Best Things to Do in New Jersey: 12 Must-Visit Locations

by Emil Backup
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Are you planning a trip to the East Coast and looking for an unforgettable experience? Let’s dive into the diverse, scenic, and unique things to do in New Jersey. This state, known as the Garden State, is sure to provide an extraordinary vacation experience.

Famous for its stunning beaches and boardwalks, New Jersey is also rich in history, being one of the original 13 colonies. However, what truly sets it apart is its blend of urban and natural attractions, offering a myriad of best things to do in NJ for every type of traveler.

From the vibrant nightlife of Atlantic City to the serene beauty of the Delaware Water Gap, from the historic Paterson Great Falls to the thrilling rides at Six Flags Great Adventure, there’s no shortage of things to do and places to visit in New Jersey. There truly is something for everyone. That, of course, makes it all the more important for you to know which places are best suited for your particular interests. To help, I’ve compiled a list of some of my personal favorite New Jersey attractions. Buckle up! Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in New Jersey.

The best things to do in New Jersey right now.
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Best Places to Visit in New Jersey

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in New Jersey? As noted above, there’s something for everyone in this wonderful state to make for one unforgettable Garden State adventure. So keep reading to discover all these unique New Jersey places to visit.

Are you looking for some exciting fun and adventure? Or would you prefer a calm, peaceful and secluded getaway? Whatever you’re planning, New Jersey can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in New Jersey that you should know about.

1. Atlantic City’s Famous Boardwalk

Looking for the coolest things to do in New Jersey? Don’t miss this one! One of the coolest activities in New Jersey is taking a leisurely stroll along Atlantic City’s Famous Boardwalk. This iconic four-mile-long promenade, constructed in 1870, is the heart of the city’s sightseeing opportunities. The boardwalk is home to the legendary Steel Pier, a carnival-style amusement park with rides for all ages. One of the main attractions here is the massive observation wheel with climate-controlled gondolas that offer spectacular views over the city and the ocean, regardless of the season.

For a fun alternative to walking, consider renting a bike, hopping on the historic electric tram, or taking a ride in a traditional rickshaw-like rolling chair. As you explore, don’t miss the Entrance to the Stars, the East Coast equivalent of Hollywood’s famous Walk of Fame. It features the handprints of celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Johnny Carson.

Atlantic City is also home to several historic and cultural attracti. This inlcudes the Absecon Lighthouse, an aquarium, and the massive Boardwalk Hall, a venue that hosts concerts and events like the Miss America finals. The city’s Famous Boardwalk is undoubtedly one of the best places to go in New Jersey.

Atlantic City's Famous Boardwalk: A must-visit attraction and one of the best things to do in New Jersey.
Atlantic City’s Famous Boardwalk: A must-visit attraction and one of the best things to do in New Jersey.

2. Cape May

If you’re wondering what to do in New Jersey, look no further than Cape May. This charming beach town in Southern New Jersey is a favorite among locals looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its relaxed pace and exclusive resort feel, Cape May is the perfect summer getaway for couples and families alike. Stay in a beautiful Airbnb on the ocean, and you’ll see what I mean!

Breathe in the fresh sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, or indulge in a meal at one of the many oceanfront seafood restaurants. For those seeking a bit of adventure, consider booking a popular whale and dolphin watching tour. And remember, while Cape May is a delight any time of the year, spring and summer are the best times to visit to take full advantage of all the amazing things this town has to offer.

From its beautiful beaches to its quaint Victorian homes, a stop at Cape May is undoubtedly one of the most unique things to do in New Jersey to immerse yourself in the state’s coastal charm.

Cape May: Seaside Bliss and Victorian Elegance. Among the best things to do in New Jersey,
Cape May: Seaside Bliss and Victorian Elegance. Among the best things to do in New Jersey.

3. Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park is a gem that can’t be missed when considering the best places to go in New Jersey. Overlooking Upper New York Bay, Liberty Island, and Ellis Island, this park spans a whopping 1,212 waterside acres, offering not only stunning views but also a plethora of sightseeing opportunities.

