New Jersey is one of the smallest states in North America, yet a realm of diverse touristic places. This article presents the best places to visit in New Jersey and helpful travel tips to prepare you for your next visit!
Due to the state being usually overshadowed by its next-door states, New Jersey may not be on the top of everyone’s list in case of traveling.
However, you’ll be surprised at how it covers almost everything a traveler is looking for – cities, towns, beaches, monuments, parks, and more!
15 Best Places to Visit in New Jersey
The East Coast state is not only suitable for summertime but ensures picturesque views in autumn as well. Every city or town in New Jersey is rich with historical values as it played an important role in multiple battles including the Revolutionary War.
Although there’s so much more to the state, we have picked out the best places that you must visit in New Jersey.
1. Atlantic City
The most popular city in the New Jersey state, Atlantic City, is known for its multiple attractions as well as a variety of entertainment facilities. The city offers something lively all year round that fits the needs of the visitors. The most admired attractions include Atlantic City Aquarium, gambling casinos, waterfront dining, dolphin sighting cruises, and more.
The highlight of Atlantic City is the iconic wood-plank Boardwalk on the Jersey Shore. Constructed in 1870, this has remained one of the most popular attractions of the city.
The amusement park, Steel Pier, and the display of celebrity handprints, the Entrance to the Stars, are worth checking out as well. You can also enjoy the year-round annual events such as the Atlantic City Restaurant Week, and the Atlantic City AirShow for free!
- The budget-friendly option to get to Atlantic City is to fly to New York and Philadelphia, and then take the bus or the train to AC.
- Seafood lovers must check out the Atlantic City Seafood festival on the 7th, 8th, and 9th of September that features 40 local restaurants.
- Visit the Atlantic City Beach for surfing or just to soak up the sun
Princeton is a city known for its remarkable monuments, rich culture, and vintage shopping villages, apart from the prestigious Princeton University of course. The city ensures entertainment for its visitors through multiple museums and theatre performances.
The Princeton Battlefield State Park is a must-visit historic site that is the ground for the capital’s victory over the British. Also, the city offers a variety of beautiful locations for biking and hiking, especially along the waterfront trails.
Adventure-seekers may also opt for kayaking along the rivers. Family time can be enhanced with outings at the Terhune Orchards where you can pick the freshest fruits and vegetables.
- The ideal time to visit Princeton is during the summer
- Check out the Princeton-Mercer area for comfortable lodging and hotel options
- Visit the Agricola LLC for a rustic American Dining experience
3. Cape May
For ultimate relaxation, visit the sleepy beach town Cape May, located at the southernmost tip of New Jersey. The town offers a range of options for all sorts of travelers including spectacular historical sites and interactive beach spots.
At Cape May, you should plan your visit based on the weather conditions. Try out beach activities during the summer when it’s bright and sunny.
However, during fall and winter, you must visit the magnificent historical locations including the WWII Artillery Bunker, the Willow Creek Winery, the Cape May National Golf Club, and the Cape May County Zoo.
- Cape May doesn’t have any food chain shops, but the local restaurants will exceed your expectation
- Exploring natural trails here will be one of the best experiences of your life.
- Make sure to avail the opportunity of dolphin and whale-watching while you’re there
4. Ocean City
Ocean City is a popular seashore community in the middle of Jersey Shore. Water-activity enthusiasts must visit Ocean City as it offers a variety of options including jet skiing and paddleboarding, or more relaxed variations including fishing, boating, or cruising. You can also rent bikes and ride around the city or on the boardwalk.
The little island with its perfect sceneries and wildlife is an ideal destination for Ecotourism lovers. Moreover, the Atlantic Flyaway offers a bird-watching facility like no other.
- When you visit the beach, you have to purchase Beach Tags (the money goes toward lifeguard equipment and lifeguard salaries)
- Rental bikes are not permitted after 12 pm
- Be careful if you’re using your car in the city as the majority of the areas are filled with pedestrians and bicycle riders
5. Jersey City
The second-largest city in the state, Jersey City is situated across the Hudson River in the New York Metropolitan area. The most famous tourist attraction is Liberty State Park which is surrounded by scenic backdrops.
It also features the 9/11 Memorial that has year-round visitors. Moreover, the Statue of Liberty is easily accessible from Liberty State Park.
