17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

Looking for things to do in New Jersey? It may be small, but it has produced American cultural icons like Anthony Bourdain, Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, and Bruce Springsteen. It is a U.S. industrial center yet offers world-class live music, stunning beaches, and rich U.S. history. There is truly something for everyone in the country’s third state.

Travelers can enjoy guided tours of Ellis Island, scavenger hunts on the Ocean City Boardwalk, World War II aviation science centers, and national recreational parks. There are seemingly endless activities, but this blog post reveals the very best things to do on your trip to New Jersey. 

THE BEST BOARDWALKS IN THE STATE

things to do in new jersey - atlantic city

New Jersey is perhaps known best for its iconic boardwalks. There is a cool breeze along the oceanfront, the smell of freshly made popcorn, and the memories of endless summer nights. When visiting the Garden State, be sure to make a trip to each of these five boardwalks:

ATLANTIC CITY BOARDWALK

The Atlantic City Boardwalk is one of the most famous boardwalks in the United States. Since its opening in 1870, it has become an iconic symbol of East Coast American culture. It is one of the very few American beaches with a boardwalk.

Spend the day on the water surfing, kayaking, and swimming, and enjoy dining at the boardwalk’s 5-star restaurants at night. The boardwalk is complete with casinos, clubs, Vegas-style shows, and more. Whatever you’re looking for at Atlantic City Boardwalk, you will find.

Read More: 12 AMAZING & FUN THINGS TO DO IN ATLANTIC CITY

OCEAN CITY BOARDWALK

Ocean City Boardwalk is for you if you are traveling with a young family. Adjacent to eight miles of coastline, the boardwalk is about 2.5 miles long. It is filled with family-friendly activities such as rides, games, and even a waterpark. In addition, Ocean City is a dry town, so the whole family can enjoy nightlife, live music, and entertainers when the sun goes down. 

Details: 400 Boardwalk, Ocean City, NJ 08226 | Website

WILDWOOD BOARDWALK

The Wildwood Boardwalk opened in the 1890s as just a 150-yard stretch of boardwalk. Today, it is an award-winning boardwalk spanning 38 blocks. It is true sensory overload with over 100 rides and attractions. No matter the time of day, Wildwood Boardwalk is filled with a carnival vibe, making it one of America’s last grand seaside promenades. If you are looking for lots of high-energy visitors and entertainment, Wildwood Boardwalk is for you. 

Read More: 16 THINGS TO DO IN WILDWOOD NJ EVERYONE WILL LOVE

SEASIDE HEIGHTS BOARDWALK

Seaside Heights Boardwalk is a classic, old-school American boardwalk. Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach sit within the boardwalk and are a great spot for families to spend the day. 

When visiting the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, the Island Beach State Park is just a short drive away. From the state park, visitors can see the Barnegat Lighthouse. Back at the boardwalk, families can enjoy surfing, mini golf, waterparks, great dining options, and so much more at this family-centric boardwalk. 

Details: Boardwalk, Seaside Heights, NJ 08751 | Website

POINT PLEASANT BOARDWALK

Point Pleasant is a delightful one-mile-long boardwalk. It is the perfect seaside town for a family to spend a long weekend. In addition to traditional boardwalk attractions like mini-golf and arcades, Jenkinson’s Pier is home to Jenkinson’s Aquarium, which is now celebrating its 30th year in operation. When you need a break from exploring, you can refuel at the country’s very first Jersey Mikes!

Details: 300 N Ocean Ave, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ 08742 | Website

ELLIS ISLAND

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

You may think that the historic Ellis Island is in New York. You would not be wrong, but what you might not realize is that it is also in New Jersey – depending on where you are standing! The island is now 23-acres large, and from 1892 to 1924, served as the United State’s primary immigration station. During that time, 12 million immigrants passed through the island.  

Since its restoration in the 1980s, Americans and tourists alike can visit the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Museum holds artifacts depicting early immigration in America, as well as a series of exhibits.  Some people have been lucky enough to find information on their family members who passed through the island via the Family Historical Center!

The ferry that serves the Statue of Liberty also serves Ellis Island, so you can knock two bucket list items off your list in one trip. It takes about three hours to complete both Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. 

Pro Tip: Ellis Island is free to visit, but passage on the ferry is not. Looking to explore NYC while you’re there? We recommend the New York CityPASS, which includes ferry transport.

CAPE MAY HISTORIC DISTRICT

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

The Cape May Historic District houses one of the largest collections of late 19th century homes in the United States. Cape May calls itself America’s first seaside resort town, and the historic district covers 380 acres with over 600 buildings. Presidents such as Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and possibly Abraham Lincoln made a trip to this charming historical town.

The late-Victorian era structures will easily transport visitors to another time. Today, the rest of Cape May is a luxurious resort city. When travelers are done in the Historic District they can kick off their shoes at one of the many elegant resorts, swim at the pristine beaches, enjoy a local winery, or top-of-the-line shopping. 

Read More: 21 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN CAPE MAY, NEW JERSEY

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

Princeton University Art Museum opened in 1882. The museum is deeply intertwined with the school’s Department of Art and Architecture. A new museum is under construction to better serve the Museum’s mission of serving as a gathering place for the arts and humanities.

It is anticipated that the new museum will open in 2024. Until then, the Princeton University Art Museum remains closed. However, visitors can visit their gallery spaces, Art@Bainbridge and Art on Hulfish, in downtown Princeton.

Details: Elm dr., Princeton, NJ 08544 | Website

NAVAL AIR STATION WILDWOOD AVIATION MUSEUM

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY
Courtesy of NAS Wildwood

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum has made it its mission to educate the public on the vital role that Cape May County played during World War II, as well as memorialize aviators who passed away during training. Today visitors can tour a wide array of military aircrafts such as the TBM Avenger, F6F-3 Hellcat, and a Boeing 777 engine. 

