Hoboken may be one of the loveliest towns in the USA. Growing up in Bergen County as a Jersey Girl, I remember my step dad telling me never to go to Hoboken. The town was dangerous, gritty. I found out this was completely wrong when I got into High School and Hoboken was our gateway to NYC. If you're not from the Gateway area, you've probably heard of Hoboken either from watching "On the Waterfront" with Marlon Brando. Or perhaps you've heard of it because Frank Sinatra was born. Or perhaps because Hoboken is the birth place of baseball. If Hoboken has just recently hit your ears, it is probably because of Buddy Vallastro and Carlo's Bake Shop.
What You Should Know About Hoboken
Delis: After World War I, Italians moved to Hoboken. This means that we now get to reap the rewards. You cannot go wrong with any of these delis, you may have to hit the gym to burn off all those delicious calories...but who cares. There are some incredible Italian delicatessens including:
- Fiore's (414 Adams St) My favorite - every day at lunch time they serve the best sandwiches in town until they run out & close. Did I mention the best Mozzarella in NJ?
- Lisa's (901 Park Ave) - It has been around since 1971 and it is as Italian as it gets. Pick up some Mutz, buy some Jersey tomatoes and make a Caprese. You will be happy.
- Luca Brasi's (100 Park Ave) - Here you want to get the subs.
- Vito's (806 Washington Street) - less popular than the rest, but just as good. The bread is the key.
Parks: If you love parks and outdoor living, this is a great city for you, especially if you have kids or dogs. These are not all the parks in Hoboken, but just a few that I love and enjoy.
- Church Square Park (Garden Street between 4th & 5th St) - My favorite since I lived on 5th & Garden. It has recently been revamped and it is better than ever. It has basketball courts that are used on a daily basis. There's a HUGE dog run where Hobokenites often take their pups. There are jungle gyms that make 5 year old me jealous. In the summer, Hoboken hosts free concerts in the Gazebo and feasts at the park. There is a monument to Firemen (Caspar Buberl,1891), a veteran's memorial, and a monument to Gugliemo Marconi (inventor of the telegraph).
- Columbus Park (Clinton Street between 9th &10th St) - Super cute park (even if it is named after a pretty nasty historical figure). The park has basketball courts, a playground, tennis court, bocce, shuffleboard, and a hitting wall. In the Summer. they have a spray park for the kids. It was designed by Charles Lowrie and (as expected by its name) has a sculpture of Mr. Columbus, a "Sun House" which is a gazebo with a sunken garden.
- Hoboken Island - Pier C Park (Sinatra Drive & 4th) One of the newest parks in town. It is a floating island on the Hudson river that is tiny, but holds many treasures. The park has a fishing pier (I'm still in shock that people eat fish that comes out of those waters...but that is a different story), a play area for the kiddies, a lovely promenade, and even a rookery.
- Pier A - (100 Sinatra Drive) is the place where Hobokenites who skip the shore worship the sun. It's a spot where people play flag football and get a glimpse at the new Freedom tower. Start your walk here and walk on Sinatra Drive all the way to the end of Hoboken.
- Elysian Park (Hudson Street between 10th &11th St) This was originally part of the Elysian Fields where the first organized baseball game took place. The park is a few steps away from the soon to close Maxwells (we'll miss you) and the Hoboken mansions.
- Steven's University: Not really a park, but holey smokes, this is one of the most beautiful places in Hoboken. Tour the campus and sneak over to Castle Point for the most beautiful views of NYC.
Dining: Hoboken has tons (and tons of restaurants). The majority are mediocre, but the good ones are really (really good). What do I love?
- Cucharamama: (333 Clinton Street) - Maricel and Clara are masters of Latin Cuisine. You will love anything you pick up here.
- La Isla: (104 Washington Steet) - If you've had Cuban food in North Bergen or Union City, this place is nothing special...but if you need a fix for really delicious Cuban and you don't want to make the drive to UC or NB and deal with the crappy parking, La Isla is your answer. Sure, the food is priced higher than your regular place in JC, but it is D-A-M-N good. Besides, the people that work there are super sweet.
- Cafe Michelina: (423 Bloomfield) Remember what I told you about really good Italian food. Yeah, this is the place. The food is not fancy, but it is delicious. Besides, they are a BYO.
- Carlo's Bake Shop: Carlo's is good. It was a favorite of my sister and I when we were younger. It has been great for the town and tourism. That being said, be prepared to wait online. And don't get upset if locals get in. If you have a Hoboken ID, they will let you skip the line...it's only fair - Thanks Buddy 🙂
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- Bars - Hoboken has a very healthy nightlife. There are bars for every flavor. Basically every young person from Jersey goes to Hoboken on Friday & Saturday nights to get their drink on. This was great when I was young, but when I got older and lived there, I got a little sick of the puke in the sidewalk in the AM.
- St. Patrick's Day: Speaking of bars, St. Pat's is the largest drinking day in Hoboken...but it is usually held the weekend before St. Patricks. By 8 am you will see 20 year olds on line waiting to get into every bar. If you move to Hoboken, or are planning to visit...I'd plan for another weekend (unless you're joining in the festivities).
- The Feast of the Madonna Dei Martiri: Takes place in September and it is lovely, even as a non-believer. Hoboken's Italian community (which is sadly & slowly being pushed out of town by high rent prices) parades with the Madonna through the town. They even walk into restaurants with their marching bands. Really lovely. There is food, music, games and fun. This is a great time to visit.
- Homeless: There are homeless in Hoboken, but they usually keep to themselves. They don't beg and they don't bother residents or tourists. I have never had an issue with the homeless in Hoboken (unlike San Francisco)
- Stay: You can do the W Hotel, but it will cost you (and they don't even have a pool). Check out Airbnb instead, options are limited, but you may get lucky.
- NYC: Hoboken is super close to NYC. You can take the Path train into New York or the 126 NJ transit bus and be there in no time. They run less frequently at night, but great for a day excursion.
- SOBI: Hoboken has Sobi bikes. Check out the program and have fun checking out the city in two wheels.
- Parking: If you are a Hoboken resident, you can get a resident's parking permit for $30. If not, please beware the signs, Hoboken's police department will ticket and boot you. If you can find a "Permit Parking Only Zone" sign ( it's the white sign with green letters), you can park there for four hours on the visitors side of the street. Check the link above for more info in case they change things. There are lots of parking decks in Hoboken too if you don't want to take the chance.
- Taxis: Cabs in Hoboken will charge you $5 anywhere in the city (and $1 for each additional person). Grab a cab by the Path, if you grab it elsewhere, it will cost you $6. At night when people are coming back from NYC you may have to share with someone.
- Bus: You can also grab the 126. It drives up and down Washington St. and costs just $1.50 if you stay in town. This bus will also take you to NYC.
- Shopping If you need a mall, you can go to Newport in Jersey City (the light rail will take you directly there). But I say skip this and shop in Hoboken. There are some great shops. If you have a dog, check out Beowoof - Karl the owner is awesome. Also Aaraa, it is still one of my all time favorite shops for jewelry.