When people think of New Jersey, they are often reminded of American singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen or the MTV sitcom Jersey Shore. If that’s not your style, though, no need to worry– this East Coast state has something to offer every kind of visitor!
New Jersey offers tourists everything from gorgeous remote forests to oceanside boardwalks and would make the perfect destination for your next vacation.
The 15 Best Things to Do in New Jersey in 2022
We’ve performed extensive research to put together this list of the 15 best things to do in New Jersey to offer you a wide variety of activities that will help you make the most of your time in this Northeastern state.
Whether you’re planning on spending a weekend or a week in New Jersey, the experiences listed here will ensure that you make plenty of wonderful memories and make the most of your time in the Garden State.
1. Visit the Thomas Edison National Historical Park
While people often associate New Jersey with wild casinos or expansive boardwalks, this east coast state is also home to some of the richest American histories, including the home of famous inventor Thomas Edison.
The Thomas Edison National Historical Park is not only Edison’s elaborate and expansive former home, but housed his laboratory as well.
Visitors can not only tour the two sites and enjoy the sprawling grounds of one of America’s greatest minds, but intimately familiarize themselves with some of Edison’s earliest inventions.
2. Get Some Sun on Cape May Beach
If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spent resting on the shore, then you can’t miss Cape May Beach. These gorgeous beaches are frequently ranked among some of the nation’s best.
Anyone looking for a truly beautiful ocean experience won’t be disappointed with the sights and smells found here.
There are also several beach activities that appeal to a variety of audiences, so even if chilling on the beach isn’t what you’re after, you may enjoy some of the other attractions available. Movies, fireworks, and other fun activities await.
3. Go Casino Hopping in Atlantic City
Atlantic City draws millions of tourists each year thanks to its beautiful coastline, expansive boardwalk, and seemingly endless casinos. This city is a favorite for bachelor and bachelorette parties and is one of the primary destinations in the northeastern United States, after New York City.
If you’re over the age of 21 and find yourself in Atlantic City, you should take advantage of the fact that you have some of the country’s most impressive casinos and enjoy the New Jersey nightlife!
4. Catch the View at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is home to some of New Jersey’s quietest and most beautiful wilderness areas, and visitors to the park will be rewarded with fresh sea air and spectacular sunsets.
A favorite amongst couples for its idyllic setting, the State Park features the lighthouse itself and a hefty portion of the Long Beach Island coastline.
Take a relaxing walk around the park or enjoy the birding in the area, particularly during the fall and spring, when you can witness thousands of birds migrating overhead.
5. Take a Hike at the Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area
Often, people overlook the natural beauty that New Jersey offers and don’t realize that you don’t have to go all the way to the Catskills to find great hiking in the northwestern region of the United States.
The Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area spans thousands of acres along the Delaware River, offering lush, verdant scenery that is sure to delight.
If you came to New Jersey intending to hike in the area, you wouldn’t want to miss Delaware Water Gap or the chance to enjoy the plant and animal life that calls this natural area home.
6. View the Statues at the Grounds for Sculpture
Located in New Jersey’s capital city of Trenton lies the Grounds for Sculpture, one of the state’s premier attractions. The grounds feature not only the sculptural art installations that the attraction is known for but also spectacular gardens and an onsite restaurant.
The grounds now cover more than 40 acres in the heart of Trenton, where the New Jersey Fairgrounds used to be, and were founded in 1992 by Seward Johnson.
The Grounds for Sculpture are an awe-inspiring art installation that holds both indoor and outdoor appeal. Still, you’d be especially wise to visit this attraction in the spring when all of the flowers and flowering trees are blooming.
7. Ride Some Waterslides at Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks in Wildwood
If you’re traveling with kids or a lover of theme parks, you won’t want to pass up the chance to visit Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks when you’re in Wildwood, New Jersey.
The pier is conveniently located near several hotels and promises gorgeous views of the Atlantic Ocean from every step of the six blocks it occupies. Furthermore, the attractions and rides are not only historical but will appeal to all age groups.