Details: Cape May Airport, 500 Forrestal Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204 | Website

PATERSON GREAT FALLS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park is home to a beautiful 77-ft tall waterfall. It is an easy and almost entirely accessible 1-mile hike. The only part that is not fully accessible is some stairs to a lawn area below the main overlook. It is a lovely spot for a picnic and light stroll.

Details: 72 McBride Ave, Paterson, NJ 07501 | Website

LONG BEACH ISLAND

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

Affectionately known as LBI by locals, Long Beach Island is an exceptionally narrow 18-mile long island. The island is never wider than half a mile. When exploring LBI, you will find beautiful white sand beaches and charming seaside shops and cafes. There are plenty of family-friendly activities like a historic viking village, water parks, boardwalks, boat rentals, and everything in between. 

Read More: 19 AMAZING NEW JERSEY BEACHES FOR FUN IN THE SUN

BARNEGAT LIGHTHOUSE STATE PARK

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

In its prime, Barnegat Lighthouse was considered one of the most important lighthouses in the United States. To avoid submerged ridges or sandbars, ships headed to and from New York on the New Jersey coastline greatly depended on the Barnegat Lighthouse for guidance. Today, Barnegat Lighthouse is a popular recreational area, and on weekends the lighthouse is open for visitors. 

Details: 208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, NJ 08006 | Website

GROUNDS FOR SCULPTURE

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

More than 700 artists have displayed their work at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Three hundred contemporary statues are scattered across the outdoor museums on 42 acres.

In addition to sculptures, the landscaped grounds are art pieces themselves. The Grounds also house six galleries that showcase work from both established and emerging artists. It is truly a place where art and nature come to play!

Details: 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton Township, NJ 08619 | Website

THOMAS EDISON NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

Be inspired by walking the steps of Thomas Edison in his home and laboratory. Here visitors can tour his personal 29-room estate, view the Glenmont Grounds, and look inside his industrial lab. The inside Edison’s mansion contains a collection of over 40,000 items. These items include everything from major works of art to Edison’s personal items.

Particularly beautiful elements of the collection include Tiffany & Co clock and Persian rugs. When walking through the Glenmount Grounds, you can use your cell phone for a private audio tour. Note: the historical park is closed every winter from January to mid-March. 

Details: 211 Main St, West Orange, NJ 07052 | Website

DELAWARE WATER GAP NATIONAL RECREATION AREA

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

The Delaware Water Gap is a true national treasure. For anyone looking to get away from city life, this national recreational area offers over 40 miles of rivers, 100 miles of hiking, and three beaches for swimming. The Water Gap straddles a beautiful stretch of the Delaware River.

This is a great spot to spend an entire day outdoors exploring New Jersey nature. While it is currently a national recreational area, officials are considering promoting it to a national park. 

Details: 1978 River Rd, Bushkill, PA 18324 | Website

ANTHONY BOURDAIN FOOD TRAIL

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

The departed, yet deeply loved and appreciated globe-trotting chef Anthony Bourdain, was from Leonia, New Jersey. The Anthony Bourdain Food Trail takes travelers to ten New Jersey restaurants featured on the hit CNN food and culture TV series Parts Unknown.

You will make stops all around the state — not only in South Jersey and Jersey Shore, but at the less visited north and west sides of the state. You will try good old-fashioned deli food, to iconic Jersey salt-water taffy, and a cheesesteak that rivals Philly’s. The downloadable itinerary features destination highlights and activities to do along the way.

Details: Website

SIX FLAGS GREAT ADVENTURE

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

Jackson, New Jersey, is home to a classic amusement park, Six Flags Great America. This Six Flags hosts 13 rollercoasters and 52 other rides. Additionally, it has one of the best water parks in the country: Hurricane Harbor.

If rollercoasters and water parks are not your style, Six Flags has a Safari Drive-Thru Adventure that takes guests through a 350-acre nature preserve. Adventures last between 1.5-3 hours and offer the opportunity to see many of the park’s 1,200 resident animals from six continents.  

Details: 1 Six Flags Blvd, Jackson Township, NJ 08527 | Website

SANDY HOOK TWIN LIGHTHOUSES

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

The original lighthouses built in 1828 were some of the first lighthouses to use electricity. The lighthouse presently on site was constructed in 1862. While they were decommissioned in 1949, they serve as a museum today.

The museum holds artifacts related to maritime rescue and offers film and slideshows. Guests can visit the museum and climb the north lighthouse Wednesday-Sunday.

Details: 2 Light House Rd, Highlands, NJ 07732 | Website

WASHINGTON CROSSING HISTORIC PARK

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

You’ve likely seen the famous 1851 Emanuel Leutze painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware. At the 500-acre Washington Crossing Historic Park, you can see the actual site for yourself. Additionally, the park preserved many homes that guests can visit in the Historic Village, a traditional 18th-century garden, and a memorial cemetery to soldiers who lost their lives during the Delaware Cross and First Battle of Trenton. Guests visiting in December can experience a reenactment of Washington’s crossing. 

Details: 1112 River Rd, Washington Crossing, PA 18977 | Website

MORRISTOWN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

17 FANTASTIC THINGS TO DO IN NEW JERSEY

The Morristown National Historic Park contains four crucial Revolutionary War sites: Jockey Hollow, the Ford Mansion, Fort Nonsense, and the New Jersey Brigade Encampment. The areas commemorated in this park are where Continental soldiers fought to survive. From 1779-1780 when the army was here, it was the coldest winter on record. Additionally, the grounds maintain a museum and library dedicated to Washington and pre and post-revolutionary America. 

Details: 30 Washington Pl, Morristown, NJ 07960 | Website

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