Travel Inspiration on the Morris Canal

Morris Canal

A staycation with the best view of New York City

I recently posted a query on my blog for solo female travelers, inviting readers to share a moment that took their breath away. Replies included Lusaka, Gambia; Denali National Park in Alaska; Angelokastro, Corfu; the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi; a first view of the Grand Canyon….all inspiring, all treasured memories. 

And there I was, checking responses on my iPhone about world travel while sitting on a bench in the shade on the banks of the Morris Canal in beautiful downtown Jersey City. It suddenly hit me: why go anywhere at all?

Heaven in a Crowded City

The view from the walkway of the Morris Canal is among the best in the world: the World Trade Center glows in the sun (and I remember the two absent towers every single day), the swans paddle along the canal, the sailboats are buffeted by the breezes. I come here almost every day—at least once and often twice—to see those sights and others, including the giant orange Staten Island ferry in the distance, plodding its way back and forth; the Statue of Liberty awaiting the daily crowds rushing from the boats; and Ellis Island, where my mother entered this country in 1919. I can see all the way to the Brooklyn waterfront on one side of the Hudson to Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne.

Who knew that Jersey City was so beautiful?

The Liberty Landing Marina is an active 520-slip marina located on the Hudson River across from the lower tip of Manhattan. Filled with yachts, sailboats, motorboats, and jet-skis, the marina is also lined with several restaurants and bars that bring tourists and city folks all summer long. In fact, many are discovering that places to stay in downtown Jersey City are less expensive, larger, and only require a seven-minute ferry ride to reach New York City. I think that tourists might appreciate the neighborhood as their base for city travel.

For visitors and residents: the full panoply

For me, though, the Morris Canal is much more than a playground for visitors. It is my vantage point. In the early mornings there are joggers, moms and dads with strollers, dog walkers, and business people on their way to the ferries that will take them to Manhattan. During the day there are retired folks, digital nomads who work at home (or even on a bench on the boardwalk), and more moms/dads/strollers/doggies. In the evenings there are entire families—dogs, babies, parents, and grandparents—and it is then that the full panoply of Jersey City unfolds.

More languages than in a three-week European tour

Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Central and South Americans, Eastern Europeans—young and old—come here from all over the city, the country, and the world. They greet each other’s dogs, do capoeira, wave to boats, chase their children, smoke dope, take photographs, and chat (not all at once). 

In the early evening—still light in the summer months—the boats glide into their home slips. The Statue of Liberty cruise ships move slowly, avoiding the path of yellow ferryboats chugging across the canal (about one minute of travel for $2) for the short trip from Warren Street in Jersey City to Liberty State Park. The ferry then travels on to the World Trade Center. People are riding atop those boats, taking photos of lower Manhattan, with the sun’s last rays hitting the windows of the high rises lining the Hudson River.

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