Monthly Archives: October 2017

A Revitalized City with Top Attractions and Entertainment

In the shadows of New York City, just five miles and a seventeen minute train ride away, Newark, New Jersey has plenty to offer visitors, or the New York City tourist who chooses to visit or stay nearby at less expensive restaurants, and hotels.

This is not a city to spend a considerable amount of time in, but it’s an excellent destination for a day trip or weekend getaway, or even for the budget conscious tourist looking for a place to stay when visiting NYC.

One of the nation’s oldest cities, after Boston and New York, Newark was a thriving 19th-century industrial giant and at the turn of the century made huge investments in cathedrals, museums, parks, a major art deco train station, and other art deco architecture, that today stand as world class attractions.

Newark also has a good Subway system. The system is a subway-surface light rail line which runs underground downtown and above-ground in outlying areas. The line is 5.3 miles long and runs between Newark Penn Station and Grove Street in Bloomfield.

After World War II, similar to other urban U.S. cities where loss of manufacturing jobs and urban decay began to occur, Newark experienced similar decline that continued until it reached bottom with 1960s riots. Since then the city has been slowly climbing back.

While its churches, museums, schools and public buildings are certainly to be admired, they also are off the tax rolls and with brings an unusually high burden of tax exemption that has held back the pace Newark’s revitalization programs.

Since the sixties, the city has made great strides forward with a major drop in street crime, a downtown that can be walked around, and the development of major downtown entertainment venues and hotels that bring to Newark an arena, a professional NHL Hockey team, a 6,200 seat minor league baseball stadium and a performing arts center with a concert hall and theatre that attracts the world’s best performers. Coincident with the development of entertainment venues, office skyscrapers have risen as homes to corporate employers and jobs. These are all attractions that can be easily accessible by public transportation or car with plenty of safe, affordable downtown parking. The hub of rail transportation is the restored Penn Station, an art deco landmark, used by over 70,000 commuters per day.

Major Attractions Cherry Blossom Festival The second largest Cherry Blossom display in the Unites States with the National Cherry Blossom display in Washington, DC being the largest and usually occurs about two weeks earlier. Held in Branch Brook Park, there are over 2,700 cherry trees. The blossoms can be best enjoyed by a casual walk or picnic in the park. The cherry trees usually flower in the second and third weeks of April. This is a week long festival with many events including a 10K race, trolley bus tours, and family Day with Japanese cultural activities, including demonstrations on origami, bonsai, ikebana, and martial arts.

Contact: 973-268-2300

Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart

The fifth largest cathedral in North America. The French Gothic structure took more than fifty years to build and earned Basilica status from Pope John Paul in 1955. Located near Branch Brook Park on Ridge Street, the architecture closely resembles two of the world’s great cathedrals at Cathedral Notre Dame at Chartres in France and the Cathedral of Rheims in Germany.

Contact: 973-484-2400

The New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Houses two venues that attract the world’s best performers in Prudential Hall, one of the world’s great concert halls, and the Victoria Theater. It is also home to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Contact: 888-GO-NJPAC

The Newark Museum New Jersey’s largest museum provides experiences in the arts and natural sciences. In operation since 1909, it includes an 1885 brick-and-limestone restored mansion, the Dreyfuss Planetarium, and a zoo with more than 100 animals. Take an inspirational journey through 80 galleries of world-class collections including American, Asian, African and Classical. Take a walk through the beautiful sculpture garden, visit the museum shops and enjoy a delicious lunch or snack at the cafe.

Contact: 973-596-6550

The Prudential Center This new 18,000 seat arena is one of the finest in the country and home to the New Jersey Devils NHL hockey team and other college basketball, indoor soccer, concerts, family shows and special events.

Contact: (201) 507-8900

Riverfront Stadium A new $30 million 6,200 seat, state of the art stadium, is the home of the Newark Bears minor league baseball team. Situated in the downtown area, the stadium enjoys a terrific urban setting surrounded on three sides by the city with a view of the Manhattan skyline off in the distance.

