If you’re looking for awesome things to do in Newark, New Jersey, then you’ve come to the right place! Newark, known as “Brick City” among residents, is a bustling city that has some great activities and attractions you don’t want to miss.
Newark is just a 30-minute drive or train ride from Manhattan and Jersey City, so it’s perfect whether you’re visiting for a day trip or want to plan a longer stay. From bustling downtown to the quaint Ironbound section on Ferry Street, there are some seriously cool things to do in Newark.
As a New Jersey local, this article contains some of my absolute favorite Newark activities. And while you’re here, make sure to bookmark my guide to the best things to do in New Jersey.
Without further ado, let’s get into why you should pay Brick City a visit!
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18 Best Things to Do in Newark
New Jersey Performing Arts Center
Enjoy a night out with live entertainment
Also known as NJPAC, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center is a beautiful venue that showcases a ton of great entertainment. Here you can catch a piano concert, a dance performance, or even a comedy show. Go to their website to check out their full event list and get tickets.
Since it’s located in downtown Newark, it can be difficult to find parking at the NJPAC, so I recommend taking an Uber or Lyft. If you’re renting a car, then your best bet is to rent with Discover Cars and park in one of the lots in the area. Street parking is near impossible and you risk a hefty parking ticket.
👉 Pro Tip: It’s a good idea to plan ahead as to what show you’ll see before you visit Newark. A lot of events sell out quickly, so grab your tickets ahead of time.
Check out Newark’s premier sporting events arena
The Prudential Center is another one of Newark’s most popular tourist attractions. Like the NJPAC, this large venue holds many events – mainly sporting events and concerts.
The Prudential Center is also home to the New Jersey Devils hockey team and, as such, is often called the New Jersey Devils Arena.
There are lots of vendors throughout the facility during events, although some can be expensive. Also, if you have kids in tow, then definitely check out if Disney on Ice is on during your visit – I took my daughter to see Frozen on Ice and it was spectacular!
🛎️ Need a Hotel? The Robert Treat Hotel is highly-rated and located close to many of Newark’s best attractions, such as the Prudential Center. It’s definitely one of the best places to stay in Newark.
Newark Museum of Art
Explore the history of art
The Newark Museum of Art doesn’t get enough credit as a great place to visit – it’s one of the best things to do in Newark as well as New Jersey’s largest museum. The museum has varied and expanded its exhibits over the years and is home to an art collection with diverse pieces from all over the world. They even have an adorable mini zoo!
This is one of my favorite museums to visit, as it also has an amazing planetarium, which is truly one of the best parts.
If you’re a Newark resident looking for some local things to do, then you’ll be happy to hear that Newark residents and members enjoy free admission to the Newark Museum. But even if you aren’t a resident, admission is still reasonable, making it a great place to go if you’re on a budget.
👉 Want to see more landmarks? Try the Newark App-Led Scavenger Hunt. This tour starts near the Newark Museum and takes you on a scenic tour of all the landmarks in Newark.
Newark Public Library – Main Branch
Visit Newark’s largest library
If you’re a bookworm (such as myself!) then paying a visit to the Newark Public Library is definitely one of the best things to do in Newark. This 4-floor library houses thousands of books – including some rare finds!
Even if you’re not an avid reader, architecture is another reason to come visit this library. Built in the 1800s, the main branch is one of the oldest libraries in the state and, as such, the design of the building is quite beautiful.
In addition to books and beautiful architecture, the library often holds small events. These include book readings, educational programs, and historical exhibits.
👉 Pro Tip: Parking is rough as only limited street parking and paid lots are available. Both options often require some walking. I highly recommend rideshare services such as Lyft and Uber when getting around Newark.
Newark Symphony Hall
Check out this excellent performing arts center
Newark Symphony Hall is a beautiful concert hall that puts on fabulous performances. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has performed here, although it’s also where many other events are held, even those of a private nature. People can rent out the hall for meetings, weddings, as well as other special events.
But Newark Symphony Hall is more than a venue for events – it often provides educational programs as well, such as the Production Assistant Training Program. This program helps prepare young adults to work in TV and film.
Before visiting, pay a visit to their website to see what events are coming up next and how you can get tickets.
