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24 Fun & Best Things to Do in New Jersey

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If you only know about New Jersey from movies and sitcoms, it may seem like an over industrialized and mafia-run wasteland… but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This northeast gem is made up of natural wonders, charming small towns towns, and lots of cities to explore. Its beaches, parks, and historic sites are worth visiting over and over again.

Sure, New Jersey is known for Atlantic City, its proximity and access to New York City, and the infamous Jersey Shore (which is way better than the T.V. show of the same name portrays it to be), but did you know that the Garden State is full of places you can spend the day enjoying nature, history, and family fun?

New Jersey offers an infinite number of fun activities for all ages. Kids will be entertained at the Ocean City Boardwalk, Cape May Zoo, and American Dream, home to a year-round snow resort and the biggest indoor waterpark in North America. Adults can enjoy a rowdy weekend in Atlantic City or have a peaceful getaway in one of the many beautiful river towns like Lambertville.

Foodies will be satisfied with New Jersey’s renowned food scene. From upscale, modern cuisine to boardwalk treats and some of the best seafood in the country, you’ll find a huge variety of snacks, meals, and sweets everywhere you look.

Art and history fans will be stoked about New Jersey’s many museums and historic sites, like Sterling Hill Mining Museum, Grounds For Sculpture, and the Battleship New Jersey Memorial and Museum. For music fans, you’ll want to check out the concerts at the Camden Riverfront (the name changes every year… I still call it the Tweeter Center), PNC Bank Arts, Starland Ballroom, or Asbury Park’s legendary Stone Pony.

Nature-goers have plenty of options for outdoor adventures, including the Delaware Water Gap, South Mountain Reservation, and Washington Crossing State Park.

Keep reading to learn more about our top picks for New Jersey!

TL;DR

  • Most significant landmark — Lucy the Elephant
  • Best park — Liberty State Park
  • Free activity — Cape May County Park & Zoo
  • Activity for kidsAmerican Dream
  • Activity for adults — Lambertville/New Hope
  • Place to eat — The Walpack Inn
  • Nightlife — Pool After Dark at Harrah’s Resort Hotel & Casino
  • Place to stayCongress Hall

Things to Do in New Jersey

1. Visit American Dream Meadowlands

American Dream Meadowlands New Jersey
Management / American Dream

Address: 1 American Dream Wy, East Rutherford, NJ 07073, United States

No, this isn’t an April Fools joke: Xanadu is real! After literal decades of setbacks, changes of ownership, state bailouts, fires, and a Pandemic, the American Dream mall is open. This enormous, world-class retail, dining, and entertainment complex in the Meadowlands area of East Rutherford, just minutes away from New York City. American Dream provides endless fun for kids and adults alike making it a must-do activity in New Jersey.

Locals will probably tell you that it’s haunted (after all, it was built on an ancient mafia burial ground), but more than that, the 3 million square ft mega mall is home to numerous attractions, including the following:

  • DreamWorks Water Park (indoor water park with the largest selection of water slides worldwide)
  • Nickelodeon Universe (indoor theme park)
  • Big SNOW (indoor ski and snow resort)
  • The Rink (NHL regulation-sized indoor ice skating rink)
  • Legoland Discovery Center (ultimate indoor lego playground)
  • Sea Life (underwater world featuring thousands of aquatic animals)
  • SKUDINSURF (indoor freshwater wave pool)
  • Dream Wheel (Ferris wheel with views of NYC skyline)
  • TiLT (3D chalk museum)
  • Out of this World (blacklight mini-golf)

This legendary entertainment complex holds many world records. DreamWorks Water Park is North America’s largest indoor waterpark, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park is the biggest indoor theme park in the Western Hemisphere, and Big SNOW is the first and only indoor, real-snow, year-round ski slope and snow resort in North America. American Dream is also home to IT’SUGAR, the world’s largest “candy department store.”

You can’t possibly experience the entire American Dream in one day, so the Renaissance Meadowlands Hotel is a great lodging option that’s five minutes away.

See Related: Best Family Road Trips in the US

2. Explore the Delaware Water Gap and Hike Mount Tammany

Aerial view of Delaware Water Gap on a sunny autumn day with forward camera motion. The Delaware Water Gap is a water gap on the border of the U.S. states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania
mandritoiu / Adobe Stock

The Delaware Water Gap was carved over millions of years as the Delaware River cut through a large ridge of the Appalachian Mountains. Today,the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a National Park Service-run site that encompasses 67,000 acres of stunning landscape on the border of NJ and Pennsylvania. Visitors can enjoy rafting, canoeing, camping, hiking, swimming, cycling, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, and picnicking year-round.

The hike up to the summit of Mount Tammany is the best way to experience the Delaware Water Gap, and it’s no wonder that the Red Dot to Blue Dot Loop is one of the most popular hiking trails in New Jersey.

The hike is as challenging or as easy as you make it. While it’s no walk in the park, most hikers in reasonable condition can make it to the summit along the Red Dot Trail. It’s a steep mile-and-a-half to the top, but after the first steep mile, the views will keep you going. There aren’t many switchbacks, but it’s a straightforward trail and no real scrambling is necessary.

