15 Essential Tips About Jersey City Nightlife From A Local (2024)

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Whichever your situation is, you’ll commonly find limited, outdated, or misleading information online about nightlife in Jersey City, New Jersey.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, an NYC native, a trusted NYC club promoter, and a nightlife 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, Last Call times for bars, local clubbing fashion, and the safest neighborhoods 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 dare to be honest enough to say.

Skip to The Best Parties in Jersey City


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!

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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 club experience are restaurant bars that convert into party bars featuring live DJs on select nights. And most don’t have a dance floor to be categorized as a club.

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 you should go to Hoboken.

And dont be mistaken by the comparison. Jersey City’s nightlife doesn’t come close to the variety and experience you will find in NYC. If you are looking for wild parties at upscale clubs, then NYC is the better option!

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.

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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 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.

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If you are looking for the overall best and safest area of Jersey City to party in, then Historic Downtown is the best option. Waterfront and Paulus Hook are runner-ups.

There Are 3 JC Neighborhoods Tourists Should Avoid

There are still crime-ridden areas in Jersey City. Tourists should particularly take care to avoid Greenville, Bergen-Lafayette, and McGinley Square. These neighborhoods tend to have the highest crime rates in the city.

After personally living in each of these neighborhoods as a resident, I can attest that they are not good options for nightlife and are generally unsafe.

There are a few good party bars in other relatively safe Jersey City neighborhoods, such as Journal Square and The Heights. However, these areas typically attract a limited audience of locals, which might be less appealing for most party seekers.

To help determine which destination you would feel comfortable visiting, refer to the Jersey City neighborhood crime map below:

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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 around 1:30 AM on weekends.

Closing times for bars 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 see the areas where bars close at 2 AM highlighted in red in the Jersey City zoning map below:

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Does New Jersey Restaurant Still Have Restrictions?

Pandemic-related regulations, such as the precautionary 10 PM curfew and early closing times, for bars and restaurants in Jersey City are no longer in effect. 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 that impose health requirements, like proof of vaccination, it is solely at the business owners’ discretion – which is within their rights to do.

Bars Close At 3 AM Outside Historic Downtown

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

You can find bars that stay open past 2 AM in Jersey City, outside of the Historic Downtown area. In other neighborhoods, like Journal Square, The Heights, and Mcginley Square, many bars close at 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 AM from Sundays to Thursdays. So, the Last Call is around 2:30 AM on weekends.

Bars across New Jersey have different closing times due to the state’s ABC laws that allow local municipalities to determine the 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:

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This law is the reason why Atlantic City can serve alcohol 24-7! Its local government permits it to improve revenue from tourism in this gambling city.

Pregame Early To Offset Early Closing Times

If you’re from a party city like New York, where bars close at 4 AM, then New Jersey’s earlier closing times may be a turn-off. It will surely catch you off guard when DJs announce the Last Call around 1 AM, which is a peak time for parties in NYC!

To cope with New Jersey bars’ early closing times, you should start pregaming with drinks and food around 8 PM – 9 PM. Every seasoned partygoer knows that a solid pregame sets you up for a great night.

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According to the latest local business

directory data in 2022, there are approximately 45 bars in Jersey City, half of which are located in Downtown Jersey City. There are also many BYOB restaurants to complement that number.

So, be sure to enjoy the wide selection of international cuisines at local restaurant bars, or have craft co*cktails at a gastropub before the party starts in veritable foodies’ playground!

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Get To Parties By 11 PM

Im NYC, partygoers typically arrive at parties by midnight. If you are accustomed to this, then you will only have about a couple of hours left to party in New Jersey – well before you can even get a buzz!

So, since most bars in New Jersey close by 2 AM, you should always aim to arrive at parties by 10 or 11 PM at the latest. This will ensure that you have ample time to enjoy your night out!

And in case you worry about being hassled by doormen with entrance fees, don’t be. There are typically no cover charges at bars in Jersey City. So, mounting costs from changing venues as you club hop throughout the night shouldn’t be an issue.

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.

According to the latest 2021 census data, approximately 83% of Jersey City’s population is closely distributed among White (33.6%), Asian (26.1%), and Black (23.1%) races. Making it far more diverse than the gentrified city of Hoboken nearby, where approximately 77% of the population is White alone.

