Things to Know Before Visiting New Jersey – 2024 Ultimate Guide

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Welcome to the Garden State! If you are planning a trip to New Jersey, there are a few essential things to know before visiting. From its stunning beaches to vibrant cities, New Jersey offers a diverse range of attractions for every traveler. Whether you are a foodie looking to indulge in delicious cuisine, a nature enthusiast eager to explore beautiful parks, or a history buff interested in iconic landmarks, New Jersey has something for everyone. So, before you pack your bags and head to the East Coast, let’s dive into the key things to know before visiting New Jersey.

Popular Tourist Attractions and Hidden Gems

1. Atlantic City Boardwalk: The Atlantic City Boardwalk is an iconic destination in New Jersey, stretching for 4 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. It is lined with shops, restaurants, and casinos, offering a vibrant atmosphere day and night. Visitors can enjoy stunning ocean views, amusement parks, and live entertainment along this historic boardwalk.

2. Cape May: Known for its charming Victorian architecture and pristine beaches, Cape May is a hidden gem in New Jersey. This picturesque seaside town offers a relaxing getaway with its historic lighthouse, nature trails, and birdwatching opportunities. Visitors can explore the quaint streets lined with colorful houses and enjoy fresh seafood at local eateries.

3. Princeton University: Founded in 1746, Princeton University is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the United States. The campus is a blend of historic buildings and modern facilities, set against a backdrop of beautiful gardens and sculptures. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn about the university’s rich history and academic achievements.

4. Grounds For Sculpture: Located in Hamilton, New Jersey, Grounds For Sculpture is a unique outdoor art museum spread across 42 acres of landscaped gardens. Visitors can admire over 270 contemporary sculptures by renowned artists, set amidst ponds, pathways, and lush greenery. The museum also features indoor galleries, workshops, and a restaurant for a complete cultural experience.

5. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: Situated along the border of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a natural paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The park offers hiking trails, waterfalls, and scenic overlooks for breathtaking views of the Delaware River. Visitors can go kayaking, fishing, or picnicking amidst the stunning landscapes of this hidden gem.

6. Liberty State Park: Liberty State Park in Jersey City offers panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Manhattan skyline. Visitors can explore historic landmarks, such as the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal and the Liberation Monument, which commemorate the state’s rich heritage. The park also features walking paths, picnic areas, and ferry rides to nearby attractions.

7. Red Bank: Nestled along the Navesink River, Red Bank is a charming town known for its vibrant arts scene, boutique shops, and gourmet restaurants. Visitors can stroll along the picturesque streets lined with art galleries and theaters, or explore the local farmers’ market for fresh produce and handmade goods. Red Bank also hosts cultural events, music festivals, and food tours for a memorable experience in this hidden gem of New Jersey.

Food and Cuisine

1. Taylor Ham/Pork Roll: New Jersey is known for this iconic breakfast meat that has sparked debates over its name. Originating from Trenton, this processed pork product is typically sliced and fried, then served on a sandwich or with eggs. Whether you call it Taylor Ham or Pork Roll, trying this New Jersey staple is a must for any food enthusiast visiting the state.

2. Salt Water Taffy: A seaside treat that originated in Atlantic City, New Jersey, salt water taffy is a soft and chewy candy made from sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, glycerine, water, butter, salt, and flavorings. Visitors can watch the taffy-making process at various shops along the Jersey Shore boardwalks, where the candy is pulled, twisted, and wrapped in wax paper. Sampling this sweet and nostalgic treat is a delightful experience for tourists.

3. Jersey Tomatoes: New Jersey is renowned for its flavorful and juicy tomatoes, often referred to as “Jersey Tomatoes.” The state’s sandy soil and moderate climate create ideal conditions for growing these delicious fruits. Whether enjoyed fresh in a salad, sliced on a sandwich, or incorporated into sauces and dishes, Jersey Tomatoes are a culinary delight that showcases the state’s agricultural prowess.

4. Boardwalk Food: A visit to New Jersey is incomplete without indulging in the diverse array of boardwalk foods. From funnel cakes and fried Oreos to cheesesteaks and sausage sandwiches, the boardwalks offer a plethora of savory and sweet treats that cater to every palate. Strolling along the bustling boardwalks and sampling these iconic foods is a quintessential Jersey experience that captures the essence of summer in the state.

5. Blue Claw Crabs: New Jersey’s coastal location makes it a prime destination for seafood lovers, with blue claw crabs being a local delicacy. These crabs are prized for their sweet and tender meat, which is often steamed and seasoned with Old Bay or other spices. Whether enjoyed at a waterfront restaurant or in a backyard crab boil, savoring freshly caught blue claw crabs is a delectable culinary experience that highlights New Jersey’s maritime heritage.

Events and Festivals

1. Atlantic City Airshow: The Atlantic City Airshow is one of the most anticipated events in New Jersey, attracting thousands of spectators each year. This thrilling event features jaw-dropping aerial acrobatics performed by skilled pilots from around the country. The show typically includes demonstrations by military aircraft, stunt planes, and parachute teams. The event is free to the public and offers a unique opportunity to witness incredible aviation skills against the backdrop of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

2. New Jersey State Fair: The New Jersey State Fair, held annually in Sussex County, is a celebration of agriculture, entertainment, and community. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, including livestock shows, carnival rides, live music performances, and delicious fair food. The fair also features educational exhibits on farming, gardening, and sustainability, making it a fun and informative experience for all ages. With its rich history and diverse attractions, the New Jersey State Fair is a beloved tradition that brings people together from across the state.

3. QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning: The QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is the largest hot air balloon festival in North America and a must-see event in the state. Held annually in Readington, this festival features hundreds of colorful hot air balloons taking to the sky in a mesmerizing display. In addition to the balloon launches, visitors can enjoy live music, food vendors, craft displays, and even the opportunity to take a tethered balloon ride. The festival offers a unique and unforgettable experience that captures the magic of flight and brings joy to attendees of all ages.

4. Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival: The Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival is a premier event for beer enthusiasts and music lovers alike. Held in the iconic Atlantic City Convention Center, this festival showcases a wide selection of craft beers from local and national breweries. Attendees can sample a variety of brews, attend beer pairing sessions, and enjoy live music performances by top artists. The festival also features food vendors, interactive games, and a lively atmosphere that makes it a highlight of the New Jersey event calendar.

5. Cape May Music Festival: The Cape May Music Festival is a celebration of classical and contemporary music set against the backdrop of the charming seaside town of Cape May. This annual event features a series of concerts and performances by talented musicians from around the world. Attendees can enjoy a diverse range of musical genres, including orchestral pieces, chamber music, jazz, and more. The festival takes place in various venues throughout Cape May, offering audiences a chance to experience world-class music in a picturesque setting. With its blend of artistry and natural beauty, the Cape May Music Festival is a cultural gem that showcases the best of New Jersey’s music scene.

Weather and Climate

New Jersey experiences a humid subtropical climate in the south and a humid continental climate in the north. Summers are typically hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching the high 80s and low 90s Fahrenheit. Winters can be cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing, especially in the northern regions where snowfall is common.

The best time to visit New Jersey largely depends on personal preferences. If you enjoy warm weather and outdoor activities, the summer months from June to August are ideal. This is when the beaches along the Jersey Shore are bustling with visitors and various outdoor events take place.

For those who prefer milder temperatures and beautiful foliage, the fall season from September to November is a great time to visit. The changing colors of the leaves create a picturesque backdrop for hiking and exploring the state’s parks and forests.

Spring, from March to May, offers pleasant weather with blooming flowers and trees. It is a good time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds of summer and enjoy outdoor activities without the intense heat.

Overall, New Jersey has something to offer year-round, whether you are interested in beach activities, outdoor adventures, or exploring charming towns and historical sites. Consider the weather and your preferred activities when planning your trip to make the most of your visit to the Garden State.

Local Laws and Regulations

When visiting New Jersey, there are several local laws and regulations that visitors should be aware of to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip. Here are three specific laws to keep in mind:

1. Traffic Laws: New Jersey has strict traffic laws that visitors must adhere to. Some important regulations include using hands-free devices while driving, obeying speed limits, and stopping for pedestrians at crosswalks. Additionally, New Jersey is known for its jughandles, which are unique turning lanes used to make left turns on busy roads. Visitors should familiarize themselves with these traffic patterns to avoid confusion.

2. Alcohol Laws: New Jersey has specific laws regarding the purchase and consumption of alcohol. One unusual law is that it is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey, as the state requires gas station attendants to handle fueling. When purchasing alcohol, visitors should be aware that the legal drinking age is 21 and that alcohol sales are prohibited after 2 a.m. in most areas.

3. Beach Regulations: If you plan to visit the Jersey Shore, it’s essential to know the beach regulations. Some beaches have specific rules regarding alcohol consumption, smoking, and even the use of plastic bags. Visitors should also be mindful of beach badge requirements, as many beaches in New Jersey charge a fee for access during the summer months.

By familiarizing yourself with these local laws and regulations, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to New Jersey. Remember to respect the local customs and laws to make the most of your trip.

Interesting Facts

Fact 1: The Boardwalk Empire
New Jersey is home to the world-famous Atlantic City Boardwalk, which is the first boardwalk ever constructed. Built in 1870, the Atlantic City Boardwalk stretches for 5.5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean and is lined with shops, restaurants, and amusements. It has been a popular tourist destination for over a century, attracting millions of visitors each year. The Boardwalk also played a significant role during the Prohibition era in the 1920s when it became a hub for illegal alcohol sales and organized crime, inspiring the hit TV series “Boardwalk Empire.”

Fact 2: The Garden State
Despite its industrial reputation, New Jersey is known as “The Garden State” due to its rich agricultural heritage. The state boasts more than 9,700 farms covering over 715,000 acres of farmland. New Jersey is a leading producer of cranberries, blueberries, and tomatoes in the United States. The state’s diverse landscape, ranging from fertile farmlands to picturesque vineyards, makes it a hub for agriculture and agri-tourism. Visitors can explore pick-your-own farms, farmers’ markets, and vineyards throughout the state.

Fact 3: Revolutionary Roots
New Jersey played a crucial role in the American Revolutionary War and is often referred to as the “Crossroads of the Revolution.” The state witnessed more battles and skirmishes than any other colony during the war. Washington Crossing State Park commemorates George Washington’s famous crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776, leading to a pivotal victory at the Battle of Trenton. Additionally, the Battle of Monmouth, fought in New Jersey in 1778, was one of the largest battles of the war. Today, visitors can explore numerous historic sites, museums, and reenactments that bring the Revolutionary War era to life in New Jersey.

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