The Best Things to do in New Jersey

The 25 Best Things to Do in New Jersey

As the fourth-smallest state in the US, New Jersey might be small in size, but it offers a wealth of top attractions. From its famous Jersey Shore and glitzy Atlantic City casinos to the quaint harbor towns along the coast, the Garden State is well worth exploring! 

You’re spoiled for choice with beautiful beaches in New Jersey, from the undeveloped barrier island shoreline at Island Beach State Park to the beach boardwalk filled with family-friendly entertainment at Wildwoods’ beaches. If summer isn’t your thing, you can head to Mountain Creek and Campgaw Mountain for winter skiing on the slopes or admire fall foliage on the Appalachian Trail. 

You can plan excursions to see the charming buildings in Cape May or historical attractions in Trenton, while a visit to Liberty State Park with its dramatic New York City skyline views is a bucket list item for many. Families with kids can enjoy theme park thrills at Six Flags or hop aboard a floating museum at Battleship New Jersey. 

Wherever you go, you won’t be starved with New Jersey’s hundreds of classic roadside diners and local farms offering tastings and pick-your-own fruit options. 

With so many top attractions in every corner of the state, there are so many exciting things to do in New Jersey. For this reason, we’ve compiled a list of the absolute best things to do in the Garden State, so you can take the stress out of travel planning and maximize your vacation time. 

This list highlights the best of New Jersey, combining a mix of outdoor adventure, family attractions, must-see sites, and exciting resort towns just begging to be explored!

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25 cool and unique things to do in New Jersey

1. Catch the Ferry to Ellis Island from Liberty State Park

Best Things to do in New Jersey: Ferry to Ellis Island from Liberty State Park

One of the top New Jersey attractions, Liberty State Park offers dramatic skyline views of Manhattan as well as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. It’s a must on your New Jersey bucket list, where you can take the ferry to Ellis Island and learn about the 12 million immigrants who came to the United States between 1892 and 1954. 

While it’s best known for the spectacular skyline views, at this green oasis, you can also see the NJ Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial and enjoy scenic walks along the two-mile seaside promenade. The pathway connects with picnic and playground areas and boasts sweeping views of the Hudson River. 

The highlight of this park is taking a ferry to Ellis Island, which is a former immigration station that now operates as a museum. An iconic piece of US history, this attraction tells the story of American immigration through photographs, heirlooms, and searchable historic records. You can even trace your own ancestry with the center’s large database.

If you’ve got the kids in tow, they’ll love the hands-on science exhibits at Liberty Science Center, which sits on the western end of Liberty State Park. If you get hungry, stop by the Liberty Landing Marina to fuel up at the acclaimed Maritime Parc or Liberty House Restaurant on-site. 

Book a Ferry to Ellis Island


2. Explore the Seaside Town of Cape May

Must do things in New Jersey: Cape May

Cape May is one of New Jersey’s top travel destinations, as the entire seaside town is a National Historic Landmark District. Although it’s the white sand beaches that mostly lure beach lovers to the beautiful shoreline, it’s a popular getaway year-round.

You’ll see why once you hop aboard a trolley and admire the hundreds of colorful buildings in Cape May, which feature picture-perfect 19th-century Victorian buildings that have mostly been transformed into bed and breakfast establishments. It’s the perfect place for a romantic excursion, where you can book an overnight stay in a cozy inn, dine on fresh seafood at a local restaurant, and enjoy wine tastings at Cape May Winery

You can also spend your time exploring the charming streets on foot (or by horse-drawn carriage), while the three blocks of boutique shops at the outdoor Washington Street Mall offer one-of-kind souvenirs. Alternatively, head to the coast to bask in the sunshine along the pristine beaches that are often considered some of the best on the East Coast. 

You can admire the coastal vistas from the beaches that run 2.5 miles parallel to Beach Avenue or climb to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse for a bird’s-eye view of the region. West Cape May is one of North America’s premier bird-watching destinations, while dolphin and whale watching tours are perfect for adventurous travelers. 


3. Stroll the Atlantic City Boardwalk

New Jersey Things to do: Atlantic City Boardwalk

Sun, sand, and family-friendly fun – the Atlantic City Boardwalk is one of the top things to do in New Jersey. It was the world’s first boardwalk (opened in 1870) and offers access to the family-friendly Steel Pier amusement park and beach. 