There are two main parking areas, one at the base of the trail and one at the Dunnfield Creek area. but they both fill up very quickly on weekends and holidays. Get there before 8 a.m. to ensure you have a spot.

If you’d like to hike the trail when there are fewer people, it’s suggested to go on a weekday or early in the morning. I’ve seen plenty of kids and dogs on the trail, but I’ve also encountered exhausted toddlers and dogs in backpacks, so be sure the small ones are up for a good trek.

Start at the Mount Tammany Red Dot trailhead. The path leads to stairs which lead to a fork. Remember to veer left, following the red blazes.

After 1.2 miles, you’ll arrive at the crest of the Gap for one of the most dramatic views of New Jersey. This is where Mount Tammany Trail ends and the Pahaquarry (Blue) Trail begins. At the 3-mile mark, the Blue Trail joins the Appalachian Trail (White Blazes), which both lead back to the parking lot.

If you’re extra daring, consider doing the 11-mile-long Mt. Tammany and Sunfish Pond loop. Sunfish Pond is a beautiful 44-acre spring-fed glacial lake that’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of New Jersey. From the summit, head down the Pahawuarry Trail and continue along Dunnfield Creek instead of heading back along the AT.

Keep in mind the Dunnfield Creek Trail (green blazes) involves a lot of stream crossings and rock-hopping, and you’re sure to get wet. The Fire Road from the summit is a much more gradual way to go, but there’s no shade and it’s hot in the summertime.

If you don’t wish to explore the Delaware Water Gap via walking or hiking, you can see it from the sky on a private airplane tour for just $120. What could be better than flying over lush mountainous scenery and the scenic winding Delaware River?

If you’d like an excellent dining experience after your day of outdoor adventures, go to the Walpack Inn, right in the heart of the forest. It’s one of the best restaurants in New Jersey. The menu is incredible, and the inn puts on lawn concerts throughout the year. This restaurant is upscale, so dress appropriately, and make a reservation!

See Related: Best Flightseeing & Helicopter Tours in Denali

3. Go Whale and Dolphin Watching in Cape May

Whale on Cape May Whale watching
Cape May Whale Watcher / Cape May Whale Watcher

Address: Cape May, New Jersey 08204, USA

Cape May is considered by many to be the jewel of New Jersey. The city is a National Historic Landmark site and is famous for its pristine beach and 600+ authentically restored and preserved Victorian structures.

Cape May is located at the southern tip of New Jersey, where Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Cape May beaches are pristine and are enough on their own, but if you’re looking for outdoor recreation, going on a whale-watching tour is the coolest thing to do.

During this tour, you’ll sail into Delaware Bay and out to the Atlantic Ocean and witness stunning views and natural beauty. An expert guide will teach you about Cape May’s history in addition to the many types of marine life on these shores. As you cruise along the waterfront you’ll watch dolphins and whales in their natural habitat.

If you visit Cape May, Congress Hall is THE place to stay. It has overlooked the Atlantic Ocean for over 200 years and is known as America’s first seaside resort. It’s upscale and beautiful and is located in the center of New Jersey’s Victorian District, with tons of activities right at your fingertips.

4. Vacation in Asbury Park

Asbury Park
Jin / Adobe Stock

Address: Asbury Park, New Jersey 07712, USA

Asbury Park is a historic shore town that features one of the best beaches in the state. Asbury Park is known for its unique shops, eclectic restaurants, breathtaking views, and epic emerging music scene.

The Asbury Park experience isn’t complete without entertainment. USA Today selected this city as one of the top ten places to listen to live music. The Stone Pony is where the E Street Band got its start, and House of Independents on Cookman Street is the place to go for DJ nights, punk shows, and Americana, depending on the night.

Asbury Lanes is another great venue, though locals all debate whether the “new” Lanes is better than the original. Personally, the fake bowling balls overhead make me a little nervous…

Convention Hall, along with the adjacent Paramount Theatre, is one of the most legendary landmarks on the Jersey Shore. This venue has hosted performances by the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Frank Sinatra, and countless others.

Convention Hall extends over the beach and has a capacity of up to 3,600 guests. Its undergoing significant renovation now to restore the building to its former glory, but the “Casino” attached to the hall is open with plenty of shops to enjoy.

Throughout the year, Asbury Park’s historic downtown area has numerous events from block parties to parades. The Annual Asbury Park Restaurant Tour is a foodie favorite. Last year, participants were able to sample bites from chefs around the city and see demos at over 20+ eateries, lounges, juice bars, and more. Don’t miss Sea.Hear.Now, a music festival on the beach that features top-tier surf competitions as well as iconic acts performing on the sand. I go every year, and let me tell you, it doesn’t get any more fun than dancing to the B-52s, the Menzingers, Social D, or the Bouncing Soles on their home turf!

Weirdly enough, Asbury Park holds a world record-breaking Zombie Walk. Yes, you read that correctly. The Asbury Park Zombie Walk was founded in 2008 and has become one of the most iconic events on the AP Boardwalk. It’s recognized as one of the largest events of its kind in the United States.

