27 Fun Things to Do in New Brunswick NJ: Park Visits, Museum Tours, Food Hopping & More

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Looking for some fun things to do in New Brunswick NJ?

With a rich history dating back to the colonial era, New Brunswick has transformed into a modern metropolis brimming with culture, entertainment, and endless opportunities for enjoyment. 

From the lively arts scene to delectable dining spots, and everything in between, this city offers an array of activities that cater to all tastes and interests. 

The city is also home to Rutgers University, which adds a youthful and academic energy to its character.

So whether you’re a history buff, a theater enthusiast, a foodie, or simply seeking a memorable time with friends and family, this place is sure to keep you entertained.

New Brunswick is also just less than an hour’s drive to Princeton where you can find plenty of things to do too.

To experience bigger cities in New Jersey, check out our guide to Newark, NJ.

If you’re a fan of the outdoors and adventure, try our guide to NJ state parks or beaches.

Things to Do in New Brunswick New Jersey

To make navigation easier, our list of activities and places to visit in New Brunswick starts around the Rutgers University area.

Then you can easily hop in your car for short drives to discover more exciting spots just outside the city center. 

Zimmerli Art Museum

Zimmerli Art Museum (71 Hamilton Street) is a distinguished art museum located on the Rutgers University campus, boasting an impressive collection of European, American, and Asian art, attracting art enthusiasts and culture seekers from near and far.

Every summer, the museum hosts art camps for children aged 7 to 14, with a range of activities such as different painting classes, educational courses on art history, or science courses for a slightly older range.

The museum’s special exhibitions and educational programs rotate throughout the year and are always a great way to complement your trip with a unique experience.

Aerial view of Rutgers University in New Brunswick New Jersey

Rutgers University Geology Museum

A free educational museum on the Rutgers University campus, Rutgers University Geology Museum (85 Somerset Street) contains fascinating exhibits on geology, paleontology, and minerals.

A premier New Brunswick attraction, this museum is an ideal destination for families and science enthusiasts seeking hands-on learning opportunities, 

Ideal for any children obsessed with dinosaurs or natural science experiments.

The museum’s renowned “Big Bone Room” displays dinosaur fossils and interactive geological displays, providing visitors with a chance to explore the wonders of Earth’s history and natural sciences.

Thomas Sweet Ice Cream

Thomas Sweet Ice Cream (55 Easton Avenue) is an iconic ice cream parlor in New Brunswick, renowned for its wide variety of homemade ice creams and other sweet treats.

This place is a must-visit for dessert lovers and ice cream enthusiasts, with all ice cream made fresh on the premises every day.

The parlor’s famous “Blend-ins” is a fun and delicious twist to the classic ice cream experience, where customers can customize their ice cream with mix-ins of their choice, such as pretzels, M&Ms and Oreos.

Evelyn’s

Evelyn’s Restaurant (45 Easton Street) serves delicious Middle Eastern dishes along with a full bar of premium wine and cocktails.

With a mouth-watering selection of kebabs and other Mediterranean appetizers in addition to favorite dishes such as beef shawarma, Evelyn’s offers a delightful menu full of local favorites.

Pair one of their delicious dishes with a glass of wine and head out to their brick patio bar for a wonderful evening in New Brunswick.

Hidden Grounds Coffee

Hidden Grounds Coffee (106 Easton Avenue) is a great trendy destination to get a delicious hit of caffeine before you start the next leg of your journey.

Hidden Grounds is known for its specialty coffee drinks and innovative beverages, making it a perfect spot for coffee enthusiasts seeking a unique and vibrant coffee experience.

With their signature “Purple Haze Latte” and nitrogen-infused cold brew, Hidden Grounds Coffee offers a trendy and energetic atmosphere where patrons can savor creative and bold coffee concoctions.

Hot cocoa in cup

Stress Factory Comedy Club

If you are looking for other things to do near Rutgers in New Brunswick, give yourself a good laugh with some of the best stand-up comedians in the tri-state area at the Stress Factory Comedy Club (90 Church Street).

Just around a 10-minute walk from the university area, Stress Factory features top-notch stand-up comedians who provide endless laughter and entertainment for those seeking a night of fun and humor.

The club’s intimate setting and lineup of talented comedians ensure a memorable and enjoyable comedy experience for both locals and visitors.

Old Man Rafferty’s

A charming and welcoming restaurant in New Brunswick, Old Man Rafferty’s (106 Albany Street) boasts a diverse menu of comfort food classics that caters to families and anyone looking for a cozy dining experience.

From their hearty homemade soups to their famous “Fat Sandwiches,” Old Man Rafferty’s ensures a delightful taste of classic American cuisine in a friendly atmosphere.

Harvest Moon Brewery & Cafe

A popular brewpub in New Brunswick, Harvest Moon Brewery & Cafe (392 George Street) is renowned for its house-made craft beers and a farm-to-table menu, creating a delightful dining experience that appeals to beer enthusiasts and food connoisseurs alike.

Guests can savor menu highlights such as the beer-infused mussels, bruschetta pizza, and a rotating selection of seasonal brews, ensuring a dynamic and flavorful visit.

