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History's Best Kept Secrets Revealed

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Unlock the secrets of Elizabeth’s storied past with a visit to our many historic sites. From early American mansions and stage theaters to statues and museums, you’ll know everything about Elizabeth, NJ history in no time at all. Especially with the help of this daylong itinerary to history’s best kept secrets revealed.

Morning

Before time traveling to the past, it’s key you fuel up. Start your day off right with coffee and breakfast at Elizabeth’s Urban Griddle. Fun fact: This breakfast, brunch, and lunch establishment features a 150-year-old Middle America barn wood in its build. A stack of pancakes and a little bit of history go a long way. You can also opt for a freshly baked pastry from a local bakery like Don Ricky Colombian Bakery or Oasis Pastry Shop, both conveniently located near where you’ll start your day of exploring history.

One of the best ways to learn about our town’s past and present is with a self-guided tour through midtown via Elizabeth's Historic Heartline Walking Tour. After breakfast, head over to stop number one near the Elizabeth Public Library. You’ll soon realize not all things are as they appear in Elizabeth. Built in 1912, the library sits on what was once the site of an inn, which survived the American Revolutionary War and housed famous guests like the nation’s first president, George Washington. That’s just one of the 45 landmarks you’ll see along this 3.5-mile tour that takes you all the way back to Elizabeth’s colonial founding in the 1600s. From one stop to the next, you’ll learn how our colonial city became the transportation hub it is today.

Each tour stop features a green sign with the name of the landmark as well as a QR code. Use your phone to activate the audio portion of the tour via a QR code reader app or by calling the phone number found on the sign.

Other historical sites along the tour include the Bonnell House, one of the oldest houses in New Jersey, as well as the 1920s Ritz Theatre, which has seen the likes of Ray Charles and Maya Angelou, and still functions as a theater today.

Afternoon

At this point, you’ll probably be ready for a lunch break. Head over to Tommy's Pizzeria for a slice of pizza heaven and some more history. This family-run restaurant has been around since 1981, serving up everything from Sicilian-style pizza to pasta, sandwiches, and soups. Plus, they have specials that change every day. It’s been a long time since the days of pizza delivered on horse and buggy here, but the quality at Tommy’s is certainly a throwback.

After lunch, we recommend going on another tour, this time of a 50-room Victorian mansion that is known today as the Liberty Hall Museum. Although it’s one of the stops along the heartline tour, the museum offers its own guided tours of the home’s vintage interior and English-style grounds. With so many things to do in Elizabeth, NJ, you definitely don’t want to miss exploring this landmark. The house turned museum was originally built in 1772 as a 14-room, Georgian-style country home for New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston, and his family. It later became the household of the Kean family. Fun fact: Famous guests like Alexander Hamilton, Ulysses S. Grant, William Howard Taft, and George and Martha Washington once roamed the halls.

Evening

Before the sun sets, take a stroll down Elizabeth Avenue, one of the most historic streets in America. Today, it’s home to The Market, Elizabeth’s major shopping district featuring family-owned restaurants and boutiques. After finishing up your shopping spree, be sure to visit the Minute Man Statue before calling it a day. Situated on Elizabeth Avenue’s Union Square, the statue stands tall in honor of the revolutionary war soldiers who protected George Washington’s army from British soldiers during a 1780 battle. Depending how big your imagination is, you might be able to hear a battle hymn.

Toast to our city’s past and present with a glass of sangria and a hearty Portuguese meal at either Algarve or Valenca. Now you have our city’s key in your hands.

 

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