The Downtown area in Jersey City is categorized into the Historic Downtown and the Waterfront. The former is filled with historic neighborhoods, perfect for history-admirers.
- Finding parking spots in Jersey City is almost impossible
- But, you’ll find public transports that are really convenient to use
Although Boonton might not pop up on the top tourist attractions, it’s of the most underrated hidden gems of New Jersey. The family-oriented town has quaint parks ideal for outings, picnics or hiking.
Some of the top recommendations include the Grace Lord Park, the Tourne County Park, and the Tourne Park that is perfect for scenic hiking.
The little town is filled with unique galleries and art shops which are aesthetically pleasing. The most popular site in the town is the Boonton Historical Society and Museum so history buffs should surely pay a visit.
- Easiest ways to get to Boonton are via buses or trains
- Sonesta ES Suites and Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites are two of the top hotels that will ensure a comfortable stay in Boonton
Offering a huge range of tourist attractions, Newark is the second-largest city in New Jersey. Its natural beauty is what stands out the most in this city, especially through its cherry blossom trees.
Art enthusiasts will love the city as it is filled with fine architecture, galleries, and museums. You must also check out the Newark Symphony Hall for unique pieces of art.
You can enjoy the city’s public art and landmarks through Newark Walks or enjoy a boat tour in the calm Passaic River.
Another must-visit place in Newark is the Ironbound, which is a multi-ethnic community and is a location for up to 170 restaurants! Also, sports lovers should check out the Prudential Center to witness hockey games and basketball games.
- Branch Brook Park is a must-visit location to witness up to 4300 cherry blossom trees in one area
- To experience a Mediterranean-styled atmosphere, visit the PortuCale Restaurant at Elm Street
- Devour soul food at Vonda’s Kitchen located at West Kinney Street
- Wine lovers should visit the Adega Grill for an authentic wine cellar experience
8. Asbury Park
Asbury Park is a tiny, yet magnificent seaside coastal town in New Jersey filled with amazing seaside beaches. It’s the perfect destination for a laid back vacation.
However, if you want to enjoy time with family or by yourself you can visit the famous beachfront boardwalk that is lined with cafés, restaurants, shops, and arcades.
Asbury is also known for the Stone Pony Theatre that kick-started the music careers of the legends Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. The town is just 60 miles away from New York City (also known as, “the City that Never Sleeps“) which makes it a great escape for New Yorkers to enjoy the sandy beaches.
Also, the town is filled with stores like Sweet Joey where you can find handpicked vintage clothing and rare band t-shirts.
- Rental bikes are available at an hourly rate at the boardwalk
- The easiest way to reach Asbury Park from New York is via train – The North Jersey Coast Line
Wildwood is another family-oriented town that is swarmed by visitors from New York and Philadelphia, especially during summertime.
The most popular attraction in the town is the Wildwood boardwalk that stretches up to 38 blocks offering multiple entertainments and recreational options including water parks, amusement piers, and exquisite eateries.
Water activities are quite popular there as well where you can choose from several possibilities including sailing, surfing, deep-sea fishing, and more.
The town has activities catering to the older generation as well, such as the Doo Wop Preservation League Museum. This New Jersey holiday town has it all!
- If you’re traveling in groups, rent an apartment instead of taking 2 or more rooms in hotel
- Make a visit to the nearby tourist town Cape May to have an amazing experience
10. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Lining a 40-mile stretch, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is located between New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The perfect natural environment ensured by it will provide a true outdoor experience.
The 70,000-acre park covers the 28-mile Appalachian Trail which is popular for hiking and absorbing the breathtaking view of powerful waterfalls.
The Delaware River also supports multiple activities including kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and fishing. If that’s not up your alley, you may also opt for horseback riding, rock climbing, or just indulge in scenic drives in the area.
- The kayak and canoe trips are offered in summer, spring, and fall (if the weather permits)
- Check the Dingmans Campground for easy access to the Delaware River
- Popular for cross-country ski during wintertime
11. Island Beach State Park
The Island Beach State Park, located in the Atlantic Coast of New Jersey, is packed with tidal marshes, sandy beaches, and dense maritime forests. It is a spectacular ground for various sea animals and marine life, some of which include ospreys, waterfowls, and falcons.
If you want to surf fish from the beach or swim in the ocean, the Island Beach State Park is ideal for you. Moreover, there are multiple recreational activities available all across the barrier islands that will fulfill your needs as well.
