New Jersey is often overlooked in favor of its New York City and Philadelphia neighbors, and with decent enough reason: The neighboring cities are larger and have a ton of attractions for potential visitors. While New Jersey may be a small state, however, there’s plenty to do and plenty to see if you find yourself here. Here are 10 things to do if you’re visiting New Jersey this summer.
1. Visit the shore.
Even though mentioning Jersey Shore is the last thing you should do around an NJ native (it’s been years since the show ended and we couldn’t be happier), the show happened for a reason: New Jersey has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Grab some friends and head down to the beach for a day in the ocean, and pick a beach with a nearby boardwalk if you want to take a break during the day for food or shopping. Make sure to bring your wallet, though: New Jersey is the only state in the country where you have to pay to get onto the beach. Here is a list of potential beaches to visit (Sandy Hook is my favorite).
2. Visit Grounds for Sculpture.
Grounds for Sculpture is an outdoor sculpture garden in Hamilton Township that contains a ton of different sculptures in different mediums, from realistic statues of people to abstract metal and wood artwork. There are also live peacocks that wander around the grounds, which is also pretty cool.
3. The Adventure Aquarium
Located in Camden (no matter how many times Philly tries to claim it, it's still ours), the Adventure Aquarium is a great place to go even if you normally aren’t super interested in marine biology. They have a wide range of fish, and also have penguins and hippos, which are adorable.
New Jersey is home to 11 lighthouses, all of them built in different styles and in different locations across the state. Hereford Inlet is my personal favorite: It’s located in North Wildwood and is surrounded by flower gardens, which open up onto a view of the ocean. Barnegat Light is another favorite: It’s located on Long Beach Island and is the second tallest lighthouse in the state, and has an absolutely beautiful view of the water.
5. Eat a New Jersey bagel.
Yes, you can get bagels anywhere in the country. Jersey bagels are just different: They have a chewy exterior and are soft inside, and are good on their own or in sandwiches. They’re also easily portable, so you can eat them as you travel to these other locations.
6. Cape May County Zoo
The Cape May Zoo hosts a bunch of different animals, including tigers, bears and giraffes, and is also completely free for visitors. It’s also located close to the county park, the Cape May lighthouse and the beach.
7. Liberty Science Center
Located in Jersey City, the Liberty Science Center is a museum with tons of interactive science exhibits about everything from marine life to the human body to architecture. It’s perfect even for people who don’t normally enjoy science, and tickets are reasonably priced.
8. Princeton University Art Museum
The Princeton Art Museum has permanent collections from all around the world and from many different time periods, and also has temporary exhibitions (there’s a photography exhibit going on now, and later in the summer a British art exhibit will open). It’s also completely free for the public.
9. Casino Pier
If you’re in the mood for going to an amusement park, Casino Pier is a great place to go. Located in Seaside Heights, it contains both an amusement park and arcade and a water park, and is perfect for going with a large group of people. Admission for the day is a reasonable price.
If you’re in the New Jersey area this summer, give some of these attractions a chance. You’re guaranteed to be entertained, all for an affordable price.
Lead Image Credit: Nancy Canevari