New Jersey Travel Guide

ew Jersey is called the Garden State for a reason. Unspoiled beaches, acres of farmland, and barrier islands are just the beginning of this state’s beauty. Travelers who take the time to investigate planning New Jersey vacations are rewarded with history, nightlife, and the famous Jersey boardwalk.

Try your luck in Atlantic City or attend a professional sports game. For less action, take a long walk on the miles of shoreline or explore the unspoiled state parks. Let this New Jersey Travel Guide from VacationRentals.com prove to you that New Jersey vacations can be luxurious, relaxing, and affordable!

What to Do in New Jersey

shopping vacation

North

A common New Jersey travel guide will discuss the northern section of the state only in relation to New York City. While yes, the northern section of the state is located across the Hudson River from Manhattan, it also has plenty to offer travelers on its own. Hoboken is an exciting and more affordable option to the nightlife of New York City. Trails along the Hudson offer stunning views of the Manhattan skyline. Newark has professional hockey, the biggest concerts, and new museums.

New Jersey vacations must include a little time to shop. Many visitors arrive to New Jersey with an increased appetite for shopping, as the state enjoys no sales tax on retail items. That equals to paying more than 7% less on the same retail goods on sale in New York City. Popular shopping malls in northern New Jersey include the Short Hills Mall and the Garden State Plaza.

New Jersey is a small state with a big reputation for food. Italian immigrants settled in great numbers in this area of the state, and as a result, there’s a high frequency of Italian restaurants. The cultured town of Montclair offers theaters, bars, and restaurants in close proximity to Manhattan. Nature lovers will appreciate the beauty of the Delaware Water Gap and all the hiking trails at High Point State Park.

Central

Central New Jersey is home to some of the state’s most beautiful historic places. The town of Lambertville was founded in 1705 and today antique shops, Victorian homes, and galleries line the streets. A local favorite is the River Horse brewing company for locally brewed beers.

Princeton is perhaps the most famous place in central New Jersey. Bring your kids to visit Princeton University and then take a stroll down Nassau Street, the main street of this historic town. The central section is also home to Trenton, the capital of New Jersey. Any good New Jersey travel guide will advise on exploring this historic town including the Old Barracks Museum and the New Jersey Statehouse.

new jersey casinos

South

A great number of New Jersey vacations will be centered in the southern section of the state. The unspoiled beaches and energy of Atlantic City are located at the southern fringes of the state, about one and a half to two hour drive from Manhattan.

Cape May is historic, classy, and charming all at the same time. Visitors love the fine wines, jazz festivals, and award-winning restaurants available in this seaside town. As the southernmost beach in the state, Cape May has earned a reputation for its spectacular Victorian homes, beach, and a lovely lighthouse. Hop aboard a boat cruise here to see whales and dolphins migrating along the coast.

Many New Jersey vacations include at least a day or two indulging in the pleasures of Atlantic City. This resort is like the Las Vegas of the East Coast, and draws millions of visitors each year to its casinos. Shopping, dining, spas, and a quaint boardwalk all make Atlantic City a desirable destination. Famous for salt-water taffy, the boardwalk also has a range of rides and amusements for kids and adults.

Other beaches that are popular for New Jersey vacations include Sandy Hook, Wildwood, Seaside Heights, Point Pleasant, Sea Isle, Belmar, Ocean City NJ, Long Beach Island, and Avalon. Each of these seaside villages is known for sandy beaches, a great variety of vacation rentals, and a relaxed atmosphere.

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What to See in New Jersey

new jersey beaches

Northern

If you encounter a rainy day during New Jersey vacations there are plenty of sources of indoor entertainment. The Newark Museum has over 80 galleries of science and nature including a planetarium. The Montclair Art Museum always has interesting visiting exhibitions and kids will love the penguins at the Turtle Back Zoo. Catch a play at the Papermill Playhouse or a concert at Montclair’s Wellmont Theater. Head to Newark to see the New Jersey Devils Hockey Team play or take a hike at the Delaware Water Gap to see native wildlife including deer and wild turkeys.

Central

New Jersey vacations can be as isolated or urban as you want them to be. From the bustling city streets of Trenton to the quiet expanse of the Pine Barrens, central New Jersey offers a wide range of experiences. Batsto Village in the Pine Barrens was founded in 1766 and offers visitors a glimpse at this point in history. Here, you can mail a postcard from the still-functioning 18th century post office. Haddonfield is full of revolutionary war history, while the small town of Salem is nearby the popular attraction Fort Delaware. One attraction not to miss is the Princeton Battlefield State Park, where an important battle of the Revolutionary War took place.

Southern

Beaches and casinos are at the top of the list for what to see in southern New Jersey. The top casinos of Atlantic City are the Trump Taj Mahal and Harrah’s Resort. The boardwalk is a famous attraction in Atlantic City, and in other seaside towns as well. Wildwood has an extensive boardwalk with rides, amusements, bumper cars, and many ice cream stands. Seaside Heights also has a popular boardwalk, complete with death-defying rides and some famous Belgian waffles and ice cream sandwiches.

