The Best New Jersey Attractions – Things To Do
New Jersey often gets a bad rep because of crime drama epics like the Sopranos. However, the Garden State, nicknamed for being a leading producer of tomatoes and blueberries, has a culturally rich history associated with arts, music, and learning. New Jersey is also home to famous musical icons like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, and Frank Sinatra.
Despite being one of the biggest industrial centers in America, New Jersey still has lots of natural beauty in the form of expansive national parks and sandy white beaches. The Garden State’s quaint harbor towns and resorts are one of the best starting points for an adventure.
Best New Jersey Attractions and Activities
Things To Do in New Jersey by City
Like Atlantic City and Asbury Park, many of these towns line the long and beautiful coastline of New Jersey, making it a popular vacation destination. Additionally, the Garden State is also popular as a gateway destination to New York City and the wonders it beholds. Either way, there are many attractions in New Jersey, and we’re here to tell you all about them!
Atlantic City Boardwalk
Atlantic City’s famous Boardwalk is one of the best attractions in New Jersey. The popular seaside resort town is renowned in the United States for its iconic Steel Pier and Boardwalk. The latter was constructed back in 1870 and offered some of the best sightseeing opportunities in the state. It also offers spectacular panoramic views of the cityscape, which are even more perfect when immortalized in picture form!
As you stroll the Boardwalk, you will come across the iconic Steel Pier, a 1000-foot-long amusement park. The carnival-style destination boasts thrilling rides for people of all ages. Our favorite one is the observation wheel equipped with climate-controlled gondolas, which offer people magical views of the city and the calming ocean water. You can also rent a bike for a ride along the shore, check out the famous electric tram, or ride the rolling chairs for a fun day with the family or your significant other.
Further along the Boardwalk, you can find the Entrance to the Stars. Visiting the site is one of the best things to do in New Jersey. Some have even described the iconic place as the East Coast equivalent of Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The famous landmark features handprints of popular celebrities like Frank Sinatra or Johnny Carson!
Six Flags Great Adventure
Six Flags Great Adventure is one of the best attractions in New Jersey for adventure and thrill-seekers. The famous amusement park boasts wild rides, quirky attractions, and a spectacular drive-through wild safari for spotting more than 1000 animals from six continents, including tigers, lions, and rhinos!
Visiting the famous adventure and safari park is one of the best things to do in New Jersey. It’s the world’s second-largest theme park after Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It offers 66 fun rides, including a trio of iconic roller coasters, namely, El Toro, Kingda KA, and the original floorless roller coaster Medusa.
If you visit during the summers, you can also visit its water park, Hurricane Harbor, for fun-filled water rides that guarantee an escape from the summer heat. In addition to drive-through safari rides and thrilling rides, Six Flags Great Adventure also has the Bugs Bunny Land for kids and people not interested in getting an adrenaline rush.
Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park is one of the best attractions in New Jersey, and rightfully so. Located just across the river from Lower Manhattan, it offers the closest complementary view of the iconic Statue of Liberty from land.
The sprawling space covers more than 1000 acres of land, overlooking both Liberty and Ellis Island in Upper New York Bay. Besides offering views of the famous statue, the park also provides several memorials, monuments, and numerous recreational facilities.
If you’re a history buff who loves powerful and moving experiences, consider visiting the Liberation and Empty Sky monuments; the former is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, while the latter is a sobering memorial dedicated to the victims of 9/11. Empty Sky features two massive steel walls consisting of the names of all victims who had ties to the Garden State.
Moreover, visiting the park is one of the best things to do in New Jersey if you want to have a picnic or spend a day out fishing. The Interpretive Center is an excellent educational and awareness center for those interested in learning about the state’s history and ecology.
Battleship New Jersey
War history buffs might already know what we’ll be talking about. The iconic Battleship New Jersey is the U.S. Navy’s most decorated war vessel. It has now become an equally important floating museum anchored on the Delaware River. The Iowa-class battleship was deployed back in 1942 and is considered to be one of the world’s largest warships ever built.
