For the first few years after moving to downtown Jersey City in 2007, we didn’t venture any further than New York City and its boroughs. About all we knew of the Garden State was that it looked like a big, pinched soda can on the map. After purchasing a car, however, we realized we needed to take the plunge and find out what our newly-adopted state had to offer.
Bloomfield Ave. at Lake St.
Newark, NJ 07102
A day trip to New Jersey’s biggest metropolis is a necessity, both for the cuisine, its gritty yet cultured ambiance and its proximity to New York City (just a 15 minute Path ride from the World Trade Center.) The Newark Museum features a planetarium and New Jersey-centric natural history displays. The Ironbound District, home to a burgeoning arts community, is renowned for its Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish cuisine (some of our favorites are Adega Grille specializing in imported wines and authentic dishes made with fresh fish and organic meat, and Fornos of Spain for its sangria and authentic Spanish cuisine.) Branch Brook Park is surprisingly beautiful, rivaling Central Park in size and scope. During the summer, the park offers “Movies Under the Stars” (July 20-August 3) and “Dancing Under the Stars” (August 3-24), every Tuesday.
Delaware River Tubing
2998 Daniel Bray Highway (Route 29)
Frenchtown, NJ 08825
As someone who enjoys being out on the water, this trip struck me as appealing respite on a hot, July day. It didn’t take us long to get there on Jersey’s Route 29, and the parking lot was located just a few feet from where we jumped into the river. As we relaxed for a few hours while floating in an intertube close to where George Washington crossed the Delaware River during the American Revolutionary War, I realized that some organized tours are OK. Prices range from $17.95 per person during the week, to slightly higher weekend and kayak rates, and all trips include a barbeque meal with the famous “hot dog man.” Canoes and kayaks must be reserved three days in advance.
The Jersey Shore
While the TV show may be what comes immediately to mind when one thinks of the Jersey Shore, the term actually refers to 131 miles of New Jersey’s Atlantic coast from Sandy Hook in the north to Cape May in the south – not just to Seaside Heights, where the show is filmed. The Jersey Shore is home to numerous rock and roll bars, most famously Asbury Park where Bruce Springsteen honed his skills at now defunct clubs like The Upstage and the Student Prince.
Cape May is a historic seaside gem with more than 600 preserved Victorian buildings and dozens of bed and breakfasts. Climb to the top of the Cape May lighthouse for an unparalleled view of the shore, visit the Victorian Museum offering a glimpse at life 100 years ago or take a whale watching tour. The Cape May Wine and Food Festival in September is the best time to go to see both the beach and to sample great food and fine wine. It offers winery tours and tastings, a five-course beer tasting dinner, a gourmet marketplace, the popular People’s Choice Chowder Contest and numerous seminars and classes. The festival runs from September 18-26.
Also located within Cape May County is the quaint beachside resort town of Ocean City. The eastern side of Ocean City borders the Atlantic Ocean, while the western side faces the Great Egg Harbor Bay. Visitors can take a stroll along the boardwalk, featuring attractions such as miniature golf, ghost tours and the famous Crab Tree restaurant. Ocean City is a “dry town,” meaning alcoholic beverages are not sold within the town limits.
The Atlantic City boardwalk is the backbone of this seaside resort city, providing access to hotels, resorts, shops and casinos. Stemming from the boardwalk is Garden Pier, known as the arts and cultural center complete with Atlantic City historical museum and Atlantic City Art Center. Salt water taffy, fudge and caramel apples complete the typical boardwalk fare of snacks, but high-end shops such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton separate this boardwalk from the rest. Hotels such as Caesars and Hilton Atlantic City offer gambling and fine dining. Aquarium is $8 for adults and $6 for children.
Grounds For Sculpture
18 Fairgrounds Road
Hamilton, NJ 08619
Grounds For Sculpture is a 35-acre public sculpture park located in Hamilton, N.J. It was founded in 1992 on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds by J. Seward Johnson to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture. Visitors can enjoy the outdoor permanent collection, indoor seasonal exhibitions, and learn about contemporary sculpture through a variety of educational programs including workshops for adults and children, artist residencies and lectures. The park also offers a 35-acre arboretum and the well-regarded Rat’s Restaurant.
Six Flags Great America
1 Six Flags Boulevard
Jackson, NJ 08527
Six Flags New Jersey offers a 350-acre wildlife preserve that is home to more than 1,100 exotic animals including lions, kangaroos and elephants. The park offers a week-long animal adventure camp for children during the summer and the requisite number of rides and attractions, including the Great American Scream Machine with a 155-foot drop, seven loops and a corkscrew. Daily adult tickets are $34.99 (online prices) and season passes are $100.
Princeton University Art Museum
33 Washington Road
Princeton NJ 08542
Located at the heart of Princeton University, the museum’s collection concentrates on the Mediterranean regions, Western Europe, China, the United States, and Latin America. There is an outstanding collection of Greek and Roman antiquities, including ceramics, marbles, bronzes, and Roman mosaics from Princeton University’s excavations in Antioch. Medieval Europe is represented by sculpture, metalwork, and stained glass. The collection of Western European paintings includes important examples from the early Renaissance through the nineteenth century, and there is a growing collection of twentieth-century and contemporary art.
Meadowlands Sports Complex
50 State Route 120
East Rutherford, NJ 07073
The Meadowlands Sports Complex is a sports and entertainment facility located in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The site currently consists of three venues: New Meadowlands Stadium, the horse racing track and the IZOD Center. The parking lot also hosts the State Fair Meadowlands and is home to a twice-weekly flea market. The IZOD center, a multi-purpose indoor arena, is a popular concert destination. It was formerly home to the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils until both moved to the Prudential Center in Newark. Want more info on the new Meadowlands Sports Complex? Check out our in depth guide and you’ll be on your way.
Battleship New Jersey
62 Battleship Place
Camden, NJ 08103
Spend a night on the legendary Battleship New Jersey on the Camden waterfront across the water from Philadelphia. The Battleship New Jersey’s overnight encampment program can accommodate groups and families of all sizes up to 300. Sleep in bunks just like enlisted sailors once did and enjoy a meal in the mess hall. The USS New Jersey was commissioned during World War II one year after the Pearl Harbor attack. New Jersey was decommissioned for the last time on February 8,1991 at Bremerton, Washington where she resided until heading home to New Jersey.