Cape May Lighthouse - New Jersey

Your Trip to New Jersey: The Complete Guide

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New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the US (it ranks after Washington, D.C.) and truly offers something for everyone. Situated on the east coast, with New York City to the north and Philadelphia at the southern end, it’s a diverse state with a number of urban areas, small towns, plenty of rural regions with beautiful forests and scenic trails, and of course, the world-famous beaches that are located along the Atlantic Ocean. There’s plenty of historical sites, hiking spots in the mountains, and other outdoor activities, as well as great restaurants; wineries and breweries; live music venues, shopping malls, and more. Visit New Jersey and you’re sure to find your own favorite destination within this state.

Planning Your Trip

Best Time to Visit: It’s best to visit New Jersey in the spring, summer and fall between April and November. The weather is mild during the spring and the colorful flowers are blooming everywhere; summer is always warm (and often hot and humid), but that’s definitely the best time for the beach. Autumn is exceptional with pleasant temperatures and beautiful fall colors on the trees.

Getting Around: New Jersey is diverse, and depending on where you travel, public transportation can be sparse or non-existent. Overall, the best way to see the state is by car, and it’s best to rent a car if you are planning to do any amount of driving outside of a specific urban area. If you are limiting yourself to one or two destinations (especially near major transportation hubs of Philadelphia or New York City), check out NJ Transit buses and trains.

Travel Tip: Generally speaking, North Jersey has many more trains, buses, and public transportation options than Southern New Jersey. If you are planning to spend any time in Philadelphia or New York City (or at the beaches), be sure to factor your specific transportation needs into your trip in advance, and figure out your specific destinations before traveling to the state.

Things to Do

There are many great activities and attractions to enjoy in New Jersey! With several larger metropolitan areas, the state also is home to many small towns, rural areas with farms and hiking, and beaches. You'll also discover a vibrant food scene around the state, great live music venues, shopping, and more.

Go to the beach: There are many lovely beach towns along the Jersey shore from the southernmost tip of Cape May to the northern beaches near Asbury Park. Most require “beach tags” that need to be purchased before you go on the beach, and each town’s prices vary. Keep in mind each beach has its own personality and distinctive vibe, so it’s best to do a bit of research before choosing which beach is best for you.

Spend time in the parks: New Jersey has stunning parks across the entire region with interesting and diverse landscapes. There are many state and local parks that offer hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, and scenic points. One favorite is Palisades Interstate Park, an incredible destination.

Go wine tasting: New Jersey has more than 50 wineries sprinkled around the state. You can sip and savor at a number of spots that offer outdoor patios, special events, and live music throughout the year.

Grab a beer: If you’re a beer lover, you will feel at home in New Jersey. There are breweries, brew pubs, and beer-producing restaurants in every county around the state. In warmer weather, it’s fun to sit outdoors and enjoy a few fresh pints.

Explore other attractions and read full-length articles about other things to do in New Jersey and the best beaches.

What to Eat and Drink

New Jersey is home to a wide array of specialties, ranging from casual diners and long-time family-owned favorites to upscale establishments. If you wish to sample a few state favorites, try pork roll sandwiches; grab a hoagie or cheesesteak (if you are near Philadelphia / in the South Jersey region); and sit on a bench and enjoy a slice of boardwalk pizza while you’re at the Jersey shore. Or try the state's famous disco fries. If you like seafood, you’re in luck! New Jersey has many great seafood restaurants; be sure to order fresh clams and mussels harvested from the bay during the summer months.

There are wineries and breweries scattered across the state, and many of these are worth visiting. A few favorites include Eclipse Brewing, Zed's Beer, and Flying Fish Brewery for incredible beer, and Almathea Cellars Farm Winery and Cape May Winery and Vineyard for award-winning wines. Most of these places have lovely and spacious outdoor patios and often host special events during the warmer months.

Here are our recommendations for the best New Jersey breweries and the state's best wineries.

Where to Stay

New Jersey has plenty of hotels, motels, home rentals, and smaller inns around the entire state. Since it is such a diverse destination, the type of lodging is wholly dependent on where you would like to call home base. For example, if you wish to enjoy the beaches in Cape May, there are many lovely and historic bed and breakfasts and small inns. However, other shore points don’t have hotels at all, and you will need to rent a home or condo. In larger suburban areas, such as Cherry Hill, Marlton, and Parsippany, for instance, there are many national hotel chains available at all price points.  

Getting There

You can reach New Jersey via a number of bridges, tunnels, highways, and airports. If you’re driving from the South (Pennsylvania or Delaware), you can cross a number of bridges, including the Delaware Memorial Bridge and the Ben Franklin Bridge. If you’re in Southern Delaware, you can take the Lewes-Cape May Ferry, which is especially fun in the summer.

If you’re driving from the North, you can reach New Jersey from the Lincoln and Holland tunnels from Manhattan, or several bridges including the George Washington Bridge.

New Jersey has two airports with commercial flights, Newark International Airport, which is a major New York City metropolitan hub with many daily international flights worldwide, and Atlantic City airport, which is much smaller and only services a few domestic locations. The Philadelphia International Airport, located just a few miles from Southern New Jersey, is used by many New Jersey residents regularly for both domestic and international flights.

There are many regular buses and trains that run through the state of New Jersey, and a number connects the state with Philadelphia and New York. If you need this type of transportation, check the information and schedules for New Jersey Transit, PATCO, Amtrak, and The New York Port Authority.

Money Saving Tips

  • Keep in mind that the Philadelphia area (and Southern New Jersey) is much less expensive than Northern New Jersey.
  • Many New Jersey restaurants are “BYOB” establishments, which means they don’t have a liquor license and can't serve alcohol. This means you can bring your own wine or beer to dinner, which can be a major savings!
  • Visit the state’s website for specials and free events throughout the year.
Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. World Population Review. "United States by Density 2020."

  2. True Jersey. "Here’s How Much a Beach Badge Costs in Every Jersey Shore Town, 2020 Edition." June 19, 2020

  3. State of New Jersey Department fo Agriculture. "New Jersey Wine Industry."