8. Have a Picnic at Liberty State Park
Liberty State Park is one of New Jersey’s top tourist destinations for a number of reasons; first and foremost is the view it offers of the New York City skyline, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.
Furthermore, Liberty State Park is very close to the Empty Sky 9/11 Memorial. The park is the perfect place to spend a spring or summer day picnicking, throwing around a ball, or simply hanging out with your travel companions.
The park is enormous and is actually the ideal place along the Hudson to take in a sunset as it reflects on all of New York City’s high rises.
9. Take a Ferry to Ellis Island
While Ellis Island may typically be associated with New York, New Jerseyans know that this famed port is just as visible from New Jersey.
Travelers from all over the country come to Ellis Island to better understand the experiences of their ancestors, and history buffs should make sure to stop at this quintessential American site.
Ellis Island can only be visited when booking a private tour, but the tickets are affordable, and the ferry ride makes it a fun activity for kids and adults.
10. Hike Around Island Beach State Park
Island Beach State Park is the perfect destination for any tourist looking to experience New Jersey’s spectacular coastline. This pristine island nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay offers visitors the chance to experience an authentic New Jersey beach.
Whether you’re interested in water sports like surfing or fishing or simply want to relax and enjoy the sunny weather and lounge on the beach, this island promises natural appeal, regardless of individual interests.
Bird lovers shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit Island Beach State Park when in New Jersey, as the island is home to the biggest osprey colony in the state.
11. Learn About Wolves at the Lakota Wolf Preserve
While New Jersey may be known for party atmospheres like those that can be found in Atlantic City, this great state has so much more to offer, and experiences like a visit to the Lakota Wolf Preserve prove just that.
Visitors to the preserve can observe wolves, foxes, and bobcats in their natural habitat and educate themselves on conservation efforts and the complex social structures of these canines on guided tours of the preserve.
Note: Reservations are required in advance for weekday tours.
12. Go to Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor
If you’re a theme park lover and looking to kill a day on your trip to New Jersey, look no further than Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor.
Great Adventure is the central Six Flags theme park in New Jersey and features multiple DC-related rides like the Batman Ride and Harley Quinn Crazy Train.
While you can enjoy fun rides for all ages at Great Adventure and cool off in the warmer summer months at Hurricane Harbor, the onsite water park features a number of fun water slides for every age group.
13. View the Latest Exhibit at the Newark Museum of Art
While you may assume that New York City is the only northeastern city to offer a decent, culturally relevant experience, Newark is home to the state of New Jersey’s largest museum. The Newark Museum of Art has several rotating exhibits at any given time.
The Museum is dedicated to housing not only a collection of American art but also classical art and art from Africa and Asia. Any art lover should stop by the Newark Museum of Art on their trip to New Jersey to appreciate its collection.
14. Take Your Family to the Liberty Science Center
The Liberty Science Center is one of the best places in New Jersey to go on a family vacation. Located in Jersey City, the Science Center has interactive experiences like a rock wall, brain games, and a dream machine that your kids will love.
Adults will have a fantastic time at the science center as well, and the Planetarium, in particular, offers fun for all ages. Here you can enjoy everything from laser light shows to educational videos about the solar system.
15. Explore the Ocean City Boardwalk
South of New Jersey’s bustling Atlantic City lies the slightly less touristy Ocean City, which is a great place to enjoy a New Jersey boardwalk if Atlantic City just feels like too much for your party.
Ocean City is also a more family-friendly alternative, and you can stay in any of the fancy hotels that dot the nearly three-mile-long boardwalk. Aside from the carnival fare and fun rides, enjoy attractions like the United States Coast Guard Tower and Trimper’s Carousel.
The Ocean City Boardwalk is a year-round tourist attraction, and its proximity to the beach means that snow would be a weather phenomenon.
Things to Consider
Traveling anywhere takes a certain amount of planning to have a good trip, but there are other things to consider depending on where you travel.
When traveling to places like New Jersey, where you may go hiking or lounging on the beach, you may need to bring specific articles of clothing or items to keep yourself safe.
