Pursue life and liberty, see battlefields and battleships—all in New Jersey.
Here’s a fun fact for history buffs: more Revolutionary War battles were fought in New Jersey than in any other state! If you’re up for a little life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the fifth-smallest state delivers. From General Washington’s winter encampment to the nation’s most decorated battleship, New Jersey is home to inspiring monuments and enlightening historic sites. And speaking of enlightenment, did you know the easiest way to see the statue Liberty Enlightening the World (aka Lady Liberty) is from New Jersey?
“Liberty for all” access to the Statue, Ellis Island and more!
While the Statue of Liberty officially resides in New York State, the colossal sculpture is actually closer to New Jersey. And the most convenient place to access Lady Liberty is by ferry from Liberty State Park in Jersey City. You can take a ferry to Ellis Island, too, where most exhibit areas have reopened after Hurricane Sandy destruction.
Liberty State Park is much more than a ferry departure point. Take advantage of sunny summer days to picnic, canoe, kayak and bike in this 1,212-acre green oasis.
The park is a favorite for its spectacular views of the Hudson River and Manhattan skyline (the perfect selfie backdrop!), as well as the family-friendly Liberty Science Center. Pause for a moment to appreciate freedom at the park’s two monuments: Liberation, a bronze Holocaust memorial, and Empty Sky, the 9/11 memorial.
George Washington slept here…and here…and here
Think your winter was long? Imagine how the Continental army felt during the coldest winter of the century in 1779-1780. You can learn more about General Washington’s encampment at Morristown National Historical Park and how the troops survived with minimal loss of life. Highlights include Washington Headquarters Museum, Ford Mansion, the soldier hut exhibit and 27 miles of trails. Established in 1933, the park is also the nation’s first designated “National Historic Park.”
Since George Washington spent a quarter of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey, he obviously slept in quite a few places. Discover more about our nation’s Revolutionary roots throughout the state. The Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville and Princeton Battlefield State Park are good places to start your exploration.
Why play Battleship when you can live it?
Berthed at the Camden Waterfront near Adventure Aquarium, Battleship New Jersey, the nation’s most decorated warship, offers interactive tours that get you up close to the weapons systems, command and control centers, galley and more. A live USO-style show and on-board museum exhibitions help recreate life aboard the massive “Big J.”
For a truly authentic experience, check out the ship’s youth-oriented overnight encampment program. Yes, you and your kids can bunk in and see what it was like to be a warship sailor. Luxurious? No. Unforgettable? Absolutely!
Go underground for unique chapters in history
Now that you’ve gone “below deck,” check out New Jersey’s underground historic attractions. The Peter Mott House Underground Railroad Museum in Lawnside preserves the African-American preacher’s legacy as an agent on the Underground Railroad. In the New Jersey Skylands, find the original “glow in the dark” destination at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum, offering underground mine tours, the fluorescent Rainbow Tunnel and more. Balance all that learning with a B&B stay or a round of golf and a spa treatment at nearby Crystal Springs Resort.