As a native Jersey girl, I know that my home state of New Jersey gets severely overlooked due to its neighbor NYC. But my state does have a lot to offer, especially my hometown of Elizabeth. If you’re planning a trip to New York then let me show you why you need to do a day trip to Elizabeth to New Jersey from the big apple.

But first, why Elizabeth? This little 13 square mile city has a lot to offer. Also, I may be slightly biased as I was born and lived here the first two years of my life. From restaurants to bars to nightlife to community, this city has it all.

The origin of its people has changed drastically over the years. Before my family arrived in the mid 80s it was mainly a Greek community. Over the years it has turned predominantly Latino, specifically Colombian, so much so that it’s called Little Colombia. Expect to find lots of Colombian bakeries, restaurants, and people due to this!

Elizabeth Art Sign

Getting to Elizabeth from NYC

Getting to Elizabeth from the middle of Manhattan is honestly easier and faster than making your way over to/from JFK or LGA. This also means it’s easier to get to and from EWR (Newark Airport) into the city than actual New York City airports because it’s one train stop before Elizabeth. 

NJ Transit will be your go-to for this. You’ll first need to head over to Penn Station on 34th st and 7th avenue in Manhattan. From there you’ll make your way either down or up towards the main floor where you’ll see a huge screen that works as the time table. Two lines run by Elizabeth including: North Jersey Coast Line and Northeast Corridor.

To purchase tickets you can either get them on their app, NJ Transit, or at the orange vending machines in the station. A one way ticket costs $7.25 and takes approximately 30 minutes each way. There is no discount for buying a roundtrip ($14.25) as opposed to two one way tickets.

Things to do in Elizabeth, New Jersey

Now for why you’re here. What to actually do during your day trip to Elizabeth. It all depends on your interests. In Elizabeth you’ll find history, shopping, culture, and street art.


Like did you know that Alexander Hamilton lived in Elizabeth at one point? Or that there were 8 presidents before George Washington and that one of them lived in Boxwood Hall in Elizabeth? I had no idea about that. I learned this during a walking tour of Historical Elizabeth which included Boxwood Hall, the Ritz Theater, and the First Presbyterian Church and cemetery.

Along the walk we came across some signs that mention a free walking tour that you can do on your own. There’s numbers to help you know where you are and what part of the tour you should be listening to.

If you don’t know what you’re looking at then you may miss all the Art Deco buildings around the city. It really shows you the history of the city and how it’s changed over the years. It’s great to see that Elizabeth has been able to hold on to things of the past.


Elizabeth is the home of The Mills Jersey Gardens Mall. This started as an outlet mall years ago with a 0% sales tax on clothing items and 3.5% sales tax on non-clothing items which continues through today. The mall itself has definitely gotten an upgrade from when I used to go when I was younger but its appeal has definitely increased. Lots of people from New York or on long layovers come specifically to shop for the reduced prices and its convenient location.

If you’re looking for more local shops then definitely hit up Broad St. You’ll get a feel for the community by walking around and seeing what people live and work here. 

Walking around downtown, specifically Morris Ave you’ll find lots of street art. The majority of the art you see in restaurants is made by the owners themselves or them hiring someone to do it. 

Where to eat in Elizabeth, New Jersey

Sabor y Arte 2 Margaritas
Sabor y Arte 2

The food is definitely a main reason for you to visit Elizabeth. There are restaurants from over 20 countries that you can find in this small city, mainly Colombian ones. 

The restaurants to definitely keep on your radar include:

  • Rancho Mateo (Colombian)
  • Sabor y Arte 1 and 2 (Colombian)
  • Don Ricky’s Bakery (Colombian)
  • Brisas Bakery and Restaurant (Colombian)
  • Valenca (Portuguese and Spanish)
  • Mexology (Mexican)

The majority of the restaurants you’ll find on Morris Ave so find a place to park and walk around until you find what you’re craving. Most of the restaurants have been remodeled recently with beautiful decor and worth taking a walk to get to see.

Nightlife in Elizabeth, New Jersey

If nightlife is what you’re looking for, then Elizabeth has all the spots for you. At these spots you’ll mainly find Latin American music like salsa, reggaeton, bachata, cumbia, and merengue. So if this is your vibe you’ll have a great time!

Barcode recently redid all of its interior which now includes a pool. With the roof open during the day it could look like a Vegas pool party.

Lobby is a nightclub located near the Newark airport. It has a huge space and lots of lights with big tv screens. 

Tulum is an open space as part of Mexology. It has a huge bar and a stage where they play live music on Fridays. There’s limited space for dancing but overall a great vibe. 

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Will you be adding a day trip to Elizabeth to your NYC itinerary or even consider staying there to save on costs? Hotels and other accommodations are much more economical since they are a bit outside the city.

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Viaja more y live más,

Latina Traveler

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