Steakhouse 85

Steakhouse 85 (85 Church Street) is renowned for its premium cuts of meat and elegant ambiance, making it a top choice for special occasions and steak lovers seeking a refined dining experience.

The upscale steakhouse’s attention to detail and menu highlights, such as the dry-aged steaks and extensive wine list, ensure a sophisticated and memorable evening for guests seeking a taste of culinary excellence.

Several days out of the week, there is a ‘date night’ special, which includes a fixed-price meal for two with a bottle of premium wine as an accompaniment.

If you’re fortunate enough, you may be treated to live jazz while you dine, with local bands performing on most weekends.

George Street Ale House

If you are looking for a more traditional pub to get a couple of pints and some bar food, try out the Garden State Ale House (378 George Street).

Garden State features an extensive beer list and a variety of comfort food options, making it a favorite hangout for beer enthusiasts and sports fans alike.

The pub’s relaxed and friendly atmosphere, coupled with its selection of local and international brews, ensures a delightful and enjoyable gathering spot for friends and beer connoisseurs.

Close-up of four small beers as a sampler

Esquina Latina Restaurant and Lounge

If you are looking to dance to some Salsa and enjoy some great drinks with friends, Esquina Latina Restaurant and Lounge (25 Liberty Street) is the best choice for you.

You’re going to want to get a sample of their famous Latin appetizers, including Cuban guacamole, empanadas, and croquetas.

When you’ve had your fill of some absolutely delicious appetizers, get one of their beloved margaritas and head to the dance floor.

New Brunswick Performing Arts Center

Witness some of the most exciting and innovative live performances while contributing to the local arts initiative at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (11 Livingston Avenue).

Within the performing arts center are two state-of-the-art theaters along with rehearsal spaces and workshops dedicated to local artists.

This center was created in coordination with the New Brunswick Downtown Cultural Arts District as well as other public and private partnerships, and thus a piece of the center’s mission is to provide support to local artists through workshops, studio spaces, and opportunities for showcasing their work through galleries and live productions.

Support local art and catch a great show while you’re here, with acts ranging from stand-up comedy, live concerts, movie screenings, and live performative art.

Monument Square Park

While the park itself is a small triangular plot of land, Monument Square Park (2 Livingston Avenue) is still a great spot to pause, sit, and admire an impressive and historic statue.

The statue for which the park is named is a Union soldier along with a bald eagle, commemorating many of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the Civil War.

During most of the year, this park is just a beautiful spot to sit for lunch or meet with a friend as it is a great central point for the town.

In terms of events, this park hosts the holiday tree lighting, the Central Jersey Jazz Festival as well as fireworks on New Year’s Eve.

George Street Playhouse

George Street Playhouse (9 Livingston Avenue) is known for its thought-provoking plays and performances that resonate with theater aficionados seeking engaging storytelling and high-quality productions.

With its long-standing commitment to promoting new works and supporting emerging playwrights, the George Street Playhouse is a vital cultural hub in the community that you should certainly check out.

State Theatre New Jersey

State Theatre New Jersey (15 Livingston Avenue) is a historic performing arts venue in downtown New Brunswick, hosting a diverse array of Broadway shows, concerts, and comedy acts.

State Theatre provides top-notch entertainment options for enthusiasts and visitors seeking world-class performances, with a Broadway series, classical music, and special events with celebrity appearances.

Parents should pay special attention to the Family Series, a schedule of children’s events that include screens of classic movies, beloved movies accompanied by live musicians, or live adaptations of popular children’s stories.

The theater’s stunning architecture and acoustics, along with its central location, make it a cultural gem and should be at the top of your list of things to see in New Brunswick.

Mason Gross School of the Arts

Mason Gross School of the Arts (33 Livingston Avenue) is the art school for Rutgers University, and while some of the space is dedicated to students, there are also plenty of events open to the public.

Each year, students at Rutgers create and collaborate in artistic endeavors ranging from film, dance, music, and the ever-evolving genre of modern art.

While the space itself is a beautiful spot to browse, there are also events during the school year that include student film showcases, live dances, concerts, and student exhibits.

New Brunswick Free Public Library

A library can be one of the places to go in New Brunswick on a rainy day or when you just need a quiet spot to relax for a bit or a chance to let your kids unwind.

A community hub in the heart of the city, The New Brunswick Free Public Library (60 Livingston Avenue) has an extensive collection of books, events, and resources for readers, students, and lifelong learners, making it a valuable resource for the entire community.

Grab a book you’ve been meaning to read and find a cozy corner for an hour, or if you have kids with you there is a great children’s section for them to pick stories or play games.

Destination Dogs

A vibrant restaurant and bar in New Brunswick, Destination Dogs (101 Paterson Street) is known for its creatively crafted gourmet hot dogs, offering a fun and unique dining experience for foodies and those looking for a lively atmosphere.

Don’t miss their “Jersey Ripper” hot dog, featuring a delicious combination of deep-fried toppings that exemplifies the creativity of their menu.

American Hungarian Foundation

An extension of the Hungarian Heritage Center, the American Hungarian Foundation (300 Somerset Street) is a beautiful space in downtown New Brunswick that is dedicated to telling the shared story of Hungary through the eyes of the people who moved to America.