Enjoy the fresh sea air as you do a bit of shopping along the boardwalk, then head to Steel Pier for a ride on the giant Ferris wheel. You can load up on pizza and hot dogs or try winning in the arcades, while Atlantic City’s nearby casinos offer everything from high-stakes poker to penny slots.

Atlantic City is also known as a top gaming and entertainment destination in the US, home to a collection of glitzy casinos where you can enjoy live shows, dining, and nightlife. While not quite on the scale of Las Vegas, its biggest perk might be its easy access to the Atlantic Ocean.

If you’re in need of some Vitamin D, head to the shoreline to bask in the sunshine or try surfing, kayaking, and windsurfing. Afterward, you can try your hand at winning it big at Bally’s Atlantic City, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, Hard Rock Atlantic City, or Caesars at Atlantic City.

Book a Ghost Walking Tour of Atlantic City


4. Enjoy Sunny Strolls on Ocean City Beach

Unique Things to do in New Jersey: Ocean City Beach

A tranquil retreat on the Jersey Shore, Ocean City Beach offers endless coastal fun with its picturesque shoreline. Throw out a towel and bask in the sunshine or try your hand at popular sea sports such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, fishing, or kayaking.

There are a lot of attractions in this “dry” resort town, including a miles-long boardwalk, boutique shops, miniature golf, and amusement parks. It’s considered one of the cleanest beaches in the Garden State and has been a popular destination for families for over a century. 

While the beach spans more than eight miles across the New Jersey shoreline, most travelers choose the 2.5-mile strip that sits adjacent to the boardwalk. Take a scenic stroll along the coastline, then pick one of the waterfront restaurants for a meal with a view.

Families with kids can enjoy fun-filled rides at the Gillian’s Wonderland Pier or Playland’s Castaway Cove. Shoppers can visit Stainton’s mall, while nature lovers can hike, fish, or go crabbing at Corson’s Inlet State Park. For nightlife options, Ocean City Beach is just a 20-minute drive to the Atlantic City casinos. 

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5. Explore Scenic Hikes on the Appalachian Trail

Must do things in New Jersey: Appalachian Trail

The world’s longest hiking-only footpath, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches for more than 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine. A dream destination for hikers, you can access the 72-mile segment that passes through New Jersey from the mountain and river-filled Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, in addition to several state parks. 

The “AT” as it’s called by hikers, starts at Delaware Gap in New Jersey and is where the Kittatinny Mountains meet the Delaware River. You can also visit High Point State Park, which has the highest elevation in New Jersey and offers stunning views of the Pocono and the Catskill Mountains. 

If the weather permits, you can enjoy a swim in Wawayanda State Park’s namesake lake, while adventurous travelers will want to hike to the top of Wawayanda Mountain. This park includes a 19.6-mile section of the Appalachian Trail and is also a beautiful backdrop for canoeing, boating, and fishing excursions. 


6. Hike and Camp in Delaware Water Gap

What to do in New Jersey: Delaware Water Gap

For outdoor recreation, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is one of the best places in New Jersey to visit. Stretching nearly 70,000 acres along 40+ miles of the Delaware River, this area has over 100 miles of hiking trails to explore. 

The hike to Buttermilk Falls is one of the most popular trails, which has stairs to the top and leads to Crater Lake via the Appalachian Trail. You can also opt for the well-marked trails at Stokes State Forest, with the Cartwright Trail offering a scenic footpath overlooking the Delaware River Valley. It’s also a popular destination for anglers and campers. 

If you want to get out on the water, outdoor lovers flock to Delaware Water Gap to kayak or canoe either on the lakes or the Delaware River. You can also enjoy a leisurely day fishing on the river while biking along the water in fall offers a glimpse of New Jersey’s stunning fall foliage. 

Camping here is also popular, with river campsites and primitive group campsites available. There are also more developed campgrounds at Mohican Outdoor Center and Worthington State Forest

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7. Climb to the Top of High Point Monument in High Point State Park

Cool Things to do in New Jersey: High Point Monument

New Jersey might be one of the most densely populated states in the US, but you’ll find plenty of spots where you can escape the crowds. High Point State Park is one of the best things to do in New Jersey if you’re looking to unplug, offering scenic trails and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. 

