Seven best kid friendly things to do in Jersey City.

Even with New York City looming large across the Hudson River, Jersey City has managed to carve its own identity with fresh, novel experiences that daring kids will enjoy. Influenced largely by a large immigrant population, the city is a cornucopia of exotic flavors that will make for exciting adventures. This doesn’t mean that traditional American and New York style amenities (like awesome playgrounds) are neglected: for Jersey City has managed to perfectly combine the two into one city that is nothing short of a treasure chest waiting for exploration. Here is a list of eight things to do in Jersey City that is sure to contain something of interest to every child in your family.

The view of New York City from Exchange Place in Jersey City on a Cloudy Day
The view of New York City from Exchange Place in Jersey City on a Cloudy Day

See Lady Liberty and the Liberty State Park

One must start any list associated with Jersey City with this gigantic grassy low lying park that directly faces New York City across the Hudson River, and stands as an ode to all that Lady Liberty and America stands for. The park is a perfect way to teach kids about some of the history and geography of the New York City and Jersey City areas. On the grounds of the Park stands a historic railroad terminal and a center dedicated to teaching about its history. Also scattered through the park are monuments and memorials to different aspects of American history. Many families take advantage of the many shaded picnic spots, and pack a picnic lunch.

For families with older kids ((16 and up), there are kayak tours which offer guided informational trips down the Hudson River. Younger children will appreciate the old playground with the numerous wooden climbing structures.

The most special thing about Liberty State Park is however, Lady Liberty herself. The state park offers the closest views one can get of the statue without actually visiting her. Of course, if one chooses, one may also board one of the ferries that leave the park to sail around the statue for an even closer look.

For lunch, many families choose to take advantage of the numerous shaded picnic areas, however there is a restaurant in the park too. There are also clean restrooms for bathroom breaks.

The close up view of the Statue of Liberty from Liberty State Park in Jersey City

The view of Lady Liberty from Liberty state Park
The view of Lady Liberty from Liberty state Park

Visit the Liberty Science Center

Education and fun can go hand in hand! And this museum is the perfect way to do so. Science has never been more fun than this museum makes it for the kids. Nestled at the entrance to the Liberty State Park, the science museum manages to simultaneously make science cool for aloof teenagers and stimulating for easily distracted toddlers. It does this by offering thoughtful displays like a rock and roll guitar display which explores the science behind the guitar, while also offering a room specifically designed to introduce toddlers to scientific concepts.

The museum has a proven commitment to inspiring an excitement for science in children. Among its numerous exhibits, there is always an exhibit injecting science into the familiar world of a popular children’s television show (Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George, are examples of past exhibits), and scheduled experiments that use volunteers from the whole family. There is also an excellent cafeteria where there is a salad bar, a grill, pizza, and many child friendly food options. To get here take the path to Newport or Hoboken, then transfer to the light rail for the Liberty State Park stop (the museum is a five minute walk away). To plan a trip, www.lsc.org

Eat exotic homemade Ice Cream at Toricos

Smack in the middle of downtown Jersey City is this extremely popular, homemade ice cream store. Always serving new and interesting flavors, Toricos serves cutting edge ice cream that still maintains its creamy homemade taste. There is the exotic like guava and lychee; the spicy and tangy like tamarind; and the downright mind boggling (black sesame and avocado). Needless to say, the adventurous child will love Toricos. This is not to say that old favorites like strawberry and chocolate aren’t served. In fact, one will be amazed at the many combinations Toricos has made from just chocolate ice cream. A must try in this category is the perfectly balanced salty sweet peanut butter chocolate that locals and patrons from far come to buy by the gallon. Toricos serves over 50 flavors which will appeal to the pickiest eater in the family. To get here, take the path train to Grove Street (Toricos is about a five minute walk)

Enjoy Traditional Mexican at Taqueria Mexican Restaurant

Reflecting Jersey City’s large immigrant population, the culinary landscape is a varied mix of ethnic foods that will appeal to those who love their food spicy. As one wanders through Jersey City, small homey Indian and Mexican eateries where one doesn’t feel the need to constantly keep the kids quiet pop up in the most unlikely corners. Right at the corner of a block of brownstone homes sits the awarding winning Taqueria where stairs lead down into a colorful intimate dining area which serves perfectly spiced tacos and exotic Mexican sodas. A few blocks up on the busy Grove Street, and almost next door to each other, look out for two curry filled mom and pop buffet style Indian eateries for authentic Indian curries and roti. For a more structured experience head to Shadman (also on Grove Street) for equally good Indian food.

The entrance to Award winning Mexican restaurant Taqueria in Jersey City

Jersey City's Taqueria restaurant, loved for its spicy and inventive tacos.
Jersey City's Taqueria restaurant, loved for its spicy and inventive tacos.

Have American style Pancakes at the Brownstone Diner

When done right, a pancake smothered in syrup and butter is one of life’s great pleasures The Brownstone Diner definitely does it right. Thick and fluffy, with just the perfect balance of ingredients, the Brownstone Diner’s pancakes are the kind of pancakes one can imagine having in a hearty bed and breakfast tucked away on a rural, cattle dotted Vermont farm. The kind that one can’t stop eating, even when one is way past the point of being over full. The long lines of families waiting to get in on weekends are a testament to just how good these pancakes are. Equally good are the omelets and the waffles. Expect large servings and reasonable prices. Delight your kids with the Mickey Mouse or the smiley face pancake from the kids menu. To get here, take the path train to Grove Street, and walk to the corner of Grand and Jersey Avenue, or take the light rail to Jersey Avenue, and walk one block to the Jersey and Grand Avenue intersection.

Brownstone Diner in Jersey City makes the best Pancakes, especially for kids.

Enjoy traditional American pancakes from a real diner around the NYC area like this happy face kids pancake from the Brownstone Diner in Jersey City.
Enjoy traditional American pancakes from a real diner around the NYC area like this happy face kids pancake from the Brownstone Diner in Jersey City.

Cool off in Newport Greens water sprinklers

For local families, the Newport Greens is a beloved watery retreat that can be enjoyed for hours without one compliant of boredom from the little ones. One is almost surprised when one happens upon this oasis amidst the tall glass buildings of Newport. Newport Greens is a green parklike area that combines creative water sprinklers, with a sandy beach (complete with beach chairs and umbrellas for an authentic beach feel), a colorful pirate themed playground, a carousel, and well-manicured rose gardens. All with fantastic views of the Hudson River and

The Water Sprinklers at Jersey City's Newport Green are a family favorite with local and visiting families

Water fun in Jersey City's Newport Greens!
Water fun in Jersey City's Newport Greens!

Enjoy the intimate Van Vorst Park

Where Newport seems big, and a bit impersonal, this park feels like the small community playground that it is. Wander through the beautifully cared for gardens filled with so many species of flowers and plants that even the kids will find themselves enthralled with one interesting looking plant or another. Notice the local volunteers carefully weeding, or watering the flowers. Or watch as moms walk from their brownstone homes to the sandbox, or the swings to meet neighborhood friends. Van Vorst park is truly the neighborhood meeting place for families, and will give a good feel of the diverse community that is Jersey City. To get here, take the path to Grove Street stop and walk to Van Vorst Street

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