Plus, there’s the company — that is, the droves of New York transplants who’ve relocated to Jersey in recent years, and the many (many) others that are beginning to consider it.
Fuggedaboutit, you say? Not so fast. Ahead, we’re taking a look at three New Jersey towns that are luring even the most loyal New Yorkers, and the local treasures that might convince even you to give the Garden State a second look.
Here’s a city that’s literally on the up-and-up (seriously, the skyline is getting more crowded by the minute). The trend actually started years ago with Wall Street financial institutions seeking out cheaper office space just a stone’s throw across the Hudson, but it has since morphed into a fully realized renaissance of this once-derelict stepchild of Lower Manhattan.
In the Grove Street area, there are now strollers and farm-to-table restaurants galore — if not for the above-ground power lines, you could be forgiven for mistaking the historic Van Vorst neighborhood for Fort Greene. Along the waterfront in Newport, Exchange Place, and Paulus Hook, shiny new high-rise waterfront apartment buildings continue to multiply, each with stunning views of Manhattan and commutes to Midtown that most Brooklynites would envy (for the inevitable naysayers, a newsflash: The PATH train runs frequently and 24 hours a day, same as the subways).
Meanwhile, the up-and-coming Jersey City Heights — which sits behind Hoboken, atop the New Jersey Palisades — offers stunning views as well, at prices pretty much unheard of in most of Manhattan since the early ‘90s. The neighborhood is seven minutes away from Newport on NJ Transit’s Light Rail, and from there, it’s just a 20-minute ride to Midtown on the PATH.
What To Do
Lowe's Jersey Theatre
This historic movie palace built in 1929 is in the process of being restored by devoted volunteers; today it hosts film screenings, concerts, and even weddings.
Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre, Arts Venue, 54 Journal Square, Jersey City, NJ; 201-798-6055.
Liberty State Park
A view from the city in a luxe green park? Yep, Liberty State Park is like the Central Park of NJ.
Liberty State Park, Waterfront Public Park, Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ; 201-915-3402.
Riverview Farmer's market
Jersey is known for its fresh produce and this is where you stock up. End of story. Riverview Farmers’ Market, 1 Bowers Street, Jersey City, NJ.
Where To Eat
A Momofuku Noodle Bar alum opened this inventive American seafood restaurant to rave reviews from New York food critics in 2012.
Thirty Acres, 500 Jersey Avenue, Jersey City, NJ; 201-435-3100.
Brownstone Diner & Pancake Factory
Did we also mention that Jersey is known for its diners? Yeah, not kidding — this place is the one to check out, especially for its namesake, the pancake.
Sri Ganesha's Dosa House
If you're looking for great Indian food across the NYC border, check out the brunch at this epic Dosa spot. It's casual and great for kids — just remember to bring cash.
Sri Ganesha’s Dosa House; 809 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ; 201-222-3883.
Where To Shop
Another Man's Treasure
AMT Vintage is home to a trove of goods that landed the store on USA Today's "10 Great Places To Shop For Vintage Clothing" list and, of course, our must-sees in Jersey City. The clothing, shoes, and jewelry at this well-stocked and well-priced shop date from the 1900s to the 1980s.
Another’s Man’s Treasure ; 353 Grove Street, Jersey City, NJ; 201-860-9990.
Newport Centre Mall
Two words: Tax. Free. Newport Centre Mall; 30 Mall Drive West, Jersey City, NJ; 201-626-2078.
Less than an hour from Midtown Manhattan by train, Montclair is — depending on your New York-based publication of choice — “the Park Slope of the suburbs,” “the Upper West Side of New Jersey,” or one corner of “the Brooklyn triangle” of suburbia. But perhaps Travel & Leisure put it best: Montclair is “legitimately...cool.”
The town is home to Montclair State University, the Montclair Art Museum, an eclectic mix of indie shops and theaters, and a wide variety of fine dining and ethnic restaurants — from Italian to Haitian to Ethiopian (per the New York Times, Montclair is also “the state’s most food-obsessed town”).
Culture aside, much of Montclair’s appeal for transitioning urbanites stems from its relative walkability — here, you can live in calm, suburban bliss and still not be totally reliant on a car.
