, and sometimes, martial arts classes that take place.

View of Riverview Fisk Park
stockelements / Shutterstock.com

One of the park's highlights must be the Sunday farmer's market. Think fresh produce, homemade goods, and a lively community spirit.

There's nothing like strolling around the stalls on a sunny summer day, eyeing the fresh produce while live music plays in the background.

I remember one particular Sunday when a live reggae band was playing.

Even though it was a little rainy, I didn't mind because the observation deck's roof provided a perfect shelter.

So whether you're looking for a romantic picnic spot, a place to work out, or a serene place to unwind, Riverview-Fisk Park has got you covered.

It's genuinely one of the best places in Jersey to experience New York without crossing the Hudson.

Photoshoot at Riverview Fisk Park
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Take a Stroll Down Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza

Sometimes, it feels like the heartbeat of Jersey City pulses right under my feet as I walk down the charismatic Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza.

The energy is infectious, and it's hard not to get caught up.

During the day, it's a bustling hub of activity, but it's in the evenings and holidays when the place truly comes alive.

One of the highlights of the Plaza is its eclectic collection of restaurants, pubs, and shops. It's a food lover's paradise!

You can find everything from fast food to sit-down meals, from all-American burgers to spicy Mexican.

There's even a pet shop for my dog and a yoga center where I sometimes seek some zen among the chaos.

What I love the most about the plaza is that something is always happening.

Events are held on the street throughout the year, turning it into a vibrant stage.

But my favorite time is during the peaceful afternoons when I can sit at one of the many outdoor cafés, savor a coffee, and watch the world go by.

Moments like these make me fall in love with the city all over again.

Spend a Morning by the Lefrak Point Lighthouse

Stunning view of Lefrak Point Lighthouse
John Penney / Shutterstock.com

Every time I wake up to the dawn's fresh haze and the city's quiet hum, I find myself drawn to the Lefrak Point Lighthouse.

An unusual gem in bustling Newport, it's become my sanctuary amidst the urban noise.

Its peculiar charm lies not in its functionality as a lighthouse but in the memories and experiences it facilitates.

However, we love it because it is a beacon for our community, a symbol of this peaceful corner in our city.

Here's where you'll find us, embracing the sunrise with a warm cup of coffee or bidding the day goodbye under the sunset's fiery hues.

A well-kept walkway surrounds the lighthouse, perfect for a morning jog or a leisurely stroll with your pet.

Pathway near the Lefrak Point Lighthouse
Mariusz Lopusiewicz / Shutterstock.com

We make good use of those benches flanking the pathway, enjoying the breathtaking view of New York City's skyline and the river's serene waters.

There's nothing quite like watching the city's towering buildings bathed in the light of dawn or dusk.

We often find ourselves bringing visitors to the Lefrak Point Lighthouse.

It might not offer the tradition of exploration that other lighthouses do, but it provides a unique perspective on our city.

From this vantage point, you see the city for what it is - full of life yet capable of tranquility.

So, whether you consider it a genuine lighthouse or just a quaint architectural feature, it's undoubtedly a place that brings us a sense of peace and a connection to our city that is hard to find elsewhere.

Visit Pershing Field Park

I've spent many of my afternoons at Pershing Field Park, a local favorite nestled right here in Jersey City Heights.

This park truly has something for everyone.

Youngsters conquer climbing ropes, and elders share stories on park benches.

It's also an ideal spot for anyone needing a quick jog or a peaceful walk.

The park's amenities are as diverse as its visitors.

With an ice rink, a pool, and a playground, it's a great place to keep the kids entertained while you enjoy fresh air.

And let's not forget about the sports fields and courts that are always alive with friendly competition.

In the summer, Pershing Field Park is buzzing with activity.

It's so large that some folks have called it "Central Park."

The fountains are a beautiful sight when they're working, although they can be a bit unpredictable.

Although there's no basketball court, the park has enough rides and play areas to keep the kids happy.

And while it's true that there aren't any restrooms available, the park's size and open space more than make up for it.

The park is especially popular with the local Indian community, although it is a melting pot of cultures.

During the winter, the crowds thin out a bit, but the park maintains its charm.

Discover for yourself why it's a beloved spot among us locals.

Check Out the Colgate Clock

View of Colgate Clock
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When the city's hustle and bustle becomes overwhelming, and I need a break from the concrete jungle, I always gravitate towards the Colgate Clock.

This enormous, timeless riverfront clock sits near the old Colgate-Palmolive headquarters, a nod to our city's rich history.

Nothing beats a long, leisurely walk around this area.

It's not just the clock that grabs your attention; the panorama of New York City it frames is stunning.

You can see the cityscape's iconic skyline gleaming under the sun during the day and brilliantly lit up when the sun goes down. Indeed, it is a sight to behold!

I usually jog there, and let me tell you, the views are a rejuvenating sight for sore eyes.

Aerial view of Colgate Clock
Idealphotographer / Shutterstock.com

You can almost forget you're right next to one of the busiest cities in the world.

Like me, if you're lucky, you can grab coffee from the nearby Starbucks or Dunkin and sit, savoring the view with a warm brew.

And don't worry, there are plenty of seats around, and if nature calls, the nearest restroom is just inside the Paulus Hook ferry terminal.

Every visit to the Colgate Clock reminds us to slow down, breathe, and appreciate the beauty surrounding us.

So, if you're in the city and need a break, I wholeheartedly recommend this place. You'll thank me later!

Find Serenity at Jersey City Reservoir #3

Sometimes, amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, I stumble upon a quiet haven where I can escape, even for just a few hours.

That place is Jersey City Reservoir #3.

The reservoir, teeming with tranquility, has served as my sanctuary since 2004.

