Discovering The Garden State: Newark and New Jersey

The Garden State forged a name for itself during the industrial ages – a diverse population, fascinating food culture and historical heritage have lent New Jersey its very own identity separate from its more cosmopolitan neighbour, New York City, across the Hudson.

With its own famous NHL team, historic neighbourhoods and a key role in the founding of the USA, Newark and wider New Jersey are well worth a visit. Here’s where to start. 

The Ironbound district

Named for the metalworks and railways that surround the area, the Ironbound district covers four square miles east of Downtown Newark. The area is home to the state’s most diverse, vibrant community. Residents in this multi-ethnic suburb flock to Ferry Street several times a year in celebration of their ancestral homes.

Portugal, Brazil and Ecuador each get the full parade treatment for an entire weekend in summer, so if you time your trip right, you could be soaking in the atmosphere and sinking some sumptuous cuisine in their honour. Whatever the time of year, there’s a fabulous food joint on every corner.

Newark Museum of Art

Expand your horizons with a trip to the Newark Museum of Art on the edge of Washington Park. This grand old building is home to dozens of different collections celebrating diversity and inclusivity, as well as a selection of works from masters like Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper.

In the 50-seater Planetarium, families and school tour groups gather under a seven-metre dome for some out-of-this-world displays and footage of exhilarating space missions.

At weekends, the MakerSPACE opens its doors to young makers, with a variety of the latest tools and tech available for creative minds to get their hands on.

Rutgers pride

Rutgers University, now known as Rutgers-New Brunswick, is one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious educational institutions.

As a result, New Brunswick has taken on a college town vibe that’s great for visitors in search of some entertainment – not to mention an enriched arts scene. Bands like Bon Jovi got their break in the swells of the Brunswick music scene, while the late pop artist Roy Lichtenstein was a big part of the ‘New Jersey School’ of prolific painters.

There are also plenty of places to take a break and find some peace. Take a picnic and stroll through the Bamboo forest and Holly House into Rutgers Gardens.

Local sports

The MetLife Stadium has staged some of the NFL’s most memorable moments since opening in 2010. On this very turf, Odell Beckham Jr made ‘The Catch’ for the New York Giants against the Dallas Cowboys in 2014. The ‘Miracle at the Meadowlands II’ saw the Philadelphia Eagles score four touchdowns in the final seven minutes of the game to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against the Giants.

At the Prudential Centre in Newark, the New Jersey Devils ply their trade in the NHL. The stadium was built in 2007, securing the future of the three-time Stanley Cup winners as rumours of relocation began to swirl. The 16,000-seat stadium has also held UFC and MMA fights, as well as live concerts from Mary J Blige, Fleetwood Mac and Bruno Mars.

Want to make some great sporting memories, or discover new dishes? Hire a car in Newark and find a range of exciting things to do in New Jersey.