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So, if you love being in a melting pot reminiscent of NYC, then Jersey City is ideal. 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! (I’m a prime example.)

Jersey City Has a Young Nightlife Crowd

Jersey city typically has a young nightlife crowd, often in their mid-20s to mid-30s. This is because the population in Jersey City has a median age of 34 years old (US Census 2020), which fits the main demographic for most partygoers.

In comparison, you will find a slightly younger party-going crowd in Hoboken, where the median age is 31.7 years old (US Census 2020). So, you can expect most partygoers in Hoboken to be in the early 20s to early 30s age range.

Jersey City’s laid-back nightlife vibe is characteristic of the more mature crowds that you commonly find there. Which makes it an ideal alternative for those who aren’t seeking wilder party scenes and younger party crowds.

Jersey City Nightlife is Inclusive

Throughout years of partying and investigative research, I discovered that most New Jersey bars are not pretentious or selective as most popular clubs and lounges in NYC tend to be. And given its high level of racial diversity and young crowds, Jersey City logically follows suit.

Jersey City has an inclusive nightlife culture, where most bars do not discriminate against any age, race, or sexual orientation. And, if any owners were to do so, they likely wouldn’t last. They would essentially be closing their doors to up to 65% of the population, which would be a costly business decision.

Nightlife In Jersey City Is Not Expensive

Compared to party towns like Hoboken and New York City, Jersey City’s nightlife is not expensive. This is mainly because there are not many high-end bars or clubs that charge high prices.

Also, 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! Since the majority of the population is in this lower-income bracket and has less disposable income, bars in Jersey City must take extra care not to price out locals and lose customers.

With the significant income gaps 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 co*cktails between $8 – $12 on average. In contrast, New York clubs and lounge bars typically charge anywhere between 50% – 100%+ higher prices!

But, all this may change soon. Gentrification is forging ahead in Jersey City. In 2022 alone, a barrage of new luxury housing constructions have been completed, with many more underway, and average rent prices have increased by 49% year over year. And, with popular NYC chain restaurants appearing, like Artichoke Pizza with exorbitant $7 slices, it’s only a matter of time before bars attempt to increase their profit margins.

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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.

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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.

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, such as New York or Miami, bars in Jersey City rarely offer bottle service, charge covers, or are selective about guests – all of which club promoters typically support.

And, since most customers are locals, regulars, and treated equally as paying customers (even ladies), club promoters have a harder challenge with increasing attendance and revenue.

So, if you are looking for the VIP guest lists, Ladies Night VIP sections with free drinks, or bottle service hookups that club promoters typically provide, they will be nearly impossible to find in Jersey City. You would need to know the managers or owners of the bar for any special treatment.

Because of its lack of experienced club promoters, you will often find that parties in Jersey City have a disproportionate amount of men – which we nightlfe insiders fondly refer to as “Sausage Festivals.”

Driving Is Easy, But Avoid it

Driving in Jersey City is relatively easy. Traffic is normally lighter than in nearby cities. Parking is also easy to find since Jersey City has predominantly residential neighborhoods, with plenty of non-metered street parking available. And although most streets require resident parking permits, they do not apply at night.

However, if you are considering driving to Jersey City for nightlife, then I would highly recommend taking mass transit instead. And the best and fastest form of public transportation for Jersy City is typically the Path Train.

Jersey City is only about a 5-minute ride on the Path Train from the Christopher Street station in NYC. And the time between most stops on the Path subway line is mere minutes, with options to disembark in Jersey City or Hoboken where the best nightlife is.

Also, at night, Path trains continue to arrive reliably about every 30 minutes between 11 PM – 6 AM. This is a far cry from the NYC MTA system, where whole train lines are often suspended at night, leaving commuters waiting hours for transportation – something every New Yorker has endured.

So, if you are within reach of a Path train station, then you may not even need to have a car in Jersey City!

To help locate a station near you, refer to the Path Train service maps below. Which show the Path lines during peak hours, as well as the limited service during off-peak hours on weekends and nights after 11 PM.

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Now, you should have a good sense of what nightlife in Jersey City is really like. Overall, Jersey City is definitely worth visiting if you want a more laid back vibe and to take a break from the hectic NYC nightlife. 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!

15 Essential Tips About Jersey City Nightlife From A Local (2024)
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