Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Passaic, NJ

  • Published 2023/02/21

The quaint but historic city of Passaic is one of the hidden recreational gems in New Jersey.

Though it’s not as large as cities like Newark and Paterson, its distinct set of tourist attractions is all worthwhile in its way.

Known as The Birthplace of Television, Passaic was home to the first television station that broadcast a feature film.

When it comes to music, this city also has a few achievements, including being the hometown of the girl group the Shirelles, who became Hall of Famers.

Settled in 1679, Passaic became known for its textile production, too!

These are only some of the things that Passaic proudly wears on its sleeve, and rightfully so.

However, the real magic of this city in Passaic County is its affordability and low-cost spots.

Below are some free things to do in Passaic, New Jersey, to help guide you on your next adventure to this city.

Study the Architecture of the St. John Lutheran Church

Exterior of St. John Lutheran Church

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Around Passaic’s every street and corner, there’s an exciting story about the past you would want to know.

This is also true for St. John Lutheran Church.

This church has been officially part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1982.

Founded by German immigrants in 1891 and built in 1896, this site is a prime example of a High Victorian German architectural site.

Its pointed spires and dim-colored exterior have caught many passersby’s attention.

St. John Lutheran Church offers religious and community-oriented services for everyone on Lexington Avenue.

Admire the Greenscapes at Third Ward Park

The refreshing greenscapes of Third Ward Park are why visitors visit this site repeatedly.

Nicknamed the “Crown Jewel” of Passaic, this park offers a bridge for people to connect with nature.

This retreat is dog-friendly, with vast canopies of trees offering relaxing shade and a duck pond with stunning water vistas.

Play around with your kids at the large expanses of grass, or even sit down for a picnic at the park’s designated areas.

No matter what you do, Third Ward Park between Passaic Avenue & Van Houten Avenue always has your public recreation preferences in mind.

Enjoy Nature at the River Walk at Dundee Island Park

Dundee Island Park on Veterans Court is one public space you should watch out for a while in Passaic.

This park’s amenities include a community garden, a sculpture park, and a children’s playground.

But what makes this park shine is its charming River Walk.

Take your partner for a romantic stroll at the River Walk and spot a few birds while taking in the sights and sounds of the river below.

There’s also a seasonal splash pad for everyone to enjoy when summertime comes.

Bring the whole family for a fun and active day at Dundee Island Park!

Admire the Historical Monument at Armory Park

Armory Park might be your best bet if you prefer a historical adventure while having fun outdoors.

Known for its National WWI Memorial, this park offers a glimpse into the fascinating stories of the city’s past.

Check out the large monument on your visit.

Armory Park also features a gated dog area for your little pets to socialize with other breeds and spend a day in the sun.

There are park benches and tables within the site to rest your legs after a tiring day wandering the city or playing with your energetic dogs.

Drive over to Gregory Avenue to reach this natural park property.

Play Sports at Christopher Columbus Park

Are you craving a sports-focused break while being in the midst of nature?

Then, Christopher Columbus Park might be the spot for you.

This park contains a vast open field space for major league sports practices like baseball and soccer.

Its playground has fences, so your little ones can play to their heart’s content, and you can worry less about their safety.

The walking paths surrounding the field are ideal for your quiet and reflective strolls.

Christopher Columbus Park is on Paulison Avenue, should you care to visit.

Take a Photo of the Historic Buildings of Passaic

Aycrigg Mansion at Passaic

KForce at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of Passaic’s endearing qualities is its prominent preservation of history, even in its streets.

This is why when you come by this city on vacation, free your schedule for a building and architecture tour of the city’s downtown districts.

Included in the buildings you should check out while on your self-guided tour is the Aycrigg Mansion.

Situated on Aycrigg Avenue, this 1840 mansion features pre-20s Italianate architecture.

Make the second Passaic City Hall your next stop.

Known as “The Castle,” this building was once the home to the central city public library until 1941.

On Main Avenue, the New Montauk Theater is also worth a stop if you’re into glorious vintage architecture.

Show Off Your Skateboarding Skills at Pulaski Park

Often overlooked, Pulaski Park may seem far from your park preferences.

But this park may surprise you!

With clear views of the Passaic River, it offers a revitalizing way to learn more about the city and its natural amenities.

Its trails are worth traversing if you prefer a peaceful, relaxing, and stress-free pathway.

Many come by for the skate park.

So, if you’re an extreme sports enthusiast, bring your skateboard over and secure your helmet in because it’s your time to shine!

Practice your tricks and stunts at Pulaski Park on 4th Street.

Play with Your Little Ones at Shevchenko Park

Passaic’s Shevchenko Park promises you a secluded time out alone or with your family.

Its multifaceted playground has play structures suitable for kids of all ranges and abilities.

You may find delight in the park’s tennis court if you love to play tennis.

There’s also a basketball court and a garden you can admire.

Shevchenko Park may be small compared to other parks within the city, but it’s not something anyone should underestimate.

Come by during different seasons and see the difference in the park’s atmosphere.

Respite never looked this serene!

This park welcomes its gates for you on Westervelt Place.

Listen to the Sounds of Passaic Summer Concert Series

You might like the Sounds of Passaic Summer Concert Series if you love orchestras and bands.

