Road Trip! Destination: Newark, N.J.

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Newark and the area surrounding it often get overlooked as a destination, possibly because of its proximity to New York City.

That's unfortunate because there's a wealth of historic sites and attractions within easy reach of this urban hub.

There's also a full schedule of events throughout the year.

If you're visiting within the next week or two, you can catch the cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park, which boasts more flowering cherry trees than the better known display in Washington, D.C. From July 25 to 28, the eighth annual Lincoln Park Music Festival attracts upward of 50,000 fans of jazz, hip-hop and gospel music. On Aug. 26, the town plays host to the Street League Skateboarding World Tour that features 20 of the world's best street skateboarders competing on one-of-a-kind concrete skate plazas.

For help in trip planning contact the Greater Newark Convention & Visitors Bureau at 973-273-1040 or

Alice T. Carter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7808 or

Thomas Edison National Historic Park

Step back in time to an era when making things involved imagining and creating them, not following directions. Thomas Alva Edison earned 1,093 patents in his lifetime, and many of his inventions are on display seven miles west of Newark, at the laboratories, machine shops and workrooms where Edison perfected the phonograph, developed motion pictures and a nickel-iron-alkaline storage battery. The lab looks like Edison and his workers have just left for the day. Many of the museum's 400,000 artifacts are on display and demonstrations take place throughout the day.

Start with the 20-minute orientation film and a showing of “The Great Train Robbery” silent film in the visitor center and be sure to check out the Black Maria that served as Edison's film production studio.

Details: 973-736-0550, ext. 11, or


Visit Edison's 29-room brick-and-wood mansion inside the gated community of Llewellyn Park. Built in 1880 by the architect who designed Edison's laboratory campus, the Queen Anne-style home has hand-painted ceilings, stained-glass windows and — as you might expect — plenty of chandeliers with electric lights.

Edison and his wife, Mina, are buried within sight of the house.

House tours are included in admission to the Laboratory Complex where reservations and directions can be arranged.

Details: 973-736-0550, ext. 11, or

Liberty Science Center

With the nation's largest IMAX Dome, a robotic simulator that allows you to try your hand at surgery and a recently opened I Explore area designed for ages 2 to 5, the Liberty Science Center's 300,000-square-foot learning center makes science exciting and family friendly.

An abundance of hands-on opportunities allow kids to investigate how humans communicate or the tricks animals use to catch their dinner — if they can wrestle the controls away from their adult companions.

The center's most popular exhibit is the Touch Tunnel, an 80-foot, crawl-through, pitch-black maze that you transit while relying on your senses of touch and hearing.

Details: 201-200-1000 or

New Jersey Performing Arts Center

There's almost always something going on at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Since its opening in 1997, the center has become home to groups that include the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and New Jersey Ballet and hosted appearances by everyone from Whoopi Goldberg to the Dalai Lama.

Scheduled to appear in the coming months are Willie Nelson, Earth, Wind and Fire, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and “The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.”

Details: 888-466-5722 or

Ironbound District

Local lore has it that Manhattanites hungering for Portuguese cuisine head to Newark's Ironbound District.

That makes sense, as this trendy neighborhood is home to about 160 restaurants including more than three dozen Portuguese restaurants and bakeries as well as Brazilian and Spanish cuisine.

The area officially extends from the Passaic River waterfront to Lafayette Street. Much of the action can be found within the triangle created by Market and Ferry streets that begins at the Newark Train station.

In addition to visiting the area's grocery stores and markets for hard-to-find Portuguese and Hispanic ingredients, shoppers will find an abundance of multicultural music shops and boutiques offering clothing, jewelry and art.

Details: 973-491-9191 or

Newark Museum

Art and natural-science exhibits fill the 80 galleries of the Newark Museum, New Jersey's largest museum.

Among the attractions are one of the nation's oldest and largest collections of African art, a sculpture garden, an American art collection that concentrates on paintings of the Hudson River School and American modernism. Take time to wander through the rooms of the Victorian Ballantine House.

If you have kids with you, don't skip the planetarium or the Newark Fire Museum that offers interaction with a modified fire truck and a look at antique firefighting equipment and vehicles.

Details: 973-596-6550 or

Liberty State Park

If your ancestors came from Europe in the late 19th or early 20th century, their first footsteps in America might well have been in New Jersey.

Literally millions of immigrants were ferried from Ellis Island to the Central Railroad New Jersey Terminal, where they boarded trains to inland destinations such as Pittsburgh.

The restored terminal building is 10 miles south of Newark in what is now Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

An exhibit offers insights and information about those who passed through this way station to the new world.

Surrounding the terminal is a huge grassy waterfront park with a two-mile promenade along the Hudson River that offers views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Details: 201-915-3400 or

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