13 Essential Tips About Jersey City Nightlife From A Local

You’re likely here for one of a few reasons:

  1. You’re a tourist, curious if Jersey City (JC) has good nightlife.
  2. You’re moving to New Jersey and exploring the best places to party.
  3. You’re comparing Jersey City’s nightlife to Hoboken or NYC.

Whichever your situation is, you’ll commonly find limited, outdated, or misleading information online about nightlife in Jersey City, New Jersey.

So, I’m going to tell you the real deal, backed by data and firsthand experiences as a current NJ resident for over 10 years, NYC native, and nightlife and hospitality expert.

In this article, I’ll explain essential travel tips and facts about Jersey City nightlife that you should know before you go. Including, where the best parties are, the Last Call times for bars, local clubbing fashion, and even the safest neighborhoods to party in to help you have great nights out in New Jersey!

Let’s start with a truth that no other tourism website or travel blog would be honest enough to say.

Jersey City Is Not A Party Town

If you are new to Jersey City, allow me to welcome you. But, also to give you a reality check:

Jersey City is not a party town. Hoboken is the undisputed party city of Hudson County, New Jersey!

Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza view of street during the day - Essential Tips and Facts about Nightlife In Jersey City - Photo By C Nez Byrd - Always The VIP
Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza view of street during the day – Photo by C. Nez Byrd

Jersey City primarily has a bar-hopping culture. So, it offers a variety of bars and restaurants. This makes it ideal for those who enjoy hanging with friends at cheap dive bars, socializing at trendy sports bars, and partying at casual lounge bars with good music.

When it comes to clubs, Jersey City has limited options. The few venues that offer a clubbing experience are typically restaurant bars that convert into party bars featuring live DJs on weekends. Most of which don’t even have a dedicated dance floor – so dont expect to find many bars with loud thumping music and dense fist-pumping crowds.

Jersey City Nightlife Compared to NYC

In comparison, Jersey City’s nightlife scene is similar to the NYC neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Lower East Side, and Williamsburg. It has many great bars, but not many parties.

So, if you want a large selection of party bars to dance at, then go to Hoboken.

Or, if you are looking for wild parties at upscale clubs, then go to NYC!

The Best Nightlife is In Historic Downtown

Jersey City has good nightlife in specific neighborhoods. And the best among them is Historic Downtown, located in Downtown Jersey City.

Historic Downtown is the major nightlife hub of Jersey City, and the best area to hang out and party at because of its strip of bars and restaurants spanning half a mile along Newark Avenue, starting at the Grove Street Plaza and ending around 6th street.

So, when locals say, “let’s hang out at Grove,” they are commonly referring to Historic Downtown!

The Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza

Historic Downtown also features the Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza, which is a renovated street section that is blocked off from vehicle traffic to create a community space for pedestrians, local businesses, markets, concerts, and events.

The Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza currently extends between the Grove Street Path Plaza and Jersey Avenue, with more construction underway, and makes Historic Downtown one of the most walkable neighborhoods in Jersey City.

Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza view of blockade at Jersey Avenue - Essential Tips and Facts about Jersey City Nightlife - Photo By C Nez Byrd - Always The VIP
Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza view of blockade at Jersey Avenue – Photo By C Nez Byrd

So, no matter how drunk you are, as long as you stay on Newark Avenue, you can easily navigate between the many bars and restaurants found in Historic Downtown within a matter of minutes. No other neighborhood in Jersey City offers more variety or convenience.

Jersey City Has 3 Safe Areas For Nightlife

Jersey City is generally a safe place to party for locals and tourists – as long as you stick to the right neighborhoods. There are still crime-ridden areas, particularly in Greenville, Bergen-Lafayette, and McGinley Square, that visitors should avoid.

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There are 3 safe neighborhoods with good nightlife in Jersey City:

  • Historic Downtown
  • Waterfront
  • Paulus Hook

These neighborhoods are among the most popular and gentrified areas in Jersey City. Each with trendy bars that attract fun crowds of locals and tourists.