This annual festival is a staple in the Passaic community from July to September.

Hear from various musical geniuses and genres, all while enjoying the outdoor setting of Passaic’s famous parks.

Though not a requirement, don’t forget to bring a lawn chair, blanket, or any comfortable seating equipment to make your concert experience more relaxing.

From symphonies to rock music, the Sounds of Passaic Summer Concert Series has everything you are looking for for a night out with family and friends.

Feel Inspired by the History of Passaic Mural

The History of Passaic Mural is one of the city’s most well-known murals, so go ahead and add this attraction to your itinerary.

Featuring the heritage and the uniqueness of the small city of Passaic, this mural is on the exterior wall of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

Covering about 340 years, the mural depicts the history of some of the city’s parks, including Pulaski Park and Dundee Island Park.

The city’s textile legacy and the industrial revolution are critical themes in the mural.

At the same time, the mural celebrates the African-American population and the diversity of immigrants over the years.

Go to Hamilton Street to see the History of Passaic Mural.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Do you have room in your schedule for more adventures in nearby cities?

Read on for additional activities you can do within a half-an-hour radius of Passaic.

Browse the Historical Collection at Meadowlands Museum

Exterior of Meadowlands Museum

JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, M.D., CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The New Jersey Meadowlands is one of the state’s most promising nature havens.

Did you know that you can also take a specific historical excursion within this county?

Meadowlands Museum is proof of this.

Built in 1804, this free museum was once the home of the county’s earliest inhabitants, the Berry family.

The historic site is alive today with various exhibitions, ancient displays, and artifacts.

Enter rooms dedicated to Rutherford’s most famous all-around man of yesteryears, Dr. William Carlos Williams.

Take your historical trip outside with a walk along William Carlos Williams Poetry Garden.

Meadowlands Museum is on Crane Avenue in the city of Rutherford, which is about nine minutes from Passaic.

Walk among Colorful Trees and Gardens at Laurelwood Arboretum

Celebrate the natural fusion of flowers and trees at Laurelwood Arboretum in Wayne, New Jersey, 24 minutes from Passaic.

This public botanical garden served as a nursery for azaleas and hybrid rhododendrons that Dorothy and John Knippenberg owned and tended to.

After the property came into the hands of Friends of Laurelwood Arboretum, Inc, the gardens became a public attraction.

But it continued its mission of offering native flora and beautifying the city of Wayne.

The 30-acre Laurelwood Arboretum is home to two ponds and a sculpture trail.

The gardens, like the Lilac Walk and the Azalea Way, in and of themselves, are worth driving by and admiring.

Meditate and reflect while within the learning circle of the Sensory Garden.

Likewise, learn a lot more about gardening and floral landscapes anywhere within the park!

Take a Stroll along the Marsh Trails at Richard W. DeKorte Park

Trail at Richard W. DeKorte Park

Deepa2217 /

Located in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Richard W. DeKorte Park offers everything but a dull moment for nature explorers.

This park is home to various natural habitats, extending to over 3 miles of walking trails.

Its most-visited trail, the Marsh Discovery Trail, is a famous bird-watching spot.

Learn more about the wildlife and plant species growing in the area while feeling relaxed within the trails.

Ducks at Richard W. DeKorte Park

Marge Sudol /

Walk along the Lyndhurst area’s natural marshes and the woodlands and gardens, nature preserved by men.

Other trails you can look out for within Marsh Discovery Trail include the Transco Trail and Saw Mill Creek Trail.

This estuary park is along the Atlantic Flyway, 14 minutes from Passaic.

Turtles at Richard W. DeKorte Park

Marge Sudol /

See the Exhibitions at the Passaic County Arts Center

The Passaic County Arts Center is at the top of the list of must-see attractions when talking about visual arts presentations and curated collections.

Operating inside the 1810 John W. Rea House, this gallery also offers art classes and workshops to those interested.

From nature-themed paintings to intricate portraits and sculptures, there is almost nothing art-related this gallery hasn’t already featured.

Admission to the Passaic County Arts Center is free so that you can explore the art collections there.

This art gallery is on Goffle Road in Hawthorne, New Jersey, 17 minutes from Passaic.

Take a Picture of the Cherry Blossoms at Branch Brook Park

People walking under cherry blossom trees at Branch Brook Park

George Wirt /

There are also plenty of nature hiking opportunities at Branch Brook Park, located in Newark, New Jersey, 15 minutes from Passaic.

Branch Brook Park is also called America’s first county park, spanning about four miles long and approximately 360 acres.

It offers a blend of woodland terrain and open meadowland.

But perhaps the most eye-catching feature of this park is its cherry blossoms.

Blooms at Branch Brook Park

George Wirt /

Considered the largest collection of cherry blossoms, these cherry trees are also the subject of an annual festival within the city.

Within the trails and pathways, find the time to hike and look around the peaceful landscapes and sceneries.

This park is on Clifton Avenue, Newark.

Fountain at Branch Brook Park

Andrew F. Kazmierski /

Final Thoughts

Whether you spend a day at one of the city’s parks or celebrate with the community during its festivals, you always have something to look forward to in Passaic.

Prepare for the surprises you’ll receive when you finally make your travel plans a reality in this beautiful city.

Explore the free things to do in Passaic, New Jersey!

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