Nature enthusiasts will find solace in Communipaw Cove, a 36-acre tidal salt marsh designated as a nature preserve. The park is also home to several poignant memorials and monuments. Two of the most significant are Liberation, dedicated to the Holocaust, and the sobering Empty Sky, a memorial consisting of two 210-foot-long steel walls inscribed with the names of the victims of the tragic events of 9/11 who had ties to New Jersey.

The park isn’t just about reflection and tranquility, though. It also offers a range of recreational facilities, from picnic areas to fishing, kayaking, and cycling. Don’t forget to visit the park’s Interpretive Center. It provides information related to the ecology and history of this part of New Jersey.

In short, Liberty State Park is a place where you can immerse yourself in nature, history, and outdoor activities. This makes a visit to it one of the coolest things to do in New Jersey.

Enjoy expansive green spaces, stunning skyline views, and a gateway to iconic attractions.
Enjoy expansive green spaces, stunning skyline views, and a gateway to iconic attractions.

4. The Adventure Aquarium

Looking to visit one of the best places in New Jersey? Add this to your bucket list! Dive into a world of aquatic wonder at the Adventure Aquarium on the Delaware River in Camden. This two-million-gallon aquarium is home to over 8,500 marine animals, making it one of the best places in NJ for an immersive educational experience.

From the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast to a multitude of sea turtles, penguins, and stingrays, the Adventure Aquarium offers a deep dive into the mysteries of the ocean. It even boasts the unique distinction of being the only aquarium in the world with hippos!

Visitors can go “behind the scenes” to meet some of these fascinating creatures up close, including African penguins and sea turtles. For the brave at heart, an in-water encounter with sharks and stingrays is also available.

For marine biology enthusiasts or just someone simply looking for a fun, family-friendly day out, a stop at the Adventure Aquarium is one of the most fun things to do in New Jersey you don’t want to miss.

"The Adventure Aquarium: Dive into New Jersey's Best. Immerse yourself in marine wonders, and exotic species.
“The Adventure Aquarium: Dive into New Jersey’s Best. Immerse yourself in marine wonders, and exotic species.

5. Turtle Back Zoo

For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in New Jersey. Located in the northernmost parts of Jersey, Essex County’s Turtle Back Zoo is a treat for families and wildlife enthusiasts. Named after a famous rock formation that resembled a turtle’s back, the zoo offers much more than its name suggests. Spread across a picturesque 15 acres at the foot of a mountain reservation, the zoo is home to over 800 animals and more than 200 species of wildlife.

The Turtle Back Zoo thrives on the preservation of wildlife while enriching the visitor’s experience. Some of the zoo’s other attractions include a dinosaur playground, boating, mini-golf, face painting, pony rides, a butterfly tent, an aviary, and much more. A day at Turtle Back Zoo, one of the best-loved New Jersey attractions, will be enjoyed by visitors of all ages. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in New Jersey!

Turtle Back Zoo: Encounter fascinating animals, engaging exhibits, and family fun, all in one of the best spots for animal enthusiasts.
Turtle Back Zoo: Encounter fascinating animals, engaging exhibits, and family fun, all in one of the best spots for animal enthusiasts.

6. Princeton University Art Museum

If you’re looking for unique places to visit in New Jersey to immerse yourself in culture and history, the Princeton University Art Museum should be on your list. This museum is a treasure trove of art, with a collection that spans continents and centuries. From ancient Greek sculptures to contemporary pieces, there’s something for every art enthusiast here.

The museum is located on the campus of Princeton University, one of the most prestigious universities in the world. As you stroll through the museum, you’ll be surrounded by the intellectual energy of the campus, adding another layer to your visit. The museum’s collection is vast and varied, with over 92,000 works of art that span the globe and cover over 5,000 years of world history.

