NJ Nightlife Bars and Entertainment.
New Jersey. Also known as The Garden State (though nobody seems to definitively know why), New Jersey is where affluent New Yorkers go to get away from the Big Apple – some even commuting every day via The George Washington Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel and the Holland Tunnel. In fact, parts of New Jersey do lie within the ever sprawling metropolitan areas of both New York and Philadelphia. Located in the heart of what’s known as the BosWash megalopolis (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC), a significant chunk of New Jersey is more densely populated than India.
No mention of New Jersey can be without reference to one of the most successful groups of the 1960’s: The Four Seasons, featuring the unmistakeable falsetto voice of Franki Valli. During a career which spanned some 40 years, Franki Valli and the Four Seasons sold over 100m records. Born in 1937 as Francis Castelluccio, Fankie Valli grew up in the tough neighbourhood of Newark, New Jersey. Encouraged by his mother, Valli taught himself to sing by impersonating other artist. He sang with several Jersey groups before going making his solo debut in 1953. He and brothers Nick and Tommy formed The Varietones in 1954, becoming The Four Lovers in 1956 and then The Four Seasons in 1961. Their most famous numbers include Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like A Man, Candy Girl and Can’t TakeMy Eyes Off Of You. Their story is now the subject of a Broadway hit musical: The Jersey Boys.
For historians, New Jersey is a real treat, offering tastes of native American life at the Rankokus Indian Reservation, Civil War battlefields and re-enactments, the immigrant history of Ellis Island and tales of local great inventors such as Thomas Edison. For outdoor lovers, New Jersey offers
For glitzy nightlife lovers, New Jersey offers ….Atlantic City, where luxury hotels and world class casinos draw millions of visitors every year. Yep, welcome to the Las Vegas of the East.
Inhabited by Delaware Indians some 10,000 years ago, the first Europeans to settle in New Jersey were Swedes and Dutch, although the state name was decided by the English, who named it after the largest of the Channel Islands (any similarity ends pretty much with the name!). New Jersey played an important role in the American Revolution with several significant battles fought here, led by George Washington. New Jersey became the third state to ratify the US Constitution in 1787 and the first state to sign the Bill of Rights. Trenton became the official capital in 1790.
Post Civil War, New Jersey grew with the industrial revolution and the immigrants poured in from Ireland, Germany and later Italy and into Eastern Europe. By 1910, half the population was first or second generation immigrant. They haven’t done too badly. Currently New Jersey has more millionaire residents than any other US state – but conversely, Newark and Camden are two of the poorest cities in the US. Not surprisingly, New Jersey is one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse states with a high Jewish, Muslim, Asian, Italian-American, Indian-American, African, and Hispanic American population. You’ll find Spanish, Portugese and Italian commonly spoken in many areas.
Bordered by New York, the Atlantic Ocean, Delaware, and Pennsylvania, New Jersey divides into five regions: Northeastern New Jersey, which lies within the New York metropolitan area; Northwestern New Jersey, a more rural and mountainous area; the Atlantic Coast shore; the Southwest, within the Philadelphia metropolitan area; and the Pine Barrens, which is far less densely populated – mainly because it’s covered with pine and oak forest.
Atlantic City is the resort city of the East. It stands for bright lights, star studded entertainment, designer shopping, and casino gaming galore. Casino gambling was approved in Atlantic City back in 1978 to revive a rather tired seaside resort. It worked – and how. Today, Atlantic City boasts the world’s first and longest Boardwalk, being transformed by the Pier at Caesars into a landmark dining, entertainment and shopping area, and a buzzing nightlife that is constantly growing and changing with new clubs, restaurants, bars and casinos opening all the time. Here’s where you’ll find Donald Trump’s gaudy Taj Mahal, one of the biggest casinos in the world, and plenty of Elvis impersonators.
In 2007, MGM Mirage board approved a massive project called the MGM Grand Atlantic City which will cover up to60 acres and incorporate three towers, totalling more than 3000 rooms and suites and featuring a 1500 sea theatre, convention centre, spa, retail, and a whole host of restaurants, nightclubs, bars etc. it will also have the largest casino floor with 5000 slot machines, 200 gaming tables and a poker room. Completion is set for 2012. And this is just one of several projects planned by corporations including Morgan Stanley, which plans to build a $1bn resort casino; Pinnacle Gaming, planning a $1.5-2 bn casino resort; and Planet Hollywood, also looking at developing a new casino resort. Interestingly…smoking has been banned in almost all the state’s bars, restaurants and indoor areas – except casino gaming areas. We’ll leave you to work out why that might be!
Outside Atlantic City, the 127 mile New Jersey coastline generally offers more sedate nightlife – strolls along the boardwalks or chilling out with a six pack on the beach – although Wildwood is trying hard to be a party hot spot and there are some good bars and clubs at Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights. Victorian Cape May is known as the restaurant capital of the state (try Axelsson’s Blue Claw seafood restaurant and Black Duck on Sunset), but generally people come to the rest of the coast for white sand, sun and peace.
Peace is not what you’ll find in New Jersey’s other main cities Newark and Jersey City. Newark may be a poor area, and its not renowned for its nightlife, but search around and you will find some good traditional landmark bars, lounges and restaurants. Just don’t expect anything too modern or wayward. Krug’s Tavern is a popular choice, famed for its burgers, beer and side orders, while 27 Mix offers a trendy restaurant and bar with a great choice of Martinis. The Priory in St Joseph Plaza – a restaurant and club in the renovated old area of the city – is hard to beat for jazz
One of New Jersey’s most historic spots is Jersey City, its landmarks including the 1853 Grace Van Vorst Church, the 1909 Fairmont Hotel, the 1929 Loews Jersey Theatre, and more. Its various attractions, including the Circle Line Statue of Liberty Ferry, draw in thousands of tourists every year, so decent nightlife is important – and its easy to find with a wide range of American and international dining opportunities, Check out the 4 fifty 5 restaurant and bar in the Double Tree Hotel on Washington Blvd, Albert’s Nite Club on Marin Blvd, the Citizen Kane Ale House on Montgomery St, or Foxes Dance Club.
Birthplace of one Francis Albert Sinatra – Hoboken – right across the river from New York City – is the place to hang out. It’s a small town – just one square mile – but utterly packed with bars and restaurants. A great place for a ‘pub crawl’, all night long if you want. Most places are around Washington Street but check out the side roads as well, such as Newark, Sixth, First and Hudson. Good music can be heard at Maxwells on Washington Street or O’Neals on Park Ave, while Irish bar lovers should head to Moran’s Pub on Garden St. Other choices around here include Bahama Mama’s, The Far Side, Sullivan’s and the Whiskey Bar, featuring live bands three nights a week. If you’re here in the summer, check out the free movies shown in the park by the river.
If you’re out and about there are a good selection of wineries in New Jersey offering a wide range of award winning wines from white PinotGrigio to red Cabernet Sauvignon. Not nightlife exactly, but a good excuse for enjoying a glass or two whilst exploring New Jersey’s quieter environments.