Apologies to our friends in Jersey City: your secret is out. Lots of young families are moving across the river to this fun (and more affordable) town just a PATH ride away from Manhattan. Whether you’re looking to make a move, or just want a fun day out of your borough, Jersey City has plenty to offer, in every season. Read on to see what the buzz is about!

Liberty Science Center
Liberty State Park is home to an impressive playground with play structures, bridges, slides, and a wonderful view of Lady Liberty herself. Another must-do for kids (and their adults!) is the Liberty Science Center, filled with literally more exhibits than you can do in a day. Currently running: Arthur’s World, a place for little ones to explore and play in the land of the popular TV and book series character, and Grossology: The (Impolite) Science of the Human Body, which older kids will love for the larger than life body parts, and the disgusting sounds (burps, farts, etc.) they make. That is the tip of the iceberg. Kids can also scale the suspended Infinity Climber; feel their way through the pitch black “Touch Tunnel”; check out bees, monkeys, bugs, fish and more in “Eat and Be Eaten”; play with blocks of all shapes and sizes, and go dig for Dinos outside. Plus: the Center is home to three theaters with shows for all ages, including the recently-opened Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the largest one in the Western hemisphere!

222 Jersey City Blvd.
201-200-1000
Online: lsc.org

Playground

photo: Sam T. via Yelp

Newport Green’s Playground
The Newport area of Jersey City is loaded with family-friendly amenities. The Playport, a 17,000-square-foot playground housed on a rubberized safety surface is just one of them. The collection of state-of-the-art Kompan playground equipment includes separate swing and play sets for toddlers and young children, as well as a rope climbing dome for older children. Water features by Water Odyssey sit within the playground’s perimeter and include a large splash pad with misters and jets, multiple spray hoops, and a “dump-bucket” tower. Additionally, Fountain Plaza is a centrally located, open-section of the park that was finished in stone with seating walls, which are arranged around five illuminated flush jets. Awesome.

14th St; Newport PATH Station stop

NewportSkates

photo: Newport Skates

Newport Skates
Jersey City’s only outdoor ice skating rink, Newport Skates is located at Newport’s River Market and is open from November to March. It’s $7 admission, $6 skate rental per person; group and private ice skating lessons are available. Parking for the rink is at the nearby River Market Garage.

95 River Drive S.
(201) 626-7465
Online: newportrentalsnj.com

 

carousel

photo: Michelle L. via Yelp

Newport Green Carousel
Giddy-up! At Newport, youngsters will love the ocean-themed, seasonal carousel featuring ride-on horse seats and chariot benches. An outdoor ping-pong table that is located by the carousel is sheltered by a grove of trees for some shade. Park-goers are welcome to use the table year-round, and can bring their own paddles and balls. It’s right near the waterfront walkway, a path that literally connects Jersey City to Hoboken; it’s a beloved, well-lit trail that’s great for walking, running, and biking along the river.

14th St.
Newport PATH Station stop

newport-beach

 

photo: Niki C. via Yelp

Newport Green’s Beach
Length-wise, Jersey City’s Newport Green Park stretches 862-feet east to west from Washington Boulevard to the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway.  It’s all just steps from the Newport PATH station. Newport Green Park offers amazing views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline, while also serving as great place for your little transportation-lover to spot water taxis. File this one for summer: on site is an urban (i.e., man-made) beach with a 7,650-square-foot sand-filled area. (There are chairs and benches around the beach to veg out and enjoy the view.)

loradella

photo: courtesy Loradella

Loradella’s
Loradella’s is the Newport-area’s Italian restaurant/pizza place, so after a twirl around the carousel and a visit to the Newport beach, you can grab the kids for some grub. The eclectic menu includes calzones, chicken parm, ziti and meatballs, ravioli and other zesty faves, salads, as well as pizza by the slice and pie. It’s not just the food that draws families: Loradella’s also houses an arcade, with air hockey, crane games, skee-ball, full-sized classic gaming machines, and more. (Tokens are needed for the games and can be purchased on-site.)

