17 Best Places to Visit in New Jersey (By a Local)
Though it is often overlooked, you’ll find many great places to visit in New Jersey. From historical sites and relaxing beaches to beautiful parks – we in the Garden State have a lot to offer.
As a Jersey girl for over 30 years, I’ve put together some of the most amazing places to visit in New Jersey. I’m sure that after paying these places a visit, you too will agree that the Garden State is a beautiful place to visit.
If you’re still planning your Jersey vacation, be sure to bookmark my posts on where to stay in New Jersey and the best activities to do in New Jersey.
Table of Contents
- 17 Best Places to Visit in New Jersey
- Cape May
- Long Beach Island
- Point Pleasant Beach
- Seaside Heights
- Atlantic City
- Delaware Water Gap @The Worthington State Forest
- Paterson Great Falls
- Liberty State Park
- Six Flags Great Adventure
- Monmouth Battlefield State Park
- Liberty Science Center
- New Jersey State Museum
- Thomas Edison National Historical Park
- Watchung Reservation
- South Mountain Reservation
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17 Best Places to Visit in New Jersey
📍 Google Maps | Best Areas to Stay in Cape May | 👉 Browse Cape May Hotels on Booking
Located in Southern New Jersey, Cape May is a New Jersey beach town that gives you that exclusive resort feel. Resident New Jerseyans come here to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoy the slow, relaxed pace Cape May is known for.
Take in the sea breezes from the Atlantic Ocean, or enjoy a meal at one of their oceanfront seafood restaurants. This is the perfect place for a summer getaway in New Jersey for couples and even families.
There are tons of fun things to do in Cape May. In particular, if you’re up for a bit of adventure, book this popular whale and dolphin watching tour that leaves from Cape May!
👉 Pro Tip: Even though you can visit Cape May any time of the year, Spring and Summer are the best times to visit. Coming then allows you to take advantage of all the amazing things Cape May has to offer.
📍 Google Maps | Wildwoods Website | 👉 Browse Wildwoods Hotels on Booking
Wildwoods is a subsection of Cape May, located on its far East coast. It’s best known for being one of those New Jersey summer destinations offering a little something for everyone.
Lounge on white-sand beaches as you watch the waves, or take advantage of the fun-filled boardwalk with games and rides. Wildwoods’ eclectic restaurants feature cuisine from all over, their specialty being fresh-caught seafood. With pools, and festivals, and great nightlife, Wildwoods is an all-around great vacation destination in New Jersey for the entire family.
Long Beach Island
📍 Google Maps | Long Beach Island Website | 👉 Browse Long Beach Island Hotels on Booking
Long Beach Island is another highly popular New Jersey destination where many tourists flock every summer. You can always tell who’s been here by the LBI bumper stickers you’ll see on the back of cars all over New Jersey!
Families are a big part of the crowd, and many people even own vacation homes here. Like Cape May, LBI offers something for everyone. Areas like Surf City and Loveladies cater to a more relaxed pace. Beach Haven and Ship Bottom, two of the most popular areas, are where you’ll find a majority of activities such as water parks, and even a miniature golf course.
The Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, another popular New Jersey destination, is also part of Long Beach Island.
👉 Pro Tip: LBI is a very popular destination, especially in the summer, so it can get pretty crowded. Getting to the beach early is key to getting a good spot. Alternatively, if you visit at the very beginning, or very end of the beach-going season, the crowds aren’t at their peak and you’ll find it less congested.
Point Pleasant Beach
📍 Google Maps | Point Pleasant Beach Website | 👉 Browse Point Pleasant Beach Hotels on Booking
Point Pleasant Beach holds a very special place in my heart. My friends and I were taken to this beach frequently as children – and boy did we look forward to it! The most popular area is Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. It features arcade games, great beach fare, and even an aquarium!
Point Pleasant Beach is one of the most popular New Jersey beaches. So it can get crowded in the summer, so try to visit at different times of the day. I suggest later in the afternoon when the crowds start to thin out. If you can’t get to Point Pleasant Beach early, then I recommend later in the afternoon. Stay for a while – the sunsets here are beautiful.
👉 Pro Tip: Before you go, check out what activities may be going on in the area. Their annual Festival of the Sea is a great time to visit this NJ destination. Vendors from all over would serve up some of the most delicious seafood you’ve ever tasted! I once had the most amazing scallop skewer, seasoned to perfection. As a foodie, this was a dream come true!
📍 Google Maps | Exit 82 | 👉 Browse Seaside Heights Hotels on Booking
Seaside Heights is another popular destination on the New Jersey shore but is more catered to the younger crowd. In addition to the beach, they also have sections entitled Casino Pier and Funtown Pier, where you can find rides and typical boardwalk fare.
It’s one of the best places to visit in New Jersey for young adults and teenagers. If you want to see Seaside Heights at its more relaxed pace, go during the Fall and Winter. You’ll still get great views of the beach and can enjoy restaurants – without the bustling crowds.