Newark Pedestrian Plaza view of outdoor seating during the night – Essential Tips and Facts about Nightlife In Jersey City – Photo By C Nez Byrd – Always The VIP
Newark Pedestrian Plaza view of outdoor seating during the night – Photo By C. Nez Byrd

You will also find a few good party bars in other relatively safe neighborhoods, like Journal Square and The Heights. However, there is normally only one or two spots worth visiting – which attracts a limited audience of locals.

If you have any concerns about a destination, refer to the Jersey City crime map of Jersey City below to help determine where you would feel comfortable visiting:

Crime Map of Jersey City neighborhoods - 2020 Data From Neighborhood Scout -Essential Tips of Jersey City Nightlife Always The VIP
Crime Map of Jersey City neighborhoods – 2020 Data – Source: Neighborhood Scout

If you are looking for the overall best and safest area of Jersey City to party in, then Historic Downtown is it.

Most Bars Close At 2AM in Downtown Jersey City

Although Historic Downtown is the center of nightlife in Jersey City, the party there ends relatively early. By law, most bars in Downtown Jersey City close by 2 AM on Friday and Saturday, and 1 AM from Sunday to Thursday. So, the Last Call for alcohol is typically around 1:30 AM on weekends.

Bar closing times in Jersey City are set by the local Alcohol and Beverage Control (ABC) regulations (municipal code 84-22) for businesses located in the “Downtown Restaurant Overlay Zones.” Which encompasses most of the bars in Historic Downtown!

You can find the areas where bars close by 2 AM highlighted in red in the Jersey City zoning map below:

Downtown Restaurant Overlay Zone Jersey City New Jersey Zoning Map 2020 The Best Nightlife In Jersey City Always The VIP
Downtown Restaurant Overlay Zone – Jersey City, New Jersey Zoning Map 2020

Does New Jersey Have Restaurant Restrictions?

The early closing times for bars in Jersey City have nothing to do with pandemic-related rules. Currently, all New Jersey bars and restaurants are open without restrictions.

Government-mandated curfews, mask requirements, capacity limits, social distancing rules, and other health precautions have been lifted since May 28, 2021.

So, if you find any bars impose health requirements, like proof of vaccination, it is solely at the business owners’ discretion – which is within their rights to do.

Bars Close Later Outside Historic Downtown

Most bars in New Jersey close by 2 AM, and have Last Call around 1:30 AM. But these closing times are not standardized across every city in the state!

This is because New Jersey state’s ABC laws allow local municipalities to determine closing times for businesses that serve alcohol. So, the Last Call for bars is decided at the city level, not the state level. You can find this rule on page 15 of New Jersey’s ABC handbook:

ABC Rule for Closing Time and Opening Time for selling Liquor in NJ by Municipality
ABC Rule for Closing Time and Opening Time for selling Liquor in NJ by Municipality

This law is the reason why Atlantic City is the only city that serves alcohol 24-7! The local government allows it to accommodate tourism and nightlife in this gambling city.

So, to find bars that stay open past 2 AM in Jersey City, you must go outside the Historic Downtown area, where many bars are allowed to close at 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and at 2 AM from Sundays to Thursdays. At these locations, the Last Call is around 2:30 AM on weekends.

However, the trade-off for an extra hour of drinking is having significantly fewer bars to choose from. Some of which still elect to close early since the customer traffic doesn’t warrant staying open late.

Pregame Early To Offset Early Closing Times

If you’re from a party city like New York, where closing times at bars are 4 AM, then New Jersey’s early closing times may be a turn-off. To date, I am still caught off guard when DJs announce the Last Call around 1 AM, which is a peak time for parties in NYC!

To cope with early closing times in New Jersey, you should start pregaming with drinks and food by 9 PM. If you are a seasoned party goer, then you know the pregame is crucial to hitting the ground running at parties.

View of restaurant on the corner of Grove Street and Newark Avenue - Essential Tips and Facts About Nightlife In Jersey City - Photo By C Nez Byrd - Always The VIP
View of restaurant on the corner of Grove Street and Newark Avenue – Photo By C Nez Byrd

With around 20 restaurants and 20 bars in Historic Downtown, you have plenty of options to choose from. So, enjoy international cuisine or some craft cocktails to start your night off right in this veritable foodies’ playground!

