Perched just off the Hudson River, New Jersey is a state that’s sometimes bypassed in lieu of visiting its big sister; New York. That being said, there’s a heap of the best things to do in New Jersey that you really should explore.
From historic boardwalks, iconic university towns to windswept shores – New Jersey has a little something for everyone! Plus, it’s a great state to visit as you head further south on a roadtrip around the best spots on the east coast.
We had the best time visiting New Jersey and the only thing that really irks me is that we didn’t give it enough time before heading over. There’s so much to see in New Jersey and it’s something of a gem to explore.
So, to help you get the most out of your time, I wanted to share some totally gorgeous spots you can’t miss.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in New Jersey. Have an amazing time exploring the US.
Probably best known for its university, Princeton is a great little spot to explore whilst visiting New Jersey. Not only that, it’s really easy to stop for a day trip whilst driving between Newark and Trenton.
Once here, be sure to take a gander inside the Princeton University Art Museum. It houses a collection that dates back centuries. Although relatively small, it packs a heavy punch on all the artefacts and pieces to see.
Afterwards, head over to spot the former home of Albert Einstein. For around 20 years, he lived at 112 Mercer Street and it can still be viewed to this day. Just remember, this is private property so make sure to be respectful when passing.
Also, if you’ve got time, visit Princeton Battlefield State Park. It’s the site of the Battle of Princeton in 1777 and only a few minutes stroll from the centre of Princeton itself.
Read more: Best places on the East Coast to visit
2.) Jersey City
Just across the river from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, exploring Jersey City is one of the best things to do in New Jersey for a half-day trip.
Now, for me, one epic spot you can’t miss is Liberty State Park. Covering, around 1,200 acres of land along the waterside, it’s got some pretty impressive views of New York and well worth a stroll around.
Right from the coastline, you’ll get some stunning views of Liberty Island, Upper New York Bay, and the Liberty Statue. Which, is totally beautiful at sunrise.
Afterwards, head across to the iconic Liberty Science Center that has thousands of exhibits inside. It’s the kind of spot where you can spend days learning and even take a gander in the planetarium (that’s one of the most advanced in the west). Plus, you can access the exhibits, such as Eat and be Eaten, Infection Connection, and loads more.
Also, nearby, you’ve got the iconic Jersey City Terminal that dates all the way back to the 1800s. It’s pretty impressive to see and well worth a gander as you stroll the shoreline of Jersey City.
Finally, for a tasty bite, grab a table at Taqueria Downtown. It’s a totally casual and chilled eatery that’s got some of the best tacos in New Jersey. A great spot for an informal lunch.
Read more: Best things to do in Manhattan
Being the capital of New Jersey, Trenton has a lot going for it. This makes a visit to the city one of the best things to do in New Jersey for its history and compact downtown area.
Once here, make sure to explore the Old Barracks Museum which is now the only surviving colonial barracks in all of New Jersey. It’s a really interesting find, especially if you’re interested in the American Revolution.
Don’t forget to visit the New Jersey State Museum, too. It’s got everything from dinosaurs to fine art. A perfect spot for any history buffs to explore.
If you’ve got time, head over to the township of Hamilton (next to Trenton) and visit the Grounds for Sculpture. Covering over 40 acres, It’s a museum and a sculpture park that houses iconic arts that are totally mind-blowing. I
The park alongside the museum has six indoor galleries which mean it can take hours to fully see. So, be sure to plan your day ahead and don’t skimp on seeing all the exhibits.
Nestled right on the shores of the Delaware River, Camden is a great spot to visit in New Jersey to explore a little history.
You see, situated within the river is Battleship New Jersey, a historic battleship that’s totally vast. Today, there’s no fear of any battles being fought and you can easily hop on board to wander around the US Navy’s most decorated vessel.
Nowadays, it’s now a Navy Museum where you can explore heaps of artefacts from the ship’s involvement in past battles, especially WWII. Plus, you’ll even get to see the huge 16-inch gun turrets, too.
If that’s not your thing, head over to visit Walt Whitman’s House which’s right in the downtown area of Camden itself. Home to the iconic poet, it’s like stepping back into a preserved past.
Finally, we won’t tell the rest of New Jersey but you can easily head across Benjamin Franklin Bridge and explore Philadelphia in Pennsylvania, too. It’s a great city to explore and well worth basing yourself here for a few days trip.
Read more: Best places on the East Coast to visit
Does the name sound familiar? Yup, it was renamed back in the 1950s to commemorate one of its most famous residents; Thomas Edison who ran his workspace out of Menlo Park.
Now, once you arrive, your first stop has to be the Thomas Edison National Historical Park. It’s a must-see site for you if you are interested in history, invention, or science and technology. Plus, you’ll get a complete lowdown on the legendary scientist Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory.
The tours give you a peek at the original artefacts within the labs, and learn so much more about the man himself! Plus, you’ll also get the chance to visit Edison’s Glenmont Estate and the laboratory complex. You can easily spend hours here.
Afterwards, head over to the Edison Tower that’s so epic to see.
Fancy a stroll? Head on over to Eagle Rock Reservation which’s filled with loads of hiking trails. Plus, it’s got one of the best views of the New York skyline in the distance.