The Zombie Walk is an organized gathering of people who dress up in zombie costumes and then converge quickly in a public area to surprise people. During the Walk, all participants are encouraged to remain in character. In 2013, the AP Zombie Walk broke the Guinness World Record for ‘WORLD’S LARGEST GATHERING OF ZOMBIES’ in 2010 and then again in 2013.

The best place to stay in Asbury Park is The Asbury Hotel, a beautiful, restored Victorian-era hotel that has been transformed into a vibrant and unique place to stay. It’s located 1,000 feet from Asbury Park Boardwalk and even operates a bar and music venue with live shows. Catch Remember Jones on the rooftop for the best entertainment in town.

See Related: Best Music Festivals to Attend This Summer

5. Party on the Atlantic City Boardwalk

Atlantic City Boardwalk Aerial View
mandritoiu / Adobe Stock

Address: Boardwalk, New Jersey, USA

As you probably already know, the Atlantic City boardwalk is one of the most popular tourist attractions for live entertainment and live music. This boardwalk is the backbone of Atlantic City. It provides easy access to hotels, resorts, shops, casinos, venues, and various attractions. The boardwalk opened on June 26, 1870 – making it the world’s first, and stretches along six miles of Atlantic City beachfront – making it the world’s longest.

There are several piers that stem from the boardwalk. Garden Pier, for example, is known as the arts and cultural center of the Atlantic City boardwalk. Atlantic City Art Center and the Atlantic City Historical Museum are both located on Garden Pier.

If you’re feeling bougie, you can’t miss the Pier Shops at Caesars. They offer world-class shopping, dining, and entertainment. There are about 90 high-end restaurants and shops, including luxury designer brands.

The Pool After Dark, located inside Harrah’s Resort Hotel & Casino, is the premier nightclub destination in Atlantic City. It offers a wild one-of-a-kind experience in a multi-level club with an 86,000-gallon pool in the middle. During the day, it’s an all-ages resort pool, but once the night falls, celebrity hosts, DJs, and performers come to turn it up. Other exciting nightlife options include Borgata Hotel & Casino and Atlantic City Comedy Club.

If you want a classic Atlantic City dining experience, I’d highly consider Chef Vola’s (if you can find it!) and Docks Oyster House. The Rat Pack were regulars at both of these places.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

6. Explore Lambertville & New Hope

Lambertville New Hope New Jersey Bridge
Alex Lacouture / ViaTravelers

Lambertville and New Hope are two of my favorite towns in the country. They’re artsy, quirky, and buzzing with great energy.

New Hope is on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, and Lambertville is on the New Jersey side. It only takes a few minutes to walk or drive across a beautiful bridge to get from one town to the other.

Lambertville was founded in 1705. It’s a historic river town that’s the biggest community near where Washington crossed the Delaware, turning the tide of the American Revolutionary War. Lambertville performs a re-enactment of the crossing every year on Christmas Day. Washington’s Crossing State Park is just a few minutes south of Lambertville

Beyond its historical significance, the town is a haven for artists, craftsmen, and vintage thrifters. The town’s charming streets are lined with federal townhouses and Victorian homes, as well as unique shops, eclectic art galleries, and cool coffee shops. I recommend Rojo’s Roastery, an incredible hipster coffee shop that means serious business when it comes to roasting beans.

The best shopping streets are Bridge, Main, and Union. The Gallery of Fine Art is known for fair pricing, as well as lovely contemporary and American art. Lambertville is also known as “The Antiques Capital of New Jersey.” Hidden and often peculiar treasures can be found throughout the town.

Three days a week, the Golden Nugget Antiques Market offers a large outdoor and indoor market of rare finds. The People’s Store has more than 40 dealers on three floors.

For upscale dining, I recommend the Landing. Although pricey for an outdoor establishment, it’s one of my favorite restaurants with wonderful views of the river and great cocktails. Be aware that it’s closed during the winter months.

If you’re looking to have a meal at my favorite restaurant in New Jersey, try Local Greek. This canalside spot is new in town, but it’s made a name as one of the best restaurants in Lambertville. It’s a casual spot, but the Greek-American dishes are packed with flavor and the homemade Greek-style ice cream comes in creative flavors like Baklava and Cherry Zeus.

The Oldestone Steakhouse is another great dining option. It’s a high-end restaurant inside a 150-year-old church in the heart of historic New Hope, a five-minute walk across The New Hope-Lambertville Bridge. Oldestone serves prime cuts, family-style sides, and fresh seafood. The bar boasts amazing cocktails and Sommelier-selected wines.

For lodging, I recommend a beautiful restored 19th Century train depot house called Lambertville Station Inn. It’s located on the Delaware River in downtown Lambertville and the inn’s waterside restaurant is very popular, too.

7. Visit The Great Falls

Waterfalls of Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park, New
Jay / Adobe Stock

Address: 72 McBride Ave Ext, Paterson, NJ 07501, USA

The Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is one of the prettiest places you can visit in New Jersey. The park is a 118-acre site with the Great Falls in the center.