Here are some basic things to keep in mind when considering traveling to New Jersey:
- Many tourists come to New Jersey for the boardwalks and casinos. Be aware that you are at higher risk for petty crimes like theft in these high-traffic areas, and take basic safety precautions.
- Non-U.S. citizens should be aware that their passports may be the only valid form of identification accepted at many bars and restaurants. Thus they should plan on carrying it with them to be able to order alcohol.
- Consider seasonal factors like the weather when traveling to New Jersey. For example, you may encounter snow if you visit during the winter months and intense humidity during the summer months, so bring appropriate clothing and gear to stay safe and comfortable.
- If you’re heading to New Jersey, you’ll need to be aware of what weather to expect. In the summer, you can expect mild warm temperatures, but the winters are cold and snowy. Those are two very different suitcases to pack!
- Many lovers of the outdoors travel to New Jersey because of its abundant forests, beaches, and mountains. If you plan to hike on your vacation, pack appropriate gear like hiking boots, take necessary precautions like traveling with a compass or map, and bring plenty of water.
- Many people are unaware of how hot it can get in New Jersey in the summer; be sure to pack the requisite clothing to stay comfortable and gear like sun hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen to stay protected.
- If you plan to visit northern New Jersey in the winter and use a rental car as your primary mode of transportation, make sure you or one of your travel companions is confident driving in snowy conditions.
- New Jersey has a plentiful amount of spectacular coastline; familiarize yourself with the essential safety requirements needed to keep you and your party safe when hanging out on the beach or swimming in the ocean.
Frequently Asked Questions
Wondering something more? Check out these FAQ’s:
What is the most visited place in New Jersey?
Atlantic City is New Jersey’s biggest tourist attraction, and the boardwalk area features a large number of casinos that draw tourists from all over. In addition, Atlantic City is only slightly more than two hours away from New York City.
This makes it easy to access for events like bachelor and bachelorette parties. Atlantic City is also home to the Miss America pageants, which brings thousands of tourists to the area each year.
What is the best time of the year to visit New Jersey?
The best time of year to visit New Jersey depends entirely on what types of experiences you want to have and what you’re looking for out of your vacation.
For example, someone looking to come to New Jersey for a ski trip will want to visit at a different time of year than someone looking to lounge by the beach all weekend.
However, most people want to visit New Jersey when the weather is mild and amenable to a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities. For this reason, the ideal time to visit New Jersey is typically the late spring and early fall.
May through June offer warm weather after the snow melts, while September and October are still nice before it gets cold again. If you’re not a fan of humidity, you’ll want to avoid visiting New Jersey in July or August.
What foods are associated with New Jersey?
New Jersey offers visitors a wide variety of options when it comes to food, and depending on where you are in the state, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find whatever cuisine you’re looking for.
However, New Jersey also has some regional cuisines that local New Jerseyans have come to associate with their great state, including tomato pie, hoagies, Italian hot dogs and riffers, and pork rolls.
Is New Jersey safe?
New Jersey falls below the national average in both property crime and violent crime, making it a safe place to both live and visit.
While you may be susceptible to petty crimes like being pickpocketed during your visit to New Jersey, you are not likely to experience more aggravated crimes during your trip.
However, it’s always best to avoid taking any chances with your safety by communicating with others where you plan to be, carrying a cell phone, and traveling with another person whenever possible.
What month does it snow the most in New Jersey?
February is New Jersey’s snowiest month, although the amount of snow and the area of the state in which you see it may vary. For example, northern New Jersey typically gets more snow than Southern or coastal New Jersey.
If you’re trying to avoid snow during your visit to New Jersey, you’ll be the most successful if you stick to areas outside of inland northern New Jersey and visit between April and November.
So, What Are the Best Things to Do in New Jersey?
New Jersey appeals to people for a multitude of reasons, and whether you decide to travel to the garden state for the casinos, beaches, or hiking, this state has something to offer just about everyone.
Whatever it is that draws you here, be sure to check out at least a few destinations on this list, as every single one is well worth the visit when you’re on vacation in New Jersey.