Where To Eat
This popular Ethiopian restaurant draws crowds every night and is vegan-friendly, though there is meat and seafood on the menu as well.
Mesob, 515 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair, NJ; 973-655-9000.
A cozy and well-designed French-Lebanese restaurant, Uncle Moustache is perfect for casual date night or a private event.
Uncle Moustache, 702 Bloomfield Ave Montclair, NJ; 973-233-9500.
Though you wouldn't think it by its modest decor, this new American restaurant serves some of the best food in town, if not the state. If you go, try the fried oysters.
CulinAriane, 33 Walnut Street, Montclair, NJ; 973-744-0533.
What To Do
Upcoming shows at this historic and intimate theater include headliners like Brian Wilson & Jeff Beck, The Fray, and Third Eye Blind.
Wellmont Theater, 5 Seymour Street, Montclair, NJ; 973-783-9500.
Montclair Art Museum
Home to American and Native American art right off the main drag, this attraction pulls enthusiasts from all over the state.
Montclair Art Museum; 3 South Mountain Avenue, Montclair, NJ; 973-746-5555.
Where To Shop
Born Again Vintage
Not your average vintage store, this collective is owned by designer Bridgett Artise, who reinvents vintage finds with her signature modern — and sustainable — twist.
Born Again Vintage, 219 Glenridge Avenue, Montclair, NJ; 201-315-6167.
Montclair is home to collector-worthy antiques, thrift, and vintage and this knick-knack and furniture haven is emblematic of all that Walnut street and the town have to offer.
Garnish, 123 Walnut Street, Montclair, NJ; 917-297-7211.
This unique mom-and-pop buy-anything paper goods store is home to vintage toys, specialized stationery, and more stock you can get lost in for days.
Parcel, 559 Bloomfield Ave, Montclair, NJ; 973-744-7700.
With apologies to Bruce Springsteen, greetings are long overdue to the new Asbury Park, N.J. That is to say, this storied Jersey Shore town, on the cusp of a rebirth for the better part of the last decade, today appears firmly on an upward trajectory. The signs are all there: Multiple waterfront condo developments are either underway or on the horizon, the newish upscale restaurants in town regularly attract crowds, and a bar owner with popular beer gardens in Williamsburg and Hoboken has set his sights on Lake Avenue for his next outpost.
Still, this vivacious and famously creative town is unlikely to become yet another soulless land of Starbucks and Pier 1 Imports. Its historic music venues, edgy indie shops, galleries, and nightclubs are here to stay — multiplying, even. Meanwhile, rents are still relatively cheap, the beach and boardwalk are lovely, and you’re just one hour south of New York City by car if you get homesick. But you probably won’t. “If there was ever a suburban city that didn’t sleep, it’d be Asbury Park,” says Victoria McDougal, a local photographer.
What To Do
This landmark bowling alley, bar and punk music venue is the Jersey Shore’s punkier — and much more historic — version of Brooklyn Bowl.
Asbury Lanes, 209 Fourth Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-776-6160.
Wonder Bar's famous exterior is only second to the even more raucous nights that carry on inside.
Wonder Bar, 1213 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-502-8886.
Asbury Park Boardwalk
"Under The Boardwalk" doesn't hold a candle to the art, games, food, and fun that happens on top of it.
Asbury Park Boardwalk, 1300 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-897-6500.
Where To Eat
Top-rated by the New York Times, this two-year-old, not-just-a-pizza-joint also has live music and dancing on weekends.
Porta, 911 Kingsley Street, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-776-7661.
Brick Wall Tavern
A complete and robust menu offers tastes, plates, mains, and drinks for the fam, casual date night, or lunch.
Brick Wall Tavern & Dining Room, 522 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-774-1264.
Confections Of A Rock Star
The cake boss? We're pretty sure there's a cake rock star that has a thing or two to say about that.
Confections Of A Rock Star, 550 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-455-3510.
Where To Shop
This unique, denim-and-vintage shop is owned by a creative father-and-son duo who’ll take your measurements and make you a fabulous pair of jeans by hand...for $300.
Sweet Joey's, 523 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-455-3183.
In-store performances and an incredible selection make this local record shop a must-see.
Holdfast Records, 611 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park, NJ; 732-988-0066.