126 River Dr.
(551) 247-0754
Online: loradellasfamilypizzeria.com

HamiltonPark

photo: Jersey City

Hamilton Park
In downtown Jersey City you’ll find Hamilton Park, which has a lighted basketball court, two lighted tennis courts, a children’s playground with climbing structure, and a gazebo. Surrounded by beautiful brownstones, this charming park is home to many outdoor festivals and plays. A professional theatre company produces one Shakespeare or classical show every summer, and other family-friendly events include street festivals, children’s yoga, Easter Egg hunts, ice cream socials, and more. Pretty flowers adorn the paths in this park and in the summer, giant yellow buckets that are suspended from up “high” spray water down on excited kids cheering below.

25 W Hamilton Pl.
Online: hpnajc.org

berry-lane-park

photo: Bloss C. via Yelp

Berry Lane Park
Jersey City’s first new municipal park in decades, the 17-acre Berry Lane Park opened to much fanfare in June of this year. The $38 million development utilized previous industrial land (which had to be remediated to eliminate harmful chemicals) and is now home to 600 new trees, playgrounds, a spray park, basketball courts, a baseball field and a rollerskating rink. A state-of-the-art skate park will also be built at the park, with funds in part from the Tony Hawk Foundation.

1000 Garfield Ave.
Garfield Light Rail Stop
Online: berrylanepark.org

HazelBaby

photo: Mickey Mathis

Hazel Baby & Kids | Hazel Baby
There are two children’s stores in Jersey City that are the same, but different. Confused? Let’s elaborate. Hazel Baby & Kids at 199 Montgomery is larger than Hazel Baby, just recently opened, and sells toys for older kids such as puzzles and art kits, as opposed to just baby toys, which the Hazel Baby shop sticks to. Additionally, at Hazel Baby & Kids, they sell toys, furniture, mattresses, changing pads, cribbing, decor, strollers and stroller accessories and in general it’s much larger store than the original Hazel Baby (17 McWilliams). For clothing sizing, they mostly sell items up to age two; including some exclusive Jersey City-themed tee’s that go up to size eight.

Hazel Baby & Kids
199 Montgomery St.
(201) 369-1999
Online: hazelbaby

Hazel Baby
17 McWilliams Pl.
(201) 918-5557

milk-sugar-love

photo: via Milk sugar Love Facebook page

Milk Sugar Love
This ice cream and sweet shop might be worth a trip to JC on its own. The store features 12 chef-driven flavors made with organic milk and cream and fresh New Jersey produce, daily. You can also stock up on cookies like chocolate chip, oatmeal cherry and snickerdoodle; bars like sea salt brownie and seasonal crumb treats, and French macarons by the dozen. Also noteworthy: ice cream sandwiches from your dreams (red velvet, fruity pebble) and updated, gorgeous takes on ice cream cakes.

19 McWilliams Pl.
(201) 984-0530
Online: milksugarlove.com

SugarTown

photo: Sugartown

Sugartown Bakery Café
Under brand new ownership, a must-visit desserts shop is the Sugartown Bakery Café. From catering to baked goods such as quiches, croissants and scones, at Sugartown patrons old and young will find something to satisfy their sweet teeth. Kids gravitate towards the colorful cupcakes, of course, (they have daily special flavors—yum!) but they also carry fresh strawberry shortcake, lemon cake, eclairs, you name it. It’s located near the Brownstone Diner and Pancake Factory; so after you have your comfort food brunch fixe; top it all off with a decadent, sweet treat.

437 Jersey Ave.
(201) 333-6600
Online: sugartownbakery.com

hudson-play

photo: via Hudson Play Facebook page

Hudson Play
A relative newcomer to the JC scene, Hudson Play is a family play space with a focus on interactive entertainment and fitness. The huge space features a killer ninja warrior course, a climbing wall, swings, an Imagination playground and more. Offering classes for toddlers, preschoolers, older kids and adults, Hudson Play also hosts birthday parties and special events. (Like its upcoming Halloween bash.) Also on site, the HealthBAR Cafe, serving healthy treats and delicious and nutritious smoothies for kids and adults.

