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Are you looking for the best things to do in Newark, New Jersey?
The largest city in the state is often referred to as “The Gateway City” due to its historical significance and strategic location to major cities and transportation hubs, but Newark is also brimming with lots of entertainment options.
From catching a concert at the Prudential Center to exploring captivating museums like the Newark Museum of Art, history buffs and culture enthusiasts won’t run out of things to do.
But that’s not all!
Newark boasts serene parks and green spaces for locals and visitors, perfect for picnics and outdoor activities.
Plus, if you’re a foodie, the city offers a multicultural culinary scene where you can savor flavors from around the globe.
We’ve got the lowdown on all these fantastic options with the information you need to make your Newark visit one for the books.
For more adventures throughout the state, see our full collection of New Jersey guides.
Best Things to Do in Newark NJ
Our guide to things to do in Newark kicks off with attractions around the city center.
After that, we’ll take you on a journey north, and finally, we’ll explore places a bit farther south.
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center
The New Jersey Performing Arts Center (1 Center Street) is one of the largest event spaces in Newark, hosting events including musical performances, plays and musicals, and stand-up comedy.
Of all of the Newark attractions, the arts center stands out for its exceptional rotating set of national performing acts.
Couples looking for a fun date night or families looking to bring a large group to a concert should keep an eye on the schedule for acts that may appeal to them.
In addition to the live shows available year-round, there are also art education programs available to students aged pre-K to 12th grade, exposing them to the many different forms of performing arts.
Nestled in downtown Newark, Military Park (51 Park Places) provides an urban oasis amidst historic architecture.
Originally designed and situated within the downtown area during the Colonial era of American history, the park dates as far back as 1666.
This 6-acre park is a popular spot for office workers looking for a peaceful lunch break and city dwellers seeking a green refuge.
There is a delightful restaurant situated inside the park, as well as a carousel that is a popular spot for children during the summer.
The Yard is an incredibly unique and delicious dining experience in Newark.
Situated within Military Park a block away from the Passaic River, The Yard has the perfect ambiance for outdoor dining while you stroll the park or find a scenic spot for an afternoon picnic.
There are many popular items on this menu of American eats with a twist, including the oxtail burger, shrimp burger, and salmon cakes.
There is also a great brunch menu on Sundays with breakfast and lunch options perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll.
New Jersey Historical Society
The New Jersey Historical Society (52 Park Place) is a treasure trove of the state’s history, featuring captivating exhibits and valuable artifacts that locals and tourists alike will find interesting and culturally important.
This museum is one of the most popular places to visit in Newark, appealing to history aficionados keen on delving deep into the archives, as well as more casual tourists interested in learning more about the history of the area.
There are great events that occur on a regular basis, including walking tours, special exhibits, and family programs catered to children.
Newark Museum of Art
The Newark Museum of Art (49 Washington Street) is a cultural haven that showcases diverse art collections, including American, Asian, African, and contemporary art.
This local gem is an ideal destination for art enthusiasts and history buffs interested in exploring Newark’s cultural heritage.
Don’t miss the interactive exhibits and rotating displays from artists that showcase the cultural history of the local community, as well as the artistic significance that crosses generations and spaces.
There are also events every month for the local community, such as community days and art festivals.
Newark Penn Station
Newark Penn Station (1 West Raymond Plaza West & Market Street) may primarily be a functioning transportation center but is also a historic location filled with beautiful architecture and history.
Not to be confused with New York Penn Station, Newark Penn Station is still an important piece of transportation between the suburbs and New York City over the years.
The same architectural team responsible for the famed New York Penn Station also built this station, and it shares similar themes of Art Deco architecture, having completed construction in 1935.
While you may need to use this station for actual transportation needs such as buses and trains, you should spend several minutes admiring the architecture and learning about its storied past.
The Prudential Center (25 Lafayette Street) is Newark’s premier entertainment arena, hosting a wide range of events, from thrilling sports games to top-notch concerts featuring world-famous artists.
Prudential is home to the New Jersey Devils, a large NHL organization, as well as the basketball team for Seton Hall University.
Make sure you check out the calendar to see if a local hockey game, college basketball game, or popular band may line up with your stay in Newark.
The Krueger-Scott Mansion (601 Dr Martin Luther King Boulevard) is a beautifully restored historic mansion that offers a captivating glimpse into Newark’s past.
Guided tours allow visitors to explore the period furnishings and lovely gardens, making it one of the things to see in Newark for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.
QXT’s Nightclub (248 Mulberry Street) is the ultimate destination for alternative nightlife, and may just be the best location in Newark if you are looking to let off some steam with dancing and drinks at the end of the night.
QXT is perfect for those who enjoy the alternative music scene and a lively, welcoming atmosphere that’s ideal for dancing and socializing.
This club stands out because of its late hours and energetic atmosphere and is assuredly one of the most fun places in Newark.
Newark Symphony Hall
Newark Symphony Hall (1020 Broad Street) is a cultural gem, offering classical concerts and theatrical performances that cater to fans of the performing arts.
This 3,500-capacity venue is an ideal spot for those looking to appreciate the beauty of live orchestral music and stage productions.
Originally built in 1925 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, Newark Symphony Hall holds a special sense of historic reverence and style that perfectly aligns with the beautiful performances held in its theater.
All Points West Distillery
If you are looking for things to do in downtown Newark, consider a historic craft distillery in the Ironbound district.
All Points West Distillery (73 Tichenor Street) is a craft spirits distillery where visitors can savor handcrafted liquors and take informative tours.