👉 Pro Tip: Seaside Heights is often confused and interchanged with Seaside Park. But make no mistake about it, these are two different locales. While you can get to one from the other, they vary in what they offer. While Seaside Heights is for the younger, more energetic crowd, Seaside Park is quieter and more family-oriented.
📍 Google Maps | Do AC | 👉 Browse Atlantic City Hotels on Booking
Atlantic City is one of the best places to visit in New Jersey. It features the famous Atlantic City boardwalk that’s also featured on the Monopoly game!
When it comes to things to do, Atlantic City offers a lot. That is one reason it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Garden State. By day you can enjoy shopping, as well as a great day at the beach with activities such as surfing and even fishing in certain areas.
At night, the city lights up and you can take in the beauty of the nightlife. Catch a show at The Borgata, or get a drink at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. There’s so much to do here, so check out their website, and get started on your Atlantic City vacation with my guide to the best places to stay in Atlantic City.
Delaware Water Gap @The Worthington State Forest
📍 Google Maps | Delaware Water Gap Recreation Area Website
For all the nature lovers out there, the Delaware Water Gap is a stop you don’t want to miss on your list of places to visit in New Jersey! The Delaware Water Gap is a portion of the Delaware River that runs through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It’s flanked by beautiful lush greenery and various hiking trails.
While it runs through a good portion of southern New Jersey, some of the best views come from the Worthington State Forest Campsite. You can either camp for the night, or just do a hiking trail for the day.
👉 Pro Tip: Before you start on your journey hiking through the forest, make sure to stop at the Park Office before heading on your journey. There you can find out what areas are best for hiking, and even get maps of the area.
Paterson Great Falls
📍 Google Maps | National Park Service – Paterson Great Falls | 👉 Browse Paterson Hotels on Booking
My favorite views always involve stunning bodies of water. If you too love the feeling a majestic body of water evokes, then you’ll love the Paterson Great Falls.
This beautiful waterfall is available to marvel at year-round. In addition to the Falls, you can also download the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park app. With this app, you can do a self-guided tour so that you can learn more about the Falls and their awesome history. It’s a great tour for history buffs and a great place for nature lovers.
If you love chasing waterfalls, check out my guide to the best waterfalls in New Jersey.
👉 Looking to road trip to New Jersey’s best destinations? Then check out Discover Cars — they’ll help you find the perfect vehicle at the best rate.
Liberty State Park
📍 Google Maps | NJ State Park Service – Liberty State Park | 👉 Browse Jersey City Hotels on Booking
Located in Jersey City, Liberty State Park is very scenic and one of the best places to visit in New Jersey for taking photos. You’ll be greeted with stunning views of the New York City skyline and Ellis Island. Look across the Hudson River and see the city as it glitters at night.
Here you can also find seasonal Hudson River cruises, as well as ferries to Ellis Island.
In warmer weather, head to the Flag Plaza section. Bring a blanket and pack a lunch to have a picnic on the lawn as you watch the boats sail across the Hudson. There are even playgrounds for the little ones to run around.
👉 Want to pay Ellis Island a visit? Check out these tours to Ellis Island, leaving right from Liberty State Park!
Six Flags Great Adventure
📍 Google Maps | Six Flags Great Adventure | Note: Park Closes Seasonally for Winter | 👉 Browse Jackson Hotels on Booking
Six Flags Great Adventure, located in Jackson, NJ, is the most popular amusement park in New Jersey – and for good reason! They have some of the most thrilling rides. If you’re into rollercoasters, you’re in the right place.
Six Flags also has two partner parks – the Wild Safari as well as their water park, Hurricane Harbor. They often offer three-park specials where you can enjoy all three for a discounted fare. I recommend starting the day at Hurricane Harbor, then the Wild Safari, and finishing up at Six Flags.
Around July 4th you can expect to see some of the best fireworks spectaculars after dark.
👉 Pro Tip: Buy your tickets online before you go. This saves you time and money on admission, as well as parking. You can get even get meals added on to save you money at the park.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
📍 Google Maps | NJ State Park Service – Monmouth Battlefield State Park | 👉 Browse Monmouth Hotels on Booking
History buffs, you’ll definitely want to add Monmouth Battlefield State Park to their list of places to visit in New Jersey. This park is where an important battle of the American Revolutionary War took place in June of 1778. Every year, on the third weekend in June, there’s even a live reenactment of this pivotal battle!
While you’re at the park, you can also go hiking, or have a picnic.
👉 Read Next: My List of Favorite Things to Do in New Jersey
Liberty Science Center
📍 Google Maps | Liberty Science Center Website | 👉 Browse Jersey City Hotels on Booking
An all-around good time for kids and adults alike! The Liberty Science Center helps you and your children explore the world around you.
A majority of their exhibits are interactive, which encourages you and your children to be immersed in the learning experience. They even have a mini-zoo where you can learn about different wildlife and how to keep their environment safe.
👉 Pro Tip: Due to the ongoing health crisis, they may adjust hours occasionally. Please visit their website or call before you decide to visit.