The falls are a whopping 77 feet tall and located on the Passaic River. They are some of the largest waterfalls east of the Mississippi by width and volume. The falls were formed about 13,000 years ago when the ice from Glacial Lake Passaic receded.

In 1778, Alexander Hamilton visited the falls and believed there was potential to create an industrial town. The town of Paterson was established as the nation’s first planned industrial city.

The Great Falls was used as a hydraulic power source for the manufacturing plant, which was brand new technology at the time. The water powered cotton, paper, and silk mills, and was used to develop the Colt Revolver.

Artists have also been drawn to the Great Falls. Photographers, painters, and writers have been inspired by this landmark for hundreds of years. The Falls have starred in movies and shows like the Adam Driver movie, Paterson, and the pilot episode of The Sopranos.

This National Historical Park is a great place to visit regardless of the season. The waterfalls are gorgeous in the winter, frozen and surrounded by snow, and the landscape is stunning during the fall due to the leaves changing colors as a backdrop to the falls.

When visiting Great Falls National Historic Park, you can also find several restored mills, water flow raceways, and the Paterson Museum. Admission to the park is free and tours are offered.

If you’re looking for a nice place to stay near the falls, the Courtyard by Marriott in Wayne is only 15 minutes away.

See Related: Best Boundary Waters Waterfalls You Need to Visit

8. Snap Pics of Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant Landmark in Margate New Jersey
MSPhotographic / Adobe Stock

Address: 9200 Atlantic Ave, Margate City, NJ 08402, United States

The most unique Jersey attraction is Lucy the Elephant, the world’s largest (and most welcoming) elephant. She is six stories high and located along the beach in Josephine Harron Park in Margate, New Jersey.

She has had a fascinating life. Lucy the Elephant, formally called Elephant Bazaar, was built in 1881 as a spectacle to attract prospective real estate buyers to Margate. Visitors arrived by the newly constructed railroad, which stopped right beside Lucy. She remained a tourist attraction well into the twentieth century. Unfortunately, the marine environment took a toll on Lucy causing her to be slated for demolition.

The Save Lucy Committee heroically raised funds to move the elephant to a property a few blocks away and restore it. By 1974, Lucy’s exterior was restored and she was once again opened to the public.

In 1976, the Save Lucy Committee lobbied the federal government to designate Lucy as a National Historic Landmark. The United States National Park Service soon after bestowed that honor upon New Jersey’s most famous elephant. She joined the ranks of the Statue of Liberty, Mt. Rushmore, Hoover Dam, and other famous landmarks that help tell the story of American history. You go, girl!

There is no charge to visit the grounds at Lucy the Elephant or the gift shop. There is a charge for visitors who wish to take the guided tour through Lucy. There are also plenty of unique, fun events throughout the year on Lucy’s grounds.

If you have a large party, this rental in Ventnor Beach sleeps ten. It’s steps from the beach and is five minutes away from Lucy.

See Related: Top Bizarre Roadside Attractions in the United States

9. Enjoy the Views at Hoboken Waterfront

Manhattan skyline view from Jersey City waterfront
Damien / Adobe Stock

Address: Sinatra Dr, Hoboken, NJ 07030, United States

Looking for amazing views of the New York City skyline? Look no further than the Hoboken Waterfront in Hoboken, New Jersey. Pier A is a beautiful waterfront spot where you can look across the Hudson River at the magnificent Manhattan skyline. It’s considered one of the top urban parks in the nation.

The Hoboken Waterfront has expansive green spaces and walkways that lead out onto the pier. It’s a great place to people-watch, take a peaceful walk, and get a boost of energy. Residents and visitors alike are always walking dogs, biking, and relaxing in this park. Throughout the park you’ll find tennis courts, picnic tables, and grills.

Doing a night tour in Hoboken is a cool idea. You can enjoy the magnificent lit-up skyline and its epic reflection on the river. Night tours also often make a stop at America’s most well-known pastry shop, Carlo’s Bakery.

If you’re wanting to treat yourself, stay at the W Hoboken. It’s a swanky hotel on the waterfront with stunning views that I can’t recommend enough.

10. Eat and Play on the Ocean City Boardwalk

The beach and Boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey
kirkikis / Adobe Stock

Address: 400 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ 08226, United States

The Ocean City boardwalk feels like home to me. Even if you didn’t grow up visiting the Jersey Shore there is a comforting sense of nostalgia when you’re here.

The Ocean City boardwalk offers endless fun for both kids and adults. Go mini-golfing at Congo Falls, ride the swings at Castaway Cove, or spend too much time on skee-ball at Jilly’s Arcade.

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, Shrivers Salt Water Taffy is the place to go. There’s nothing better than old-fashioned taffy at the Jersey shore! Fralingers macaroons and Steele’s Fudge are also must-try boardwalk snacks. The Music Pier is another must. Since 1928, it’s been a famous venue for a variety of shows including musicals, comedies, and concerts.

Some of the best pizza in the country is on the Ocean City Boardwalk. After trying Manco & Manco’s (formerly Mac and Manco’s) famous pizza, your life will never be the same. Prep’s is another favorite for those trying to beat the Manco & Manco crowd

After grabbing a slice of pizza, you might want to nap. The Atlantis Inn Hotel is an upscale bed & breakfast in a mansion that’s a few minutes from Ocean City Boardwalk.