It’s famous for being home to part of the Appalachian Trail, while in the winter months this park offers trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. It’s also noted as having the highest elevation in New Jersey at the summit of the Kittatinny Ridge, rising 1,803 feet above sea level.

One of the best ways to experience its natural beauty is by climbing to the top of High Point Monument, where you can take in incredible vistas of the Kittatinny Mountains and surrounding forest. At the summit is the High Point Monument, which is dedicated to New Jersey’s veterans. 

It’s a scenic destination where you can bask in the natural landscape while enjoying its swimming areas, picnic grounds, concession areas, and campground. Alternatively, opt for a leisurely day of fishing, canoeing, or kayaking at Sawmill and Steenykill lakes. 


8. Enjoy Carnival Games and Beach Activities at Asbury Park Beach

Must do things in New Jersey: Asbury Park Beach

Sun-seekers looking for a picturesque stretch of coastline to top off their tan can head to Asbury Park Beach for some fun in the sun. It stretches for about a mile along the Atlantic coast and is often referred to as one of the best beaches in the US! 

The white sand beach is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, and fishing, while its historic boardwalk facing the beach is packed full of restaurants, bars, and shops. If you’re traveling with the family, you can also play miniature golf or cool off at the splash park. 

One of the coolest attractions in Asbury Park is The Silverball Museum, which is home to more than 60 pinball machines that date back to the 1930s. Across the street is another famous hotspot, The Stone Pony, which was made famous by superstar rockers. 

Asbury Park is known for its award-winning food and drink establishments, and Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten is a great spot to unwind with its rooftop bar overlooking Wesley Lake and the ocean. Only 30 minutes away is Point Pleasant Beach and Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, which has rides, an aquarium, an arcade, and a funhouse.


9. Catch a Live Show at The Stone Pony

New Jersey Things to do: The Stone Pony

As previously mentioned, The Stone Pony is one of the top attractions in Asbury. It’s been a staple in New Jersey’s music scene since it opened in 1974, with locals like Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi putting it on the map. 

It’s one of the coolest attractions in New Jersey if you’re a fan of music, serving as a launchpad for many New Jersey natives. If you want to catch a show at this legendary nightclub, you’ll find a good mix of both popular and up-and-coming bands showcased.

Located just off the beachfront Asbury Park Boardwalk, it’s easy to access too. It has a packed calendar full of events year-round, so check the official website for upcoming shows. 

Just steps from the beach and boardwalk, Wonder Bar is another notable stop on the music tour of Asbury Park. With a colorful facade, this beach bar features live music, TV sports, and a dog-friendly patio. It’s popular for its unique Yappy Hour, where furry friends are allowed to join their owners in a fenced-in outdoor area!

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10. Ride the Roller Coasters at Six Flags Great Adventure

Unique Things to do in New Jersey: Six Flags Great Adventure

Whether you’re traveling with the kids or are in search of some theme park thrills, Six Flags amusement park in Jackson doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the coolest things to do in New Jersey, with a wide variety of entertainment options on offer, from thrill rides to live shows and carnival games.

Adrenaline junkies can’t resist the rides at Six Flags Great Adventure, which include the world’s tallest pendulum ride and the world’s tallest coaster! If you’re feeling brave, hop on the Jersey Devil coast, the world’s tallest, fastest, and longest single rail coaster, or the seven-story-tall anti-gravity Cyborg Cyber Spin. 

If you’re with little ones, there are also more gentle family and kid-friendly rides like the Big Wheel, Skyway, and Log Flume. Afterward, you can attend a live show or fuel up on pizza and burgers at one of the multiple eateries. 

If you want to spend some extra time here, Six Flags also has two other adjacent parks (with separate admission). There’s the Wild Safari drive-thru adventure with 1,200 animals from across the globe, while Hurricane Harbor water park boasts water slides, a wave pool, and a lazy river.  


11. Learn About One of the Greats at Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Best Things to do in New Jersey: Thomas Edison National Historical Park

If you’re a history fan, add Thomas Edison National Historical Park to your New Jersey bucket list. Get inside the mind of one of America’s greatest inventors at this historic attraction, which allows you to see his former home and working space. 

Learn about Edison’s role in phonograph and electric power system inventions, then marvel at the laboratory he built in 1887 and where he spent 40 years creating. Snag an audio tour to hear more about his discoveries and browse the historical artifacts, archives, and natural history exhibits. 

