Liberty Hall Museum
Built in 1772 by New Jersey’s first governor, William Livingston View More
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You’ve come to Elizabeth, New Jersey and you want to know what all the hype is about, right? Sure, you could read reviews, but why not join hundreds of others in an incredible annual cycling event called Tour de Elizabeth?
It’s the day of the Tour, so you wake up early and look out the window. The clouds look like they could bring some rain, but hopefully just a nice breeze and some needed shade. Donning your brightest shirt, shorts, and sneakers, you step outside and check the tires of your trusty bike. With everything in working order, you make your way to City Hall where the ride begins and are greeted by a thousand other riders equally nervous and excited by what’s ahead. Groups of friends laugh and rib each other while strangers mingle in polite conversation about each other’s bikes. Serious racers bunch together while more casual riders are grouped to keep the everyone flowing freely through the city.
When the ride begins, you are mesmerized by the site of so many helmeted riders pumping their pedals and wishing each other good luck. Tandem bikes, mountain bikes, sleek street cycles, and toddler-trailers fill the lanes. There’s a magic in the air when a city like Elizabeth pauses long enough to let waves of cyclists move through the paved corridors to appreciate the town in a whole new way. You’re part of it and you feel alive!
As your legs push you through the first few miles, you focus on the awe-inspiring architecture around you. Century-old buildings nestle up against market shops passed down in families for generations. Depending on the chosen theme of the ride, you might cruise past historic sites marked with statues honoring the brave soldiers of the American Revolution, or twist through streets which give the best views of arch-formed bridges. Music venues, waterways, and restaurants are all highlights of this town and you’ll see plenty regardless of the route.
After a few miles, you hear panting and water-gulping from other riders, or it may be you! But you keep going, observing all aspects of the city which you overlooked on a previous stay. The parks are next and your eyes roam through the trees, taking in the blossoming flowers and twittering birds. Kids are playing soccer and doing tricks on skateboards in Mattano Park. Or you see ducks splashing around and quacking in Warinanco Park’s lake. The rain has held off and the fresh air revives you for another climb up the next hill.
Now, you’re well past the halfway point and riding through the industrial seaport section of the city. While very different from the natural beauty of other areas in and around Elizabeth, it’s a vital center for international commerce and the economy of New Jersey and the country. You’ll ride by the enormous warehouse of the old Singer Sewing machines and, to be fair, hundred-foot tall cranes moving shipping containers are a colossal marvel on their own.
The ride is almost over and you find yourself in a charming, if not luxurious, neighborhood with large yards and tall trees. You pass by the mayor’s house. A growing sound fills your ears and you realize it’s the crowd cheering you on to the finish line! Your legs are tired and the bike seat is e, but you push through the final quarter-mile and into a haven of smiles and congratulations. You’ve completed the Tour de Elizabeth, accomplished a good bit of healthy exercise, and have discovered a side of this wonder city others are completely missing out on!