Contact1-866-55-4BEAR

Hotels

Hilton Newark Gateway

The hotel is located in the heart of the downtown business district in the prestigious Gateway Center. The Hilton hotel is directly connected to Penn Station and the Gateway Center, which makes it very convenient for travelers to reach it via Amtrak, New Jersey Transit or PATH.

Contact: 1-973-622-5000

Robert Treat Hotel

The contemporary and elegant Robert Treat Hotel is located in the heart of the downtown district with views of New York and the city’s skyline.

Contact: 1-800-637-7200

Restaurants

The Ironbound section, is a Portuguese neighborhood with Ferry Street, being its commercial hub, is noted for its moderately priced Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian restaurants. In the mood for an ethnic lunch or snack? Try one of Ironbound’s cafes and bakeries. Enjoy a sandwich or some pastry and a cup of dark South American coffee. With the revitalization of the city, new restaurants are beginning to emerge that offer the diner a variety of different dining choices.

Culture and Entertainment

Today, we bring you a step closer to the beautiful Costa Rican culture with our discussion of the diverse cultural activities you can partake in and the varied forms of entertainment you can enjoy year round. Costa Rica offers a wide range of cultural activities that rival those in the U.S. and Europe. You will find here some of the world’s finest museums, art galleries, and theaters.

When you come to Costa Rica in the rainy season, it’s best to spend your afternoons visiting Costa Rica’s museums to avoid the afternoon rain showers. For $3, you can visit one of Costa Rica’s most famous museums, The Gold Museum (Museo del Oro) located in downtown San José under the Plaza de la Cultura Park. It is famous for being home to thousands of invaluable, unique pieces of pre-Colombian gold, which date from 500 B.C. to 1600 A.D. The lighting in the museum is excellent, and the description of each gold piece is clear and available in both Spanish and English.

Another museum to visit is The Museum of Numismatics (Museo de Numismática), which houses more than 4,000 unique items including the early Costa Rican coins, bills, and financial documents, all displayed elegantly and beautifully.

An excellent spot for cultural and family entertainment is The Children’s Museum (Museo de los Niños) located just north of downtown San José. You can take your family and children there to see the colorful exhibits at display.

Other museums you should consider visiting are: Museum of Art and Contemporary Design (Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo) – located in Barrio Amón, San José, -, The National Museum (Museo Nacional) – located in San José, Barrio La California, -, Costa Rica Museum of Art (Museo de Arte Costarricense) – located in Sabana Este, San José, -, and The National Archives (Archivo Nacional) – located in Barrio Pinto, between Zapote and Curridabat.

There are also snake museums that you can go to, one of which is The World of Snakes (Serpentario El Mundo de las Serpientes), an open-air snake exhibition that is located near the Red Metal Church in Grecia, where we live, and hosts snakes from all over the world. Serpentario Monteverde Costa Rica is another snake museum worth checking out that is located in Santa Elena, Monteverde, and offers guided tours all day long. A side note on the snake population is that they do not venture to El Cajon, because the elevation of our land is over 5,000 ft. and they are not known to thrive in the cool temperatures above 4,500 ft.

Not a museum person? No problem! If you’re interested in ecology and bio-diversity, then you should visit Costa Rica’s Earth University and INBioparque, the latter of which is a theme park that offers interactive experiences with nature with daily trips and tours and is located in Santo Domingo de Heredia. Another spot worth checking out is Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge, an 815-acre national wildlife preserve located on the Southern Pacific Coast near Dominical that is ideal for bird watching and eco-tours.

And if you really are into bird watching, you can be sure that Costa Rica is the right place for you. Costa Rica is famous for its diverse environmental conditions and factors, a reason why Costa Rica is home to over 850 species of birds (more than those in the United States and Canada combined). Eco-tourists and bird-watching enthusiasts come to Costa Rica from all over the world to watch and study the diverse species of birds. Bird watching is definitely an excellent way to spend both your early mornings and late afternoons here.