There are even interactive experiments you can participate in, with a hands-on element perfect for families with kids. If you’ve got extra time, you can head over to Edison’s Glenmont estate for a glimpse at the 29-room mansion.


12. Experience the Simple Life at New Jersey Farms

Must do Things in New Jersey: Duke Farms
Images courtesy of Duke Farms

New Jersey is home to thousands of local farms where you can experience what farm life is really like. You can enjoy a day outdoors at one of these family-friendly attractions, which offer fresh produce, cuddly farm animals, and year-round activities like pick-your-own options. 

Abma’s Farm is a popular spot in spring for its walking tours, while its barnyard petting zoo includes goats, sheep, alpaca, and donkeys. For something different, Duke Farms has over 1,000 acres of lush wildlife habitats to explore, where you can follow scenic trails and eat at the farm-sourced, award-winning cafe on-site.

To see how farming was done back in the day, Howell History Farm in Hopewell Township is a living museum that offers a glimpse of traditional farm life and is home to cattle, pigs, goats, sheep, and horses. Alternatively, you can learn about the art of cheesemaking at Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley or Bobolink Dairy and Backyard in Milford. 

In summer, you can pick your own fruit at many of the local farms, including blueberries, apples, and peaches. Alstede Farms in Chester is a great option for picking fruit and vegetables, while Wightman Farms in Morristown is a family-owned and operated establishment that has picking options and boasts hayrides, mazes, and apple picking in fall. 

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13. Browse the Floating Museum at Battleship New Jersey

Fun Things to do in New Jersey: Battleship New Jersey

History fans won’t want to miss a trip to Battleship New Jersey, one of the state’s top attractions. You can get a sense of what life was like as a seaman on the World War II battleship as you explore its decks, climb ladders, and traverse tiny passageways. 

Anchored in the Delaware River, it’s one of the most decorated battleship museums in the country and offers history lovers a unique, immersive experience. Along with hearing real-life tales of the brave sailors that served aboard, you’ll also see exhibits with artifacts from the battleship’s past. 

You can sit in the chair of the admiral who commanded the battleship and stretch out on the sailor’s bunks, then climb into the gun turret and learn how projectiles were loaded. Sign up for the adults-only Twilight Guided Tour for a look at rarely seen parts of the ship, then after the tour, enjoy adult beverages on the deck as you watch the sunset. 

For those really interested in military history, you can spend a night aboard the battleship and sleep in the same bunks the crew of the USS New Jersey once did! The family-friendly program includes a guided tour, dinner and breakfast, and the chance to fire the saluting gun. 


14. Marvel at Manhattan Skyline Views at Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

What to do in New Jersey: Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway is one of the best free things to do in New Jersey, offering spectacular views of the New York City skyline. You can admire the city in the daylight, catch a sunset, or see the big-city lights sparkle at night along the expansive 18.5-mile path.

It connects Hudson County, starting in Bayonne and leading to Jersey City, Hoboken, West New York, and North Bergen, finishing up by the George Washington Bridge. It’s a great spot for all ages, as the expansive walkway is pedestrian and bike-friendly.

You can cruise the pathway on two wheels via Hudson Bike Share from Nextbike along the waterfront. Alternatively, adventurous travelers can hop in a kayak and paddle the waterways from the Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse and Urban Paddle in Jersey City.  

When hunger pangs hit, you’ll find a variety of excellent waterfront restaurants nearby. Some of the best include Son Cubano in West New York, Surf City in Jersey City, and Blue Eyes Restaurant in Hoboken. 


15. Enjoy Sun & Surf at Island Beach State Park

Best Things to do in New Jersey: Island Beach State Park

Island Beach State Park offers a fun day in the sunshine, as this narrow barrier island stretches for 10 miles between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay. Shaped by storms and tides, you’ll find one mile of beach designated for ocean swimming, while surfing, windsurfing, and fishing are other popular activities. 

Its white sand beaches are the biggest draw for sun-seekers, offering a quiet coastal escape away from the city noise. If you want to take a dip, swimming is allowed from Memorial Day to Labor Day when lifeguards are on duty. However, active travelers can follow one of the eight hiking trails available at the park, as each are under one mile and lead to a different part of the island’s beach or bay. 

