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The best things to do in New Jersey

New Jersey is a goldmine of fantastic history, culture and foodie spots, not to mention those skyline views.

Scott Snowden
Written by
Jenn Hall
Scott Snowden

Wherever you’re visiting in New Jersey, you need a plan. This tightly-packed state is full of life, but it often gets overshadowed by its nearby big brother (New York, you’ve had your time). The best way to take it on? Don’t compare it to anywhere. Whether you’re in Hoboken, down the coast to Jersey City, or heading to Atlantic City, you’ll find more scenic coastline views and pockets of history than you can imagine.

You might be flocking to the state for Jersey’s notorious Food Festival, for the Boat Show or to get your carnival on at the iconic Battle of Flowers. But whatever your reason, you’re going to need a guide to explore the rest of the city. And that’s where we come in. From beautiful state parks to historic battleships, here are the best things to do in New Jersey right now. 

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Best things to do in New Jersey

Jersey City
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Jersey City

The views don’t get better than the views in Jersey City. It’s no surprise that this is one of New Jersey’s prime destination cities, offering stunning walks along the Hudson River and a center that lights up at night. Make sure you walk enough to build up an appetite, because the foodie offerings here are second to none. Head up to Hoboken, and grab a spot of lunch there, or on a warm day, take a picnic to a pier-park and check out Liberty State Park. In the evening, have dinner and drinks in the Old Town at Newark Avenue. 

Liberty State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Liberty State Park

A must-see in Jersey City, Liberty State Park is iconic for a reason (and not just during Juneteenth and July 4). The park has a BBQ area and plenty of wide open space to pitch up for a picnic, and the views of the Statue of Liberty and New York City’s skyline are second to none. Often, there’s live music or day festivals here, and if you start here early, you can then go on to access Liberty Island and the Ellis Island Museum, as well as the 1889 train terminal, straight from Liberty State Park.

Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Hoboken

The one-time home of Frank Sinatra and Bruce Willis, Hoboken has now become a super-gentrified town within New Jersey. Consequently, property here is super-expensive. But have a wander around and you'll see why. This is a beautiful suburb that sits serenely on the edge of the Hudson River. There are quirky local shops, great bars and quality restaurants. Saunter along Washington Street for most of these, but others can also be found on side roads and off streets. 

Hindenburg Crash Site
Photograph: Courtesy Navy Lakehurst Historical Society

4. Hindenburg Crash Site

During the late 1930s, regardless of the extreme right-wing politics, Nazi German technology was leading the world and before the offical declaration of World War II, the pride of the German airship fleet, the LZ 129 Hindenburg would, from time to time visit New York City, carrying wealthy Europeans across the Atlantic Ocean. Then on May 6, 1937, as it attempted to dock at Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey, it caught fire. The photographs taken and accounts given are now an entranched part of history. A visit to this site is an absolute must for history buffs. Contact the museum for details and times of tours.

Photograph: Courtesy the Weinstein Company

5. Clerks

Kevin Smith's contribution to contemporary pop-culture is undeniable, even if you're not a fan of his films. And it all started in New Jersey with a movie made on a shoestring budget called Clerks. (Incidentally, at the time of writing, Clerks III no less is currently in post-production.) The legendary convenience store is a Quick Stop Groceries and is located at 58 Leonard Avenue, Leonardo, on the eastern tip of New Jersey. If you're in the area, exploring many of the other unknown jems of New Jersey, it would be a shame to pass by and not take a selfie. 

Sandy Hook
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Sandy Hook

The whole Highlands area of New Jersey, incorporating Sandy Hook Bay and Sandy Hook Beach, is a little like stepping back in time. Given its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean means it offers incredible views of both the water and even of New York City and Long Island. It also means most of the houses here are lifted up on stilts and the ones that aren't already are having construction work done... to have them lifted up on stilts. It's not surprising, this area—as gorgeous as it is—is prone to severe flooding during storm season. But during the summer, this quaint seaside town is a delight to visit and the beach is well worth spending a day relaxing on.

Atlantic City
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Atlantic City

If you've spent time in Vegas, then you know what the inside of a casino looks like. However, this is not quite on the same scale as Las Vegas. But...what it does offer that Sin City doesn't, is an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean. Sure, spend a bit of time in the hotel casino and then explore the boardwalk and nightlife.

