If you’re in New Jersey and you’re bored, you’re obviously doing something wrong. Just look around—this state is absolutely full of awesome places to be and awesome things to do. Festivals, bars, theme parks, beaches, the list goes on and on.
So, who tops the list as the most exciting place in the state?
That’s what the Movoto Real Estate Blog is here to find out. We’ve looked at exciting places before, and New Jersey was a pretty natural place to add to our top 10 list. So we looked over some delicious food, smiled at pictures of beautiful beaches, and had a great time figuring out the greatest Garden State fun spots. Hoboken lead the top 10, which looked like this:
1. City of Hoboken
2. Borough of Palisades Park
3. City of Long Branch
4. Atlantic City
5. City of Trenton
6. City of New Brunswick
7. City of Hackensack
8. City of Clifton
9. Union City
10. Jersey City
You might be wondering where a few other big name places landed. You can see where the top 50 places ranked at the bottom of this article, and as far as how we did it, we’ll talk about that right now. We know you’re filled with anticipation.
How We Got Excited About Getting These Results
First off, we made a list of the 50 most populated places in New Jersey, based on the 2010 U.S. Census. There were a few places we couldn’t find any data for, so if your city is missing, that’s why. We then used the Census and business listings to gather info in eight different criteria:
- Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
- Live music venues per capita
- Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
- Arts and Entertainment per capita (movie theaters, festivals, galleries, theaters, etc.)
- Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
- Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the better)
- Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)
- Population density (the higher the better)
After we found that data, we ranked each place from 1 to 50 in each criterion, with one being the best. We took all the scores for each place and averaged them into one Big Deal Score for each location. The place with the lowest big deal score was our most exciting spot, and that turned out to be Hoboken.
We know there are plenty of exciting places in the state, and we’re each one has their unique selling points. For now, let’s take a closer look at each of our top 10. Reading this might not be exciting as living there, but hey, it’s a start.
Hoboken witnessed the first ever recorded game of pro baseball, so it was destined to be an exciting place to call home. Since then, the city has blossomed into a place that holds yearly music and film festivals, offers numerous parks and historical landmarks, and of course backs up its No. 1 ranking with a whole bunch of strong numbers.
Hoboken ranked No. 2 in music venues per capita, active life options, arts, and even young population. In fact, a stunning half of the population is between the ages of 18 and 34, which means that the energy levels are youthful and lively.
There are also a fair number of non-fast food restaurants here, ranking No. 8 for that category. Plus, when you factor in that the city has places like The Cuban Restaurant And Bar, it becomes obvious that this place not only has quantity, it also has quality.
2. Palisades Park
For a little borough of only 19,622 people, this place probably has the most karaoke bars per capita we’ve ever seen, with Sing Out being the highest rated one. Besides that, this place has enough bars, clubs, and taverns to garner it the No. 3 spot for nightlife and the No. 7 spot for music venues.
It doesn’t stop there. Palisades Park had the eighth best young population ranking, the No. 9 population density, and the third best ranking for non-fast food restaurants per capita. If you don’t believe us, you can always grab a seafood pancake at So Moon Nan Jip and decide for yourself. If you still feel like doing something a little more cultured, you can always hit the yearly harvest festival over in the ever-growing Koreatown area of the borough.
3. Long Branch
Our No. 3 place boasts quite a bit of culture alongside serious party-related numbers. What’s more exciting than a city that knows how to be classy where it counts and also when to let its hair down?
For example, this place may have had the fifth best nightlife, but it also had the eighth best arts ranking. It had the No. 5 young population score, but it also has the Lumia Theater where you can catch plays and other events. The No. 9 active life rank includes surfing and beaches as well as dance companies and yoga. So, basically, whether you have fun by cutting loose or are a little more refined, Long Branch can cater to your interests.
4. Atlantic City
If this city’s appearance in our top 10 surprises you, you’ve obviously never been there. There are casinos, a boardwalk, live shows, bright lights, and a seriously lively party scene. It’s really like a smaller, classier version of Las Vegas.