If you’re a nature lover, you’ll appreciate this park’s unique ecosystem. The miles of sand dunes and white sand beaches offer a habitat to maritime plants that is almost the same as it was thousands of years ago. It’s also home to the state’s largest osprey colony.

Another way to explore the island is via guided kayak tours, which lead you through the Sedge Islands. Island Beach State Park is also well known by New Jersey’s saltwater anglers for excellent surf fishing for striped bass and bluefish. You can even enjoy saltwater fishing along the ocean beach (except for the designated swimming areas). 

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16. See Impressive Waterfall Scenery at Paterson Great Falls

Must do things in New Jersey: Paterson Great Falls

Both nature lovers and history buffs will want to include Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in their itinerary. Not only does this 77-foot-tall cascading wonder impress, but it’s also the location of the world’s first planned industrial city that dates back to Alexander Hamilton. 

Sitting 300 feet wide, the falls plunging into the Passaic River is one of the largest waterfalls in the country and a sight to behold! Pushing two billion gallons of water over the falls, it’s second in the eastern US only to the giant Niagara Falls. 

Dating back to 1792, the surrounding historic buildings are the foundation for the Industrial Revolution, the labor movement, and the contributions of immigrants. The planned industrial city once attracted entrepreneurs and laborers who wanted to work in the mills that produced textiles, Colt firearms, locomotives, and aircraft engines. 

Even more interesting, the river drives turbines in the hydroelectric plant at the base of the falls, which provide clean, renewable energy to thousands of homes. To see the falls up close, you’ll find parking at the Great Falls Overlook, which is easily accessible from all points via US Interstate 80 and Garden State Parkway.


17. Follow the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail

If you’re a foodie at heart, you should add the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail to your New Jersey itinerary. It’s on this journey that you can discover the culinary roots of the late Anthony Bourdain, a world-famous celebrity chef, author, and globetrotting food and travel documentarian.

The designated food trail pays tribute to Bourdain’s childhood, where he grew up in Leonia and spent summers at the Jersey Shore. It includes 10 restaurants featured on CNN’s Emmy award-winning Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown

Start at Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee for “ripper-style” (deep-fried) hot dogs, then head to Asbury Park for overstuffed sandwiches at Frank’s Deli & Restaurant. Kubel’s in Barnegat Light is beloved for clam chowder and fried clams, while Dock’s Oyster House in Atlantic City has survived Prohibition, the Great Depression, and two world wars. 

Also in Atlantic City is seafood and steaks at Knife & Fork Inn, pizza and pasta at Tony’s Baltimore Grill, and classic treats at James Original Salt Water Taffy. Lucille’s Country Cooking in Barnegat is a throwback lunch counter, while Donkey’s Place in Camden has been serving Jersey-style cheesesteak for more than 75 years, and Tony’s & Ruth’s Steaks is a local favorite with breakfast sandwiches. 


18. Capture Bird’s-Eye Views at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

New Jersey Things to do: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

One of the must-do things in New Jersey, Barnegat Lighthouse State Park offers stunning coastal views of Barnegat Bay, Island Beach, and Long Beach Island from the top. Located at the northern tip of Long Beach Island in Ocean City, this fun attraction is a part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail. 

Step inside the park’s Interpretive Center to browse exhibits like the “Story of Barnegat Lighthouse,” which highlights the evolution of the lighthouse through images and stories. To capture the bird’s-eye views from the lighthouse, you can climb the 217 steps to the top. However, there are also four cameras that transmit live images in the Interpretive Center. 

If you’re an outdoor lover, you can easily combine a visit to the lighthouse with an excursion through the Maritime Forest Trail and see one of the state’s last maritime forests. Dominated by black cherry, sassafras, eastern red cedar, and American holly, it’s an important place for migratory birds.

Saltwater anglers can reel in striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, summer flounder, and black sea bass from the picnic area at Barnegat Inlet. Perfect for a sunny day, picnic tables provide shelter from the heat, and sunbathing areas are located on the sand along the jetty. 

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19. Take the Kids to the Family-Friendly Shoreline at Wildwoods’ Beaches

Cool Things to do in New Jersey: Wildwoods’ Beaches

Located between Wildwood and Cape May, Wildwood Crest is known as a peaceful stretch of sand. It’s the perfect spot for swimming, soaking up the sunshine, and relaxing on a hot summer day, while surfing, boogie boarding, and parasailing are available for thrill-seeking beachgoers. 