A typical tour of the battleship includes several exhibits and numerous displays of artifacts from the vessel’s days in the Middle East during the ’80s and its involvement in World War II. You can even visit the deck that houses the mammoth 16-inch guns of the military vessel. And the bridge from where Admiral Halsey commanded the Pacific Fleet.
Visiting the floating museum is one of the best things to do in New Jersey. It offers a fascinating peek into America’s past.
Old Victorian Cape May
Old Victorian Cape May certainly warrants a visit from tourists since it used to be a famous resort town during the 18th and 19th centuries, attracting wealthy and influential people, including six U.S presidents who had summer homes in the area.
Today, Cape May still remains popular and is home to some of the best attractions in New Jersey. Located in the south of the state on Delaware Bay, it is home to pristine beaches, a legendary lighthouse, and numerous Victorian-style holiday homes. The Cape May Point Lighthouse, built back in 1859, is located in Cape May Point State Park and continues to operate today. You can visit and climb the tower-like structure and be treated to some of the best views in the state.
Perched on the rails on the top of the lighthouse, you will be able to see Cape May City and Wildwood to your north, Cape Henlopen and Delaware to the west, and Cape May Point to the south. It also features a miniature museum and souvenir shop in the Oil House on the grounds. The lighthouse was one of three built in the area. It also holds a coveted spot on America’s Register of National Historic Places.
Moreover, you can also visit the Emlen Physick Estate if you love 18th and 19th-century architecture. The luxurious 18-room mansion was built in 1879 based on the classic American Stick Style Architecture. In 1970, it was purchased by the city of Cape May to save it from being demolished.
After years of restoration, it operates today as a Victorian house museum. Numerous guided tours are offered year-round for tourists and locals alike who are interested in the history of the estate. Famous attractions in the 4-acre estate include the Carriage House, which contains the ticket office, the Carriage House Museum Shop, the Carroll Gallery, and the Carriage House Café and Tearoom. If you plan to visit between April and October, you can even have lunch in the tearoom in classic 19th-century style!
The 80-foot-tall steel-hulled schooner, Yankee, is another popular attraction. In fact, riding the ship is one of the best things to do in New Jersey. Numerous harbor tours are offered on the vessel, perfect for people who love the open waters. You can even bring the family along on the Yankee’s popular dolphin-sighting cruises!
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
The Thomas Edison National Historical Park is one of the best attractions in New Jersey. The establishment was the former home and laboratory of the famous inventor and businessman. Edison’s home and laboratory were where he invented movie cameras, batteries, and sound recordings.
It’s a must-visit for anyone who loves science. Upon visiting, you will be offered close-up views of the esteemed labs, Edison memorabilia, original artifacts, and vintage movies. Thomas Edison’s famous Queen Anne-style home, Glenmont, is also available for tours. The well-preserved 29-room mansion is considered one of the best works of architect Henry Hudson Holly.
In addition to guided tours, audio tours are also available for both sites. Thomas Edison National Historical Park offers insight into the last 40 years of the genius inventor’s life and remains one of the best attractions in New Jersey.
Grounds for Sculpture
The Grounds for Sculpture is an iconic 42-acre open-air museum and sculpture park, perfect for both art enthusiasts and nature lovers. It is one of the best attractions in New Jersey and is located in Hamilton Township. The incredible park was established back in ’92 to promote contemporary sculptures. Today, it is one of the most popular art exhibits in the Garden State, featuring no less than 270 large scale works by renowned U.S artists, such as Seward Johnson.
Nature lovers will appreciate the surrounding landscape, beautifully built and decorated with colorful flower beds that are updated year round with unique seasonal varieties. Numerous trees, plants, and shrubs line the park and offer a breath of fresh air to visitors. The grounds are one of the best places in the state for a calming walking or simply for enjoying the shade the trees provide.
Additionally, the grounds also boast an incredible art experience. Consider visiting the Jersey City Museum to observe some of the most unique and spectacular artworks and artifacts. The establishment has a collection of more than 300 paintings and prides itself on housing a large permanent collection of historical artifacts from the surrounding region.