For anyone looking to learn about a piece of American and global history that they may not have studied in the past, or for those of Hungarian descent looking to dive deeper into their own culture, this foundation has a treasure of historical collections and stories to digest.

There is an extensive library of more than 60,000 historical pieces including books, personal papers, archival newspapers, and historic maps of Hungary over many different eras and time periods.

There is also a gallery of art celebrating different American-Hungarian artists that is open to the public to browse.

Make sure to check the calendar of events before your trip, including the Festival of Trees during the Christmas season or the Hungarian Festival at the start of every summer.

El Oaxaqueño

New Brunswick is known for its authentic Mexican dining scene, and El Oaxaqueño (260 Drift Street) is one of the highlight locations.

The interior may seem subdued and unassuming, and that is part of what makes this location especially authentic for the area.

Make sure you try some of the most beloved dishes like the chimichanga or Comida Chile Relleno.

Boyd Park

Boyd Park is a great option for families looking for a great playground, or anyone looking for a great open space to relax for a while.

A riverside park in New Brunswick, Boyd Park has playgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic riverfront views with canals and piers that trace along the Raritan River.

For pet owners, it should be noted that there is also a dog park within this place where your furry friends can be let free from their leashes to roam around a dedicated fenced-in area.

Aerial view of Boyd Park along Route 18 in New Brunswick, New Jersey

Break Stuff NJ

If you are looking for somewhere active and completely original to take some friends, head over to Break Stuff NJ (66 Georges Road).

The activity held at Break Stuff is known as a ‘rage room,’ which means it is a dedicated space where guests are encouraged to destroy everything in it.

Guests are equipped with protective clothing and a sledgehammer, and placed in a room with various items like glass, porcelain, and wood.

From that point, they are left to their own devices to let out whatever aggression or unresolved emotions they may want to express through the complete destruction of various fragile objects.

Whoever comes to Break Stuff NJ will need to be prepared to get their hands a bit dirty and use some elbow grease, but in the end, it should be a very satisfying experience overall.

Rutgers Gardens

A serene and beautiful botanical garden nestled within the Rutgers University campus, Rutgers Gardens (112 Log Cabin Road) offers a peaceful retreat for nature lovers and photographers to explore a wide variety of plants, themed gardens, and scenic walking trails.

The garden’s year-round events and programs, including horticultural workshops and garden tours, make it an educational and enjoyable experience for visitors of all ages.

Bowlero

For a guaranteed evening of fun, head to Bowlero (1 Carolier Lane, North Brunswick Township) for some bowling and other games.

You may come for the bowling, but you will be surprised to learn they have an arcade, pool tables, and a full bar themed in retro neon with a shiny-red vintage Ford Mustang to complete the theme.

If you are looking for exciting New Brunswick activities, Bowlero should be at the top of your list.

Bowling alley

Buccleuch Park

When you have been going from place to place and are looking for a quiet piece of nature you can stroll for an hour or two, head to Buccleuch Park (321 Easton Avenue).

Buccleuch features 78 acres of walking trails, a great playground for children, flower gardens, and a serene pond, providing a perfect outdoor destination for families, joggers, and picnickers.

There is also plenty of space for sports, with baseball fields, tennis courts, soccer fields, volleyball courts, and basketball courts.

With its lush greenery and recreational facilities, Buccleuch Park invites visitors to enjoy nature and engage in various activities, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing day out or a free activity for your kids to wear themselves out running around in the grass or playing at the playground.

If you are looking for things to do around New Brunswick, Buccleuch Park should be at the top of your list.

Buccleuch Mansion

In addition to the scenic and massive open space, Buccleuch Park also boasts a historic mansion that is nearly 300 years old and is currently open to the public as a museum.

Buccleuch Mansion (200 College Avenue) was originally constructed in 1739 as a 17-room, two-story mansion overlooking the Raritan River and encompassing nearly 80 acres of gardens and green space that now constitute Buccleuch Park.

There is plenty of history within these walls, with Buccleuch serving as a welcoming home for any American Revolutionaries, with the owners aligning with the cause early on and housing George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Hancock among other notable names during different phases of the American Revolution.

There are open house tours throughout the year, lasting three hours and encompassing countless artifacts from the 1700s that tell the story of the revolutionary period naturally passing through and existing within this beautifully-preserved piece of history.

Of all the places to visit in New Brunswick, the Buccleuch Mansion stands out for its beautiful architecture and important place in history.

The Olive Branch

The Olive Branch (37 Bartlett Street) is the kind of local spot that people “in the know” will tell you is the best spot for drinks and bar food in the state of New Jersey.

The Olive Branch has a laid-back atmosphere, with a beloved menu of different mixed drinks and shots.

With a great food selection of pizza, wraps and paninis, The Olive Branch has everything you’ll need for a great night in New Brunswick.

New Jersey Turnpike signs New Brunswick East Brunswick

Final Thoughts

We hope this comprehensive list can help you plan the perfect New Brunswick itinerary.

Don’t forget to share in the comments below your unforgettable experiences visiting the city or if there are other spots that you can recommend.

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