The Best Things to Do in the New Jersey Gateway Region

From world-class sports stadiums to a science center like no other, there is tons to do in NJ’s Gateway region.

New Jersey has had TV popularity due to the reality shows "Jersey Shore" and "The Real Housewives," as well as millennial hipsters taking over the newest hot neighborhood of Hoboken. But other areas of the Garden State like Newark, Jersey City, and East Rutherford have a ton of fun day-trip experiences you may not have known about. We’ve gathered a great list of things to do—with a just a quick commute from Manhattan and other parts of New Jersey—from dining at authentic European restaurants to trying your luck at the races.

Newark, New Jersey

Hockey fans flock to Newark’s Prudential Center a multi-purpose indoor arena home to the National Hockey League's New Jersey Devils The arena, affectionately nicknamed “The Rock” after the Prudential insurance mountain logo, seats 16,514 fans for hockey. For those into college basketball, the arena also houses the NCAA's Seton Hall Pirates men's basketball team. The Prudential Center isn’t just for sports though, boasting concerts and events from multi-platinum artists including Marc Anthony, Sugarland, U2 as well as family-friendly events throughout the year.

Prudential Center

Deep in the heart of Newark, surrounded by a network of railroad tracks that enclose its four square miles is a small enclave known as the Ironbound. Ironbound is currently home to forty different ethnic groups but is still known for its Brazilian, Portuguese and Spanish populations that have infused their way of life into every nook of the antiquated district which is adjacent to Newark Penn Station.

While Newark has never been considered a foodie destination, but the residents have given the area a reputation for serving authentic cuisine evocative of their homelands. Food-enthusiasts shouldn’t miss Fernandes Steakhouse, one of the most popular restaurants in the area. As well as Seabra's Marisqueira a no-frills seafood-lovers restaurant open since 1989. It's a must-try for delicacies of the sea. Located off of a less populated section of Ferry Street, the food is authentic Portuguese and the seafood is fresh and cooked to order.

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) located downtown has been an important component in the revitalization of Newark. The Center lies in the heart of the city's cultural district that also includes the Newark Museum with The Prudential Center just to the south.

NJPAC has yearlong concert and events including jazz jam sessions, Philharmonic concerts and boasts one of the largest arts education programs offered by a performing arts center in the nation. The program includes arts training classes, professional development, and family and children's programming, allowing students, teachers and families to interact with professional artists and explore the various genres of music, theater, dance, poetry and more.

Jersey City

Up next is Jersey City, the second-most-populous city in New Jersey, after Newark. Situated just over the Hudson, it may feel like miles away from Manhattan but this waterfront gem has more to offer than you may realize. In fact, it’s one of the most popular towns in the Garden State with year-round events for the whole family.

For the music lovers and Beatles fans old and young, head to the annual “The Fest for Beatles Fans” a weekend-long multi-city celebration of the legendary rock group that has been going strong since 1974. Festival-goers enjoy performances from special guests associated with The Beatles (i.e. original Wings drummer Danny Seiwell, former Ringo Starr producer Mark Hudson,) as well as meet-and-greet booths, auctions and interactive fanfare.

Liberty Science Center

This past year Jersey City’s The Liberty Science Center was unveiled as the largest and most advanced planetarium in the Western Hemisphere and the world's fourth largest. The Science center engages Inquisitive children and parents in hands-on discovery and fun with models and exhibits centered around such topics as the environment, health and invention. The facility also contains the largest IMAX Dome theater in the United States and a Real 3-D theater.

What would you say if I told you that the best pizza in New York City was in New Jersey? Well, New York Times’ food critic Pete Wells seems to think so. According to Wells, Razza which burns wood to cook their pies is one of the few pizzerias that excels at both dough and toppings. Razza focuses to the Italian way of cooking and eating, where location and seasonality dictate the ingredients. This makes all their flavors distinctive—the flour is milled locally and the bread and butter are housemade. Definitely worth a visit if only to confirm the legend.

East Rutherford

Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment popularly known in the region as "The Big M" is a horse racing track at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford. The track hosts both thoroughbred racing and harness racing. The Meadowlands was announced to, 2018. The event, to be designated as the Meadowlands Mile, joins Turf Paradise, The Red Mile, Remington Park, and Canterbury Park as horse racing tracks that will run the series in 2018.

The State Fair Meadowlands is a carnival held every summer at the Meadowlands Sports Complex. It derives its name from State Fair Stores, which run the carnival. The fair is held in the parking lot that surrounds the MetLife Stadium and runs for two weeks in late June and early July. It attracts over 300,000 visitors per year. Michael Moore has been spotted at this fair while wearing his Rutgers hat.

Did you know that the MetLife Stadium is the only stadium in the NFL that house two NFL teams, the 2012 Super Bowl Champions the New York Giants and the New York Jets? This 82,500 seat stadium, one of the largest in the National Football League, sets the standard for venue excellence with state-of-the-art technology, comfort and amenities.  In addition, MetLife Stadium anticipated events include international soccer, major concerts, top 25 college football games and many other unique events.

MetLife Stadium

Farah Lopez
About the author

Farah Lopez is the Marketing Editor and a French-Canadian transplant living in SoBro (South Bronx). Follow her food-o...