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The best things to do in New Jersey

Even jaded New Yorkers (like us) think these across-the-Hudson haunts are worth the trek

So maybe all you know of New Jersey is the muscleheads and cat fights you've seen on Jersey Shore. But Jersey is home to some super-cool spots—no, really! From shopping jaunts that won't raise your blood pressure (think cheaper threads and fewer tourists) to a 1930s theater that could put some of New York's historic venues to shame, we've rounded up the best things to do in NJ. You might even consider moving here once you've checked 'em out. Now shut up and drive.

White Manna

Shake Shack, Smashburger and Bobby’s Burger Palace (as in Flay) have all invaded the Garden State, but Hackensack’s White Manna still reigns as the go-to joint for natives and visitors alike. What the tiny hut lacks in friendliness (do not try to order fries from the burger guy—you will regret it) it more than makes up for in deliciousness, serving fresh sliders with cheese and onions on mini potato buns. There’s a reason it’s been around since 1946. 358 River St between East Passaic and East Ward Sts, Hackensack, NJ (201-342-0914)

The Landmark Loew’s Jersey Theatre

This gorgeous venue, which operated from 1929 to 1986, was the spot where a young Frank Sinatra was inspired to do the whole crooner thing while catching Bing Crosby back in the ’30s. Now refurbished, the palacelike theater is a splendorous place to see a rare gig (Neutral Milk Hotel recently played here). Plus, if it’s good enough for NYC vets the Strokes to shoot a video there, it’s good enough for us. 54 Journal Square Plaza between John F. Kennedy Blvd West and Pavonia Ave, Jersey City (201-798-6055, loewsjersey.org)

Revival Vintage Boutique

New York has no shortage of throwback-fashion shops. But here’s the thing: They’re often expensive—and really picked over. (Maybe it’s because we all have amazing taste? We like to think so.) Just a PATH ride away in Hoboken, you’ll find this eclectic 5,000-square-foot retro den—which sells designer frocks, heels, hats and other wares from the 1800s to the 1980s on the cheap. How cheap? One buck and up. But keep that to yourself. 47 Harrison St between Newark St and Observer Hwy, Hoboken (201-217-9001, revivalvintageboutique.com)

The Mall at Short Hills

Sure, NYC is a global shopping destination. But you know what it doesn’t have? Valet parking. And fancy-pants stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Miu Miu in one convenient building—all without the obstacle of slow-moving tourists. So while Short Hills may not earn you the cool cred of, say, shopping on the LES, it will get you pretty rad clothes. (And no one has to know where you bought them.) Those into a slightly less civilized but way more affordable experience should head to Bergen Town Center (1 Bergen Town Center, Paramus, NJ; 201-845-4051, bergentowncenter.com) for the outlet version of Saks and Neiman’s, as well as Nordstrom and Bloomies. 1200 Morris Tpke, Short Hills, NJ (973-376-7350, shopshorthills.com)

Silver Ball Museum

Calling all pinball wizards: This Asbury Park destination boasts almost 200 games dating as far back as 1931. (Its most modern machine? The Sopranos. Duh.) We heard about the place from Tom Scharpling on radio staple The Best Show on WFMU; and some of the spot’s nerds (sorry, enthusiasts) do take the high-score rankings very seriously. Think The King of Kong. But with pinball. 1000 Ocean Ave between Second and Third Aves, Asbury Park, NJ (732-774-4994, silverballmuseum.com)