New Jersey

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The 26 best things to do in New Jersey

Here’s the thing about New Jersey. Within an hour’s drive from your hotel, you can find yourself just about anywhere. The state’s huge—and dare we say, underrated—cities are home to fabulous hotels and restaurants and vibrant art scenes. Deep forests with twisting trails make the outside world disappear. There’s the beach, which ranges from deserted island to laid-back urbane by the mile. Then, the world-class museums and heritage sites that tell the state’s story while maintaining a modern heartbeat. When you tire of one vibe, just hop in the car, load up the GPS and give your itinerary a remix. Being the country’s most densely populated state definitely has its advantages.

The 15 best restaurants in New Jersey

You can tell a lot about New Jersey by the polarity of its nicknames. The Garden State. Dirty Jerz. But want to know a little secret? Both are a badge of pride. Locals know that this densely packed state has a ton of great things to do, not least of which is gorging on amazing food. Sure, New York and Philly are in Jersey’s backyard, and locals are happy to take advantage of that. But there’s no need to cross a bridge to find incredible meals. Book a hotel—and some world-class dining experiences—right here in Jersey. From affordable neighborhood joints to high-end temples recognized on the national scene, New Jersey’s restaurants reflect its ranking as one of the most culturally and socioeconomically diverse states in the nation. So, dust off any preconception that it’s all diners and pizza parlors—though they’re here, and amazing. In New Jersey, there are a million ways to feast.

The 15 best hotels in New Jersey

In this compact yet wildly diverse state, indecisive travelers can bring their most varied vacation fantasies to life with a multitude of things to do. Mountain-top adventure trips? Check. Lounge-by-the-sea days? Double check. From urban jaunts with rooftop bars to Instagram-worthy beach haunts, New Jersey packs it all in—and its best hotels have a strong sense of place. Maybe it’s a stylish farm tucked away in the verdant northwest, where the Delaware River creates a painted kind of light. Maybe it’s a city hotel with the best Manhattan views this side of…well, Manhattan. Or perhaps it’s all about escaping to the sea for a digital detox and locking your cellphone in the hotel vault. With options including Airstream trailers, safari tents, carriage houses or modern luxury with top-notch restaurant attached, it could be very hard to choose from our pick of the best places to stay, but, the cool thing about Jersey? It’s easy to mix it up, so you don’t have to choose.

14 amazing Jersey Shore Airbnb rentals

When the best beaches in NJ are calling your name, book one of these Jersey Shore Airbnb rentals and hightail it out of town for the weekend. As far as summer getaways from NYC go, it doesn’t get much more convenient than the Shore. Soak up the sun while staying in one of these gorgeous beach houses, from beautifully restored historic homes to adorably kitschy cottages. Whether you want to vacation in Cape May, Asbury Park or Seaside Heights, you’re sure to find accommodations that fit your budget and style on this list. Pack a bag of summer essentials and you’re ready for warm-weather fun! RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best hotels in New Jersey

The 15 best beaches in New Jersey

In some places, beach towns all run together. Sky. Water. Sand. Check. Not so at the Jersey Shore. From retro swimming spots dotted with hotels, bars and restaurants to hidden beaches tucked just out of sight, the state’s best swimming destinations are big on personality and great things to do, kind of like Jersey itself. The coastal scene has legit beach cred. Case in point: The very first boardwalk in the United States graced Atlantic City’s oceanfront way back in the summer of 1870. In that sense, our collective idea of the American seaside experience has its origins here. Your mission: Swim. Sun worship. Repeat. Then on to the next. There are enough beach experiences here to fill a vacation…or a season.

The best Montclair restaurants

In Montclair, restaurants rise to NYC standards without those high city prices. Better than your stereotypical Jersey diner, these places are perfect for weekend getaways to NJ, with everything from casual to fine dining. After you eat, check out the city’s multiple music venues, the Montclair Film Festival in NJ, the Yogi Berra Museum and plenty of other things to do in New Jersey. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in New Jersey

The best places to go wine tasting in NJ

Everyone already knows New York is full of quality wineries, from the North Fork to the Hudson Valley. But you shouldn’t rule out our cousin to the South—right across the river in the Garden State, there are plenty of wineries in NJ to discover. Take a day trip from NYC for a sunny, wine-fueled afternoon or make it a full-blown weekend getaway—here are the best places for wine tasting in NJ. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in New Jersey

The 10 best romantic getaways in NJ

When you think of the best places for date ideas, New Jersey doesn’t typically come to mind. And spending a whole weekend there? Fugheddaboudit. Well, we hate to burst your bubble, but the Garden State is actually home to some of the most beautiful, historic, relaxing and unique escapes. Sure, there are plenty of fun activities and awesome things to in NJ, but did you know that the state is also a great place to, er, set the mood? From the best beaches to wine tastings and restaurants in New Jersey, here are the ten best romantic getaways in NJ. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in New Jersey

The best festivals in NJ

Flower crowns, bare feet and costume jewelry found at some of NYC’s best jewelry stores may be staples of some summer music festivals like Governors Ball, but we happen to think there’s more to a good outdoor bash than the fashion trends. No place proves that like (surprise!) the state of New Jersey. In the garden state, there’s a celebration nearly every month to honor and appreciate everything from the state’s best restaurants and wineries in NJ, to activities like hot air ballooning. Get your calendars out and clear your schedule for these upcoming festivals in New Jersey. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in New Jersey

The best bed-and-breakfasts in NJ

Everyone needs a weekend getaway sometimes, and what’s better than a beachside bed-and-breakfast? NJ actually has some awesome options—yes, New Yorkers may give their neighboring state a hard time, but when it comes to beaches, wineries, and flea markets, the Garden State is a fantastic place to visit. Whether you’re just looking for weekend R&R or a week’s worth of summer vacay shenanigans, New Jersey’s vast selection of B&Bs has you covered. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best hotels in New Jersey

The best weekend getaways in NJ

Most New Yorkers think less than favorably of their Garden State neighbor. But if you can get past the ingrained refusal to speak nicely of New Jersey, there’s a whole new world to discover over the bridge and through the tunnel. (Not to mention that it’s one of the nearest options for a getaway from NYC.) Whether you’re jonesing for a day trip from NYC or want to escape for an easy weekend jaunt, check out these destinations for beaches near NYC, epic concerts and delicious dining. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in New Jersey

The best wineries in NJ

New Yorkers like to thumb their noses at their neighbor to the west, but the fact is, there are some pretty cool restaurants, bars, beaches and hotels in New Jersey, not to mention a ton of fun things to do. Take, for example, Jersey’s rich tradition of winemaking: With sandy soil, mild winters and a long growing season—aka perfect grape-growing conditions—the state turns out some exemplary wines. For a fun day trip from NYC, take a drive out to one of the best wineries in NJ—all located about 100 miles from the city—to sip, swirl and sniff. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in New Jersey

Find the best flea markets in NJ

Sure, there are lots of flea markets in NYC, but one thing the Big Apple doesn’t have is space to spread out all the goods. For that kind of flea market, NJ is where it’s at. You can grab vintage clothes, fresh produce from farmers markets and throwback video games as you snack on carnival food at these fleas, all located less than two hours away. See, New Jersey isn’t all that bad. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in New Jersey