|Subject: Re: Newark|
I grew up in North Jersey, and while most of my family lives in Manhattan, my parents still live in Jersey, and regularly make the commute to see the grandkids.
I would strongly advise against trying to go into Manhattan if you only have a 7 hour window. It is costly and time consuming. But if you want to ignore this advice, and if you have large quantities of money that you want to burn, then just take a taxi into lower Manhattan through the nearby Holland tunnel, and have a great meal in Little Italy or Chinatown, or take a walk through Soho and gaze not only at the incredibly high prices of everything, but also the amazing display of people. The other option is a quick trip to the World Trade Center for an amazing view of the entire Metropolitan area. If you do this, you must truly have the full 7 hours, and you must allot a full two hours to get back to Newark airport from any point on Manhattan, even if you are just outside the tunnel, and other people tell you that it is a 30 minute drive. It is, but that is very rarely, and more often there is horrible traffic, accidents, construction, etc., and it can take over an hour just to get through the tunnel. This can happen at any time, and in both directions. I sat through this traffic on Sunday in the late afternoon, and it was unbelievable.
Public transportation from Newark airport into Manhattan is terrible, but will improve when the Monorail is finished. Buses go to the major midtown hotels and are cheaper than taxis, but it is a longer ride, and in my opinion there is less that you can see and enjoy in a short period of time in this area. Times Square is much nicer now then it was when I was a kid, but it is overwhelmed with tourists and places like the ESPN Sportzone and the Hard Rock Cafe, which are more Orlando than New York, and can be experienced in many cities world wide. You can take a train to New York (either Penn Station on in Midtown or various spots in lower Manhattan) but you first have to get to the station in downtown Newark (still not a nice place) and then connect from there. This will also eat up your time, and although the trains don't have to deal with automotive traffic, they are still often delayed.
Believe it or not, there are some very nice things to do in Newark and some of the surrounding areas. Newark has been making a comeback of sorts, and there is a fine arts museum as well as a new center for the performing arts that has opened, and I have heard that things are finally starting to look up for this beleaguered city. My mother has been to the museum and on some walking tours of selected areas of Newark, and has enjoyed them very much. I can find out more about them if you want.
If you prefer other types of activities to kill the time, such as shopping, there is quite a bit of it on the New Jersey side of the river, and because the sales tax rates are much more favorable, many outlet (discount) malls and large department stores have sprung up within easy reach of Newark airport. I could ask around for recommendations about this as well, but I know little about it other than every time I drive to New York from my parent's place in Jersey, I see new malls and stores popping up all of the time.
I hope that this information is at least a start for you. Good luck.
Jonathan Chimene Chicago