Get To Parties By 11 PM

As a club promoter in NYC, I found that partygoers typically begin arriving at parties by midnight. If you are accustomed to this, then your party time will be over before you can even get a buzz in New Jersey!

Keep in mind that most bars in New Jersey close by 2 AM. So, always aim to arrive at parties by 11 PM at the latest, to ensure you have ample time to make the most of your night out!

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And in case you fret being hassled by doormen at bars and clubs with entrance fees, don’t be. There are typically no cover charges at bars in Jersey City. So, you won’t have to worry about mounting costs from changing venues throughout the night.

JC Has The Most Diverse Party Crowds in The U.S.

Since Jersey City is the second-largest city in Hudson County by population, and it was ranked #1 in cultural diversity out of 501 of America’s largest cities, you can expect an active and diverse party crowd.

In fact, 70% of Jersey City’s population is evenly distributed among White (25.9%), Asian (24.5%), and Black (20.3%) races. This is why the Jersey City nightlife crowds are very different from those in the gentrified city of Hoboken nearby, where approximately 70% of the population is White.

Diverse crowd of party goers in front of Ashford bar at night - Essential Tips and Facts about Nightlife In Jersey City - Photo By C Nez Byrd - Always The VIP
Diverse crowd of party goers in front of Ashford bar at night – Photo By C Nez Byrd

So, if you love being in a melting pot reminiscent of NYC, then Jersey City won’t disappoint. It’s a great place to meet and explore dating people of different ethnicities and cultures.

This makes Jersey City a prime location to guys meet beautiful Latinas, Black, and Asian women at bars.

Or, if you are seeking handsome Latino, Black, or Asian men, then you will surely find them in Jersey City! Technically, you’ve found one already – hey there tiger!

Jersey City Has a Young Nightlife Crowd

Another welcome and fun fact about New Jersey is that the bars are nowhere near as pretentious as the clubs are in NYC. And Jersey City’s casual nightlife culture follows suit. You would be hard-pressed to find any place that discriminates – no one is excluded.

But, since the population in Jersey City has a median age of 34 years old (US Census 2020), you can young demographic of partygoers, often in their mid-20s to 30s. Which is still slightly higher than what you can expect in Hoboken, where the median age is 31.7 years old (US Census 2020).

Nightlife In Jersey City Is Not Expensive

When compared to Hoboken and New York City, most bars in Jersey City are not expensive. One reason is that there are not as many high-end bars or clubs that would normally demand high prices. The other reason is that the majority of the population is in a lower income bracket.

According to the USA Census 2020, the median household income in Jersey City is $76,444. This is about half of the $153,438 median income in Hoboken nearby!

With the significant income gap between Jersey City and major cities nearby, it should come as no surprise that the cost of living is lower. And thus the costs for nightlife are lower as well.

Prices for drinks at bars in Jersey City are typically at moderate levels, with beers ranging from $5 – $7, and cocktails between $8 – $12 on average. Compare this to New York clubs and lounge bars that typically charge anywhere between 50% – 100% higher prices!

But this may all change soon. Although rich yuppies gravitate towards Hoboken and NYC, gentrification is forging ahead in Jersey City. And along with new luxury constructions, popular NYC chain restaurants are appearing, like Artichoke Pizza with astronomic $7 slices. It’s only a matter of time before bars follow suit.

Bars Do Not Have Strict Dress Codes

Another fun fact, and one of the best aspects of New Jersey’s nightlife, is that most of the bars and lounges do not have strict dress codes. So, you will find that Jersey City bars typically allow casual wear, street wear, and of course business wear.

Most security guards don’t even bother to check what you are wearing. So, Jersey City bars are almost always easy to get into.

After all, there aren’t many fancy bars and restaurants in Jersey City that would warrant dressing up for. This is great if you like to dress down, but not so great for those who love dressing up in formal wear and being around other well-dressed people.

Men and Women in Casual Wear going to bars on Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza– Essential Tips and Facts about Jersey City Nightlife – Photo By C Nez Byrd – Always The VIP
Men and Women in casual wear going to bars on Newark Avenue Pedestrian Plaza – Photo By C Nez Byrd

How To Dress for Nightlife in Jersey City?

