Many say that the best views of Manhattan can be found across the Hudson River, in Jersey City. The second largest city in New Jersey, Jersey City offers visitors an interesting mix of new and old. Its skyscrapers and diverse, historic neighborhoods make it feel a bit more like a safe, slightly quieter version of New York City -- though its museums, parks, and handful of art galleries don't merit quite the same level of international attention (save for Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, both technically in Jersey City).
A ferry or a PATH commuter train to Lower Manhattan can take as little as 10 minutes. But for those that want to explore Jersey City, there's plenty to see and do. It's lumped into seven or eight districts, and some of the most popular areas include the cultural Historic Downtown, the peaceful Waterfront, and the lively Journal Square. Liberty State Park is as large as Manhattan's Central Park, but much less developed. It also boasts excellent views of the Statue of Liberty.
Although there isn't much shopping within the city, Newport Mall offers all the chain basics -- including Forever 21, Macy's, Ann Taylor, and Express -- and a few hipster-esque vintage stores can be found sprinkled on Grove Street and in Historic Downtown. The riverfront walkway is a must-see if you're staying in the area; it bustles with activity during the week, but mellows out into an eerily serene stretch during the weekend. But one of the greatest things about Jersey City is its diversity of restaurants -- Indian, Malaysian, sushi, Mexican... and the list goes on.
Considering its proximity to Newark International Airport (just a 10-minute drive), it's very popular with travelers that want to visit Manhattan without paying Manhattan hotel prices. Neighborhoods to the south should be avoided, though, as gang violence and drug abuse are common in this area, particularly on Ocean Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.
For stunning views, aim for the high-rise hotels along the river. Waterfront is also a great area for visitors that want to be close to Manhattan, or for business travelers (specifically Paulus Hook, which is close to the major businesses in Jersey City, like Goldman Sachs). Travelers hoping to be within very short walking distance from popular bars and restaurants should stay in Journal Square or Historic Downtown. Although it's slowly being redeveloped, steer clear of Greenville, which is known for violence and crime.