New Jersey State Museum
📍 Google Maps | New Jersey State Museum Website | 👉 Browse Trenton Hotels on Booking
If you’re into arts and artifacts, pay a visit to the New Jersey State Museum. This museum is located in the capital of New Jersey, Trenton. Exhibits include a Fine Art Gallery, a Paleo Lab where you learn about fossils, as well as a Planetarium.
They have a nice array of exhibits, including one dedicated to Sharks and getting a better understanding of them. If you happen to be visiting the capital or nearby areas, the New Jersey State Museum is a great stop to make.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
📍 Google Maps | Thomas Edison National Historical Park Website | 👉 Browse West Orange Hotels on Booking
⚠️ Closure Note: This attraction is seasonally closed until March 11, 2023.
Located in West Orange, NJ, the Thomas Edison Historical Park is another one of the top places to visit in New Jersey for history buffs. You’ll get to take a look at Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory as it was back in his time.
You’ll get to see classic photos taken from this time period, as well as Edison’s talking doll recordings. The Glenmont mansion and grounds are popular with visitors. They even offer virtual tours.
👉 Pro Tip: In the winter months some facilities are temporarily closed to the public. Depending on when you’re visiting they may or may not be open. Reach out to them or visit their website before you plan your visit.
📍 Google Maps | Watchung Reservation Website | 👉 Browse Mountainside Hotels on Expedia
Watchung Reservation is another place that nature lovers and outdoor adventurers will love. The Reservation runs mainly through Mountainside, NJ, and features hiking trails, picnic areas, and camping areas. There are even beautiful waterfalls along some of the trails.
The Trailside Nature and Science Center is where you can learn about the many four-legged and feathered residents of the reservation. In the Spring and Summer months there are even activities for children both online and in-person.
South Mountain Reservation
📍 Google Maps | South Mountain Reservation Website
This reservation runs through South Orange, West Orange, Maplewood, and Millburn. I’ve spent a lot of time on the South Mountain Reservation, particularly in the regions of West Orange.
My favorite part of this reservation is the beautiful picnic areas. There were many summers that I’ve had picnics here. You may get a deer or two passing through during those picnics, but they pass through just as quickly as they come.
There are great spots for hiking and waterfalls to enjoy along the way. This reservation is one of my personal favorites. Check out the maps ahead of time to see what you’d like to do.
👉 Pro Tip: If you’re planning a larger event or picnic, you can contact the Essex County Park System and get a permit so that the picnic area of your choice is all yours for your event.
📍 Google Maps | Hoboken, NJ Website | 👉 Browse Hoboken Hotels on Booking
Hoboken, located in Hudson County, is like New Jersey’s version of New York City. The waterfront offers great views of the Manhattan skyline, especially at night. It’s also one of the top places to live in New Jersey.
Not only are the views gorgeous, but the cuisine is exquisite! Hoboken boasts a lot of great restaurants with food from almost every part of the world. Arthur’s is a personal favorite, with the best French Onion soup and burgers I’ve ever had!
If you want to take a trip to New York, it’s a quick train ride from the Hoboken Train Station.
👉 Pro Tip: Parking in Hoboken is terrible. This is one place in New Jersey I wouldn’t recommend driving to. Use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft instead. In addition, there aren’t many hotels in Hoboken, so nearby Jersey City is your best bet if you’re looking for lodging. Check out my top picks for places to stay when you’re ready to decide.
There are so many great places to visit in New Jersey. To keep planning your New Jersey adventure, be sure to bookmark my guides to the best things to do in New Jersey and the best places to stay in New Jersey.
Enjoy these New Jersey destinations!
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Love Jersey! I spent a month at Seaside Heights, Wildwood, and Atlantic City.
LBI since 1982. Now the grandchildren love it as well!
My parents bought our Surf City home when I was very young, around ’78. When us kids grew up, it was sold. And 2 houses us alot to take care of. I go back to NJ every chance I get and can never wait to get to LBI! I prefer Labor Day until Memorial Day tho! 🙂
How about revitalized Asbury Park and the gorgeous beaches to the north and south of it stretching to Belmar and Spring Lake.
From what I saw of the revitalization and crowds, and as beautiful as I’m sure they are, I’m still an LBI, SSP and IBSP kinda girl.
How can Ocean City not be in the top 17?
Because Ocean City is in Maryland, However I think the mix up is you can go by ferry there from New Jersey Shore by Wildwood I’m pretty sure. I think it’s Lou’s Ferry and you can bring your car. I agree Ocean City is great. Also when I look at that list after living in Jersey my whole life I say where’s Manhattan.
There is an Ocean City in NJ
Perhaps pull out a map, the REAL Ocean City is in New Jersey, just south of Atlantic City
Ocean city is also north of wildwood.
New Jersey also consists of things other than down the shore we have the most beautiful scenery in northwest New Jersey how about high point State Park the highest point in New Jersey it’s gorgeous there
Love New Jersey living here for 82 years.live in SOUTH Jersey….1hour and a half from beautiful beaches and two hours from beautiful mountains. Lots of farm land left and not to far from N.Y. if you like the big city. ❤️