See Related: Best Beaches on the East Coast

11. Explore South Mountain Reservation

Golden fall in South Mountain Reservation in New Jersey, USA.
Vadim / Adobe Stock

Address: Cherry Ln, West Orange, NJ 07052, United States

South Mountain Reservation covers 2,112 acres in the central section of Essex County, extending through West Orange, Maplewood, and Millburn. It’s located between the first and second ridges of the Watchung Mountain Range. There are many hiking trails on the reservation, including a segment of the 36-mile Lenape Trail and an urban/suburban trail connecting 18 parks and 11 municipalities in Essex County.

The vistas are stunning and the views are worth hiking to. You can see New York, Elizabeth, Union, Staten Island, and Newark from the eastern ridge of the Watchung mountains! Be sure to check out the 25-foot Hemlock Falls on your hike.

South Mountain Reservation is also home to a magical fairy trail. It’s a half-mile trail lined with tiny fairy houses built into tree hollows and roots. For more than a decade, small fairy houses have been secretly popping up along the Rahway Trail starting at the Locust Grove picnic area on the reservation.

These fairy houses were the work of a local artist and founder of the Fairy Trail, Therese Ojibway. The trail has become increasingly popular since its publicity in The New York Times and other websites during the pandemic.

If hiking and nature trails aren’t your thing, the South Mountain Recreation Complex is a great alternative. The complex is located in West Orange, adjacent to the South Mountain Reservation. The complex includes a treetop adventure course, ice arena, mini-golf safari, and waterfront for water activities. and Turtle Back Zoo.

Turtle Back Zoo is one of the best zoos in New Jersey and was granted an accreditation that places it amongst the elite zoos of the United States. Turtle Back Zoo is the perfect place to take kids! It’s likely you’ll want to spend a few days exploring South Mountain Reservation. The Hilton Short Hills is my pick for an affordable place to stay in the area, and it’s less than four miles away from the reservation.

See Related: Havasupai Indian Reservation: Hiking Havasu Falls in the Desert

12. Learn about the Revolutionary War at Washington Crossing State Park

Washing Crossing State Park with bridge and Delaware River
Tomwsulcer / Wikimedia Commons

Address: 355 Washington Crossing Pennington Rd, Titusville, NJ 08560, United States

Washington Cross State Park is the place to visit to learn about the Revolutionary War. This 1,399-acre park marks the site where General George Washington crossed the Delaware River with 2,400 colonial troops and captured nearly 1,000 Hessian soldiers in the following action at the Battle of Trenton. This crossing was one of the most significant events in the Revolutionary War.

The daring night crossing occurred during a snowstorm on Christmas night, 1776. For almost ten hours, boats and ferries secretly moved back and forth carrying men, horses, and cannons to the Jersey side of the river.

This preceded three crucial American victories — two in Trenton and one in Princeton, New Jersey. These victories reignited the nearly-extinguished Patriot cause, and Continental troops were then able to claim most of New Jersey from Britain and the Loyalists.

The Johnson Ferry House is located in Washington Square Park and is worth checking out. It was used by Washington and his men as shelter during the crossing.

The Visitor’s Center Museum, also located in the park, has exhibitions with over 500 Revolutionary War artifacts from the Swan Historical Foundation collection. The museum focuses on the nation’s “Ten Crucial Days,” December 25th, 1776 through January 3rd, 1777, when the historic crossing as well as the Battles of Trenton and Princeton took place.

In addition to witnessing history, Washington Crossing State Park has beautiful walking trails, forests, and fields to explore. One of my favorite memories growing up was having picnics in the fields next to the Johnson Ferry House. It’s a great place to walk, jog, bike, and bird-watch on miles of trails and woodland areas.

If you want to check out the historic towns of Lambertville and New Hope on the same trip as your visit to Washington Crossing State Park, stay at the New Hope Inn & Suites.

13. Visit the Cape May County Park & Zoo

Cape May Zoo
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 707 US-9 North, Cape May Court House, NJ 08210, United States

Cape May County Park & Zoo is the place to go if you love animals and nature. This massive zoo is open year-round and it’s completely free to visit.

The Zoo span 85 acres of lush country gardens and is an extensive natural environment to explore – particularly if you need a break from the shore! This wonderland is home to more than 550 animals, representing 250 species, and the zoo offers animal excursions, sponsorships, and other ways to get involved with conservation efforts.

The zoo’s education department has great programming, including zookeeper talks, private zoo tours, Jr. zookeeper days, zoo camps, preschool classes, and special seasonal-themed events.

14. Walk the Promenade in Liberty State Park

A view of Lower Manhattan from Liberty State Park
lightpoet / Adobe Stock

Address: 1 Audrey Zapp Dr, Jersey City, NJ 07305, United States

What’s cooler than a park with backdrop views of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island? Not much!

