Warm weather is finally here, and it’s here to stay – at least through September. With summer in full swing, we’ve put together the ultimate summer guide for Jersey City residents. From amusement parks and kayaking trips to berry picking and a visit to the street fair, this guide has something for everyone. And, everything on our list is within an hour drive of JC. 

Day Trips to Quaint Towns

Living in a big city has its perks, but sometimes a getaway to a small, historic town – one with unique architecture and a buzzing ice cream shop on the corner – just hits the spot. New Jersey is home to many cozy towns, but we’ve narrowed it down to just three, all within a 45-minute drive of the city. 

  • Westfield, NJ

Picture rows of pastel-painted houses, architecture dating back to the 1700s, retro diners, and an old amusement arcade. This is Westfield. Just 40 minutes from the city, we recommend you get there in the morning. Spend the day walking through parks, grabbing a bite to eat, visiting local artist galleries, and shopping at the boutiques. 

  • Montclair, NJ

Old homes, museums, cultural attractions – all of this is nestled into the hillside community of Montclair. The town has a history dating back to the Revolutionary War, so while you’re there, be sure to visit the history center and memorial park. This quaint town also boasts lots of parks and gardens, like the Van Vleck House, so be sure to visit when the weather’s nice.

  • Maplewood, NJ 

Whether its picnicking and watching a sports game, or spending the day shopping and trying new cuisine, Maplewood’s got you covered. This historical town’s streets are lined with boutiques, food markets, restaurants, ice cream parlors – the works – and on weekends are often filled with the sound of live music. 

Jersey City Music and Movies in the Parks

Through the City’s “Summer in the City” initiative, free concerts and movie screenings started in July and will go through the middle of August. The music line-up features local artists, and concerts are held at both Berry Lane Park (Thursdays from 6:30-8:30 p.m.) and Liberty State Park (Tuesdays 6:30-8:30 p.m. and Sundays 6-8 p.m.). Movie screenings are held are various city parks on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. The complete list of musicians, movies, and locations can be here.

A Hike out of the City

Nothing says summer quite like a hike through the woods – flowing, green trees, the sound of a running stream, squirrels and birds rustling through the leaves. It’s a must-do activity, so here are a few hiking trails close to the city:

  1. Mills Reservation (35-minute drive)
  2. Bridal Veil Falls (40-minute drive)
  3. Palisades Interstate Park (50-minute drive)
  4. Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area (50-minute drive)
  5. Norvin Green State Forest (50-minute drive)

An Afternoon Kayaking

With gorgeous views of New Jersey, the summer sun beaming down on you, and a cold drink in hand, kayaking is the perfect way to spend an afternoon on the water. Whether you want to stay nearby or drive a little further, this list covers some of our top kayak rentals:

  1. Urban Kayaks (in JC)
  2. Hudson River Park, Pier 26 (20-minute drive)
  3. Hackensack Riverkeeper (40-minute drive)
  4. Lake Hopatcong Kayaking (50-minute drive) 
  5. Delaware and Raritan Canal (1-hour drive)
  6. Navesink River (1-hour drive)

A Camping Trip

Enjoyed hiking and kayaking but want something more long-lasting? Plan a camping trip. New Jersey is home to a diverse wildlife population, both land-dwelling and aquatic species, as well as many plants native to the state. Check out this list of a few local campgrounds:

  1. Cheesequake State Park (40-minute drive)
  2. Camp Gateway Sandy Hook (1-hour drive)
  3. Sun-Air Lakeside Camp (1-hour drive)

Drive-In Movie Nights

If you’re looking for a classic summer activity, head to a drive-in movie. Pick up a hot dog and popcorn from concessions, then settle in to watch a new summer release. We recommend Newark Moonlight Cinema

A Day of Berry or Flower Picking

New Jersey is home to some of the best farms and orchards. And spending the day walking through fields, picking fresh produce or cutting blooming flowers, supports local farmers while giving you healthy fruits and vegetables or flowers to decorate your home. 

If you’re interested in berry picking, check out these farms:

  1. Hillview Farms (30-minute drive)
  2. Alstede Farms (50-minute drive)
  3. Battleview Orchards (50-minute drive)

Or if flower picking piques your interest, check out these options:

  1. Holland Ridge Farms (1-hour drive)
  2. Alan’s Flower Farm (1-hour drive)
  3. Hidden Spring Lavender Farm (1-hour drive)

Weekend at an Amusement Park

It’s roller coaster season! So, head to one of New Jersey’s amusement parks and spend the weekend riding coasters, winning prizes, and eating all the fried food your stomach can handle. Here are a few to check out:

  1. Keansburg Amusement Park (45-minute drive)
  2. Six Flags (1-hour drive)
  3. Jenkinson’s Family Amusement Park and Boardwalk (1-hour drive) 

A Saturday at the Beach

One perk of living on the coast is all the nearby beaches. And an essential of any summer bucket list is a day in the sand. So grab your beach chair, sunglasses, favorite snack, and head to one of the beaches below, all a one-hour drive from the city:

  1. Asbury Park Beaches
  2. Sandy Hook Beaches
  3. Ocean Grove Beach
  4. Belmar Beach
  5. Spring Lake Beach
  6. Long Branch Beach

Wrap Up the Summer at Jersey City’s Downtown Street Fair

September 9, from 12-8 p.m., check out the long list of local vendors set to make up the “All About Downtown Street Fair.” Newark Avenue, between Grove and Coles Street, will be lined with booths from local businesses, selling items like homemade candles and jewelry. There’s set to also be kids rides, face painting, beer gardens, and live music — the perfect way to wrap up the summer. 

Hannah just graduated college, where she majored in writing and communications. In her free time she enjoys baking, reading, and trying new coffee shops.