Statue of Liberty: Lady Liberty was intended as a gift of international friendship from France to commemorate the centennial of the Declaration of Independence in 1876. There was initially a joint effort wherein America would build the pedestal and France, the statue. Lack of funds on both sides delayed the project until Joseph Pulitzer (the creator of the Pulitzer Prize) successfully urged the American people to provide funds. (France used public fees, entertainment and lotteries.) The statue was finally completed in 1884 and, in 350 individual pieces that occupied 214 crates, was transported across the Atlantic Ocean. Dedication took place in 1886 -- a centennial gift that, ultimately, was 10 years late. Ferry service from Jersey City's Liberty State Park to the Statue of Liberty is available daily throughout the year, except Christmas. (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting; 877-523-9849)

Ellis Island: This was the gateway through which more than 12 million immigrants passed between 1892 and 1954 (including Irving Berlin, Bob Hope, Knute Rockne and the von Trapp family) in their search for freedom. You can hear oral history interviews, see films and live theatrical productions, and view hundreds of photos of immigrants and exhibits of items they brought with them. The American Immigrant Wall of Honor, the longest wall of names in the world, commemorates more than five million first-generation Americans. A computer allows you to see if your last name appears anywhere on the wall. You can also have easy access to ship passenger manifest records through a searchable database. If your search is successful, you'll get a reproduction of that manifest. Ferry service from Jersey City's Liberty State Park to Ellis Island is available throughout the year, except Christmas. (8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting)

Liberty Science Center: Located in Jersey City's Liberty State Park, the Liberty Science Center is where you'll find exhibits on The Invention Floor, The Health Floor and The Environment Floor. Highlights include a rock wall and insect zoo, and kids will love a meet-and-greet with Central American cave cockroaches or millipedes from Kenya. There is also an IMAX theater and a changing variety of seasonal exhibits. (Open daily during spring and summer, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; fall and winter Tuesday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed on Mondays; 222 Jersey City Blvd.; 201-200-1000)

Trip Trotter: If you've been to New York before and want some ideas that are a little more off the beaten path, plan an itinerary with Laura at Trip Trotter. She'll concoct a custom day of activities for you -- from pizza crawls to perfume studio visits -- based on your interests, preferences and schedule.

Hoboken: For the best shopping on the Jersey side of the Harbor, and a lovely near-port daytrip, take the light rail to Hoboken. Exit the train station (the light rail platform is at street level just south of the NJ Transit trains), and head left for Washington Street. The city's mile-long main drag is littered with charming boutiques that sell cutting-edge clothing and handmade handbags, kitschy florists, posh salons, long-standing bakeries and more. Shopping highlights include Sparrow Wine & Liquor Co. (126 Washington Street, Hoboken; 201-659-1500) was founded as Sparrow Cigar Company during prohibition in 1922, and it's one of the top wine and spirit retailers in the state, offering hard-to-find vintages and neat accessories. They also host tasting events throughout the year at The Brass Rail, a popular Sparrow-owned restaurant in town. Big Fun Toys (602 Washington Street, Hoboken; 201-714-9575), the hippest toy store in town, features toys for kids of all ages -- and a joke of the day.

Chief John T. Brennan Fire Museum: This museum -- often referred to as the Bayonne Firefighters Museum, Brennan Fire Museum or the Bayonne Fire Department Museum -- was first used as a firehouse in 1870 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings. Visit for a glimpse of more than a century's worth of fire-fighting history. To set up a visit, contact the Deputy Fire Chief. (10 West 47th Street, Bayonne; 201-858-6064 or 201-858-6199)

Hoboken Historical Museum & Cultural Center: This volunteer organization, dedicated to preserving the history of Hoboken, maintains a growing archive of artifacts and books, and has a really nifty gift shop. Stop by, pick up a map, and take a self-guided walking tour of the city. (Open Tuesday to Thursday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Friday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.; nominal admission, free to children; 1301 Hudson Street, Hoboken; 201-656-2240)

Bayonne Bridge: If you've got a penchant for bridges -- or just general construction -- it might be worth your while to take a ride over the Bayonne Bridge. It spans the Kill Van Kull to link New Jersey with Staten Island, and it's the third-largest steel arch bridge in the world (behind New River Gorge in West Virginia and the number-one pick, the Lupu Bridge in Shanghai). The Bayonne Bridge was awarded the prize for the most beautiful steel arch bridge in 1931 (the year it was finished) by the American Institute for Steel Construction. Note: The bridge will be under construction through 2018 in an effort to raise it by more than 60 feet, allowing for the passage of larger vessels underneath it.