While it’s hard to break away from the excitement and energy of New York City, a trip across the Hudson to a lesser-visited spot—Hoboken—will dazzle you with unique bites, delicious drinks, and arguably the best Manhattan views in the area. This one-mile square city is also pretty much tourist-free.
I’ve been lucky enough to call Hoboken, New Jersey, home for four years. That means four years of eating all the mutz (mozzarella) and pizza I can get my hands on in this Italian-influenced community. The views of the city are unrivalled at some of my favorite waterfront bars or, even better, my apartment balcony. I hope you also fall in love with this lesser-known “borough” (yes, some locals call Hoboken the sixth borough of NYC!).
There are three main forms of transportation between Hoboken and New York City. The first and easiest option is the ferry. You can pick up the ferry from Battery Park Place or Midtown (at 39 Street and 12 Avenue) and take it to either Hoboken 14th Street or downtown Hoboken. Alternatively, you can take the PATH Train from a variety of stops along western Manhattan (the easiest is probably Penn Station/ 33rd Street). And, you can catch the bus from Port Authority.
If you want to switch it up next time you’re visiting New York City, hop across the Hudson and explore my very own town of Hoboken. Here are the best restaurants, bars, views, and things to do in Hoboken, New Jersey.
1. Elysian Café
Elysian was the first place my fiancé and I dined when moving to Hoboken. It is the oldest continually operated bar and restaurant in Hoboken. The architecture paints a picture of this establishment’s past—don’t forget to look up at the gorgeous ceilings—but the menu is as fresh as ever. Order my favorite item, the calamari salad!
2. Benny Tudinos Pizza
Sometimes a simple slice of pizza won’t cut it. You need the WHOLE thing. Enter Benny Tudinos, home to the largest slice of ‘za in New Jersey. Benny’s is no-frills, which is part of the fun. You get your whopping slice of pizza with two plates (because, yes, it doesn’t fit on just one) and can either take it to go or eat on the patio. These slices may be larger than my face, but you better believe I eat the whole thing!
3. Vito’s Deli
Hoboken has major Italian influence, and nowhere is this more apparent than its vast roster of delis. Vito’s, a deli in uptown Hoboken, serves up fresh “mutz” (mozzarella) with a variety of sandwiches and subs. They’ve made appearance on Food Network and have an expansive list of local awards. Even better for locals? This deli delivers!
4. Carlo’s Bakery
TLC’s “The Cake Boss” put Hoboken on the map, so it only makes sense that tourists who do visit town make a beeline for Carlo’s Bakery. Started by the Cake Boss Buddy Valastro himself, Carlo’s is an institution known for decadent pastries and sky-high, sugary (and edible) sculptures.
Insider tip: While people fuss about Carlo’s Bakery, it’s actually not my favorite. I always walk up the street to the Old German Bakery where the sweets are better, the staff is warmer, and the lines don’t wind out the door.
5. Pier 13
Every summer, the Hoboken waterfront comes alive as Pier 13 on, well, the 13th pier. It draws guests with food trucks, a waterfront bar, and live entertainment. Pier 13 takes over the entire pier and gets crowded on the weekend. The best time to visit the bar is Wednesday for half-price drinks night, although the food truck lines are pretty manageable at any time.
6. Pilsener Haus
Sure, Hoboken has widespread Italian influence, but that doesn’t mean Germans can’t get in on the fun! Hoboken’s Pilsener Haus, a massive beer hall with German brews and bites, is a great place to grab an afternoon drink. If the weather’s nice, they open their popular outdoor patio, although I find it tough to leave the indoor benches when a soccer game is playing on the big screen.
7. Pier A Park
Few places provide as much perspective on the scale and magnitude of Manhattan like Pier A Park. Located on the waterfront right near the PATH and train station, Pier A Park is directly across from Lower Manhattan. It offers sweeping views from the George Washington Bridge all the way down to the World Trade Center and the Verazzano Bridge. Pier A is a great spot for picnics, sunbathing, or just soaking up the views.
8. Castle Point Lookout
It’s hard to believe a one-square-mile city is home to a university, but in Hoboken, anything’s possible! Steven’s Institute of Technology is located at the highest point in the city, and therefore it offers some of my favorite views of Manhattan. Castle Point Lookout sits at 100 feet high with a canon that dates back to the Revolutionary War as a central point of focus. This is a perfect place to watch the July Fourth fireworks, or to catch the sun rising behind Manhattan. I walk my dog up here at least twice per week!
9. Hoboken Waterfront Walkway
Staying active is easy in a destination as scenic as Hoboken. The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway stretches 18 miles from Jersey City through Hoboken and up to the George Washington Bridge. You can run, walk, or bike (renting through Hudson Bike Share), and some institutions like the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse even offer free kayaking expeditions on the waterfront.
Have questions about visiting the charming little city of Hoboken? Leave your questions below and we’ll jump in with the answers!