The Best Things to Do in Paulus Hook, New Jersey

Forget what you think you know about Jersey City and discover what really awaits you on the other side of the river.

Paulus Hook is a charming historic neighborhood in Jersey City, located directly across the Hudson from the Financial District. In 1628, Paulus Hook got its name from its ward, Dutchman Michael Paulez, who ran a ferry as the area became an island at high tides. In 1779, 23-year-old Major Henry Lee convinced George Washington to attack the fort here, originally built by colonists, but occupied at the time by the British, in what is now known as the Battle of Paulus Hook.

With a radius of about 12 square blocks, historic Paulus Hook is small but mighty. It’s full of old brownstones and great restaurants, peppered along the way with a few converted factories, churches, and boutiques.

The Must-Do Experience

NJ WaterfrontNature looms large around Paulus Hook. The bike-friendly Hudson River Waterfront Walkway begins in Paulus Hook and goes north to the George Washington Bridge. Stroll a little farther south along the water and you hit the Liberty Landing Marina along with the Liberty Landing Ferry at Warren Street. Every 30 minutes, the ferry crosses the expanse of water between Paulus Hook and Liberty State Park. For $2, you can take the short trip across the canal and the park’s 1200 acres are yours to explore.

Liberty State Park contains miles of nature paths and hiking trails, including an extension of the Hudson River Waterfront Walk. Enjoy spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty and the harbor, ferries to Lady Liberty and Ellis Island, and the historic Central Jersey Railroad Terminal (where eight million immigrants boarded trains to their new homes). There are two seafood restaurants with raw bars at the Liberty Landing Marina that serve lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. One way tickets are $14 and bikes are allowed on board for free.

The Eats

Sam a.m.There’s an awesome selection of quality restaurants to choose from in the neighborhood. Sam a.m. is the hands-down local favorite for breakfast and lunch. Tucked away in a little brownstone on Morris Street, you can secure a tiny table inside or take your coffee to go, sit on a nearby stoop and people watch. The fare and Stumptown coffee is always delectable, and the staff is so downhome, you’ll wish this little gem was your neighborhood shop.

For dinner, two local favorites are as delicious as any celebrated restaurant in Manhattan. The European style eatery Satis (on the corner of Washington and Sussex) has unbelievably good food, a lovely selection of charcuterie, and the best outdoor patio in town. Bistro La Source is also a winner with its mussels, steak frites, and authentic Parisian setting.

The Drinks

Light Horse TavernWith echoes of a British pub, the Light Horse Tavern—and its seventeen-foot-high tin ceilings, brick walls, and open-all-day flexibility—is high on the list, yet the must-do spot is the bar at Satis. With its own entrance and separate space, and an early happy hour, this long, dark bar beckons you to stay a while. With a nice cocktail menu, delicious sangria, and a talented bartending staff, you’ll find the drinks as inviting as the atmosphere.

 The Insider Tip

Paulus Hook is surprisingly dog friendly for those who have four-legged friends. All the restaurants with patios will gladly bring out a bowl of water for Fido. Dogs can ride the ferries as long as they’re in a carrier. Plus, there are so many playful pooches in the area that Morris Canal Park can seem like an unofficial dog run—you’ll even find a few stealthy pups chasing balls into the Hudson on a hot day. A nice selection of Airbnb listings in Paulus Hook are pet friendly and Canine Canteen owner Terry has five sweet female British Labrador Retrievers that melt hearts and help with sales. Terry has a great selection of healthy food, treats, and interesting toys. If you stop in, tell her Stacey and Clementine sent you.

The Digs

If you’d like to turn a day trip into an overnight, the best place to stay is the Hyatt Regency. Built on a pier that juts out into the Hudson, each room has spectacular water and city views. The indoor saline pool has a wall of windows facing the city as well, so bring your bathing suit.

The Directions

Liberty FerryMake your weekend getaway even more of an adventure by skipping the Path or the Uber and taking the ferry across the Hudson instead. The minute the ferry leaves its berth, you’ll feel far away from the crowds and concrete. New York Waterways runs weekday-only ferries from Midtown, Wall St, and Battery Park City; the BPC ferry is the most frequent, and the only one with a rooftop deck and seating. The Liberty Landing ferry runs seven days a week, every 30 minutes from Warren Street to Battery Park City; it also has a rooftop deck. Purchase New York Waterways ferry tickets from the ticket booth in either terminal; purchase trips for the Liberty Landing ferry right on the ferry with cash.

The trip will take 8-15 minutes depending upon which ferry terminal you choose. Now if that’s not an instant gratification getaway, what is?

Photos: Respective properties, J J, Nigel

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  • NYC

    I found the image above with the outdoor seating to be unrepresentative of the area. I was expecting an experience more like Hoboken and it felt like there was nothing there, but residential housing.