Toss a Frisbee or play beach volleyball at this picture-perfect coastline, then rest in the shade with a book. If you prefer to be in the middle of all the action, head to the family-friendly Wildwoods Boardwalk, which features 38 blocks packed end to end with shops, waterparks, eateries, and entertainment. 

The boardwalk is a sensory overload with over 100 rides and attractions, including world-class roller coasters at Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks, Ocean Oasis Waterpark & Beach Club, Raging Waters Water Park, and Splash Zone Water Park. Kids will also love the boardwalk’s carnival-style games and arcades.

This area is also known for its summertime events, which include block parties, seafood festivals, craft shows, free concerts, and fireworks every Friday night. It’s a lot to take in, so if you want to give your feet a rest, hop on the Sightseer Tramcars to cruise the boardwalk on the famous tram car service that dates back to 1949.


20. Visit Historic Attractions in Trenton 

Fun Things to do in New Jersey: Trenton

Trenton is the capital city of New Jersey, home to a treasure trove of historical attractions. With easy access to New York and Philadelphia, this central Jersey region offers a wealth of fun attractions, from museums to a downtown area with family-owned shops. 

The New Jersey State Museum offers a look at the state’s history through interesting archeology and natural history exhibits, a planetarium, and fine art collection. If you want to do a guided tour, head across the street to the historic New Jersey State House, which has been home to the state government since 1792. 

Another notable historic attraction is the William Trent House Museum, which was once used as a supply house for Washington’s army throughout the American Revolution. War buffs can also visit the Old Barracks Museum, which was used to house British soldiers in the French and Indian War and used again as a military hospital in the Revolutionary War. 

After learning about the state’s history, see what the rest of the city has to offer. Shop locally in the charming downtown area, pick up fresh goods at the Trenton Farmers Market, or cheer on the Trenton Thunder at the ballpark. Make sure to see the iconic Lower Trenton Bridge at night, which lights up with “Trenton Makes the World Takes” in neon lights. 


21. Be Enchanted by Art and Nature at Grounds for Sculpture

Unique Things to do in New Jersey: Grounds of Sculpture
Images courtesy of Grounds of Sculpture

Art and nature come together at Grounds of Sculpture, a world-renowned 42-acre attraction in Trenton. A museum, sculpture garden, and arboretum framed by manicured landscaping, it boasts nearly 300 sculptures by renowned and emerging contemporary artists. 

Spend an afternoon meandering through the park to see the unique sculptures up-close and snap photos of the peacocks wandering the grounds. You’ll find meticulous landscaping that includes a meadow rich with butterflies along with thousands of exotic trees and flowers blanketing the area. 

It’s a perfect outing for nature lovers, featuring manicured fairways and paths that lead to reflecting pools and ponds. Head inside to explore six galleries showcasing art in temporary exhibitions or sign up for hands-on workshops for a more enriching experience. 

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22. Dine on Roadside Classics in the “Diner Capital of the World”

Best Things to do in New Jersey: Diner Capital of the World

Roadside diners weren’t invented in New Jersey, but they’ve been a staple in the Garden State since the early 1900s. There are over 500 of these unique eateries to choose from (more than any other state), offering classic menu items like burgers, milkshakes, and other greasy comfort food delights to satisfy your breakfast or late-night cravings. 

Some of the best New Jersey diners include Summit Diner in Summit, which is one of the oldest in the state, and Americana Diner in Shrewsbury, with its retro 1950s ambiance. White Mana in Jersey City dates back to 1946 and has the perfect combination of sliders alongside shakes and crinkle-cut fries. 

The pancakes at Mustache Bill’s in Barnegat Light are a must, while Tick Tock Diner in Clifton can satisfy your cravings at any time of day, as the 24-hour diner is open 365 days a year. If you’re really feeling hungry, The Jefferson Diner in Lake Hopatcong serves hearty portions in its retro diner that was once featured on the TV show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

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23. Ski the Slopes at Mountain Creek

Best Things to do in New Jersey: Mountain Creek
Images courtesy of Mountain Creek

Located a 1.5-hour drive from Jersey City in the township of Vernon, Mountain Creek Resort offers 167 acres of ski trails on four mountain peaks. It has terrain options for all skill levels, with three terrain parks and night skiing available. 