Selva Verde Lodge is a world-renowned bird sanctuary that is literally an eco-tourist dream with exotic bird watching, white water rafting, and very inexpensive tours of their property, which in itself is a botanical garden where you will likely see iguanas, sloths, and the list goes on and on. Their noon time buffet is also quite an over indulgence! We’ve been there 4 or more times and look forward to our next visit.

You can also go to Zoo Ave, a stunning zoo and a wildlife rescue center for injured wildlife located in La Garita, 30 minutes from San José. It is home to more than 100 Costa Rican bird species (the largest bird collection in Central America) including toucans, cranes, curassows, and parrots and is one of only two zoos in the world to display the splendid quetzals. Besides its huge bird collection, Zoo Ave houses numerous crocodiles, deer, turtles, ostriches, tapirs, peccaries, pumas, and indigenous monkeys. The price of admission is $15 for adult tourists.

If you enjoy fishing, then you should be in Costa Rica! Fishing tours and inland fishing trips are widely available and freshwater angling, fly fishing, eco-fishing, and whale watching are extremely popular here in Costa Rica. The prices of fishing trips vary widely with the highest prices paid in the tourist areas. If you go on fishing trips away from the tourist areas, you’ll save a lot of money.

And here is another activity you can enjoy in Costa Rica: surfing. Surfers from all over the world come here to venture into the Costa Rican water. If you’re just a beginner interested in surfing, you can go to any of Costa Rica’s excellent surf camps and schools. And when you’re better equipped, you can surf in Playa Hermosa, arguably one of the most popular surfing locations in Costa Rica. Other surfing locations to consider are Playa Dominical, Playa Tamarindo, Playa Nosara, Salsa Brava, Pavones, Playa Jacó (the closest surfing location to Grecia and San José), and Malpais.

You can also choose to go to the different types of spas available in Costa Rica. You can choose to go to a Report Spa if you want to enjoy a wide range of recreational activities, including golf, tennis, horseback riding, skiing, and dancing, in addition to a renewing spa experience. You can also choose to go to a Day Spa if you’re busy and want to enjoy a spa that is designed to provide a relaxing and pampering experience that takes from as little as an hour to a whole day.

Up for some after-dark, nighttime entertainment? Dining out, dancing, and going to concerts, fairs, and movies are all available options. In the Central Valley, you will find excellent eateries serving some of the most delicious meals at very affordable prices. You can have Costa Rican food, Peruvian food, Italian food, French food, Chinese food, and Mexican food. Plus, you have a 100% chance of finding the large American restaurant chains here like T.G.I. Friday’s, Tony Roma’s, McDonald’s, etc. And a real live Hagen Daz for the sweet tooth is available in Escazu.

Late-night dancing in Costa Rica is a very popular way to spend your nights, as Ticos love to dance. If you’re into dancing but don’t know how to dance, you can start taking dance lessons here in Costa Rica at very low prices. You can also go to concerts and watch world-class artists, live weekend bands, and Flamenco dancers from Spain perform. Going to fairs should also be on your top to-do list – the bullfights and street dances are a joy to behold.

You can also choose to spend your night watching a movie at the theater, something we used to do almost every week until we found you can rent first-run movies the same time they are released in the States. Still, movie-goers can watch first-run movies in the state-of-the-art theater here in Grecia the same day they are released in the States for $3 only, and they are all in English with Spanish subtitles.

Looking for a more sophisticated way to spend your evenings? The National Theatre (Teatro Nacional), located in the central section of San José, has a breathtaking symphony hall, where shows are scheduled throughout the year and world-famous artists and orchestras perform some of the most spectacular symphonies. Entering the theater and enjoying guided tours there are free, so just enjoy!

The Theater Melico Salazar (Teatro Popular Melico Salazar), located in Central San José on Paseo Colon, is also an important center for culture in Costa Rica. A wide variety of shows and performances is scheduled throughout the year including live theatre, art, and music.

The land of Costa Rica definitely has a lot to offer. If you have any questions or curiosities about the Costa Rican culture, please let us know at CostaRicaLandToday, and we will fill you in with lots of information you need and want to know.