While many have heard about New Jersey from being the butt of endless jokes on Saturday Night Live or as a trashy guido-ridden summer vacation resort from its portrayal on the reality television series Jersey Shore, the guilty pleasure show of millions of people around the world.
However, New Jersey is home to much more than either of these shows could ever hope to portray on TV. So come and see by yourself the wonders of New Jersey, nicknamed the Garden State.
One could visit the Garden State a thousand times and never fully experience everything it has to offer, after all, New Jersey is one of few other states to boast such a wide variety of attractions, despite getting its nickname from its abundance of farms and lush parks, one would be remiss to think that is all New Jersey has to offer. Few states can boast not only the number of attractions but their diversity as well.
What is New Jersey famous for?
Despite being a comparatively small state, New Jersey, especially with New York next door, is the most densely populated state in the nation, with over 1200 people per square mile, more than 13 times the national average in fact, with more shopping malls in one area than anywhere else in the world, it is no surprise that North Jersey and Central Jersey are known for their large population.
The Garden State is home to sprawling farms where they grow the famous jersey tomatoes and the cows, from whose milk the dairy products the area is so well known are made from grazing freely, as well as Asbury Park in Monmouth County, the birthplace of famous singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen.
Since New Jersey played a crucial role in the American revolution, there is no shortage of historical sites both in Central and North Jersey.
New Jersey, is home to more diners than any other state in America, and is the diner capital of the world, boasting over 500 classic chrome diners scattered throughout the state, owned mostly by Greek families, making Jersey the best place to visit if you’re looking for an old school diner experience or a romantic getaway.
New Jersey was the first state to sign the Bill of Rights, and the fact that New Jersey is so close to the Statue of Liberty is likely some of the reasons why New Jersey’s state motto is “Liberty and Prosperity”.
One thing is certain, New Jersey is a state with a long and rich history, and visitors can appreciate that by visiting a variety of unique and charming destinations.
Where should you go in New Jersey?
The famous Jersey Shore encompasses some of the most beautiful beaches the nation has to offer. It is made up of around 140 miles of oceanfront bordering the Atlantic Ocean, stretching all the way from Perth Amboy in North Jersey, through Jersey City, and ending all the way down in Cape May, where you’ll find the world-famous Atlantic City, New Jersey’s casino and beach capital.
Whatever time of year you choose for your visit, you’re sure to find a part of New Jersey that is right for you, from the farms and metropolitan areas of North Jersey to the grand opulent casinos and beautiful beaches of Atlantic City in South Jersey, and with the densest system of highways and railways, you’ll find that getting around the state to be a walk in the park, and you’re sure to find your ideal destination in the great state of New Jersey.
12 favorite places to visit in New Jersey
1. Atlantic city boardwalk and beaches
Located in South Jersey, Atlantic City is the premier vacation destination for new jerseys and new yorkers alike, known to be the place to go if you’re looking for a good time in New Jersey.
Home to the longest boardwalk in the world, Atlantic City’s boardwalk is the backbone of this seaside resort, as it offers a unique way to take in the city, this New Jersey landmark is dotted with local shops, where you can try some New Jersey specialties such as saltwater taffy, that originated in the Atlantic City boardwalk, amusement parks and attractions all while taking you through white sandy beaches, where you can enjoy some of the best sunset viewings New Jersey has to offer.
New Jersey beaches are famous throughout the country, attracting visitors from all over America, especially from the neighboring New York City, but few beaches rival Atlantic City’s, known for their warm crystalline waters and white sands, making it an ideal summer vacation destination for families, couples and individuals alike.
Of course, Atlantic City isn’t known for just its incredible beaches, this New Jersey paradise is also famous for its lavish resorts and casinos, but for that, you’re going to have to keep on reading…
2. Historic streets of Cape May
To many of those who aren’t New Jersey residents, when they think of the Jersey Shore they think of its portrayal in the show of the same name, sleazy and trashy and full of drunk frat members, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, and one need not look further than Cape May, one of the most beautiful cities in all of New Jersey.
Cape May, also known as the Jewel of New Jersey, constantly makes it to the top of the “Best of” lists in the country. With over 600 authentically restored Victorian structures, Cape May is well known for having some of the best Bed and Breakfast Inn resorts in the whole country, coupled with the pristine beaches make Cape May a paradisical summer destination for anyone, during spring the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts organizes tours of the historic district and many of the Victorian Inns so that visitors can find out more about the architectural history of the area.
