Having lived in New Jersey for several years, it’s suffice to say on many levels, this is currently our “hometown”. And whenever we have family and friends visit us, these are the top spots we take them to. Jersey is relatively small and neighbored with the states of New York and Pennsylvania, therefore, below are two sets of Top 5s: the “local” and the “not so local”. Enjoy!
The Local Sights
When you don’t want to cross the Hudson (which involves paying a hefty toll if you’re driving), head over to Hoboken. With plethora of restaurants serving a variety of different cuisines, there’s something for every taste buds, even those just seeking to indulge in sweet treats. Upscale lounges, dive bars, and dance clubs for those seeking to party, and day spas for those needing to relax and rejuvenate.
And when you’ve had enough of Hoboken, drive over a few blocks to Exchange Place waterfront where the beautiful view of downtown NYC will fill your heart (and face) with a smile whether it’s your first visit or your umpteenth.
Even before it became the title of a reality show, it’s always been worth taking a trip down to the shore when visiting NJ. There are quite a few beaches to choose from depending on your activity and crowd preference. However, Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights and Long Beach Island usually rank high because of its family friendly attribute: boardwalks and rides. But if you want a nice beach without the crowds, head over to Sea Girt, where you’ll still experience be able to experience the boardwalk but without the rowdy crowds. And if you’re looking for seclusion, then Avalon and Strathmere should be on your radar. The water compares to neither the Caribbean Ocean nor the Atlantic Ocean surrounding Bermuda, but a sunrise over the ocean is a serene sight from any body of water.
Princeton/Grounds for Sculpture
Everyone who comes to New Jersey for the first time wants to check out Princeton University, and why not, it’s a beautiful campus! A little college town, the university is surrounded by fun eats and cute boutique stores. Beautiful place to stop by for coffee and wonder about the scholars who attended Princeton, grab a bite to eat (try PJ’s Pancakes – Yum!), and take some great photographs. And don’t forget to purchase your Princeton paraphernalia from one of the many bookstores.
Afterwards, head over to Grounds for Sculpture in nearby Hamilton, NJ to see some amazing contemporary sculptures outdoors on 35 acres of garden. $10 for entry or free if dining at their restaurant, Rats (don’t get taken back by the name, it’s nothing like it sounds). Whimsical and classy, it’s a great place for brunch (albeit a bit pricey).
Delaware Water Gap
By Skylands Visitor, http://www.njskylands.com/odhikedwg
A National Recreation Area by the U.S. National Park Service, Delaware Water Gap offers 28 miles of trekking on the Appalachian Mountains. This is the spot for nature lovers in the state. With over 100 miles of hiking trail, historic biking trail, tubing and rafting on the lazy Delaware River, three lifeguarded beaches, fishing, hunting and scenic drives, the water gap can be enjoyed year round.
Six Flags’s Great Adventure (Seasonal)
By Paulm27 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3986178
If traveling with kids then a day in Six Flags Great Adventures in the summer time is a great time pass. Located in Jackson, NJ this is a central hotspot for most residents. For the adults who can’t do roller coasters, there is a shopping outlet nearby for you to spend the day while your kids gallivant in the park.
The Not So Local Sights
New York City
40 minutes from central NJ lies New York City and you can’t visit NJ and not head to NYC; it’s simply unheard of. Between five boroughs filled with must see tourist sights, shows, restaurants and the local know hows, NYC has something for everyone and every budget. An entire series of posts can be written on NYC alone, so it is suffice to say, the city does not disappoint.
On the other end of the state is our very own casino town. You can gamble, watch shows, experience fine dining, and/or hit the spas. In addition, AC offers plenty of boardwalk fun for the summer months and compensates with the AC Outlet Mall (open year round) during the winter months! Once you understand and accept that it’s not Vegas (I mean really, it’s not Vegas), you can have a great time.
Another hot spot close to the garden state is Philly! Who doesn’t want to grab an amazingly delicious Philly cheesesteak from Gino’s or Pats? Stand in line to see the the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall? Catch a game at the Lincoln Financial Field? If you’ve come this far, you might as well hop on the train (NJ Transit and SEPTA) for an two hour ride into Philadelphia.
Heading across the northwest border of NJ towards a different part of Pennsylvania is the Poconos Mountains. Beautiful and serene you can go hiking, visit a waterpark, raft in the summer months and ski, snowboard, and tube in the winter months. Just a short ride over the hill, its perfect for a day trips and long weekends alike.
At the southernmost tip of New Jersey lies the beautiful and quaint town of Cape May. With gorgeous Victorian mansions everywhere, Cape May is one of America’s Historic Landmark cities. From whale watching, golfing, boating to wineries, horse carriage rides, and spa-ing, Cape May has tons to offer year round.
Have you been to Jersey? What is your favorite spot? Share below.
Happy and Safe Travels!