If you visit the southern tip of the island, make sure you get a view of the Barnegat Lighthouse which is located just on the opposite side of the Barnegat inlet.
- Take a short drive from the boardwalks at Seaside Heights to reach the Island Beach State Park
- Carry sun-protectant, swimwear, and underwater gear
Hoboken, situated across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan, is considered the most walkable city in the entire country.
Its popularity is rooted in multiple aspects including the beautiful brownstone buildings, the picturesque views from the Castle Point Lookout, the availability of a variety of ethnic cuisines, and much more.
- Hoboken is a bike-friendly town with less traffic
- There are a spectacular playground and a waterpark for children– the Pier C Park
- The downtown Main Street is worth a visit because of an array of restaurants, bakeries, boutiques, and the Waterfront Walkway
Clinton, a beautiful town in the Hunterdon County of New Jersey, is straddled by the Raritan River. A bridge over this river provides a breathtaking view of a 200-foot waterfall.
The bridge is sandwiched between two museums, the Hunterdon Historical Museum on one side, and the Hunterdon Art Museum on the other. The former has over 40,000 artifacts that visitors enjoy, while the latter displays a collection of contemporary art.
The town is packed with historical buildings that portray the cultural roots. It is usually considered as an escape destination for relaxation. Also, you can enjoy a variety of book stores, bakeries, and restaurants in the popular streets – the Main St. and Leigh St.
- If you love vintage products, make sure to visit Clinton Antiques Center
- Clinton Art Gallery is a soothing sight for art lovers
- Chamard Vineyard is a must-try place to have food
Being the capital city of the New Jersey state, Trenton is an admirable city for history buffs. The most outstanding landmark of the city is the New Jersey State Museum that displays natural history collections and fine arts, as well as a planetarium.
You may also visit the War Memorial that is constructed in honor of the WWI veterans and features the Patriots Theatre where you can witness performances by world-class entertainers.
To further please your senses, visit the Grounds for Sculpture which is home to more than 270 intricate sculptures. The best time to visit it would be at night as you can experience the moonlight tour around the 42-acre land.
- Easily accessible via the NJ Transit train that travels from New York to Trenton
- The Trenton Mercer Airport is just minutes away from the capital’s downtown
- Check concert schedules before making the travel plan as the traffic can be overwhelming during those periods
- If you are traveling by car, the city has very affordable parking options especially in the weekends
15. Paterson Great Falls
Believed to be a National Natural Landmark, the Paterson Great Falls is another picturesque place to visit in New Jersey. You may either capture a panoramic view of the waterfall from the Overlook Park or get an up-close visual from the Mary Ellen Kramer Park.
To get more of in-depth knowledge about the town’s industrial history you can opt for the guided tour of the park. If not, you can simply enjoy strolls around the park by yourself and absorb the beauty of nature.
The Paterson Great Falls is suitable for visits throughout the year but preferably during summer and spring.
- Make sure to dress appropriately for outdoor weather
- There is no lodging facility within the park
- Do not engage in any sort of interactions with the animals
New Jersey FAQ: Common Questions New Jersey Travelers May Have
Q. What is the best time of the year to visit New Jersey?
A. The best time to visit NJ is the early months of summer starting from late May to early September.
Q. How safe is New Jersey for traveling?
A. New Jersey is one of the safest states to visit in USA including the suburbs and the countryside towns.
Q. What are the best places for adventure junkies in New Jersey?
A. The Delaware Water Gap area in NJ will cover all the needs of adventure lovers as it’s great for hiking, mountain climbing, and kayaking. Make sure to grasp the breathtaking views all across the Kittatinny Ridge to Mount Tammany.
Also, hike enthusiasts may check this out for a detailed guide.
Q. What are the best places to shop in New Jersey?
A. The best places for shopping in NJ include Westfield Garden State Plaza (Paramus), MarketFair Mall (Princeton), the Quaker Bridge Mall (Lawrence Township), and Playground Pier (Atlantic City).
As you can see from the list above, New Jersey has a variety of selections for every traveler’s needs. Besides, the favorable weather, ethnic food, and safe transportation will make the traveling experience even more enjoyable.
So if you’re planning to visit New Jersey in the future, make sure you create a travel plan to visit at least the featured places in this article.