While the Trump Taj Mahal Casino is permanently closed following an unsuccessful attempt to save it after it lost over $350 million, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is still thriving as are many of the smaller venues. Given this city's history and heritage as an East Coast gambling epicenter, it's worth a visit. 

Hudson River Waterfront Walk
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. Hudson River Waterfront Walk

Much of Newark is industrial and parts even look like they could be some Pennsylvania small steel mill town. But hidden around this part of New Jersey are some really great places to explore. And ironically, while some areas look like they're a little run down, there are other adjacent neighborhoods next door that represent the opposite end of the extreme. Both Liberty National Golf Club and Bayonne Golf Club are two of the most expensive golf clubs in the tri-state area. They even have their own dedicated ferry boats running from their own private jetties to Wall Street. And while you can't wander around the fairways, you can walk around much of the perfectly manucured course if you follow the Hudson River Waterfront Walk.

Liberty Science Center
Photograph: Courtesy Liberty Science Center

9. Liberty Science Center

When it was opened in 1993, the Liberty Science Center was the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere and the world's fourth largest. This is an absolute must for any fan of science and the permanent exhibits include Skyscraper! Achievement and Impact—which is believed to be the most comprehensive exhibit on the topic of skyscrapers, Eat and Be Eaten—an exhibit of unusual live animals explores the predator-prey relationship and Communication—a 7,000-square foot exhibit that explores human communication

Battleship New Jersey
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Vladsinger

10. Battleship New Jersey

Wandering the decks of this formidable World War II ship, put into service in 1942, it’s easy to get a sense of its history. During twilight adult tours, you’ll hear raucous tales (like that of a Playboy Bunny’s visit) while sipping grown-up beverages and watching the sun sink behind the Philadelphia skyline. Watch for beer garden and stargazing party events.

Asbury Park Boardwalk
Photograph: littleny /

11. Asbury Park Boardwalk

The AP revival is no longer a secret. That’s especially true with the opening of the Asbury Hotel, which has turned the head of global tastemakers. Hit the beach and see why Brooklynites keep moving here. Play retro pinball at the Silverball Museum. Then rock out at Asbury Park Yacht Club or sip beers in the sand at the Beach Bar.

Pinelands Adventures
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Famartin

12. Pinelands Adventures

From ghost towns and meandering rivers to stories of pirates, privateers and industrialists, the New Jersey Pine Barrens is a place where secrets hide amid the pines. On tours and hikes that take in attractions on both land and water, Pinelands Adventures brings the magic of the region to life. From long-gone ironworks to some of the nation’s most productive cranberry bogs, you’ll learn to read the forest and appreciate its deep history.

Surf & Sip Brew Trail
Photograph: Courtesy of Tom Hislop

13. Surf & Sip Brew Trail

With the craft beer scene exploding, one brewery can seemingly run into the next. Not so here. Along the Surf & Sip Brew trail, you’ll meet the Long Beach Island region’s rising guard of brewers, surfers, makers and shakers. Paired with an app, the trail links taprooms and unique experiences; think stand-up paddle boarding, shore-inspired art and a surf museum. Uniting salt air, creativity and killer brews, it’s a relaxing way to savor the shore’s vibe.

Tuckerton Seaport Museum
Tuckerton Seaport Museum

14. Tuckerton Seaport Museum

With 127 miles of ocean coastline, Jersey used to be a rugged place. (Some say it still is.) At the Tuckerton Seaport Museum, the world of baymen and women comes to life, from clammers to boat-makers. Yet the seaport isn’t stuck in a time capsule. From yoga on the dock to food truck fests—one themed around bacon—it unites past and present along the creek. Visit the Union Market & Gallery for matcha lattes and indie art.

Thomas Edison Home and Laboratory
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Wikimedia Commons/Euku

15. Thomas Edison Home and Laboratory

As night falls, turn out the lights and stare into the void for a moment. Then thank Thomas Edison for making affordable light bulbs part of the modern experience. Known as the 'Wizard of Menlo Park' Edison contributed to motion pictures and built the battery for the Model T, and that’s just scratching the surface. Touring his New Jersey lab, you’ll quickly understand why he kept a bed in his office. Watch Facebook for occasional live streams of wax cylinder recordings.

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