Newark is a bustling city with a menu of exciting things to do for visitors of all ages. From the towering spires of the historic Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart to the annual Bloomfest celebrating the colorful cherry blossoms, the city is abuzz with historic venues, exceptional parks, a vibrant cultural scene, and exciting indoor and outdoor activities.

Things to Do in Newark

Morning: Breakfast is Served

If a cup of coffee and a fresh bakery item or light breakfast treat is your preference, the Suissa Bakery & Coffee Shop is a good way to start the day at 5:00 a.m. Another choice for getting perked up is at T.M. Ward Coffee that opens at 7:30 a.m. Monday-Friday. Since 1869, the shop has offered the finest beans. Ward’s also carries dried fruit, nuts, sweets, and other delicious items. Black Swan Espresso caters to those longing for a latte or cappuccino, cold-brew, Aeropress, fresh tea, and assorted pastries. The café opens at 5:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and 8:00 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Broad Street Cafe opens at 6:00 a.m. and is ready to serve breakfast favorites such as egg sandwiches, breakfast quesadillas, specialty sandwiches, egg platters, omelets, waffles, French toast, and pancakes. Assorted sides include homestyle potatoes, grits, bacon, toast or muffins, and freshly brewed coffee. Breakfast is served until 11:00 a.m. then the lunch menu takes over with more delectable items.

Andros Diner is a step back in time at this family-owned eatery where delicious food and exemplary service are the focus and served around the clock. Breakfast is available no matter what time you arrive, making this diner the perfect spot for getting an early start on the day’s adventurers or after leaving a late-night movie, symphony performance, or partying at local clubs.

Cathedral basilica sacred heart
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark.

Mid-Morning Adventures

Museums offer a firsthand look at history and modern art up-close, and at the Newark Museum visitors have access to several genres including African and Asian art, decorative and contemporary art, American pieces, and old-world antiquities. The John Ballantine House, which was home to the founder of Ballantine beer, has been part of the exhibits at the museum since 1937. The home was built in 1885 and features restored rooms filled with exquisite antiques depicting the Victorian Age.

Begin a visual experience leading to the city with the Gateways to Newark: Portraits mural that runs 1.39 miles starting at the Edison Parking lot overpass. The mural features work by over a dozen artists and provides a glimpse of Newark life. For more history, exhibits, and displays, there’s also the New Jersey Historical Society and the Jewish Museum of New Jersey.

Architecture abounds in Newark at locations such as the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, St. Lucy’s Church, the historic Ironbound neighborhood, and Newark Penn Station. A quiet respite with examples of sculpture and architecture can be found at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Step back to another time when entering the historic 1772 Liberty Hall. The Victorian-style mansion features an assortment of items from the past including tools, toys, and antique furniture.

Newark is just 15 miles from New York City, which means there are more activities to enjoy, such as absorbing the detail of the city skyline and the many scenic views while traveling aboard the Staten Island Ferry as it makes its way between the Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan and the island’s St. George Ferry Terminal. The ferry has operated since 1905. It is free, parking is available for a fee is near the terminals, the ride takes about 25 minutes, and the ferry runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is also an option for late night fun to see the lights of New York City at night.

Established in 1960, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge serves to conserve and protect natural resources and endangered and threatened wildlife. It is a short drive from Newark and offers a variety of activities for all ages. Observe a variety of wildlife such as hawks, northern harrier, turtles, snakes, and more and their habitats along the 1.5 miles of scenic boardwalk. If you prefer driving, the 2-mile tour route allows either walking or driving with overlooks along the way for viewing waterfowl and other bird species. For hiking enthusiasts, the refuge offers 8 miles of scenic trails. The Great Swamp is a peaceful destination for a relaxing outing and the perfect backdrop for taking photos.

Noon: Lunch

Krug’s Tavern is family owned and in business since 1932 in the historical IronBound district of Newark. The tavern is known for his juicy Krug’s burgers and fresh seafood creations enhanced with the family’s secret sauce. A sampling of the menu includes shrimp, calamari, mussels, wings, burgers, soups, salads, and assorted sandwiches. Lunch is served Monday-Saturday beginning at 11:00 a.m. and Sunday at noon, or stop by and watch your favorite sports event and enjoy happy hour specials before ordering dinner.

Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant has served comfort food in generous portions for breakfast and lunch since 1962. You’ll get your fill with overstuffed sandwiches like the char-broiled burger, specialty hot dogs, Philly cheese steak, corned beef, meatloaf sub, or a variety of wraps, along with a choice of soups, salads, and sides. Assorted pastries and desserts complete a perfect meal. Hobby’s serves breakfast all day long. The restaurant opens at 7:00 a.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

A cool atmosphere where Asian, Italian, and Southwestern cuisine tantalize the senses can be found at 27 Mix. Creative dishes are artfully prepared and infused with flavor. For lunch, choose from Italian dishes such as Portobello mushroom ravioli or linguine Primavera or please your palate with chicken enchiladas, fish and chips, chipotle chicken Caesar wrap, or Tokyo chicken wings.  Come back for dinner and sample the Asian stir-fry, sizzling fajitas, penne vodka, or hangar steak with shrimp.

Branch brook park
Branch Brook Park in Newark.

Afternoon: More Adventures Await

To enjoy the sights, sounds, culture, and history of Newark spend the afternoon on a historical and heritage tour of the city, one of the hop-on-hop-off tours, or a cultural tour.

Military Park is a beautifully landscaped area located in the central downtown district. It is a gathering place for relaxing, taking a quick break, planning a sightseeing tour, or participating in one of many scheduled programs. The park features a stunningly beautiful memorial – Wars of America – by Gutzon Borglum, which signifies the war of 1812. Branch Brook Park is a relaxing destination among sparkling lakes and cherry trees and hosts the annual Bloomfest celebration in the spring.

The South Mountain Reservation is situated on 2,000 acres with opportunities for fishing, visiting the zoo, or hiking one of the park’s trails. Mills Reservation also provides walking trails, opportunities to view resident wildlife, and scenic outlooks in this 156-acre park.

Greenwood Gardens is a historic property with a manicured landscape, assorted wildlife, and a manor house. For more hiking in a scenic landscape, visit Hemlock Falls with its gurgling waterfall. The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary offer a visual menu of flora, fauna, and birds while on the hiking trails.

New jersey performing arts center
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Late Afternoon: Activities and Shopping

Take in a performance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in the afternoon or after having an early dinner before in an evening show. The center offers a variety of performances including classical music, comedy shows, variety shows, family shows, rock concerts, and more.

Like the performing arts center, the Newark Symphony Hall has a calendar of events with shows in the early afternoon, late afternoon, and early evening. Enjoy comedy shows, performances, and a variety of music genres at the hall built in 1925 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While visiting Newark, enjoy professional sports competitions and entertainment at the Prudential Center. Located in downtown, the center hosts approximately 200 events annually from sports and family shows to headliner concerts and special events.

If you want to wile away the afternoon just shopping around, consider the Gateway Center and University Plaza or pick up a few fresh items for a picnic, hiking, or biking excursion at the Garden Farm Market.

Dinnertime: Pleasing the Palate

Bring your appetite and enjoy the non-stop portions of delectable steak along with assorted sides and freshly made sangria at Fernandes Steakhouse. Savor the flavor of luscious cuts of meat served on skewers then finish off the meal with a slice of grilled pineapple at this Brazilian eatery. After dinner, step across the street to Fernandes’ Night Club for hot Latin music and salsa dancing.

Kilkenny Alehouse is the perfect place to start the evening with its diverse menu of savory delights. Start with an order of drunken mussels or Kilkenny spring rolls followed by rich French onion soup or a crisp green apple salad. Follow with a grilled beef, salmon, lamb, or black bean burger, a chicken cheese steak sandwich, or vegetable tacos, then continue with an entrée of Shepherd’s Pie, Fish & Chips, short ribs, pasta, flounder, or pan-seared salmon. Add a cool glass of beer and you’re fueled for an evening of fun. Stop by later and order from the late-night menu.

For a casual, laid-back atmosphere with friendly staff, delicious food, live music, and a refreshing menu of brews, City Rub Smokehouse fills the bill. Specializing in smoked beef, chicken, sausage, ribs, and pork, City Rub also allows you to choose from delectable items like the catfish Po Boy or the Boss Hog pulled pork sandwich, a platter of ribs, sausage samplers, spicy wings, grilled oysters, and more that will satisfy the taste buds. The smokehouse opens at 11:00 a.m. Monday-Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. Open late on Saturday until 3:00 a.m.

South mountain
South Mountain Reservation in Newark.

Late Night: Entertainment

Hell’s Kitchen Lounge keeps the beat going with a selection of bar food, impressive drink menu, DJs, bands, and live performances. The Las Vegas setting has something going on every night with cocktails, shots, and pitcher specials, interesting and lively shows, dance parties, and games. Stop by at happy hour, or other hour, and sample their late-night menu that keeps palates satisfied while enjoying the entertainment. The lounge opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday-Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. This late-night venue is open until midnight on Sunday, 2:00 a.m. Monday-Friday, and 3:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Since 1936, the staff at McGovern’s Tavern has known how to please its patrons with an array of brews, ales, and cocktails. Get immersed in the atmosphere of an Irish pub and chill with an ice-cold brew, craft beer, and shot specials. After a night on the town, stop in on select nights for drink specials and wings. The tavern opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday and closes at 2:00 a.m.