Ladies in Jersey City normally dress in casual wear, such as t-shirts, blouses, and sneakers or flat shoes for nightlife. But, there is always a fair amount who dress to impress. These few fashionistas often wear party outfits with A-line dresses, bodycon dresses, or blouses with tight jeans and heels.

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On the other hand, most men in Jersey City stick to streetwear, with t-shirts, hoodies, fitted hats, jeans, and sneakers for clubbing outfits. Very few dress to impress by New York City standards.

So, if you prefer business casual or semi-formal wear styles for nightlife, then you will often be a fashion outlier aomg Jersey City partygoers.

Generally, trendy casual wear is the popular fashion style and preferred option for Jersey City nightlife. A stylish shirt, a nice pair of fitted jeans, and a slick pair of fresh sneakers are more than enough to get you into any spot and fit right in.

It’s Hard To Find Club Promoters in Jersey City

Due to Jersey City’s inclusive bar-hopping culture, most nightlife establishments do not hire club promoters. Unlike party cities like New York, most bars dont offer bottle service or are selective about guests. And since everyone is treated equally as a paying customer, club promoters aren’t seen as a necessity to support business.

So, if you are looking for club promoters for VIP guest lists, Ladies Night VIP sections with free drinks, or bottle service hookups, then it will be very challenging if not impossible to find for most bars in Jersey City. In most cases, you would need to know the managers or owners of the bar if you want any form of special treatment.

This also means that, unlike in party towns like NYC, you won’t find as many groups of beautiful ladies that club promoters typically bring to clubs. This is why I have found that most parties in Jersey City have a disproportionate amount of men – fondly refer to as “Sausage Festivals” by nightlife insiders. This inbalance is an occurrence that doormen and club promoters typically aim to prevent.

Nevertheless, from the few club promoters I have come across in Jersey City, my professional opinion is that most are not good at their job of enhancing the nightlife experience. Which only serves to further discourage bar owners from hiring them.

Driving Is Easy, But Avoid it

If you are considering travelling to Jersey City by car, traffic is normally lighter than the surrounding cities. Also, parking is also easier to find since Jersey City has predominantly residential neighborhoods, with plenty of non-metered street parking available. And although many streets require resident parking permits during the day, they do not apply at night.

However, I recommend avoiding driving to Jersey City for partying, and taking mass transit instead. The fastest form of transportation in New Jersey is often the Path Train.

If you live anywhere near a path train station, or can travel easily to access one (e.g. by bicycle), then you do not need a car in New Jersey!

By train, New Jersey is only about a 10-minute ride from Christopher Street in NYC, with options to disembark in either Jersey City, or Hoboken.

And within Jersey City, rides on the Path Train take mere minutes between stops.

You can refer to the Path Train service map below to see where your nearest station might be. It also shows every stop along the Path Train lines, as well as the limited service lines on weekends and late nights after 11 PM.

NJ PATH Train Map with Weekday and Weekend Schedules Exchange Place Alliance Essential Tips About Jersey City Nightlife Always The VIP
NJ PATH Train Map with Weekday and Weekend Schedules – Source: Exchange Place Alliance

Also, between 11 PM – 6 AM, Path trains typically arrive promptly about every 30 minutes. Unlike the NYC MTA system, where you could be waiting hours for a train at night – something that every New Yorker has endured!

Now, you should have a good sense of what nightlife in Jersey City is really like. And, if you follow these tips, I am confident you will have good times.

Next, I’ll be publishing a list of the best party bars, clubs, and nightlife venues in Jersey City. So be sure to check back soon!

If this article was useful, please share it to support this blog. And, feel free to connect with me on Instagram @Nezalpha and visit my site to find the hottest parties in NYC metro!

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About Author
C. "Nez" Byrd

An expert club promoter, growth marketing executive, and entrepreneur from NYC. He is the founder of Always The VIP LLC, creator of a popular nightlife trend website, and a marketing leader for successful enterprise businesses. He is an author of various authoritative articles on marketing strategy and the nightlife industry who finds deep joy in creating memorable experiences for people of all colors.

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