Before kids only want to hang out with their friends or rack up points on the Wii, they just might want to join you for these uniquely Hoboken activities.
1. Take them to Leo’s Grandezvous and show them the pictures of Frank Sinatra. Give them a handful of quarters and let them pick Sinatra songs from the jukebox. A pizza bar pie costs just a little over $3.00.
2. Go to Carlo’s Bake Shop for some crumb cake or cannoli, because out-of-towners always ask your kids if they’ve been there. Big hint: Show a valid ID with a Hoboken address and you get to skip the line. Diehard Cake Boss fans can sign up for a cake-decorating class.
3. Visit the waiting room in the Erie Lackawanna Station, pointing out the renovated and restored stained glass ceiling by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It’s like stepping back in time. Then play them the YouTube video of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World.” The terminal was also used as a location in many other films and videos, including Julie and Julia.
4. Across from the riverside skate park is the entrance to Sybil’s Cave. Explain that in the 1800s, Hoboken’s waterfront was developed as a resort, and Manhattanites would take a ferry here to stroll along the river and pay a penny a glass here for the spring water, thought to have healthful properties. Eventually the water was deemed “unfit for human consumption.”
5. Schnackenberg’s Luncheonette is a destination on its own. It was founded in 1931 at 1110 Washington Street by Dora and Henry Schnackenberg, and not much has changed in the last eight decades. The handmade chocolates made in its vintage molds are not to be missed.
6. Hoboken isn’t usually thought of as a college town, but Stevens Institute has lots of programs open to the community. Sign the kids up for swimming lessons in the indoor pool, or the free lacrosse clinics held by students hoping to start a youth league. Or just walk through one of the most beautiful campuses around, and check out the view from the cannon at Castle Point.
7. Fishing off the piers has been such a tradition here that when the piers were rebuilt, special gutting sinks were installed. Bring the kids to play on Pier A, and if you see someone cleaning his or her catch, ask if the kids can watch. Guts and gore are always a thrill.
8. Walk or run, bike or scooter, all the way up from Pier A to 14th Street. (It’s actually 1.4 miles).
9. Ask to tour the firehouse on Washington Street between 13 and 14th streets. Kids love the shiny trucks, bells, and all the other firefighting gear. Firefighters are usually happy, not only to show kids around, but to teach them about fire safety.
10. How many towns have a Little League Field with the New York City skyline in the background? Introduce toddlers to the fun of the game by letting them watch the big kids play. And what better place than in Hoboken, where the game was reportedly invented? The snack stand sells hotdogs and popsicles.