The idea might shock some New Yorkers, but New Jersey isn’t all that bad.
Shows like The Jersey Shore, Jerseylicious and Jersey Couture give the state a bad rap. But don’t forget that many modern miracles, like Meryl Streep, the light bulb and Susanne Sarandon’s boobs, all come from the Garden State.
And right across the Hudson lays the gem of New Jersey: Hoboken. So escape Manhattan for a day to check out the birthplace of Sinatra and baseball.
What to Do:
Come St. Patrick’s Day, Hoboken throws down. For 25 years, the city’s parade allowed everyone to get drunk and celebrate in a good, sloppy fashion. In fact, the partying became so extreme that the current mayor, Dawn Zimmer, tried to tame the parade by moving it from Saturday to Wednesday. The independent committee that planned the event felt the move violated tradition, and thus canceled the booze-fest all together.
Not to be stopped, the people of Hoboken bounced back. The first Hoboken Irish Cultural Festival took place in Sinatra Park, but an even more wonderful result came about: the Hoboken Official St. Paddy’s Day Pub Crawl. The three-day event keeps the true essence of St. Patrick’s Day alive by allowing drunks dressed in green to parade throughout the streets (just without floats).
The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway starts on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, passes through Hoboken and Jersey City, works its way through Liberty State Park and finally ends in Bayonne. The 18.5-mile stretch provides some of the best views of New York City, but before heading out for a long stroll or run, make sure to check this map for details. Industrial zones interrupt portions of the walkway, while other areas still face damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Check out Peir A and Peir C in Hoboken along the way. Restoration projects converted this once industrial area into large spans of grass jutting into the Hudson River. Also, wander into the Erie Lackawanna Ferry Terminal. After 60 years of service, the terminal closed in 1967, to later reopen in 1981. A $120 million renovation later and the terminal is practically good as new! Its waiting room includes a floral, stained glass ceiling designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. An ornate copper façade creates the building’s exterior, which includes the brightly lit, red “LACKAWANNA,” lettering noticeable from Manhattan.
Hoboken’s economy, originally based in industry, took a big hit following the World Wars. As industries left the area, so did the people. Overtime, Hoboken became more and more decrepit. That is until Manhattanites came to save the day. During the 1970s and 80s, New Yorkers flocked to Hoboken to buy inexpensive brownstones and townhouses. The once industrial wasteland soon transformed into a yuppie paradise.
Washington Street holds the true essence of modern day Hoboken. Carlos’s Bakery, along with its line wrapping around the block, stands at one end of the street. Owner Buddy Valastro made a name for himself and his business through TLC’s, “Cake Boss,” where he and his family create big cakes and even bigger (although clearly staged) fights.
Skip out on Manhattan’s nightlife one Saturday night and head over to Washington Street. Lined with bars and restaurants, strolling up and down this avenue is the quickest way to experience Hoboken.
Where to Eat and Drink:
Try Maxwell’s on Washington Street for affordable concerts, food and beer. The menu varies every night, but keeps with the comfortable range of $6 – $15. Whether tap, bottle or can, none of the restaurant’s 34 beers options go beyond $6.
If you love beer then head over to Cork City, home of “The Great American Beer Challenge.” Beer guzzlers earn points by drinking their way through the 26 taps. Keep in mind: points count twice on Monday and Wednesday. Earn extra points by drinking from the day’s magic tap. Periodically, Cork City invites top scorers to craft beer tasting events. In 2012, the top dog won a free trip for two to the Great American Beer Festival in Denver.
Not to mention, Cork City offers respectable open bar options for parties of 15 or more.
If you’re going to the birthplace of Sinatra, then you better eat some Italian food out of respect. But finding affordable options in a yuppie village poses a bit of challenge. Margherita’s Pizzeria and Cafe offers homemade pasta, pizza and fresh seafood. With dinner prices hovering around $15, it’s the best way to save money without sacrificing tradition.
How to Get There:
Take the NJ Path Train available on 33rd, 23rd, 14th, 9th and Christopher to the Hoboken station. Tickets cost just $2.25.
Photos by Rishi Bandopadhay.