Driving up a hill on Route 46 East in Clifton, my friend and I saw the bright and splendid sun glimmer over the New York City skyline. Since Jefferson is only a quick drive away from the city, I’ve seen this skyline hundreds of times, but I suddenly felt the urge to get closer, to see it in its full glory, and I remembered a friend telling me that he went to Liberty State Park and got to see the city’s skyline up close, a place booming with opportunity. Many people throughout American history have romanticized this breathtaking skyline, and I thought, since I spent my entire life growing up near it, I should be a part of the many before me who admired such a beautiful scene.

With a spur of the moment decision, one that only a teenager free of responsibility can make, my friend and I drove past the destination we originally planned on going to and headed towards Liberty State Park.

On the way there, our first obstacle of the trip was the tolls. Since we weren’t expecting to meet the dreaded stand that stood between us and adventure, we panicked as we pulled up to the booth and took a piece of paper from the machine. Inexperienced, we were confused that we didn’t have to pay the toll and thought the piece of paper was a ticket for not paying. Our worries washed away when we came up to another toll, and the worker asked for our ticket, which we gave to her accompanied with the money she asked from us.

Having defeated the toll booth, we drove the rest of the way there only mildly confused as to where we were. When we arrived, we thought we might have had to pay to get into the state park but were pleasantly surprised to discover that there was no fee to get in.

After we got out of the car and adjusted to the unexpected adventure we went on, we wandered down a path and found a lane of rocks jutting out into the water. Although there was no skyline in sight, we walked down the rocks and took pictures of the view.

Photo: Kalen Luciano

After we finished taking pictures on the rocks, we walked further into Liberty State Park and saw dozens of families picnicking, listening to music, and playing outdoor games on the fields of grass. Several American flags flew high above it all and beyond the park was the New York City skyline gleaming in the setting sunlight. Among the sights of the city stood the Statue of Liberty, which I’ve never seen so closely before.

Photo: Kalen Luciano
Photo: Kalen Luciano

 

My friend and I walked on a lively boardwalk along the water. Many families walked alongside us, fishermen cast out their rods into the water, and couples walked hand in hand with each other. We even saw a couple taking engagement photos near the water.

Photo: Kalen Luciano

After we passed the Ellis Island ferry and a nice-looking railroad station that we couldn’t figure out whether was closed for the day or permanently shut down, we found the other landmark we were looking for: the 9/11 memorial that pointed across the Hudson River to where the Twin Towers once stood. We paid our respects to the victims of that tragic day and made our way back to the car.

Photo: Kalen Luciano
Photo: Kalen Luciano

 

Photo: Kalen Luciano
Photo: Kalen Luciano

 

Photo: Kalen Luciano
Photo: Kalen Luciano

 

Photo: Kalen Luciano
Photo: Kalen Luciano

 

Photo: Kalen Luciano

On the way back, the sun finally set, making the New York City skyline light up and glow. Eventually, we made it back to the car, ending the day’s adventures, and decided to get something to eat since we forgot to pack any food with us and spent the whole evening walking.

Photo: Kalen Luciano
Photo: Kalen Luciano

 

Photo: Kalen Luciano

Although this is how we spent the evening at Liberty State Park, there are many other activities to do there. You can spend the day walking the boardwalk, playing in the playground, picnicking in the park, fishing on the water, or exploring the Liberty Science Center or golf course, which are both very close to the area we walked around.

If you, unlike us, decide to prepare for this adventure before actually embarking on it, I highly recommend bringing waters, food (depending on how long you plan on staying there), a frisbee or ball to toss around, and sunscreen. Make sure to wear appropriate clothing for the weather as well. You can even bring a bicycle or pets to the park because both are allowed. This is certainly a family friendly area and there wasn’t any cost to get in. Liberty State Park is 200 Morris Pesin Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305 and is about an hour to an hour and a half drive depending on traffic. It’s a fantastic way to spend a day out and get a beautiful view of a city many people admire.

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