Atlantic City easily scored No. 1 in nightlife and music venues per capita, featuring such sinful-sounding places as Ivan Kane’s Royal Jelly Burlesque Nightclub and Wet Willie’s. It also scored No. 1 in arts per capita and has such awesome festivals as the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival. The active life options ranked 11th and it fared pretty well for non-fast food dining, too.
Trenton posted some pretty solid numbers across the board. The arts, young population, nightlife, music venues, and even population density were all in the top 20, and even the number of fast food restaurants around really isn’t that bad.
Let’s focus on the specifics. For instance, baseball fans are going to love this place. Its minor league team, the Thunder, have been playing since the early ‘90s and show no signs of slowing down.
There are also tons of festivals year round in this capital city, including Civil War reenactments, film festivals, a Renaissance faire, and even a pork roll festival in May. No matter if you like celebrating food, music, culture, alcohol, or for no reason at all, Trenton probably has a festival for it.
6. New Brunswick
New Brunswick is a pretty diverse place, and diversity does tend to bring in excitement There are very high Latino and Hungarian populations here, and both cultures offer festivals and unique shops, especially for this area of New Jersey. On top of that, however, there are some pretty awesome stats that make this place stand out. The city had the No. 4 nightlife and the No. 6 music venue rank, thanks to places like Clydz.
Where this place really stood out, however, was in the young population ranking. New Brunswick was No. 1 in this category, with over half the population being between the ages of 18 and 34. This can be attributed to the fact that the city is home to Rutgers University, which has been around since the 1700s. That population makes this one party-hard city, especially during the school year.
In general, Hackensack is good for young folks, as it had the No. 14 young population and No. 13 nightlife. It also isn’t bad for those who like to enjoy the daylight, as it had the No. 17 active life ranking and No. 15 arts rank.
It also had a pretty solid non-fast food restaurant ranking, which makes sense because this place is home to Choripan Rodizio. Seriously, you have to try the skirt steak there.
No matter what you’re into, Clifton has something for you to enjoy. It has places like La Riviera Gastronomia for foodies, Digital Press Videogames for gamers looking for events, Dingbatz for metal-heads looking for a concert, and even hot yoga classes for the health nuts. This place is eclectic, and it makes for an exciting time.
Don’t take our word for it; let’s consult the numbers. This city had the No. 12 nightlife, the No. 9 music venue ranking, and the No. 18 spot in non-fast food restaurants. Clifton had a surprising low ranking for young population, at only No. 30, but that just enforces the idea that this place is all about diversity, even in age range. Heck, even the boring fast food restaurants are fewer here than in places like higher-ranked New Brunswick.
9. Union City
Like our No. 8 spot, Union City is all about diversity. Not only is this a cultural melting pot, often called “Havana on the Hudson,” It also has excitement-inducing offerings for people of all ages and interests.
Surprisingly, the two real shining points of this place are in population density, where the city ranked No. 1. Plus, this place had the eighth fewest fast food eateries per capita, leaving room for the No. 7 non-fast food restaurants like El Artesano Restaurant, which has some of the best empanadas around.
10. Jersey City
Fittingly enough, our New Jersey list is capped off with the city that carries its name. The biggest place on our list at 247,597 people, Jersey City had the third best young population ranking with about a third of the population being between the ages of 18 and 34. This is due to the fact that the city is home to New Jersey City University and Saint Peter’s University, and gives the place college town vibe.
That vibe feeds the number of music venues and nightlife options locals have, as well as the different active life options. Everything here is also right at your doorstep, considering the population density ranked No. 7, and you can always find a bit of class at Loew’s Jersey Theater.
It’s Old News That New Jersey Is Awesome
If you live in New Jersey, you know it’s not surprising that your state is home to a ton of exciting places, but now the rest of the nation knows it, too. From great restaurants to awesome sports teams, you guys absolutely know how to keep things upbeat and energized.