While skiing is the most popular activity here, winter snow tubing and snowboarding are also fun. In the warmer months, the park transforms into a waterslide and bike park, while year-round amenities include on-site lodging, restaurants, and spa facilities. 

Another popular ski destination in New Jersey is Campgaw Mountain Ski Area, which is about an hour away from Jersey City. It’s a smaller mountain, making it a popular destination for those wanting to learn to ski or snowboard. It’s also one of the best places for tubing in New Jersey. 


24. Geek Out at Liberty Science Center

New Jersey Bucket List: Liberty Science Center

The Liberty Science Center is one of those must-do things in New Jersey if you’re a science lover. Full of immersive, interactive exhibits, it’s a captivating attraction for families with kids. It’s also home to the biggest planetarium in the United States, with an 89-foot full-dome view of the night sky and distant galaxies. 

If that’s not enough to get you in the door, it also boasts Minecraft: The Exhibition with life-size characters from one of the best-selling video games of all time. Little ones can uncover ancient dinosaur fossils buried in more than 60 tons of sand in Dino Dig Adventure, while the Infinity Climber is the world’s first suspended climbing play space of its kind. 

If you’re an animal lover, head to the Wild About Animals exhibit to see over 100 animal species, including cotton-top tamarin monkeys and red-footed tortoises. You can get active in the Dream Machine, a sensory adventure that uses bicycle pumps to create colors, sounds, and scents, or you can build your own tower in the Skyscraper exhibit.  

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25. Spot Wildlife in the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Best Things to do in New Jersey: Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

It’s hard to believe, but the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey is only 26 miles west of New York City’s bustling Times Square. The 12-square-mile refuge provides important habitats for local wildlife and offers the perfect spot to reconnect with nature. 

Ideal for all ages, you can hike on the 1.5 miles of well-maintained boardwalks in this refuge through the dense swampland. You can also observe wildlife and picturesque foliage along the eight miles of trails in the wilderness area, then visit the Helen Fenske Visitor Center and Wildlife Observation Center. 

Two other notable attractions nearby include the Environmental Education Center in Lord Stirling and Raptor Trust. The Environmental Education Center has nature-related exhibits and hikes that are particularly scenic in fall, while the Raptor Trust is a free attraction home to about 50 resident birds.

There you have it! The 25 best things to do in New Jersey. What’s your favorite thing to do in the Garden State?


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best hiking trail in New Jersey?

The world’s longest hiking-only footpath, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches for more than 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine. A dream destination for hikers, you can access the 72-mile segment that passes through New Jersey from the mountain and river-filled Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, in addition to several state parks.

Where is the best place to canoe or kayak in New Jersey?

For outdoor recreation, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is one of the best places in New Jersey to visit. If you want to get out on the water, outdoor lovers flock to Delaware Water Gap to kayak or canoe either on the lakes or the Delaware River. You can also enjoy a leisurely day fishing on the river while biking along the water in fall offers a glimpse of New Jersey’s stunning fall foliage.

What is the best beach in New Jersey?

Sun-seekers looking for a picturesque stretch of coastline to top off their tan can head to Asbury Park Beach for some fun in the sun. It stretches for about a mile along the Atlantic coast and is often referred to as one of the best beaches in the US! The white sand beach is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, surfing, and fishing, while its historic boardwalk facing the beach is packed full of restaurants, bars, and shops.

What is the best amusement park in New Jersey?

Whether you’re traveling with the kids or are in search of some theme park thrills, Six Flags amusement park in Jackson doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the coolest things to do in New Jersey, with a wide variety of entertainment options on offer, from thrill rides to live shows and carnival games.

What is the best waterfall to visit in New Jersey?

Both nature lovers and history buffs will want to include Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park in their itinerary. Not only does this 77-foot-tall cascading wonder impress, but it’s also the location of the world’s first planned industrial city that dates back to Alexander Hamilton.

Where can you go skiing in New Jersey?

Located a 1.5-hour drive from Jersey City in the township of Vernon, Mountain Creek Resort offers 167 acres of ski trails on four mountain peaks. It has terrain options for all skill levels, with three terrain parks and night skiing available.


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