Similarly, the Newark Museum is another popular attraction and center for appreciating art and history. It is home to more than 80 art galleries that contain numerous American paintings, iconic sculptures, and decorative art. The artworks and historical artifacts range from Native American to African items. Visiting the Grounds for Sculpture is one of the best things to do in New Jersey, offering an activity for all ages and types of people!
Princeton Battlefield State Park and Institute for Advanced Study
Princeton is a small town in New Jersey, famous for its esteemed university and renowned research institutes. Princeton is particularly well-known for being home to the Institute of Advanced study, where renowned physicist Albert Einstein completed his work on the theory of relativity and his last scientific endeavor, the unified field theory.
The prestigious school was founded in 1756, boasting a sprawling 1600-acre campus lined with research institutes, museums, and parks. You can book a student-guided tour program for a fun, explorative, and informative trip through one of America’s top institutions for higher education.
The Princeton Battlefield State Park, a mile south of the university, is another famous location. The 200-acre historic site served as the fighting grounds of the Battle of Princeton of 1777, marking the victory of George Washington over the British in the American Revolutionary War. The park serves as a reminder of the great sacrifices it took to free the United States from the reigns of colonialism.
The famous Clarke House Museum, located in the Princeton Battlefield State Park, is one of the best attractions in New Jersey. Built in 1772, the outward appearance of Clarke House is that of any other white clapboard farmhouse. However, the building is deeply entrenched in America’s history. It was used as a hospital by troops during the American Revolutionary War and is one of the few well-preserved establishments in the region.
Moreover, the Ionic Colonnade is an equally important site, located on Battlefield Park’s western side, near the Clarke House Museum. It was erected in 1959 and later declared as a National Historic Monument. The iconic columns serve as markers for the nearby gravesite of fallen soldiers in Memorial Grove. It’s an absolute treat for history buffs!
Princeton University Art Museum
Remember we mentioned Princeton’s historic campus is lined with beautiful parks, museums, and research institutes. One such museum is the famous Princeton University Art Museum, one of the best attractions in New Jersey.
Located on the New Jersey campus of Princeton University, the culture-rich art museum is jampacked with curated collections, daily presentations, and a diverse range of art exhibits and shows. Some of the most famous collections on display these days include the iconic Picasso Prints, Landscapes of the Mind, Women Artists and Abstractions, and Blue Green Realms in Chinese Painting.
You can book guided tours to get the historical background behind different art pieces and to fully understand the different exhibits. However, the frequently hosted live art shows, artist talks, and special guest lectures are equally entertaining and informative. They offer art enthusiasts an insight into what fuels the creativity of different artists and how important artworks were inspired.
Princeton University is not only an esteemed educational institution but also a fun place to hang out for locals and tourists. It offers the best opportunity for visitors to interact with the university students and learn more about the institution. Consequently, visiting the campus grounds is one of the best things to do in New Jersey!
We hope you liked reading our list of the best attractions in New Jersey. However, we would also like to mention that one measly article can never do justice to the Garden State, home to some of America’s most iconic attractions and tourist spots.
While our list has formally ended, we would like to mention the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, which opened in early 2022, becoming the newest attraction in New Jersey. The walkway offers spectacular views of New York City’s Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.
Similarly, the Island Beach State Park also deserves mention. It is one of America’s largest undeveloped barrier islands and covers an area of roughly 2000 acres! The park is also home to the iconic Barnegat Lighthouse. It offers tourists a plethora of fun activities ranging from surfing and swimming to kayaking and fishing.
New Jersey offers one of the best tourist experiences. It is considered one of the best vacation destinations in the United States. Consider interacting with the locals who can tell you more about each town and the city’s attractions. You might even end up visiting the more low-key places famous in the social scene. Interacting with the local population is always a great idea for having an immersive and authentic experience. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, New Jersey locals are some of the nicest and friendliest people once you get to know them.