With many impressive historical sites, beautiful parks, legendary museums, sprawling farms, and fun beachside towns, there’s so much to see and do throughout the state of New Jersey.
These are some of the most interesting and exciting activities in the Garden State.
Visit the Site of the Famous Alexander Hamilton–Aaron Burr Duel
Admire an incredibly stunning view of the New York City skyline in the town of Weehawken, New Jersey, while standing upon the very spot where the famous 1804 duel between Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr took place. While you're there, take a look at the monument featuring the bust of Hamilton that was built in 2004 to commemorate the duel’s 200th anniversary. You can stroll along the paved walkway that winds along the top of this cliffside town and enjoy views of stately homes overlooking the Hudson River and of course, Manhattan.
A national historic landmark, the T. Thomas Fortune Foundation and Cultural Center in Red Bank, New Jersey is a famous site that played a major role in Black history in the early 1900s. T. Thomas Fortune was born as a slave and became free in 1863 with the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation. He was the founder of the African American League (which eventually became the NAACP), and worked as a dedicated civil rights activist for many years. A highly respected journalist, Fortune owned The New York Globe newspaper (later re-named The New York Age).
The home underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and re-opened as a cultural center to visitors in 2019. It’s open Thursday through Sunday and offers a diverse roster of tours, exhibits, and programs. Be sure to call in advance to schedule a tour.
Go Blueberry Picking
Visitors to New Jersey may not realize that deep in the southern part of the state is Hammonton, considered to be the “Blueberry capital of the world.” If you’re lucky enough to be in this small town during the summer months (aka “blueberry season”), you can experience what it’s like to actually pick many of these juicy berries off the bushes. A few places for blueberry picking are: DiMeo Blueberry Farms and Blueberry Plants Nursery, Lindsay’s Pick Your Own Blueberries, and Johnson’s Corner Farm in Medford.
Located in Camden, New Jersey (and just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), is the fantastic Adventure Aquarium. This fun and educational destination on the Camden Waterfront holds the largest number of sharks on the Eastern Seaboard, as well as more 15,000 other aquatic species, including hippos, penguins, stingrays, and tropical fish. While you're here, you'll find exhibits, displays, 3-D films, and interactive areas where kids and adults can actually touch some of the friendlier species.
Take a Walk on the Atlantic City Boardwalk
Atlantic City has been a legendary New Jersey seashore destination since the 1800s. Situated about 60 miles from Philadelphia, this resort town features expansive beaches and is a major coastal hub for gambling and nightlife. Stretching 4 miles along the shore, the Atlantic City boardwalk offers easy access to the city’s beachfront casinos, bars, shops, convention center, and the reinvigorated Steel Pier. The pier’s premier ride is The Wheel, which stands at more than 200 feet and whose 40 gondolas offer stunning views of the ocean and neighboring beach towns.
Visit Asbury Park
If you’re a Bruce Springsteen fan, be sure to head to the famous beach town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. This gritty destination has been recently reinvigorated; visitors can stroll the boardwalk, enjoy a beach day, explore the cool Silverball Museum Arcade (with well-kept pinball machines from years ago), and hang out in the lively seaside bars that showcase local bands. Springsteen fans will be thrilled to check out the Stone Pony, one of the venues where the E Street Band got their start. You can also get your fortune told by Madame Marie, who made an appearance on Springsteen’s 1973 song "4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)."
Tucked away in a leafy residential neighborhood in Cherry Hill, New Jersey is the historic Barclay Farmstead. Located about a 20-minute drive from Center City Philadelphia, this small piece of farmland features a home that was built in the 1800s and is open for tours several days a week (March through November). Adjacent to the farm is a network of easy nature trails, with a wooden footbridge above a creek and informational signs that share details about the historic property. Onsite there is also a playground and community gardens.
In celebration of the United State’s largest and most decorated battleship, The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial offers an exceptional tour and draws visitors from across the globe. This ship is permanently docked in Camden, New Jersey (across the Delaware River from Philadelphia). Guests of all ages who visit this incredible floating museum can choose from a variety of fascinating and memorable tours, including “Fire Power,” “City at Sea,” and “Ticket to Freedom.” It’s best to book in advance, especially during the summer months.
The New Jersey shore is a popular surfing destination year-round—and there are many diverse surf spots along the entire coast. There’s some great surfing history here, too. Duke Kahanamoku, the famous Hawaii-born Olympic athlete who popularized modern surfing in the early 1900s, brought the sport to the East Coast when he rode some waves near Steel Pier in Atlantic City. If you’re ready to jump on a board, check out these excellent places: Atlantic City Surf School, Stacey’s Surf and Paddle in Margate, and the Seventh Street Surf Shop in Ocean City.
In the town of Millville, New Jersey, WheatonArts is a unique 45-acre destination that’s home to the fascinating Museum of American Glass and the international Creative Glass Fellowship Program. There’s much to do here, indoors and out, so check out the website to see which programs are being offered during your visit. In addition to glass-making demonstrations, you can also see the pottery and flameworks studio, browse fabulous glass works in the shops, stroll around the trails and ponds, and have a relaxing picnic on the grounds.
Completely free to visitors, the Cape May County Park and Zoo opened in 1978 and features more than 550 animals throughout nearly 60 acres. In addition to animals like giraffes, antelopes, monkeys, and ostriches, you'll find a walk-through aviary and a reptile house. There’s also an onsite café that serves up an array of casual fare, and a gift shop with fascinating animal-inspired items. If you wish to learn more about how the zoo cares for the animals, they offer “adopt an animal” and conservation programs.
Located in Jackson, New Jersey (about half-way between Philadelphia and New York City), Six Flags, Great Adventure and Safari is guaranteed fun for both adults and children. The amusement park is famous for its drive-through Wild Safari Adventure that allows guests to get up-close and personal with a number of different animals, including elephants and giraffes. Thrill rides include the Dare Devil Dive—which lets riders fall 15 stories at 60 miles per hour to simulate skydiving—and a variety of roller coasters such as Batman: The ride; Green Lantern; and Bizarro. Six Flags also features a number of entertaining shows, an area for younger kids, and many special events throughout the year.
Visitors may be surprised to find a sculpture of a dinosaur in the center of Haddonfield, New Jersey, a quaint town just a few miles from Philadelphia. The bronze statue depicts a life-sized sculpture of the Hadrosaurus, which was discovered there in 1858 and considered to be the world’s first “nearly intact” dinosaur skeleton. You can admire the statue (nicknamed “Haddy”) on Kings Highway, the town’s main street that’s also home to cafés, shops, and restaurants. Close by is Hadrosaurus Park; declared a historic national landmark in 1994, this mini park features a wooded ravine, at the bottom of which is the excavation site where the dinosaur bones were originally found.
If you wish to explore exquisite farmlands and an expansive estate near Princeton, New Jersey, head to Duke Farms in Hillsborough. It’s the former home of Doris Duke, who ensured that the massive 45-building property focused on sustainability and conservationism after she inherited it in 1925. Visitors can tour the orchid range, which features a world-class display of plants native to the United States; a clock tower that was renovated in 2015; an unusual sculpture gallery; and a massive waterfall that runs several times a day. You’ll want to start your visit at the Orientation Center, located in a former dairy barn.
Sip Some New Jersey Wines
New Jersey is home to nearly 50 wineries situated throughout the state, from the far corner of the Northwest down to the Southeastern shore. If you’re based near the Philadelphia area, a few wine trails in Southern New Jersey include: the Two Bridges Wine Trail; the Cape May Wine Trail, and the Wine and Ale Trail of South Jersey. Check out the Garden State Wine Growers Association website to learn more and help you choose.