I recently came across a comparison of “2015’s Best and Worst States for Summer Road Trips.” My state, New Jersey, ranked 41st overall and 47th in “fun and scenic attractions.”
All I have to say is… “Huh?” The researchers are obviously misinformed, so let me provide this list of the many reasons why New Jersey rocks (in no particular order).
- The Shore. Great beaches and some of the absolute best boardwalks and pier attractions in the country. Morey’s Piers in Wildwood is my favorite. What’s more fun than a water park on the ocean? Maybe the famous curly fries or the wild roller coasters. Cape May is another excellent destination for beaches, shopping, restaurants, the Cape May Lighthouse and the Cape May County Zoo.
- The Delaware River. Tubing, kayaking, canoeing, camping, and walking/biking trails are plentiful along the mighty Delaware.
- Liberty State Park. The Statue of Liberty? How is that not a “fun and scenic attraction”? The park offers ferry service to the Statue and Ellis Island. Liberty Walk, a two-mile promenade, offers sweeping views of the Hudson River, a picnic area, interpretive center, and outdoor performance area. And Liberty Science Center (right at the park) is one of the best science museums I’ve visited.
- History. There are several Revolutionary War historical sites in NJ, from Washington Crossing to Trenton and Princeton to Morristown. Each December, George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware is reenacted at Washington Crossing State Park. The event is awe-inspiring, with fascinating displays and demonstrations. Families can tour several historic buildings and learn about blacksmithing, colonial games, candle-making, quilt-making, cooking, crafts, and the boats that were used to cross the Delaware in harrowing conditions. Probably most fun for the kids (of all ages!) are the colonial musket drills.
- Field Station: Dinosaurs. This 20-acre wooded park is inhabited by more than 30 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs. Way cool for the little kids. They offer tons of educational shows, a Dinosaur Dance Party, Dinosaurs Alive! 3D movie, Dino Whodunit?, T-Rex games, a coloring station, and a dig site complete with sand, shovels, pails and fossils. The programs are fun, interactive, musical, and educational. Don’t forget to take your selfie with the T-Rex.
- Atlantic City. The recently revamped AC has a beautiful downtown shopping area with upscale outlets and incredible restaurants. The boardwalk and Steel Pier are a fun place to spend the day, or you can venture 20 minutes south and check out Lucy the Elephant, a NJ icon. And if you like to gamble, they’ve got that, too.
- Diggerland. The only attraction of its kind in the U.S., this construction-themed adventure park lets children and their families drive, ride, and operate heavy machinery in a safe, family-friendly environment. They also have a ropes course and climbing wall. Seriously a fun way to spend the day – who wouldn’t get a kick out of digging with a big digger or driving a skid steer?
- Grounds for Sculpture. This beautiful outdoor sculpture garden is a place I could visit again and again and always discover something new.
- Mountain Creek. Whether you want to ski, mountain bike, zip line, golf, horseback ride, hike, go to the spa, play at the water park, or ride the alpine coaster, Mountain Creek has your adventure.
- Wineries. New Jersey has tons of wineries. Whether you visit for a tasting or attend one of the many summer wine festivals, you won’t go home without a bottle (or five).
- Access to New York City and Philadelphia. Not many states are in close proximity to two major metropolitan areas. I can be in either city within an hour and a half!
- Bagels and diners. Just sayin’.
A road trip or staycation in New Jersey can be just as fun as any other state, and I vigorously disagree with that #41 rank. So come to Jersey! I’ll be happy to show you around.