LATEST PAPER
79° Good Evening
79° Good Evening
Things to Do

Jersey City: Is it worth the hype?

If your friends haven't all moved to Queens already, they've probably migrated across the Hudson to Jersey City.

Okay, maybe not, but we all know that person who is really convinced that their move to Jersey City is so much better than anywhere in NYC.

We were not convinced, so we ventured out into Jersey City just for you to see if it's worth the hype.

It's not really New York, but here's what awaits across the island.

Getting there ...

From Penn Station, near the amNewYork offices, the
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

From Penn Station, near the amNewYork offices, the easiest way to get to Jersey City is via PATH train. A single ride on the PATH costs $2.75. A round trip card is $5.50, which, if you can do math, is no deal at all. If you're commuting, options include a 30-day unlimited at $89 or bulk ride passes which lower the fare to $2.10 per swipe.

The PATH trains have TVs

At first, this was a really exciting realization!
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

At first, this was a really exciting realization! I mean, do any subways in New York have TVs? No, they do not. After watching the news on loop for a few minutes, however, I realized this was just a distraction from the fact that there's no cell service on your entire PATH ride and the programming was not superior to Taxi TV. NYC: 1, JC: 0.

Exiting the train is actually kind of nice

OK, it was 10:30 a.m., not exactly rush
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

OK, it was 10:30 a.m., not exactly rush hour, but there were exactly zero crowds, zero showtime performers and a beautiful stretch of sun welcomed me to New Jersey as I stepped off the (working) escalators. It was beautiful. New Jersey is beautiful. Everyone should live here.

First impressions

Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Starbucks ... Hey, this is
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, Starbucks ... Hey, this is kind of like New York! But actually, the quiet, quainter streets almost felt like a vacation town: Cape May, for example, which is also in New Jersey and a place I've visited, except Jersey City had many more nail salons and a few less beach supply shops. Beyond the obvious chains, there were plenty of New York businesses right off the train at Grove Street: BonChon Chicken, Barcade and Two Boots Pizza, to name a few. Talde, the popular Brooklyn spot, also opened a second restaurant in the area last year.

To the bookstore

Explained to me as the
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Explained to me as the "main stretch" of Jersey City, the blocks of Newark Avenue off the PATH train were quite pleasant, like a vacation town. It was fairly empty, even for a Tuesday morning, making me think that for New Yorkers who hate people (all of us), this may be the perfect place for a recluse. I stopped in to WORD, a second location of the Greenpoint bookstore, which is actually so much better in Jersey because they have a cafe! Plus, outdoor seating. JC is totally beating Brooklyn here.

It's bagel time

I stopped at Wonder Bagels (517 Jersey Ave.),
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

I stopped at Wonder Bagels (517 Jersey Ave.), which locals say has the best bagel in Jersey. Judging by New York standards, it's nothing to swim across the river for, but my sesame bagel (toasted, I know, but they used a panini press, which was interesting) with butter had all the right ratios of doughiness and chewiness, though it could have been more flavorful.

I needed to walk the bagel off, to discover more of Jersey's culinary delights

And I stumbled upon this adorable square. Or
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

And I stumbled upon this adorable square. Or roundabout. It felt kind of European and very peaceful, mainly because there were exactly zero other people around, which is a major selling point of Jersey City.

Take a look around Van Vorst Park

Surrounded by brownstones, it's a little like Washington
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Surrounded by brownstones, it's a little like Washington Square Park, except smaller and with a noticeable lack of NYU students. Or really any people at all. It was here I noticed Jersey City's most redeeming quality: No noise. Seriously. I barely heard any honking, sirens, traffic sounds, construction noise or a police whistle all day. If anything, the move to Jersey City is spectacular for your aural health.

The brownstones by the park can trick you into thinking you're in Greenwich Village

But wait, without the bags of garbage on
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

But wait, without the bags of garbage on the street. Also, according to Trulia, you can purchase a condo in one of these brownstones for less than half a million dollars, which is a steal, if you've ever looked for real estate in Manhattan.

Time for a break

All the stimulation of Jersey City made me
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

All the stimulation of Jersey City made me temporarily forget I hadn't had my second coffee yet and I needed to find one STAT. I stumbled into Legal Grounds (170 Grand St.), which was pretty much the opposite of every gentrifying coffee shop in NYC, which was refreshing.

A regular asked why I was taking pictures
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

A regular asked why I was taking pictures of her favorite local spot (it's really not the foodstagram type of place), stating that she was protective of Legal Grounds, which has been in the neighborhood for almost a decade. Having lived in Jersey City for more than 20 years, she remembered a time when a lot more light flooded her apartment, before all the new condos were built. She's not a fan of New Yorkers coming in because we think that "$12 for a poached something on toast is reasonable." It was time to leave.

Jersey City has a lightrail, which is old fashioned, modern and cool all at the same time

Note: I didn't ride it, because I couldn't
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Note: I didn't ride it, because I couldn't figure out how, but that's for another trip.

There are also a bunch of historical homes and buildings

Which is, as they say, very New York.
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Which is, as they say, very New York.

But it's not all totally quaint

Plenty of high rises, condos and residential buildings
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Plenty of high rises, condos and residential buildings (with parking lots, this is Jersey) are at the forefront of Jersey City real estate, with even more slated to open in the near future, like the currently-under-construction 99 Hudson St., slated to become Jersey City's tallest tower at 950 feet. And of course, a luxury Trump Plaza overlooks the Hudson River, and Trump Bay Street plans to open in 2017.

Speaking of New York, you can also catch a Citi Bike in Jersey City

You still can't rent a Citi Bike in
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

You still can't rent a Citi Bike in Astoria, but that's a different story.

You can have spaghetti and meatballs for lunch every day

My original plan was to go to Marco
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

My original plan was to go to Marco and Pepe (289 Grove St.) for their all-day brunch, because a city is only as good as their kale salad, but remembering the slew of Italian spots I'd walked by earlier, I thought, hey, this is New Jersey, this is vacation, it's pasta day! The crowd eating at Roman Nose (125 Newark Ave.), where a spaghetti and meatballs lunch special ran for $12, drew me in. Plus, plenty of the diners were alone, which was a bonus. The fresh spaghetti and meatballs were delicious, much better than the leftovers I usually pack because #midtownlunch, and I even had enough left over for lunch the following day.

Here's the City Hall

I didn't go in, but I took a
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

I didn't go in, but I took a picture like a tourist and wanted to share.

One last coffee before it's back to Manhattan

9 Bar Cafe (18 Erie St.) had the
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

9 Bar Cafe (18 Erie St.) had the type of fancy espresso drinks, clean tables and trendy furniture you'd find in countless New York City coffee shops, but that strangest part was the lack of MacBooks. At every cafe I peeked into during my walk around Jersey City, I was surprised to find a lack of people working in them. Maybe Jersey City really is for commuters, not creatives.

If there's one reason to move to Jersey City, it's for this view

Location, location, location. Also, there's a nice plaza
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Location, location, location. Also, there's a nice plaza and a Starbucks just a short walk away from this view.

And on the way out, you get a light show

If you've ever flown through the United Terminal
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

If you've ever flown through the United Terminal at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, prepare to be slightly disappointed, but for everyone else, the escalators at the Exchange Place PATH station provide a lovely way to end (or begin) a day in Jersey City.

Back to NYC

Land of opulence and confusing architecture! Jersey City
Photo Credit: Melissa Kravitz

Land of opulence and confusing architecture!

Jersey City consensus: Fun for a day trip, maybe even a weekend, but moving there? Well, ask a local.

Things to Do Photos & Videos