Travel: Spend End of Summer Weekend in Jersey City

I’ve long stopped counting how many times I’ve been to Manhattan.  Now, the goal isn’t to see something new, but go back and re-visit favorite places when I travel.  A last minute trip to the Big Apple for another summer weekend escape forced me to look beyond my usual go-to’s which are full up.

Jersey City, connected to Manhattan by the Lincoln tunnel, used to be the “low rent” zone; the place where 20-somethings earning 18k a year could share warehouses turned into airy lofts.  There wasn’t much of a neighborhood, but it didn’t matter; work and play happened in the city, and JC was just a place to lie your head.  But twenty years later, that’s all changed.

Jersey City’s harbor front, with its pedestrian pier and running path, is now also lined with investment banks occupying skyscrapers, a miniature Wall Street, which is just 20 minutes away on the PATH train.  And with the influx of the banking sector, so too, has come the luxury hotels to accommodate the expense accounts, as well as yuppies, and fantastic eateries as travel attractions.

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The best situated is arguably the Hyatt Regency Jersey City.  It’s attached to the harbor, making for wrap-around views from the bar, and from our room, the Empire State Building serves as a nightlight in the distance.  

It’s position at the pier also means it’s a terrific place for a breather from the big city.  The PATH station is just opposite, and the benches on the decked quay are a perfect place for morning coffee, or an evening stroll away from the masses and the streets shadowed by tall buildings.

I love New York as much as any city slicker, but the chance to take a breath by the water and gaze out as the skyline surrounded by space, is the best of both worlds. 

We’re decidedly avoiding the crowded museums and cultural attractions in favor of silly fun.  After a day trouncing from the Highline, New York’s trendy elevated park, to the East Village in search of gourmet treats, and a few markets in Soho, and we finish in Times Square for an evening at Caroline’s. Comedy clubs have long been a staple of New York nightlife, and the godfather, as well as the city’s first, is Caroline’s.

It’s still the most popular, and reservations are a good idea.  It’s pot luck, unless you have the flexibility to plan ahead for a particular comedian, but we’ve seen a handful of comics, some funnier than others.  We opt for the early show, which gets us back to the Hyatt by 10pm to rest our weary feet and enjoy milk and cookies gazing at the Empire State Building.