The museum is also committed to education, offering a variety of programs for visitors of all ages.The Princeton University Art Museum offers a rich, in-depth experience that’s sure to leave you inspired. So, if you’re wondering what to do in New Jersey, don’t miss out on this cultural gem.

The museum is a gateway to different cultures, histories, and perspectives. So, next time you’re in New Jersey, take the time to visit and let the art transport you to different times and places. No wonder this is one of the top things to do in New Jersey for the most discerning tourists.

Princeton University Art Museum: Enjoy one of the best things to do in New Jersey, with diverse art collections and cultural inspiration.
Princeton University Art Museum: Enjoy one of the best things to do in New Jersey, with diverse art collections and cultural inspiration.

7. The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

One of the coolest activities in New Jersey is a stroll along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. This recent addition to the state’s attractions is a pedestrian route stretching nearly 19 miles, passing through nine different New Jersey municipalities. The walkway offers some of the most spectacular views over the Hudson River across to New York City, including vistas of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

Built solely for pedestrian and bike use, the pathway is 30 feet wide for its entire length, ensuring there’s plenty of room for all. Those wanting to cycle the route can bring their own bikes or make use of one of the “bikeshare” options available. Fishing and kayaking are also permitted off the walkway.

Don’t forget to stop at Pier A Park. This delightful pier park extends out over the Hudson, with plenty of seating for those who simply want to sit and soak up the views. In addition to wet and dry play areas for the kids, there’s also a dedicated area for fishing.

The Hudson River Waterfront Walkway is a testament to the beauty of New Jersey’s natural landscapes, and a visit to this is one of the most unique things to do in NJ for anyone looking for a peaceful and scenic outdoor experience.

Hudson River Waterfront Walkway: New Jersey's Scenic Stroll. Experience the best of nature, skyline views.
Hudson River Waterfront Walkway: New Jersey’s Scenic Stroll. Experience the best of nature, skyline views.

8: Thomas Edison National Historical Park

A visit to New Jersey would be incomplete without a trip to the Thomas Edison National Historical Park. If you’re a history buff or a fan of innovation, this is one of the best places in New Jersey to visit. This park preserves the home and laboratory of Thomas Edison, one of America’s most famous inventors. Here, you can see where groundbreaking technologies like movie cameras, sound recordings, and batteries were first developed.

The park is located in West Orange and includes two main structures. The first is Edison’s laboratory complex, where you can get a close-up look at the labs, see vintage movies, and view original artifacts. The second is Glenmont, Edison’s magnificent Queen Anne-style home. This 29-room mansion is perfectly preserved and offers a glimpse into the life of the brilliant inventor.

Guided and audio tours are available for both sites, providing a wealth of information about Edison’s life and work. It’s a fascinating place to explore, especially for those interested in history, science, and technology. So, if you’re wondering what to do in New Jersey, don’t miss the chance to walk in the footsteps of one of America’s greatest minds! Is this one of the coolest things to do in New Jersey? You bet!

Brilliant History in NJ. Discover innovation, visit Edison's home, and experience one of the best historical sites in the state.
Brilliant History in NJ. Discover innovation, visit Edison’s home, and experience one of the best historical sites in the state.

9. Grounds For Sculpture

If you’re an art enthusiast, then the Grounds For Sculpture is one of the best places in New Jersey. Located in Hamilton Township, this 42-acre museum and sculpture park was established in 1992 to facilitate the appreciation of contemporary sculpture. It has since grown into one of the state’s most popular art exhibits, boasting 270 large-scale works by Seward Johnson and other US artists.

In addition to the sculptures, the park itself is wonderfully landscaped with numerous trees and flowerbeds. The park is a place of beauty and tranquility, offering a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The Grounds For Sculpture offers a unique experience that’s sure to leave you inspired. So, if you’re wondering what to do in New Jersey, why not immerse yourself in the world of contemporary sculpture at this unique park?

Remember, art is not what you see, but what you make others see. So, come and see for yourself what makes the Grounds For Sculpture one of the most fun things to do in New Jersey.