Liberty State Park is one of New Jersey’s premier parks, with space for all kinds of outdoor recreation. It’s a green oasis in the heart of metropolitan New Jersey. It’s also the only location in New Jersey with a ferry service to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Liberty Walk is the park’s two-mile promenade with a sweeping view of the Hudson River. It links two picnic and playground areas, as well as the Nature Center and CRRNJ Terminal. The northern end of the park has the Liberty Landing Marina, restaurants, and the NJ Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial.

The western portion has the state-of-the-art Liberty Science Center, which is a great place to entertain kids. Among the science exhibits, there’s a climbing gym and a pitch-black crawl-through maze.

There are many live sciences shows as well and they’re ongoing, year-round. Its 89-foot dome screen is the largest planetarium dome in the country! There’s so much to do here, it’s great for kids and adults. Don’t miss their summer programing, including the “dig for a day” paleontology event, kids can pretend to be fossil hunters and dig up fossils in 40 tons of sand.

15. Explore Morristown, the Military Capital of the American Revolution

Morristown woodland area with falls and historic stone building
Travis / Adobe Stock

Address: Morristown, New Jersey 07960, USA

Morristown is located in north-central New Jersey, 18 miles west of Newark. This town is rich in history, and it has been called “the military capital of the American Revolution” because of its strategic role in the war.

The town was settled around 1715 by English Presbyterians. The village and county were named for Lewis Morris, the first and then sitting royal governor of a united colony of New Jersey.

In January 1777, George Washington and 3,000 troops marched into the village with a population of 250 people and made it their winter headquarters. Washington stayed in Jacob Arnold’s tavern while his troops stayed in villagers’ homes. He returned to Morristown again for the winter of 1779-80 with 13,000 soldiers.

The soldiers survived a brutal winter in huts in Jockey Hollow while Washington stayed in the Ford Mansion in town. You can visit Jockey Hollow National Park, as well as Jacob Arnold’s tavern and the Ford Mansion in town.

Morristown National Historical Park is another historic park that’s known as “the place where America survived.” The park has a great museum and library collection, as well as items relating to pre- and post-Revolutionary America.

A history and food tour is a great way to see Morristown’s historic buildings and check out the food scene. It’s made up of really cool locally-owned businesses, like the Artist Baker, Enjou Chocolat, and Seasons Olive Oil and Vinegar Taproom.

The Madison Hotel is a gorgeous place to stay during your visit to Morristown. It has two restaurants, as well as a bar and lounge. The reception hall and courtyard are to die for.

The Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center is another great New Jersey attraction, and it’s twenty-five minutes away from Morristown. The museum’s permanent and rotating exhibitions tell the unique story of Yogi Berra while exploring history, culture, science, and society within the larger context of baseball and sports. Their mission is to sustain and promote the values of respect, perseverance, sportsmanship, and excellence.

The permanent exhibition is the Yogi Berra Museum collection which includes photographs and artifacts that document the inspirational life of the winningest player in baseball history. The current temporary exhibit is dedicated to tennis ace Billie Jean King: Champion, Activist, and Legend.

The Morristown Game Vault is another great stop in Morristown and the perfect bad-weather activity. It’s the best retro arcade in the state and has over 110 old-fashioned arcade games and pinball machines. Enjoy the classics your parents (maybe even grandparents) used to play, like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger – you name it, it’s there. This place is a nostalgic treat!

See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in the USA

16. Check Out Historic Mines at Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Sterling Hill Mining Museum in New Jersey
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 30 Plant St, Ogdensburg, NJ 07439, United States

Sterling Hill Mining Museum is one of the coolest things to do in New Jersey. It’s a world-renowned museum and attraction nestled in the small town of Ogdensburg, New Jersey.

It was once one of the world’s richest zinc ore deposits. In the museum, you’re able to go inside the mine itself and see mining equipment, a drilling and blasting demonstration, and the famous fluorescent “Rainbow Tunnel,” among other interesting displays.

Rock and mineral collecting on the Mine Run Dump is an available activity recommended for avid rock collectors 18 and older. Sluicing is a recommended activity for children. Sluicing is the sifting of sand for minerals and fossils in the museum’s water trough.

There’s a lot of mining history in New Jersey. In 1897, the New Jersey Zinc Company began a major operation for the extraction of zinc. The mine operated continuously until 1986.

At one point in time, the mine reached a depth of 2,675 feet below the surface and had 35 miles of tunnels. The entire mine is now flooded and only the upper level, which is above the water table, is open to the public.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum researches the composition of over 350 minerals that have been found here and at the neighboring Franklin Zinc mine, which closed in 1954. A number of these minerals can’t be found anywhere else on Earth!

The museum’s mission is to tell the story of the Sterling Hill Mine and to inspire life-long learning about earth sciences, engineering, and the responsible use of earth’s nonrenewable resources. Private tours are available for groups of at least 15 people.

17. Visit Allaire Village in Allaire State Park

Old Chapel in Allaire State Park NJJ
Stephen Bonk / Adobe Stock

Address: 4265 Atlantic Ave, Wall Township, NJ 07727, United States

Allaire State Park is yet another beautiful park in New Jersey. It’s best known for its historic 19th Century village, Allaire Village. It’s an interactive living history museum where visitors can experience history directly through hands-on activities and demonstrations.