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Where to Shop and Eat in New Jersey

new jersey shopping

North

Northern New Jersey is famous for a few different kinds of food. First, New Jersey made popular the concept of the roadside diner. The originals can still be found along the highways in New Jersey, and these 24-hour establishments never close. Local residents also love the fact that you can order anything, any time of the day. Northern New Jersey is also known for Italian food. If you’re looking for an eclectic Italian restaurant that serves divine desserts, look no further than Fascino Restaurant in Montclair. If you’re in Hoboken, try Amanda’s on Washington Street.

Entire New Jersey vacations could be spent in the massive malls. Any New Jersey travel guide will mention the lack of sales tax on retail items, making the state a very attractive place to shop. Saving over 7% on purchases can add up, but some visitors use that as an excuse to shop even more! The most popular malls in northern New Jersey are the Mall at Short Hills, the Garden State Plaza, and Willowbrook Mall.

Central

It is impossible to go hungry during New Jersey vacations. Bagel shops, delis, pizzerias, and restaurants all deliver big portions at reasonable prices. Hoagie Haven on Nassau Street in Princeton is known for its huge sandwiches and cheese fries. Lorenzo’s is a fine-dining restaurant in Trenton where you might bump into a New Jersey politician or two.

new jersey restaurants

Central New Jersey is also home to a variety of malls that offer big-name fashion without the extra taxes. The Menlo Park Mall is one of the best malls in central New Jersey; it has everything from the big name department stores such as Macy’s and Nordstrom’s to a great variety of dining and drinking options.

South

Southern New Jersey is home to a relaxed restaurant scene. While restaurants in the northern section of the state can always seem to be in a rush, things are different the closer you get to the beach! Cape May is known for its annual food and wine festival as well as certain seafood restaurants such as the Lobster House on Fisherman’s Wharf. Atlantic City is the home of gourmet with restaurants by Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck. If you can tear yourself away from the casino, there are many great restaurants to try during New Jersey vacations.

No New Jersey travel guide would be complete without mentioning that the state has an impressive number of malls. The high number of shopping venues continues in the southern section of the state with malls in Cherry Hill, Echelon, Moorestown, and Deptford. In the beach towns expect to find a good amount of surf shops and stores selling various beachwear.

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When to Visit New Jersey

Any good New Jersey travel guide will reveal that this small state experiences the best of the four seasons. Go hiking in the Delaware Water Gap in autumn to see the fantastic fall foliage, head to one of the many beaches in summer, and enjoy the magical snowfall of winter from the inside of cozy restaurants and bars.

The most popular time to visit New Jersey is in the summer, from June through Labor Day. The beaches can be busy and crowded during this high season though, so if you’re looking for a quieter vacation (and you aren’t too concerned about being able to go swimming in the ocean), the spring and autumn are also beautiful times to be at the Jersey shore. Historic lighthouses, long beaches, and great restaurants will make you glad you planned a New Jersey vacation.

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What to Bring to New Jersey

There are so many malls in New Jersey, anything you could possibly need will only be a short drive away. If you’re heading to the beach, remember all of your essentials including a bathing suit, sunscreen, flip flops, and good reading material. If you plan on driving in New Jersey, taking a good map or having a GPS is a smart idea. While the beaches have a casual atmosphere, there are some restaurants where you can break out your best outfit. Remember a pair of hiking boots and insect repellent if you plan on doing any hiking. A refillable water bottle or cooler is also a good idea to bring on your vacation to the Jersey shore.

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Local Services in New Jersey

During New Jersey vacations you will discover that you can have anything at any time. From 24-hour diners to malls that stay open late in the evening to 24-hour pharmacies, in New Jersey, everything seems to operate around the clock. The exception to the rule will be small beach towns, where businesses will operate under normal hours. Expect banks, ATMs, post offices, libraries, and grocery stores to be widely available. Tourist offices are a good source of information for getting off the beaten path.

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What to Know About New Jersey

New Jersey has a long coastline and diverse beaches. If you are planning a family reunion or New Jersey vacations with groups, it is important to book your vacation rental at the same beach. Some beaches can be up to an hour drive apart in New Jersey. It is essential to research your beach town before you commit to a rental. Cape May for example is known for its historic charm, but won’t offer much nightlife. Belmar is known for its nightlife, but won’t offer much historic charm. Doing your research beforehand will ensure that whatever type of New Jersey vacation you have in mind will come true!

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Getting to New Jersey

The major international airport of New Jersey is in Newark. It is possible to rent a car from Newark and the highway system in the state is very efficient. Many visitors to the Jersey shore are local, and drive from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware. Both the NJ Parkway and NJ Turnpike are toll roads, so have your money ready!

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Why New Jersey Vacation Rentals?

If you want all the comforts of home, New Jersey vacation rentals are right for you. Often located right on the beach, rentals put you in the best location to enjoy the beach and the boardwalk. Save money by being able to cook some of your own meals, and bond with your family while preparing favorite family recipes. From the deck of your own vacation rental, you can watch the 4th of July fireworks or the stars as they come out at night.

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