The pristine beaches and beautiful historic inns are the main attraction, but that’s not all Cape May has to offer, thanks to its wonderful coast freshly caught fish and seafood make for a distinct local cuisine that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. All of these things coalesce to make Cape May one of the most sought-after destinations in New Jersey.
3. Appalachian Trail
The New Jersey portion of the Appalachian Trail runs close to many of its largest cities, making it an excellent way to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in the tranquil serenity of the Appalachian scenery.
The Appalachian Trail goes through the Wallkill National Wildlife Reserve, home to the state bird of the Garden State, the New Jersey eastern goldfinch.
New Jersey will surprise you with how wild it is, after just a short walk away from a variety of major cities you’ll find yourself surrounded on all sides by thick greenery and vibrantly colored flowers. You’ll find however that the New Jersey portion of the trail is moderate in difficulty, with gentle changes in elevation and well-kept trail markers, making this trail a must-visit if you’re in New Jersey.
4. Island Beach State Park
Island Beach State Park is a New Jersey Crown Jewel, this State Park is a preserved barrier island, with almost 10 miles of beautiful sandy beaches, making up an extensive shoreline comprised of light sandy dunes, maritime forests, and tidal marshes that the local wildlife calls home. Peregrine falcons, foxes, and large ospreys call this New Jersey State Park home.
The main appeal of Island Beach State Park however is most definitely its beautiful beaches, you’ll find the waters to be warm and calm, making the water an inviting feel, perfect for a relaxing summer afternoon, or if you’re visiting New Jersey during the colder months, an ideal morning walk or afternoon stroll, with the waves crashing providing the best natural soundtrack you could ask for.
5. Six Flags
Another New Jersey calling card, Six Flags is one of the, if not the most well-known amusement park on the East Coast. So many things make Six Flags a one-of-a-kind experience, this New Jersey hallmark boasts a variety of adrenaline-inducing, heart-pounding rides, and vertiginous roller coasters, such as the Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest roller coaster or the SkyScreamer, which spins you around while you dangle precariously from the air, amongst many many more.
Six flags aren’t just an amusement park though, live entertainment is offered throughout the day to relax and unwind with a great show after your heart-pumping amusement park visit, of course, there are also a variety of classic amusement park dining options.
Six Flags is also home to a variety of family-friendly rides and activities, such as kids’ rides, petting zoos, and drive-thru safaris, making this New Jersey amusement park a must-visit destination.
New Jersey is well known for its phenomenal wines, being home to well over 50 wineries, most of them offering visitors tours as well as daily tastings of local wines, making a trip to any of New Jersey’s incredible vineyards a must-do if you’re in NJ.
Special events are organized year-round to celebrate a variety of occasions, what better time to visit than during the harvest season?
Get involved in making your favorite Pinot Grigio by attending a grape-crushing party or visiting during the colder months for the most charming holiday parting you’re likely to ever attend.
7. Ellis Island & Liberty Island
Located in the New York Harbor, Ellis Island is located in both the state of New Jersey and New York, nevertheless for the purpose of this list, we’re going to consider it a New Jersey destination.
Over 12 million immigrants came through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954, especially after World War II with the influx of Italian immigrants coming into New Jersey and New York looking for better lives and a piece of the American dream.
These days the Halls of Ellis Island has been turned into a museum dedicated to telling the tales of the hardship of the people who left their homeland and went on to call New Jersey home. Book a tour
Since Ellis Island is surrounded by water you’ll have to take a ferry to get there, as luck would have it, the same ferry that goes to Ellis Island passes through Liberty Island, making visiting these dual symbols of freedom and hope, easy and convenient to do in a single day trip.
Ellis Island has been restored to its former operating glory so that visitors can fully immerse themselves in the history of the Island and put themselves in the shoes of millions of immigrants who walked those halls and into America for the first time.
The Ellis Island Immigrant Museum is home to a variety of exhibits that chronicle the history of immigration into the United States since the 1500’s when only native Americans called New Jersey, and North America as a whole their home.
Liberty Island is home to a beautiful park and a rich museum, housing a variety of interesting exhibits that give insight into the history of the Statue, even housing its original torch. Before leaving you’d be remiss to not visit Liberty Vista, atop the Museum, giving you a panoramic view of the New York Harbor.
8. Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Thomas Edison was a prolific inventor and one of the most famous to come out of America, having created many things that would become the basis for modern amenities, such as the motion picture camera, the lightbulb, and the automatic telegraph to name a few, though his exploits are the thing of legend and he is often times remembered as both a genius and a controversial figure, the impact that Thomas Edison had on the land of the free cannot be ignored.
A great deal of effort has gone into the conservation of his home and laboratories in Menlo Park and West Orange, so that future generations can visit them and pay homage to one of the greatest minds to have ever called New Jersey home.
Despite having enjoyed tremendous fame from his endeavors in the Current Wars in New York City, Thomas Edison had for most of his life and career in a laboratory in New Jersey, as such Thomas Edison’s story can’t be told without mentioning Jersey.
This New Jersey-based Historial Park is comprised of two estates where Edison housed his laboratories, visitors can tour the famous inventor’s home and laboratory.
Edison’s House is surrounded by a beautiful garden that is perfect for an afternoon stroll while you tour the main house, the home itself has been preserved in its original state. In there you’ll find various exhibits that detail Edison’s personal life.
At his New Jersey labs, you’ll find a wealth of exhibits about the nearly two thousand patents and inventions that Edison came up with over his life.
Home to the world-famous Princeton University, the quaint region of Princeton-Mercer is a rich and beautiful area of New Jersey, ready for you to explore during your next visit.
The area is well known for its rich cultural institutions that make Princeton-Mercer a must-visit for culture and art aficionados. In addition to the gorgeous Grounds for Sculpture that made the list in its own right, the Morven Museum and Garden is within walking distance of Princeton University and dates back over 200 years.
Princeton Mercer is rich with history that dates back to the first Quaker settlers, most of the early settlements have been preserved so that guests can enjoy these beautiful pieces of history during their visit to New Jersey.
If visual art isn’t your cup of tea, the area is teeming with incredible theatres putting on incredible shows for your entertainment.
The Wildwood is another of New Jersey’s famous seaside resort cities, perfect for a family vacation or just enjoying a relaxing beach weekend, there’s something for everyone at Wildwoods.
Though not as big as its Atlantic City cousin, Wildwoods boasts a boardwalk that is 38 blocks long and dotted with amusement parks, shopping malls, restaurants, and nightlife that you won’t find in just any regular resort town. After all, Wildwoods has been a New Jersey favorite for decades now, and it’s not hard to see why, on top of all of the establishments dedicated to keeping you busy and active, there are over 5 miles of beautiful sandy beaches that are ideal for you to sit back and unwind from the woes of daily life.
11. Grounds for Sculpture
Grounds for sculpture is the ideal destination for what many consider a perfect day trip in New Jersey, after all this place is so many things at once.
Grounds for Sculpture is a museum, arboretum, and sculpture garden, all of this in over 40 acres of scenic, picturesque gardens that are sure to make any old afternoon stroll into a head-turning culturally rich adventure through what seems more like an outdoor art gallery rather than the grounds of a museum.
The gardens are home to hundreds of contemporary art pieces that make for an exciting and enriching walk, but one would be remiss to not explore the inside of the museum, which housing rotating exhibits in six indoor galleries, you’ll also find performances, informative talks by some of the art world’s foremost thinkers, as well as workshops on art appreciation, history, and production.
All things considered, Grounds for Sculpture is a must-visit destination in New Jersey for art aficionados or people looking to explore their cultural horizons.
12. Atlantic City resorts & Casinos
This New Jersey hallmark is highly sought after as a vacation destination, famous for its many lavish resorts and opulent casinos.
Gambling in NJ dates back to the 1970s when the state of New Jersey voted to legalize casino gambling in Atlantic City since then the city has built 9 casinos, the only ones in the state of NJ, thus making the city the gambling capital of New Jersey.
The Sin City of the East is made up of 9 different resorts and casinos, all of which beautiful and lavishly decorated. You don’t need to be a gambling aficionado to visit the casinos or see their appeal, any of these incredible resorts will serve as the ideal springboard for you to explore everything Atlantic City has to offer.
New Jersey is an incredibly rich and diverse state that is perfect regardless of your interests, you’ll find a place suited for you, from vibrant beaches in bustling resort cities to rich museums in affluent city centers, New Jersey has something for you, so don’t diddle your thumbs and book a trip to New Jersey and see for yourself!
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