15 Must-See New Jersey Spots for Your Bucket List

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Nobody loves Hoboken more than we do, but it’s so important to also recognize all the greatness that is our beloved home state of New Jersey. With something for every taste, we’ve compiled a list of 15-must see NJ attractions, bucket list style. Next time you have a free evening or weekend, be sure to check out one of these spots on our New Jersey bucket list.

1. Go Down the Shore {Duh}

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You pretty much can’t call yourself a Garden State girl if you’ve never been to the Jersey Shore. Whether you call it the beach or the shore, one thing’s for sure – you have got to go. Multiple times. Catch some rays, swim in the ocean, partake in a no-shower happy hour, indulge in fresh seafood and saltwater taffy – the options are endless. How you spend your time is entirely up to you, and with so many great beaches to choose from you’ll be heading back again and again. A few of our faves: Spring Lake, Manasquan, Cape May, LBI {but there are soooo many amazing shore towns, so do you research and pick a weekend. {Read all about a recent trip DTS here.}

2. Spend a Day at Six Flags

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Soaring coasters, 4D thrills, an Off Road Adventure and the oh-so festive Frightfest & Holiday in the Park celebrations await visitors to Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson. All 510 acres of this theme park make it the second largest in the world, and one of the most exhilarating day-trips for New Jerseyans. Whether you want to ride all the rides, or just take in the sights, sounds and tastes it’s definitely worth the trip down the Parkway, and for true thrill seekers, maybe even a season pass.

3. Place a Bet in AC

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The good ol’ Garden State is home to an adult playground also known as Atlantic City, which boasts seven resorts/casinos to choose from for a night out on the town. Test your luck with a game of chance from slots to craps, poker or roulette. While you should always bet with your head, placing a bet in AC is a rite of passage for many {even though it’s seen better days than the last few years…}.

4. Kayak on the Hudson

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In the warmer months, you can kayak on the Hudson {FOR FREE!} right here in Hoboken outside of Maxwell Place. While swimming in the Hudson isn’t the cleanest idea, kayaking admits the skyline is a once in a lifetime experience. The Hoboken Cove Boathouse offers kayaking and stand up paddle boarding late May through September.

5. See Bruce or Bon Jovi Live

Whether you are loyal to one, or happen to love both of these Jersey boys, you MUST see them live at least once if you’re a true Jersey Girl {See what we did there?}.

6. Climb a Lighthouse

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As a coastal state, we’re lucky to have many gorgeous lighthouses. Beautiful beacons of light across our shores, many lighthouses are open to the public for a climb, rewarded at the end with breathtaking views including Absecon, Cape May, Tuckerton and Sandy Hook.

7. Be a Kid at the State Fair

Hosted annually at MetLife Stadium,and currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, the State Fear Meadowlands is a staple of New Jersey culture and a whole lot of fun. Tons of music {sometimes from big-name bands, too!} shows, entertainment, rides and delicious fair food will feeling like a kid again. This year it will be held June 22- July 9, so you must go at least once!

8. Pick Apples & Pumpkins

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Living in Hudson County, we don’t exactly pass by orchards and pumpkin patches on a daily basis. However, we’re not that far from ample options to experience both. Once August, nearly everyone makes a yearly pilgrimage to their preferred patch, and you should too. Whether you’re doing it in the name of fall fun, or plan to make a delectable apple or pumpkin pie with your scores, put on your favorite boots and flannel and go picking in some of NJs best pumpkin- and apple-picking spots. (Bonus points for indulging in apple cider donuts and PSL’s while you’re at it.)

9. Visit High Point State Park 

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High Point State Park, located in Sussex County, is a beautiful state park that is a must-see for your bucket list — not only because of the views, but also because at its highest point, you’re actually at the “top” of NJ. The obelisk monument atop Jersey’s highest point was built to honor war veterans and was completed in 1930. When you finish climbing the 220-foot structure, you’ll get stunning views of the Poconos, Catskills, and the Wallkill River Valley. {HG Tip: Go during peak foliage season  — it’s stunning.}

10. Cheers at a Local Winery

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We probably don’t have to twist your arm too much to accomplish this one. New Jersey is home to nearly 20 different wineries where you can sample, sip and swirl locally made vino. A popular favorite, Laurita Winery, also hosts seasonal events including their infamous Fall Food Truck Festival. Whether you prefer red, white, rosé, or all of the above – anyone with a wine affinity should definitely make it a point to check out one {or all} NJ wineries to shop, sip and support local business.

11. Explore Liberty Science Center

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Contrary to popular belief, this place is NOT just for kids. Aside from their intriguing scientific exhibits, they also have lab stations, hands-on activities, a state of the art IMAX theater (the big globe-looking structure you can see from the Turnpike Extension) and LSC After Dark parties on the 3rd Thursday of each month complete with cocktails, bites, music and more.

12. Root for the Home Team

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While most of our professional arenas actually house New York teams, loyal to NJ are the New Jersey Devils (NHL) and the Trenton Thunder (minor league baseball). As for the Jets/Giants, Red Bulls, etc. — we happen to think they’re still as much a part of NJ as we are. Cheer on your favorite local team in our state at least once to get areal taste for NJ’s athletic pride. Even if you’re not a sports enthusiast, the tailgate is sure to be worth your while.

13. Get ‘Weird’

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Thanks to the Weird NJ Travel Guide, you can embrace your inner weirdo (or thrill seeker) and explore all the weird and spooky spots New Jersey has to offer. IF you time it right around Halloween, you’ll make a scary yet festive adventure out of conquering their top recommendations.

14. Adventure Aquarium

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This Camden aquarium is a ginormous attraction, drawing visitors from across the country for their vast offerings of aquatic life on display. Encounter penguins, sea turtles, sharks, stingrays and even 4D movies as you discover everything Adventure Aquarium has to offer. {Tip: Book a hotel right across the river and make this a NJ/Philly weekend.}

15. Grounds for Sculpture

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Over 42 acres of beautifully manicured gardens and sculptures greet visitors to Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton. Complete with yours, exhibitions, dining, a shop and even private party space, this contemporary hotspot is a must-see for art appreciators, and really anyone who likes to look at pretty things.

16. Ellis Island

An epicenter of culture and history, this island in Upper New York Bay, north of Jersey City, served as the welcome center for over 12 million immigrants from the late 1800s to mid 1900s. Now fully restored, visit Ellis Island to take a tour, partake in interactive activities, and trace your family’s history. Pop on over to the Statue of Liberty to make your day trip complete.

 

Just a few of our favorite NJ-musts to start you off on your weekend adventures. What’d we miss? Share your favorite spots in the comments below!

 

See More: 50+ Things to Do in Hudson County in 2017

 

 

 


Written by:

Erin is a freelance writer and lives in Hoboken with her husband and daughter. A proud Jersey Girl, she grew up in Central New Jersey but always had a love for Hudson County, with her father having grown up in Jersey City, and her grandfather proudly worked at Maxwell House for decades. Her words have been featured across many outlets including BRIDES, Allure, TeenVogue, The Today Show, Byrdie, and more. Erin also owns local Etsy shop GrandeGifts, and in her spare time can be found binging on all things Bravo.