Read more: Best things to do in Brooklyn
6.) Atlantic City
Around a 2-hour drive from Manhattan, Atlantic City is an old-school seaside resort that houses the first established Boardwalk in all the United States; the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Spanning a whopping 8-miles of New Jersey’s coastline, it’s the perfect place to stroll, grab a bite to eat and stop off for a little dip on a nice sunny day.
Also, be sure to stop off at Steel Pier and hop on the Ferris wheel and vintage rides that are so much fun. Plus, you can easily head over to Absecon Lighthouse which’s well worth visiting for the views from the top.
If you’re looking for a quieter beach area, you can easily drive over to nearby Brigantine Beach. Although there are no services or facilities, it’s a much quieter area for a ramble along the shoreline. Just be extra careful if you intend on taking a dip, there are no lifeguards here.
Getting hungry? Head on over to Dock’s Oyster House. Their calamari and oysters are both so yummy.
In a lot of ways, people seem to either love or loathe the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Some find it tacky, others find it totally nostalgic and a fun day out. Whatever your leanings, be sure to slap on that sunblock and wear some comfy shoes – you’ll be on your feet all day!
Read more: Best things to do in New York State
7.) Beach Haven
Nestled on Long Beach Island, Beach Haven is around an hours drive from Atlantic City and totally lovely to explore.
Of course, your first stop has to be Fantasy Island, Amusement Park. Here, you’ll get to ride the massive Ferris Wheel (which is a staple in New Jersey) and it’s never too crowded (which is great).
Afterwards, spend some time on the beachfront and enjoy this stunning coastline that makes Long Beach Island so special.
Finally, to fill up, stop by Tuckers Tavern. Their craft beers and fish tacos are so tasty; you’ll leave stuffed!
8.) Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Situated on the border with Pennsylvania, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a gorgeous place to explore.
Covering over 70,000 acres, it’s the kind of place that’s filled with trails, waterfalls and lakes that are stunning to visit.
Now, the New Jersey Sections of the Delaware Water Gap has two visitors’ centres, the Millbrook Village and the Kittatinny Point Visitor Center. Both have magnificent views and a good number of exhibits that’s well worth checking into when driving into the area. Plus, they’ve got the experts on hand to help you find some of the best trails that’ll suit your ability (and local weather conditions best).
Nearby, you’ve also got the iconic Buttermilk Falls which’s well worth a gander.
Don’t forget about visiting Worthington State Forest, too. Oh, and heading up the Red Dot Trail up Mount Tammany. The views are stunning and well worth the hike (even if it’s steep in places).
Read more: Best things to do in Long Island
9.) Ocean City
Around a 30-minute drive from Atlantic City, Ocean City is another seaside gem you won’t want to miss. With miles of beaches and shoreline, Ocean city is one of the best things to do in New Jersey for a great day at the beach!
You see, the Boardwalk is about 2.5 miles, and it houses heaps of retro arcades and amusements, including the Music and wonderland Pier and the Gillian’s Island Golf & Water Park. It’s a family-fun place that’s a total throwback to times gone by. It almost has a nostalgic feel about it all.
Oh, and you kinda have to stop off at Manco & Manco Pizza that’s right on the boardwalk, too. It’s been around since the 1950s and has the best Sicilian pizzas ever.
Read more: Best things to do in the Hamptons
10.) Cape May
Overlooking the shoreline of Delaware, Cape May is a great spot to visit before taking the ferry over to Lewes.
There’s so much to do and see all around the Cape May region and it’s well worth anchoring yourself for a few days here. First up, be sure to stop off at Morey’s Piers.
Filled with Water Parks and retro Amusement, it covers a total of six blocks just opposite the shore of Cape May. It’s the kind of place where you can head on the bumper cars, get soaked in the water park and get a sugar high with all that candy floss and saltwater taffy.
It’s also got a whopper of a Ferris Wheel at over 150 feet high!
After those thrills and spills head over to Cape May Point State Park. It’s so much more chilled and a totally unspoilt area to chill out (especially whilst walking the Blue Trail).
Finally, for some beach vibes, head on over to Cape May Beach. It’s so gorgeous and totally idyllic. Plus, nearby, you’ve also got the Cape May Peanut Butter Co. shop that’s perfect to fill any peanut butter craving.
11.) Asbury park
Around a 45-minute drive from Edison, Asbury Park is a great spot to visit if you’re staying within the northern parts of New Jersey. You see, here, it has one of the most gorgeous boardwalks that are well worth visiting around sunrise or sunset.
Plus, Asbury Park Beach is just so lovely. Oh, and nearby you’ve got the Silverball Retro Arcade that houses vintage pinball machines and games dating back almost a hundred years! It’s so kitsch and can’t be missed.
Oh, and check what’s on at the Stone Pony, too. It’s an iconic music spot for some great live bands!
12.) Island Beach State Park
For me, what makes a visit to Island Beach State Park is nature! It’s one of the best things to do in New Jersey if you really want some time away from the towns and cities and really just enjoy the surf and coastline itself.
It’s totally beautiful and the beach is just a sandy paradise that’s much quieter than Seaside Heights that’s perched north of the park.
There’s plenty of parking and lots of walkways from Shore Road to the coastline itself.
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