]ekends are delightful at the reservoir. With kayaking available, paddling through the calm waters is a thrill.

It's a delight to see families enjoying themselves, kids laughing, and dogs running around in the dog park.

On some days, when I feel like I need some quiet time, I bring a book along.

There's nothing quite like finding a comfortable spot and immersing myself in a good story with the beautiful reservoir as my backdrop.

I've also found joy in fishing here.

There's something inherently calming about waiting for a bite, the gentle lapping of the water against the shore, and the occasional bird chirping in the distance.

And despite being in the middle of the city, the reservoir offers an unexpected serenity.

It's this hidden gem that makes me appreciate the beauty of nature, even in urban settings.

I highly recommend that you take a moment to visit and experience the magic of Jersey City Reservoir #3.

Enjoy Weekends at Van Vorst Park

View of the Van Vrost Park
Hudconja, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the things I cherish about living in Jersey City is the tranquillity and community feeling that Van Vorst Park provides.

You can find the park by visiting the City's official website or just strolling around the historic downtown area of Jersey City.

When it's scorching, one of my favorite things to do is take my kids to the splash pad at the park.

Just the right amount of fun and refreshing makes the unbearable summer heat a joyous time.

While the little ones enjoy their time, I usually find a shade-covered bench and dive into a book, only interrupted by the occasional laughter and cheerful screams of children playing.

As a dog owner, I also relish having a dedicated dog run at Van Vorst.

Gazebo at Van Vrost Park
AtsushiJC, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It's a great spot to let my furry friend burn some energy and make new friends.

What truly sets this park apart is the Saturday farmer's market.

It's the community hub of Jersey City, where you can find fresh, locally sourced produce and homemade products.

I make it a point to visit weekly to support local vendors and get my hands on the freshest fruits, vegetables, and baked goods.

Van Vorst Park is a community anchor offering tranquillity in the bustling city.

Craft exhibits at Van Vrost Park
AtsushiJC, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spend an Afternoon at Leonard Gordon Park

The vista of the Hackensack Valley from Leonard Gordon Park is unmatched.

It's one of those scenes that just never gets old, no matter how many times you've seen it before.

For those who haven't enjoyed visiting, the park is a haven of lush greenery nestled in our urban environment.

My favorite thing about the park is the towering trees.

Some of them are nearly as old as the city itself, reaching heights of over 90 feet.

It's awe-inspiring to stand beneath them and think about all the years they've stood there.

The lawns, dotted with these ancient sentinels, undulate with rolling hills perfect for a stroll or an afternoon picnic.

The park is also home to some remarkable animal sculptures crafted by the talented artist Borglum.

Moreover, the buffalo and bear, in particular, are truly striking.

If you're anything like me, you'll find yourself returning to admire them repeatedly.

There's a play area for the kids that's always buzzing with activity.

In the summer, adults can listen to orchestral performances every other week.

There's nothing quite like the experience of listening to a symphony float through the air as the sun sets and the cool breeze drifts in.

The park is always peaceful to while away an hour or two.

From the cricket games in the open areas (shout-out to our local Indian community who regularly play there) to the squirrels darting around to the quiet serenity of the walking paths, Leonard Gordon Park truly is a gem in the heart of our city.

Explore Art at Mana Contemporary

Exterior view of Mana Contemporary
Hudconja, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favorite pastimes is wandering around the Mana Contemporary.

Its numerous galleries house unique art pieces that constantly surprise and fascinate me.

I remember being particularly struck by the fluorescent lighting exhibit.

It was like a visual trickery of round lights that morphed from white to orange in my photographs.

The optical illusions stirred up a sense of wonder and intrigue in me, making the whole experience utterly unforgettable.

Aside from the exhibits, what I also love about Mana Contemporary is its commitment to fostering the local and regional art scene.

The place is buzzing with creativity, and seeing the works of flourishing artists showcased is thrilling.

Entrance to Mana Contemporary
Selenawrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mana Contemporary, with its diverse art exhibits and vibrant energy, truly exemplifies the thriving art culture of our city.

It's not just a gallery but also a testament to the flourishing talent in our region.

Every time I visit, I feel a sense of pride in the rich artistic heritage of our local community.

Dance art at Mana Contemporary
Shenweidancearts, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy the Day at Morris Canal Park

Skyline views from Morris Canal Park
Julio Macias / Shutterstock.com

There's something incredibly calming about starting my day at Morris Canal Park, a quaint little green oasis in the heart of our bustling city.

Sitting on one of the park benches, I am captivated by the panoramic view of the New York City skyline, which never ceases to take my breath away.

I watch the sunrise, painting the sky in hues of pink and orange, the cityscape slowly coming to life.

Often, I take my kids and our friendly furball along for these early walks.

They've made a fun game out of collecting little stones along the riverbank.

On sunny afternoons, we spread a picnic blanket and enjoy an alfresco lunch under the clear blue sky.

It's an excellent spot for a family day out, with plenty of space for kids to run around and play and for our dog to chase after his favorite ball.

But it's not just the stunning vistas that make this park unique.

If you're a history buff like me, you'd appreciate the faded interpretive signs across the park.

They speak of a bygone era when this area was a bustling canal hub.

Whether the tranquil mornings, the family picnics, or the intriguing history, there's always a reason to visit Morris Canal Park.

And each visit leaves me with a renewed appreciation for this little gem in our city.

Final Thoughts

I can't help but feel grateful for the abundance of free activities and stunning sights that our city has to offer.

These places are not just landmarks but a part of our identity, and I find myself falling in love with Jersey City all over again every time I visit.

So, here's to our beautiful city and the adventures that await us in its every corner.

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