Branch Brook Park
See the city’s natural beauty
Branch Brook Park is an expansive green space boasting the largest collection of Cherry Blossom Trees in the United States. The park is also home to beautiful landscapes and lakes, walking paths, and a driving path that takes you through Branch Brook Park.
During your visit, bring a blanket and have a picnic on the grass near the fountain or check out the Cherry Blossom Festival. If the weather is nice such as in Spring and Summer, this is definitely one of the best things to do in Newark.
👉 Pro Tip: The park is huge and expands across Newark and into the neighboring town of Belleville. There are several entrances and a path that connects them all, so I recommend taking a drive along the path and exploring the park before settling on where you’d like to spend your day.
A fun park with activities for the whole family
Military Park got its name from the fact that it used to be a training ground for troops during the French and Indian War. Today, in nice weather, Military Park is a popular lunchtime spot – especially so for people who work in the area.
But this triangular-shaped, 6-acre park is more than something nice to look at, as it’s often the site of events and activities for all ages.
Different sections of Military Park are designed for different things. For example, on one side, there’s a Children’s Garden where you can find storytime and activities for kids. On the other side, there’s a meditation area for activities like Yoga and Tai Chi.
Many performances and events are held in Military Park so, before you visit, check their website to see what’s happening next.
Cherry Blossom Festival
Marvel at gorgeous cherry blossom trees
Hosted in Branch Brook Park is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Features of the festival include bike races, a 10k run, food vendors, and of course, seemingly endless cherry blossoms. There are different entrances and you can enjoy the beautiful blooms from many areas in the park.
While you’re here, enjoy the blossoms by having a picnic under them, taking photos, or just basking in the natural beauty of the flowers. The Cherry Blossom Festival is something I look forward to every year, and it’s rare I miss one!
👉 Pro Tip: When it comes to the Cherry Blossom Festival, it’s better to go a little later in the day if your sole interest is the trees. After the mid-day rush, the crowds thin out and you’ll get more uninterrupted access to the beautiful blooms – and parking.
Newark Penn Station
Newark’s primary transportation hub
📍 Map It: 1 Raymond Plaza West & Market Street, Newark, NJ 07102 | Phone: (800) 872-7245 | Website | Hours: 24/7
Though Newark Penn Station is often thought of more as a “how to get around” item as opposed to something to do, it is a primary Newark site.
This hub of transportation is home to many bus and train routes and will greatly help you get around, as well as journey into New York City for the day if you want to. You can also take the PATH train to Jersey City and Hoboken and take in the sites out there.
📚 Related Reading: Looking to step outside of Newark for a bit? Newark Penn Station can take you to a variety of locations. Check out my list of the best places to visit in NJ for ideas!
Enjoy lake views
📍 Map It: Elizabeth Avenue & Meeker Street, Newark, NJ 07112 | Phone: (973) 268-3500 | Website | Hours: Dawn – 9 pm daily
Weequahic Park is a beautiful, expansive park that is definitely one of the best things to do in Newark. The park hosts a walking trail that goes around the entire area and surrounds the peaceful Weequahic lake.
The lake is teeming with wildlife from geese to elegant swans, but make sure you don’t get too close! The swans are often nesting and get aggressive if you get in their territory.
In addition to a great trail, Weequahic Park has a playground for the little ones. It’s an ideal place to come on a nice spring day or in summer when it’s not too hot.
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Check out the largest cathedral in North America
If you like older architecture, then you’ll want to pay a visit to the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Even if you’re not religious, you’ll still enjoy the intricate design and architecture of this church. Its cornerstone was first laid in 1899, and then 55 years later in 1954, it was finished and dedicated.
The Cathedral Basilica holds the title of one of the largest cathedrals in North America. It sits on a hill and can be seen from many areas in Newark because of its height. The Cathedral’s motto is that all are welcome.
All Points West Distillery
Tour a local distillery
If you want to grab a good drink while you’re in Newark, then make sure to visit the All Points West Distillery. They feature award-winning homemade spirits using their unique distilling techniques and boast an American take on popular spirits such as Whiskey, Rum, and Gin.
In November of 2019, one of their distillers was named a Whiskey Artisan in the periodical NJ Monthly. They offer tours and tastings (which I highly recommend you book) – but by appointment only. Stop in and taste for yourself what everyone’s talking about.
