10 Essential Summer Experiences in New Jersey

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  • Boardwalk on the Jersey Shore

With its beaches and boardwalks, New Jersey is a summertime paradise, but you’ll quickly discover that there’s more to experience besides its coastline. Make the most of your summer vacation with this bucket list of essential experiences you’ve got to try this season.

1. See the lighthouses.

A reminder of New Jersey’s rich maritime heritage, historic lighthouses along the coastline are not only picturesque — they’re pieces of American history. Take a tour of Sandy Hook Lighthouse (Highlands), the oldest working lighthouse in the country, built in 1764, or take your pick from one of the many other lighthouses in New Jersey.

2. Stroll the beaches and boardwalks.

With more than 130 miles of coastline, New Jersey has every type of beach you could want — from quiet and serene, to family-friendly and the social scene. Bordering the beaches are the world-famous boardwalks: pedestrian walkways lined with restaurants, shops, open-air bars, kid-approved attractions and beachfront hotels.

3. Go wine tasting.

Escape to the Garden State’s countryside to discover rolling hillsides covered in grape vines at one of the many wineries and vineyards. You can enjoy wine tasting in one of the charming tasting rooms throughout the state, and then take in the beautiful views with a vineyard tour.

4. Get a thrill in a hot air balloon.

Want the best views around? Cruise above the pastoral landscapes of New Jersey on a hot air balloon ride, offered throughout the state. (If heights aren’t your thing, you can still marvel at the beauty of these behemoth balloons at the annual QuikChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Readington every July.) Watch Video!

5. Explore New Jersey’s state parks.

Go on an outdoors adventure this summer with the many things to do at state parks in New Jersey, from swimming and boating to hiking and mountain biking. Many state parks, such as Monmouth Battlefield State Park (Manalapan) and Long Pond Ironworks State Park (Hewitt), also have important American history sites.

6. Go bike riding.

Whether you have a mountain bike or a beach cruiser, there’s no shortage of places to take in the warm weather on two wheels. Enjoy a morning ride on the Ocean City boardwalk or an all-day excursion on the Henry Hudson Trail. Find even more great places to ride bikes.

7. Have a camping adventure.

There’s nothing that says summer like the crackling of a campfire beneath a starry sky. Get away from the city with a weekend at one of New Jersey’s campgrounds and RV parks. Here are just a few of our favorite campsites with gorgeous scenery.

8. Delve into the past at living history villages.

It’s one thing to visit a historic site, but it’s completely different to experience it as it was in its heyday. This summer, take the kids to a living history village such as Fosterfields Living Historical Farm (Morristown), where they can experience what farm life was like from 1918-1927. At Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville, visitors can take part in early 1900s field, barn and craft programs or just explore the grounds on a self-guided tour.

9. Squeal with delight at amusement and water parks.

New Jersey is a thrill seeker’s paradise, with dozens of amusement parks and water parks throughout the state. Take your pick from daring roller coaster rides at top spots like Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson, or opt for destinations that have roller coasters and water parks, such as Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks in Wildwood or Keansburg Amusement Park & Runaway Rapids Water Park.

10. Reel in a big one while fishing.

Take your pick from more than 400 publicly accessible lakes, ponds and reservoirs in New Jersey — not to mention the many secluded rivers and streams — when you’re looking for your next fishing trip. If you’re ready to reel in the trophy fish, book a charter fishing boat to go deep-sea fishing.