Poor old New Jersey keeps taking it on the chin. Those who choose to ignore its beautiful northwest forests and shore beaches in favor of focusing on the toxicity within the mid parts of the Garden State instead have long slurred it for snarled traffic, high taxes and smelly industrial plants.
A new report has found further fault. When ranking the best and worst U.S. cities for recreation, WalletHub blasted New Jersey’s two biggest towns as the worst in the nation.
Jersey City landed dead last at No. 100, with Newark at No. 99, and the cities’ mayors predictably stuck up for their burgs. WalletHub previously ranked Newark as the worst city to start a business and the 10th worst to look for work.
Television shows like “The Sopranos” and “Jersey Shore,” which made the entire state look like it’s full of insane criminals or irresponsible jerks, are not the reality. Every state has its less-desirable types and parts. Here, however we are concerned with the best parts of cities and where to go in metros when you can’t afford that awesome, all-inclusive vacation to the islands, Mexico or Hawaii.
If you can’t afford that dream vacation this summer, don’t panic or stay inside with the blinds drawn. Many cities across our great nation offer fine options for a staycation close to home. Newark may not make the list of the best, but thankfully — and I’m sure New Jerseyans love to hear this — it’s just across the Newark Bay and Hudson River from New York City, where if you can’t find something you like you might as well go home and draw those blinds.
Locals can take in great views of the entire Bay Area — if it’s not foggy — by visiting the city’s highest point at Twin Peaks or enjoying great open spaces at Golden Gate Park or the Presidio. Walk around Chinatown, North Beach, Haight-Ashbury or any of the other distinct neighborhoods in the city or make a day of visiting quirky shops and tasting delicious local eats.
Living in L.A. is already pretty close to a vacation as well because the city has amazing attractions, tasty Mexican and Asian foods to sample and great weather. Why go anywhere else when all this is in the your own backyard, Angelenos?
American history, fresh seafood and New England charm are all right in Boston for residents to enjoy. Take in a Red Sox game at Fenway Park — built in 1912, it’s the oldest baseball stadium in the country — stroll or bike along the Charles River or take a Duck Boat tour on the water. For history buffs, take a Revolutionary War tour and see the sights of Colonial America within the city’s Historic District. There’s so much to do it’s technically a dream staycation.
Another city packed with rich history, not just famous cheesesteaks, Philadelphia has tons to offer. (And real Philadelphians will tell you the roast pork sub topped with provolone and broccoli rabe is the true city favorite.) There’s also Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the steps Rocky ran up — but I’d recommend actually going inside the Philadelphia Art Museum — and the Benjamin Franklin Museum.
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul consistently rank among the best metros for parks, probably because — get this — more than 95 percent of residents live within a 10-minute walk to one. Minneapolis boasts this spectacular waterfall at Minnehaha Park, and both cities have a burgeoning creative food scene. Denizens looking for traditional options also go for the Upper Midwest’s favorite burger — the Juicy Lucy — a cheeseburger with the melty stuff inside the burger. Just be careful because the oozing cheese can easily burn your mouth, but these are a delicious spin on the American classic.
Noah Zuss is a reporter for TheBlot Magazine.