Allaire Village was once an iron-producing, factory town known as the Howell Iron Works, Co. It was a self-sufficient community containing a blacksmith shop, carpentry and pattern-making shop, bakery, school, church, general store, and more. The community speaks to the experiences of the social and economic changes of early Industrial America.

Allaire State Park itself is great to observe and enjoy nature. It provides a habitat for over 200 species of wildflowers, trees, and plants, as well as birds and other wildlife.

The Manasquan River flows through the park where you can fish, canoe, kayak, and go paddle boarding. There are also many trails where you can hike, mountain bike, and even horseback ride.

It’s also a lovely place to stay for a few days. Why not book yourself and the clan into this comfortable country house, just a few miles from the park?

See Related: National Parks to Visit in November

18. Go Wild at Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

Morey's Piers and Beachfront Water Parks
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 3501 Boardwalk, Wildwood, NJ 08260, United States

Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks is a super fun Jersey attraction. It’s a classic seaside amusement park on the Wildwood boardwalk that’s been family-owned since 1969.

Morey’s Piers includes three amusement piers and two beachfront water parks. There are over 100 rides and attractions spanning six beach blocks. The three amusement piers are Surfside Pier, Mariner’s Pier, and Adventure Pier.

Surfside is a family-fun environment with neon colors, bright lights, and music. Try out Surfside’s newly-renovated ride, Zoom Phloom.

Mariner’s has nostalgic rides like a carousel, Ferris wheel, and bumper cars. Adventure Pier is packed with high-thrill rides like SkyScraper and Morey’s world-famous wooden coaster.

Wildwood is an unforgettable Jersey Shore town. If you want to take a trip to Wildwood, check out this gorgeous ocean-front rental on the beach, five minutes from Morey’s Piers.

19. Visit Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial

CAMDEN, USA - USS New Jersey museum ship on Delaware River in Camden, USA. The Iowa-class battleship is the most decorated battleship in the US Navy history.
Tupungato / Adobe Stock

Address: 100 Clinton St, Camden, NJ 08103, United States

The Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial regularly ranks as one of the best museums in the country and one of the best things to do in New Jersey. It provides an up-close look at the naval history of the United States and is a great place to go if you’re looking for an engaging and entertaining activity for children.

This museum ship features onboard exhibits and artifacts from one of the largest and most decorated battleships in U.S. Navy history. An Iowa-class battleship, USS New Jersey saw service in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and even during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

Visiting this old Leviathan is a highly interactive experience. You’ll get the opportunity to sit in the chair from which Admiral Halsey commanded the battleship and the 5th Fleet. You’re able to try out the bunks where the sailors slept, as well as climb into the 16″ gun turret and learn how the projectiles were loaded.

I will say that it’s not exactly a cheap attraction at around $30-$45 a head to visit Battleship New Jersey. Believe it or not, it actually costs around $10,000 a day to keep the ship afloat on the river, so feel free to donate to keep this piece of history alive!

See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World

20. Enjoy Art and Nature at Grounds For Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture New Jersey
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619, United States

Grounds For Sculpture, located in Hamilton, New Jersey, is the perfect day trip from either Philadelphia, New York, or elsewhere in New Jersey. It’s a 42-acre not-for-profit sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded by Seward Johnson in 1992.

Nearly 300 contemporary art sculptures are sited across 42 landscaped acres. The sculpture collection includes work from 150 sculptures, including Clement Meadmore, Anthony Caro, Beverly Pepper, Kiki Smith, George Segal, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Isaac Witkin, Joyce J. Scott, Willie Cole, and founder Seward Johnson. Many sculptures in the art world attribute their roots here.

Indoors, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions from established and emerging artists in six different galleries. More than 700 artists have had their work on display at Grounds For Sculpture. Each year, new artists are invited to create new site-specific work for the galleries or outdoor sculpture gardens.

The on-site restaurant, Rat’s, is a unique place to dine that’s a must-try experience for anyone interested in French cuisine. It’s an upscale spot with views to die for – and the theme is, well, Rats! This is a fantastic place to celebrate a special occasion in New Jersey.

See Related: Spring Break Destinations For Families

21. Go on an Adventure at Duke Farms

Duke-Farms-New-Jersey
Demetrios / Adobe Stock

Address: 1112 Dukes Pkwy W, Hillsborough Township, NJ 08844, United States

Duke Farms is one of the largest privately held parcels of undeveloped land in New Jersey. It spans 2,740 acres in Hillsborough, Somerset County. In 1893, a tobacco and hydropower tycoon named James Buchanan Duke purchased and transformed forty farmsteads of more than 2,000 acres into an extraordinary single farm.

Duke Farms is supported and operated by the Doris Duke Foundation. It’s a place for environmental stewardship that restores the natural environment and invests in sustainability innovation. At Duke Farms, visitors explore native species, sustainability efforts, and the area’s natural beauty.