Wander among sculptures, lush landscapes, and creative inspiration at one of the best artistic destinations in New Jersey.
Wander among sculptures, lush landscapes, and creative inspiration at one of the best artistic destinations in New Jersey.

10. Morey’s Piers

If you’re looking for a place that offers a blend of beach relaxation and amusement park thrills, Morey’s Piers is one of the coolest activities in New Jersey. It’s located on the shoreline of the resort town of Wildwood, just a short drive from Cape May. Morey’s Piers covers six blocks running parallel to the sandy beach.

Beginning in 1968 with a lone waterslide and a concession stand, the Morey brothers have expanded the park over the past 50 years, creating one of the country’s best parks. There are rides for every age, from kiddie to family-friendly favorites like the tilt-a-whirl, bumper cars, and a 156-foot Ferris wheel.

For thrill-seekers, there are several roller coasters and daredevil rides with names like IT and Springshot. The park also includes a go-kart track, as well as several driving rides and interactive attractions like the “Ghost Ship.” Morey’s Piers also includes two water parks that offer refreshing waterslides, a lazy river, and pools with floating snack bars. There’s so much to see at Morey’s Piers, that it’s no wonder this is among the best things to do in New Jersey.

 Embark on thrilling rides, oceanfront fun, and endless entertainment at one of the best seaside attractions
Embark on thrilling rides, oceanfront fun, and endless entertainment at one of the best seaside attractions.

11. Liberty Science Center

As far as things to do in New Jersey go, this activity is among the coolest! If you’re looking for fun and learning, the Liberty Science Center is one of the best places to go in New Jersey. Located in Liberty State Park, this interactive science museum offers hands-on exhibits and displays related to science and technology. The recently updated planetarium conducts regular shows that explore the night sky and outer space. It hosts films and laser shows that are sure to captivate audiences of all ages.

The center also features a 3D theater that showcases immersive films about science, technology, and nature. Interactive exhibits include the Infinity Climber and a pixel art wall, and there are plenty of educational presentations, including a lightning show, an animal encounter, and a touch-tank with sea creatures. Other highlights include exhibits about robotics, engineering, bees, energy, and much more.

For science enthusiasts and families looking for a fun and educational day out, visiting the Liberty Science Center is one of the best New Jersey things to do. It is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Liberty Science Center: NJ's Interactive Discovery. Experience science, fun, and exploration at one of the state's top attractions.
Liberty Science Center: NJ’s Interactive Discovery. Experience science, fun, and exploration at one of the state’s top attractions.

12. Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

This is one of the top things to do in New Jersey, hands down. If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle, the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best places to go in New Jersey. This vast wilderness area, covering approximately 7,800 acres, is a testament to the state’s commitment to preserving its natural beauty. Established in 1960, it holds the distinction of being the USA’s first federal wilderness area.

The refuge is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and bird watchers, with over 240 species of birds using it as a stop on their migration routes. You might spot foxes, deer, snakes, turtles, and a variety of fish species during your visit. The swamp’s history is as rich as its biodiversity. It dates back to the end of the last Ice Age. As such, it has served as a hunting ground for Indigenous people over the past 10,000 years.

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge offers a unique place in New Jersey to connect with nature. Remember to bring your binoculars and camera, and prepare to be amazed by the refuge’s natural wonders. As such, this New Jersey attraction is one of the most popular sights in the state.

NJ's Natural Gem. Among the best things to do in New Jersey, is explore serene landscapes and wildlife.
NJ’s Natural Gem. Among the best things to do in New Jersey, is explore serene landscapes and wildlife.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to do in New Jersey

Looking for more content on the top things to do in New Jersey? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to New Jersey:

What is the best time to visit New Jersey?

The best time to visit New Jersey is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November). The weather during these periods is typically mild and pleasant, making it perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing.

What is unique to Jersey?