189 Brunswick St.
(201) 963-4671
Online: hudsonplaynj.com

three-little-birds-jc

photo: via three Little Birds Facebook page

Three Little Birds
No matter what the enrichment needs of you or your child, chances are family fun space Three Little Birds has something for you. Classes for kids, from babes to toddler and up, include Preschool of Rock, music and movement classes, breakdancing, yoga, meditation and sewing. Mothers can join support groups for expecting moms, new moms or working moms, or take one of an assortment of yoga classes, including pre- and post-natal. More offerings for kids include birthday parties in a multitude of themes (Zumba, Star Wars, construction art, superhero, tea party, etc.) and drop-off PJ parties as well.

16 Erie St.
(201) 528-3212
Online: threelittlebirdsjc.com

tiny-greenhouse-2

photo: via Tiny Greenhouse Facebook page

Tiny Greenhouse
This spot for creativity is a nature-friendly art studio offering classes, camps, after-school and open play for kids 15 months to eight years old. The projects here are seriously fun and inspired, and they also host birthday parties in any theme your child can dream up. Adults can get crafty too, with paint and wine nights.

498a Jersey Ave.
(201) 333-8450
Online: tinygreenhousejc.com

michele-timek-yoga

photo: via Michelle Timek Yoga Facebook page

Michelle Timek Yoga
Toddler yoga, kids yoga, Mommy & Me yoga, it’s all happening at Michelle Timek Yoga in downtown JC. Other assorted wellness classes such as babycare & breastfeeding workshops and plenty of adult yoga happen here as well.

150 Bay St., Suite 909
(201) 357-7292
Online: michelletimekyoga.com

bambino-chef-2

photo: via Bambino Chef Facebook page

Bambino Chef
Kids are cooking at Bambino Chef! Little ones as young as 2-and-a-half years old are getting busy in the kitchen at this Jersey City spot for culinary fun. (Adults can take classes, too.) There are lots of ways to learn and have fun with food here, including after-school programs, classes, play dates, and pajama and tea parties. Birthday parties are a favorite here, too.

213 Newark Ave.
(201) 333-9090
Online: bambinochef.com

bridge_ups

photo: MyGym

MyGym
This 10,000 square foot facility for kids is located on the lower level of San Michael’s Church of Jude, My Gym . Each child that takes classes at MyGym is required to be a member; and classes available include Mommy&Me, Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Jazz, Ballet, you name it. It’s everything but the kitchen sink, here! Gym-related classes for younger kids include: Little Bundles (6 weeks to 6 months), Tiny Tykes (7 to 13 months), Waddlers (14-22 months), Gymsters (23 months-2 1/2), and more. Kids 5 to 13 can enroll in All-Star Sports, Whiz Kids, and Tumble Champs. Open Play is available during the week and on weekends; MyGym is membership-run and Open Play is for members only. Also offered: summer camp and party packages.

252 9th St.
(201) 205-1218
Online: mygym.com

WORD Bookstore

photo: Word Bookstore

Word Bookstore
Today, indie bookstores are a diamond in the rough. Truly. That’s why it’s fantastic there’s a Word Bookstore in Jersey City that really caters to kids. At Word, there’s baby storytime on Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. and all-ages storytime at 11:00 a.m. on Saturdays. There’s an on-site café with pastries and special events, such as visits from children’s authors such as Roni Schotter. During the month of your child’s birthday, they’ll get a Happy Birthday postcard and coupon, good for 25% off books and toys. And speaking of parties, children 3 and up can spend their special day celebrating in Word’s Jersey City store with parties themed around some of the best children’s books of all time. Parties include storytime, games, arts and crafts, and wrapped book favors, all hosted by kid-loving, literature-worthy book experts.

123 Newark Ave.
(201) 763-6611
Online: wordbookstores.com

Do you have a favorite family-friendly spot in Jersey City? Tell us about it in the comments!

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— Rachel Sokol