👉 Looking for more information? My New Jersey travel guide includes everything you need to know about planning a trip to the garden state!
Essex County Riverfront Park
A waterfront park facing the Passaic River
Essex County Riverfront Park overlooks the Passaic River. It’s graced with multiple athletic fields and is great for a day outside playing basketball or baseball. It also holds the title of being the only park of its kind in Newark with a waterfront.
Visitors can come here to let the kids run off some energy in the grassy fields or enjoy a game of tennis at the tennis courts. It also features baseball and soccer fields but there are also seating areas at the waterfront if you just want to sit back and relax.
⛱️ Feel Like Hitting the Beach? Then check out my picks for the very best New Jersey beaches – it has a little something for everyone!
Museums & Culture
Jewish Museum of New Jersey
Discover Jewish history
📍 Map It: 145 Broadway, Newark, NJ 07104 | Phone: (973) 485-2609 | Website | Hours: Sundays 1 pm – 5 pm during events. Appointments only otherwise | Entrance: Varies per event. Call for more information.
One of Newark’s hidden gems is the Jewish Museum – an educational establishment that takes visitors on a journey into Jewish culture. New Jersey has a large Jewish population and this museum serves to bring attention to it. It even features how the Jewish community has had, and continues to have, an active role in various parts of the world.
The Jewish Museum is part of the Ahavas Sholom synagogue, which is one of the longest-running synagogues in Newark. It showcases a variety of rotating and permanent exhibits for all ages, a gift shop, and special events.
Check their website as they frequently update it with new event information.
New Jersey Historical Society
Explore New Jersey’s varied history
📍 Map It: 52 Park Place, Newark, NJ 07102 | Phone: (973) 596-8500 | Website | Hours: Museum – 10 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Saturday, Library 12 noon – 5 pm Tuesday – Saturday | Entrance: $3 Museum, $5 Library
The New Jersey Historical Society is a tribute to all things New Jersey history. Here you’ll get to explore the history of Newark and that of New Jersey as a whole.
Educational exhibits include one about New Jersey’s role in World Wars I and II, as well as a New Jersey river system section (all about the Delaware and Passaic Rivers). History buffs who want to know more about the Garden State’s rich history will definitely want to make a stop here.
Food & Drink
Try the best dining in Newark
In my humble opinion, one of the best diners you’ll ever visit lies between East Newark and Harrison – Tops Diner. The crowds of hungry people that come here, especially on a Sunday, totally attest to that!
Tops Diner has huge portions, the food is fantastic, and the desserts are divine. It’s a great place to come with family and friends for any meal – breakfast to dinner.
Don’t want to sit down? They have take-out options if you want to enjoy your meal on the go.
👉 Read Next: Best Places to Stay in NYC
Fornos of Spain
Sample exquisite Spanish cuisine
If you love a restaurant that offers family-style eating, then Forno’s is for you. They bring you large family plates loaded with rice and meats, all seasoned to perfection, and then each person then uses the serving spoons to serve themselves. It’s a great experience with amazing food and the best staff.
Just make sure you bring your appetite! Forno’s is known for serving up large portions that would be challenging for even an entire family to eat. Oh, and definitely try their mango sorbet which they serve in an actual mango!
Pick up some delicious baked goods
The Ironbound section in Newark is known for its excellent Portuguese bakeries – and Teixeira’s is one of the best. This bakery serves up some of the warmest, softest, Portuguese rolls and a host of other baked goods that will make your mouth water.
Located on Ferry Street, Teixeira’s Bakery sits right in the midst of many other great Portuguese restaurants and bakeries – each adding its own special flair. Take a walk around and try the other local flavors that the Ironbound has to offer.
🎰 Read Next: 27 Best Things to Do in Atlantic City, NJ
Thanks for reading my picks for the best stuff to do in Newark! With its beautiful architecture, as well as many historical sites, you’ll no doubt enjoy your visit to Brick City. For more Newark trip planning advice, check out my guide to where to stay in Newark.
Looking for other areas to visit in New Jersey? Then check out my list of the best places to stay in New Jersey for some ideas!
Enjoy all the fun things to do in Newark!