After Hours: Late, Late, Night Entertainment

QXT’s Night Club on Friday and Saturday night from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. has live music, dancing, food, drinks, and an electric atmosphere. Whether it’s DJs spinning the vinyl, heavy metal rocking the foundation, or patrons stopping by on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. for open mic night, the fun and excitement know no boundaries.

Adega Grill has something for everyone with dining, bar, and a lounge. Combine a sumptuous meal in a beautifully decorated restaurant featuring stone fireplaces and soft candlelight and a Portuguese-inspired menu or enjoy the selections during happy hour at the bar. End the evening at the lounge, which opens Thursday-Saturday from 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. and Sundays until 2:00 a.m., with the resident DJ, music, cocktails, and socializing.

Where to Stay in Newark

For travelers interested in staying in accommodations near the airport, there are a variety of choices with prices ranging low, to medium, to high. Budget-minded travelers have several choices such as the basic services of free breakfast, parking, Wi-Fi, and shuttle at Motel 6 Elizabeth. Enjoy contemporary decor, an on-site restaurant, sports bar, and an airport shuttle at Ramada Plaza Newark Liberty International Airport. With free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, and airport shuttle service around the clock, Americas Best Value Inn at Newark Airport is an inexpensive option.

Middle price range hotels include Hampton Inn Newark Airport with free airport shuttle, Wi-Fi, and hot breakfast each morning and a fitness center so you can unwind and relax. Travelers planning a longer stay can benefit from comfortable suites with fully equipped kitchenette, free breakfast, and Wi-Fi at Residence Inn Newark Elizabeth.

On the higher end of pricing, there’s the Marriott Renaisance Newark Airport Hotel with upscale atmosphere and amenities, comfortable rooms, free airport shuttle, and on-site dining. Travelers can relax in style and comfort at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel offering a relaxing salt-water pool, free parking and airport shuttle, and fine European dining.

Downtown
Downtown Newark.

Newark Liberty International Airport

Travelers arriving and departing from Newark Liberty International Airport will find many convenient services to get their travel time off to a good start. Whether your travel plans take you to Terminal A, Terminal B, or Terminal C, there is a diverse selection of world-class amenities, features, shops, and restaurants at your disposal.

Airport Services

Each terminal has access to Airport General Traveler Services agents who are knowledgeable, confident, adaptable to specific needs, and discreet. Agents will assist with the specific needs of business and leisure travelers, VIP individuals or entourages, seniors, and travelers requiring special needs assistance in a courteous manner. Services are also available for the Airport Butler and the Airport Concierge.

Dining and Shopping

For traveler convenience, terminals offer a variety of choices in cafes, diners, delis, restaurants, gourmet markets, coffee shops, bakeries, ice cream, and bars. Choose full-course steak dinners, Italian fare, Chinese specialties, traditional Mexican fare, juicy burgers, Starbucks coffee paired with Dunkin’ Donuts, pancakes, pizza, and much more. While waiting for a connecting flight, enjoy a drink at the Oeno Wine Bar, a refreshing brew at the Belgian Beer Cafe, a pint at McGinley’s Pub, or a cocktail at the Proof Whiskey Bar.

Other venues are also available with items such as books, newspapers, shoeshines, clothing, spa, an art museum, currency exchange, and ATM. Other services include charging stations, chapel, pet relief area, nursing suites, medical offices, family restrooms, and a welcome center. Food and beverage concessions, retail concessions, and service and amenity areas are accessible as either post security or pre-security.

Transportation

Travelers have several choices in transportation options to and from Newark Liberty International Airport. Choose to travel via rental car, taxi, or car and van service. Public transportation is available using specific NJ Transit bus lines. For travelers heading to New York City upon landing, from each terminal, the Express Bus goes to three New York stops that include the Port Authority Bus Terminal, Grand Central Station, and Bryant Park.

The AirTrain is a simple and convenient option for getting to and from the airport and maneuvering around it. AirTrain operates daily, around the clock with connections to rail lines and the NJ Transit system, parking lots, airline terminals, hotel shuttles, and rental car facilities.

With its distinct four-season atmosphere, Newark offers opportunities to enjoy the city when leaves are changing colors, during the profusion of cherry blossoms in the spring, relaxing with water sports during the summer, or winter skiing less than an hour’s drive from the city.