New Jersey has a rich and diverse history and culture. Here’s a summary of some unique aspects of New Jersey:

  1. Diverse Geography: From the Appalachian Trail to the famous shorelines along the Atlantic Ocean, New Jersey offers something for everyone.
  2. The Jersey Shore: The Jersey Shore is famous for its sandy beaches, boardwalks, and lively summer activities. Towns like Cape May, Wildwood, and Asbury Park are popular destinations.
  3. History: New Jersey played a vital role in the Revolutionary War. Significant battles were fought at places like Trenton and Princeton. The state’s historical sites, including Ellis Island and Thomas Edison’s laboratory in West Orange, reflect its rich past.
  4. Cuisine: Known for its variety of dining options. New Jersey is famous for dishes such as Taylor ham (or pork roll), tomato pies, and submarine sandwiches, often referred to as “subs.”
  5. Garden State: Nicknamed the “Garden State.” New Jersey is known for its fertile soil and agricultural products, especially blueberries, cranberries, and tomatoes.
  6. Innovation and Industry: Home to many pharmaceutical and technological companies, New Jersey is a hub for innovation. Thomas Edison’s inventions in Menlo Park marked the state as a center for innovation in the late 19th century.

New Jersey’s mix of urban and rural landscapes, cultural diversity, historical significance, and recreational opportunities make it a unique and vibrant place to live and visit.

Is New Jersey a good place for a family vacation?

Absolutely! New Jersey offers a wide range of family-friendly attractions, from beautiful beaches and state parks to fascinating museums and historical sites. There’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.

New Jersey is full of unique attractions and activities. You can explore the stunning Grounds for Sculpture, visit the historic Thomas Edison National Historical Park, or take a stroll along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway. For thrill-seekers, there’s Morey’s Piers, one of the best amusement parks in the state.

New Jersey offers ideal outdoor adventures and captivating sightseeing opportunities for all nature enthusiasts.
New Jersey offers ideal outdoor adventures and captivating sightseeing opportunities for all nature enthusiasts.

What is the most visited place in New Jersey?

The most visited place in New Jersey is the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk. This bustling destination offers a mix of casinos, restaurants, shops, and stunning ocean views, attracting millions of visitors each year.

How long should you spend in New Jersey?

The amount of time you should spend in New Jersey depends on what you want to see and do. Here’s a general guide that might help you plan your visit:

  1. A Weekend Getaway (2-3 days): Perfect for a quick escape, you could explore the famous Jersey Shore. You could also visit Atlantic City’s casinos and boardwalk, or catch a concert or sports event.
  2. A Short Stay (4-5 days): This allows you to visit a couple of different regions in the state. You might spend time at the shore, explore the historical sites in Trenton and Princeton, and enjoy some outdoor activities in the Pine Barrens or the Appalachian Trail region.
  3. A Week (6-7 days): With a full week, you can explore much of what the state has to offer. You could split your time between the northern and southern parts of the state, visiting cities like Hoboken and Newark. Or, you could spend time on the shore, exploring the Pine Barrens, and taking a day trip to neighboring New York City or Philadelphia.
  4. An Extended Visit (10-14 days or more): If you want a comprehensive experience of New Jersey, an extended stay would allow you to explore the state’s diverse geography, culture, history, and cuisine. You could spend time at the beaches, hike in the mountains, explore the rich cultural heritage. Or, you could visit museums, take part in local festivals, and dine at a wide variety of restaurants.

Is New Jersey worth visiting? 

Absolutely, New Jersey is definitely worth visiting! With its diverse array of attractions, from stunning natural landscapes to rich historical sites and vibrant city life, there’s something for every type of traveler in the Garden State.

Final Thoughts on Visiting New Jersey

New Jersey, often overshadowed by its neighboring states, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its diverse landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture, it offers a unique blend of experiences that cater to all types of travelers. You’ll find plenty of things to do and places to visit in New Jersey. So why wait? Start planning your New Jersey adventure today and discover what makes this state so special.

Best Things to Do in New Jersey.
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