Newark's reputation for seediness precedes itself. As a result, the largest city in New Jersey always gets eclipsed by its stylish neighbor Manhattan when it comes to tourism. But from its 1996 ranking as "The Most Dangerous City in the Nation," Newark has indeed come a long way. In fact, in March of 2010 the city celebrated its first month without a homicide. If you'd care to explore closer, you'd notice that it holds a charm all its own. Rough, yes. But that is also part of its fascinating allure.
The Newark Museum with its 80 galleries of art and science exhibits, planetarium and mini zoo is definitely a must-see. The museum is also home to the Ballantine House, which is a National Historic Landmark. Seven miles from downtown Newark, you can find the Thomas Edison National Historical Park, which features the genius inventor's lab and home. On Clifton Avenue, relax under the famed cherry trees at Branch Brook Park. From here, you can also get an excellent view of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Aside from being the main place of worship for Roman Catholics in the city, its 200 stained glass windows and 14 giant bells are truly a sight to behold. Newark also houses many contemporary art galleries. Be sure to check out the works at Aljira, City Without Walls and Gallery Twenty-One. And while you're there, stop by Military Park downtown where you can admire and take a picture of the Wars of America monument. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is also located here.
You can't leave Newark without sampling its Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish dishes. Most of the restaurants are located in the vibrant Ironbound neighborhood, particularly along Ferry Street. At night, the district comes alive with cocktail lounges and bars.
While there are no malls in Newark, there are stores and shops that provide avenues for the untiring shopper. Many of these shops are clustered around Broad Street and Market Street in Downtown Newark. If you really want to engage in some mall shopping, head to nearby Elizabeth where you can find the Elizabeth Center and Jersey Gardens.