Bigger is better in this New Jersey city. Stand in awe of the giant performing arts stadium, massive cathedral, and sprawling outlet mall.

Newark is a true jewel in New Jersey’s crown, an overflowing metropolis with some of the best entertainment options in the state. And while it’s only eight miles from the bright lights of New York City, it still has its own urban vibe.

To appreciate Newark is to appreciate the culturally rich and ethnically diverse makeup of America itself. You’ll see this diversity reflected in the range of architecture and landmarks around the city. Colonial mansions give way to the “Little Portugal” area downtown – named for the high percentage of Portuguese who live here. You’ll come across historic parks and stark factories, modern homes and Victorian cemeteries.

Many people use Newark as a connecting city to destinations across the country, but there’s tons to do without ever stepping foot in the airport. See a show at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, which has hosted world-famous artists like Aretha Franklin and Earth, Wind & Fire. Score some seats to an NHL game at the Prudential Center, or get into fan mode at the Red Bull Arena for some Major League Soccer.

Wear some seriously comfortable shoes when you visit The Mills at Jersey Gardens. This outlet mall is staggeringly huge and has over 200 stores waiting for you to explore. Refuel at the food court, or save your appetite for venturing into the Ironbound. Feast on Brazilian and Portuguese delicacies in this shopping and dining area known for its fusion of authentic foreign flavors.

You can’t see Newark all in one go, unless you have some secret sightseeing powers, but there are certain must-dos for your Jersey bucket list: springtime cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park , the incredible sculpture gardens at Newark Museum, and the shimmering alter of the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the fifth-largest cathedral in North America.