All Points West is a destination for spirit connoisseurs and those interested in learning about the distillation process and sampling some delicious drinks with local favorites such as pink peppercorn hibiscus gin.
Sabor Unido is also a local family-owned upscale restaurant specializing in exotic cuisine.
If you are looking for things to do near Newark Penn Station, this Brazilian and Portuguese establishment is the perfect date night, offering live music and the perfect ambiance in the heart of the Ironbound district.
Many of the most popular dishes are Brazilian steaks such as skirt steak and top sirloin steak.
There are also items such as Chicken Marsala and Yucca with pork sausage that are very popular among the locals.
Seabra’s Marisqueira (87 Madison Street) offers Portuguese delights and features authentic seafood dishes that have made this restaurant a local favorite.
Dive into their extensive seafood menu, sip on their famous sangria, and savor a slice of Portugal in Newark with the ambiance and location that perfectly fits a romantic date or a large family outing after a night in the downtown area.
In addition to delectable appetizers and a large wine menu, one of the most popular dishes is the Carne do Porco an Alentejana, pork, and clams braised in garlic and white wine, served with a traditional Portuguese coriander sauce.
Casa d’Paco is a family-owned Spanish restaurant that specializes in tapas and authentic Spanish meals along with a curated wine bar.
If you are looking for an upscale date night in downtown Newark, Casa d’Paco is an excellent option that has the perfect blend of surprises and delectable favorites.
Make sure you order the Patatas Bravas as an appetizer, deep-fried potatoes coated in a blend of signature sauces and spices.
If you are looking for something sweet and unique, make sure you stop at Teixeira’s Bakery (186 Ferry Street).
This local favorite is nestled in the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark and has stood the test of time as a must-stop spot on any trip to Newark.
Teixeira’s specializes in Portuguese baking, with some unique items such as Pasteis de Nata, an authentic Portuguese egg custard tart pastry that is baked to perfection with a signature dark toasted crust and a decadent flaky interior wrapped around a cinnamon-dusted vanilla custard.
Essex County Riverfront Park
The Essex County Riverfront Park (1-3 Brill Street) neighbors the Passaic River and offers breathtaking views, making it a favored spot for nature lovers and joggers seeking a riverside escape.
While there are great walking trails and green spaces for relaxation, parents should make note that there is a great playground right along the water that could serve as a great break for the kids to let out some steam for a while.
Down Bottom Farms
If you are looking for an incredibly unique Newark activity, to connect with nature in the middle of the city, support Down Bottom Farms (371-395 Ferry Street).
This urban agricultural site is over a half acre in size, featuring fruit trees, berry patches, vineyards, and community gardens.
In addition to shopping at the weekly farmer’s market, guests are also encouraged to partake in events such as educational programs and children’s activities.
Red Bull Arena
Soccer fans looking for places to go in Newark should head to Red Bull Arena (600 Cape May Street, Harrison, NJ) to cheer on the New York Red Bulls, a Major League Soccer team.
The stadium offers an electrifying atmosphere and exciting matches, making it a perfect destination for local soccer fans.
Newark Public Library
Newark Public Library (5 Washington Street) is a literary sanctuary where bookworms and researchers can immerse themselves in an extensive collection of books and resources.
This space caters to scholars, students, and avid readers, providing a serene environment for reading, studying, and research.
There is also a great children’s area filled with age-appropriate books as well as special events such as storytimes and art classes.
Branch Brook Park
One of the most famous places in Newark, Branch Brook Park (Park Avenue and Lake Street) is renowned for its enchanting cherry blossom displays, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts and photographers.
This 360-acre park offers a serene escape for those seeking a tranquil retreat within the city, with miles of walking trails, a delightful series of streams and large ponds connecting to the Passaic River, and over 4,000 cherry trees.
Spend a few hours relaxing under the shade of a cherry tree, or stroll the park past historic venues and capture some nice views in the area.
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart
The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart (89 Ridge Street) is a stunning piece of French Gothic Revival architecture first operating in 1954 after 55 years of off-and-on construction efforts.
In terms of Newark sightseeing, this beautiful Catholic cathedral is a popular spot for tourists passing through or leaving the neighboring Branch Brook Park.
This immense building stands high above Newark, with its two stone towers stretching high above the park and the surrounding areas of town.
Even if you are not religious, this church is still a great spot to take a break and marvel at the stunning architecture that has persevered the decades and well over 100 years dating back to the original period of construction.
Jewish Museum of New Jersey
A lesser-known Newark museum is the Jewish Museum of New Jersey (145 Broadway).
Operating as a part of the Ahavas Sholom synagogue, this museum is tightly woven into the history and culture of Jewish Americans living in the local area over the centuries.
The exhibits and archives tell the stories of local Jewish families, connecting individual human experience with the story of Jewish Americans in New Jersey and New York dating back to the earliest instances of immigration.
Take an extra several hours if you have the time, and explore an important piece of local history you may not be well-versed in.
On the southern end of Newark immediately west of the Newark International Airport, Weequahic Park (Elizabeth Avenue and Meeker Avenue) invites visitors to unwind in a natural escape from the city.
If you are looking for things to do near Newark Airport, Weequahic offers open space for picnics, fishing, and paddle boating.
Families and outdoor enthusiasts can relish a leisurely day in this scenic park with the charming Weequahic Lake surrounded by walking trails, recreation parks, and a public golf course.
We hope this guide has given you loads of ideas regarding many of Newark’s points of interest and the best things to do around the city.
Do you have more recommendations or want to share your experience? Let us know in the comments below!
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