You can bike or walk on the trails, take fascinating environmental classes, and eat and shop locally at Duke Farms’ farmers market and award-winning cafe, Farm Barn café. It serves delicious, local food that supports the regional farmers while reducing its ecological footprint.

A day at Duke Farms begins at the Orientation Center in the historic Farm Barn where you can grab a map or get a coffee. Across the street from the Farm Barn is the start of 20 miles of trails. Download the Duke Farms app for turn-by-turn navigation to notable landmarks on the property.

If you like flowers, I recommend going to their Orchid Range. It was the first ornamental building constructed at Duke Farms. It’s less than a mile from the Orientation Center, and it houses subtropical and tropical orchid displays that focus on plants native to the United States.

It’s always free to visit Duke Farms, but a parking pass is required for Saturday visits from April to October.

22. Go See the Cherry Blossoms in Branch Brook Park

Branch Brook Park New Jersey - Lake and Cherry Blossoms in bloom
SheepGuardingLlama / Openverse CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Address: & Park Avenue, Lake St, Newark, NJ 07104, United States

Essex County Branch Brook Park was the nation’s first county park, and it’s located in the North Ward of Newark. Unexpectedly, Branch Brook Park has the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the United States.

The park is sometimes referred to as Cherry Blossom Land. There are over 5,000 cherry blossoms in more than eighteen different varieties.

The best time to go to Branch Brook Park is in April for Bloomfest, their annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The festival attracts up to 10,000 people a day! The park has a packed schedule of events every April, including Japanese cultural demonstrations, children’s activities, live music, a crafter’s marketplace, food, and more.

Branch Brook is a great place to visit, even when the blossoms aren’t in bloom. There is a stream, woodland areas, and open meadowland for picnics and activities. The park also holds bike races, 10K runs, one-mile runs, and “family day” in April. For Family Day, the park has a mini circus, paddle boats, crafts, a drum circle, a rock wall, and food vendors.

23. Experience Wildlife at Adventure Aquarium in Camden

Adventure Aquarium Camden - Shark tunnel
Management / Adventure Aquarium

Address: 1 Riverside Dr, Camden, NJ 08103, United States

Not many people realize that Adventure Aquarium, on the Camden Waterfront, is one of the biggest and most impressive aquariums on the East Coast. It truly holds a candle to the National Aquarium in Baltimore and for us, it’s much closer.

It’s the only aquarium in the world to exhibit hippos and one of only six facilities in the U.S. to have “Little Blue” penguins. Yes, they are as cute as they sound.

Adventure Aquarium also has the largest collection of sharks in the northeast. The aquarium’s Shark Realm has over 20 sharks and 200 animals.

You can experience Shark Realm from above on Shark Bridge, and from below when you walk through the 40-foot Shark Tunnel. In Shark Tunnel, you are surrounded — which makes for an exhilarating experience. Other attractions include a 3D theater, KidZone, Hippo Haven, the Grotto Playground, Little Blue Beach, and Creature Feature, a touch pool with creatures from the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest.

Little Blue Beach is by far the most adorable aquarium attraction. It’s an exhibit built to be a home for the smallest and cutest penguins in the world! The underwater views of these birds are not a disappointment.

Adventure Aquarium prioritizes educational programming. Each week, the aquarium has new educational activities for kids to do during their visit. The activities are curated for different grade levels. Be aware that capacity is limited by the hour at Adventure Aquarium. Purchasing in advance or making a reservation online is strongly recommended.

24. Six Flags Great Adventure

Aerial view of Six Flags Great Adventure
Jack / TripAdvisor

Address: 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson Township, NJ 08527, United States

If you ask around, everyone in New Jersey calls our enormous middle-of-the-state theme park “Great Adventure,” but it is owned by Six Flags. That company owns the most theme-and-water parks of any company in the world, with 27 properties throughout North America.

Six Flags Great Adventure is in Jackson, Monmouth County, and is easy to access from the Parkway, Turnpike or 295 – it’s right off I-195. In 2022, the park had the largest beautification, enhancement, and modernization effort in its 50-year history.

I’ve been to Six Flags Great Adventure countless times throughout my childhood and adulthood, and I have the time of my life every visit. The roller coasters are truly unmatched – and my childhood and adulthood have seen a lot of roller coasters, so you can take my word for it!

FAQs

What is there to do in Jersey at night?

Atlantic City Boardwalk is THE place for nightlife. There are plenty of epic clubs, casinos, restaurants, bars, music venues, and more. You can’t go wrong.

What are the most popular New Jersey attractions?

The most popular tourist attractions in New Jersey are American Dream, Lucy the Elephant, and the Great Falls. Other popular tourist attractions include Atlantic City Boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean City Boardwalk, and the Battleship New Jersey Museum & Memorial.

What is the prettiest place in New Jersey?

There are so many beautiful beaches and parks in New Jersey. Cape May is considered to be the most pristine beach and beach town. Branch Brook Park is also quite the sight when the cherry blossoms are in bloom in April.

What is unique in New Jersey?

The significant history of New Jersey is what sets it apart from other states. Washington Crossing State Park, Allaire Village, Sterling Hill Mining Museum, and Morristown are the top places to go for history buffs.

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