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Visit New Jersey: A travel guide to the Garden State

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New Jersey, the Garden State, offers a wide range of experiences for travelers.

Whether you’re indulging in the sandy beaches of the Jersey Shore, immersing yourself in the vibrant culture of its cities or exploring historic sites and scenic parks, there’s a wide range of activities to suit every taste. 

Must-see places to visit in New Jersey

This guide will help you navigate the state’s diverse offerings, ensuring you uncover the very best activities and experiences New Jersey has to offer. And don’t forget about festivals like the New Jersey Balloon Festival or the Atlantic City Airshow.

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Keep these places on your travel itinerary for an unforgettable New Jersey trip:

Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, offers stunning views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and the Manhattan skyline. 

Spanning 1,212 acres, the park is perfect for picnics, strolls and delving into American history. With attractions including the Liberty Walk, a two-mile promenade, and the historic Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal, visitors have plenty to enjoy.

Liberty State Park offers one of the best views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. (Gary Hershorn)

Jersey Shore

A visit to the Jersey Shore is an ideal outdoor activity for families and friends seeking both relaxation and excitement. 

Known for its beautiful beaches, bustling boardwalks, thrilling amusement rides and classic arcade games, the shore offers the perfect mix of leisure and entertainment. Wine and beer enthusiasts can indulge in local flavors along the Jersey Cape Winery & Brewery Trail in Cape May County.

Beyond Cape May, other must-visit cities on the Jersey Shore include Atlantic City, Wildwood and Ocean City, each with wide sandy beaches that encourage sunbathing, swimming and beach sports.

Adventure Aquarium

Adventure Aquarium has been named one of USA Today’s 10 top aquariums. Visitors can enjoy 15,000 aquatic creatures within 2 million gallons of water. 

Some of the more notable critters are hippos, the smallest species of penguins and large hammerhead sharks. The aquarium is one of three sites in the country where visitors can see a great hammerhead shark, according to the aquarium’s website.

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Current admission for adults ranges from $27.99 to $47.99 and $17.99 to $37.99 for children, according to the admission page on the aquarium’s website. Admission is based on timed entry, so visitors are encouraged to buy advance tickets. 

Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari

Families and friends ready for an outdoor thrill can all enjoy New Jersey’s theme park, Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari. 

Visitors of all ages can enjoy the theme park. It offers thrilling rides and a drive-thru safari adventure. The safari offers “1,200 animals from six continents, including elephants, rhinos, tigers, giraffes and lions,” according to the park’s website.

Giraffes at Six Flags in New Jersey

At Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari, visitors ride in open-air, off-road vehicles through the safari during a guided visit. (John Greim/LightRocket )

Boardwalk Hall

Boardwalk Hall is a must-see venue at the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Legendary guests have graced the stage, including the Beatles, Frank Sinatra, the Police and the Rolling Stones, according to the venue’s website. 

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Originally built as a convention center in 1929, Jim Whelan Boardwalk Hall was restored in 2001 as a special events arena. Depending on the time of your visit, a trip to New Jersey can include a sporting event, a concert or comedy shows at Boardwalk Hall.

Beachgoers at a beach on the Jersey Shore

The city of Cape May, located at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, is one of the oldest seaside resorts in the United States. (Gary Hershorn)

Grounds For Sculpture

A unique activity for families and art enthusiasts of all varieties is the Grounds For Sculpture, located in Hamilton, New Jersey. 

An ideal setting for a day trip, guests can enjoy the 42-acre sculpture park and museum that features permanent installations of 270 contemporary sculptures along with seasonal exhibits, according to Trip Advisor. 

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In addition to the educational opportunities that the grounds offer, visitors are encouraged to check the schedule for special events and performing art shows. 

Essential tips for navigating the Garden State 

While New Jersey might be small compared to other states, it offers a diverse range of activities for families, groups and individuals. 

Strategically planning your travel itinerary based on personal interests — and mapping out nearby attractions — will ensure you make the most of your trip across the state.

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When visiting the state, enjoying New Jersey’s culinary landscape is a must. Unofficially renowned as the diner capital of the world, these ubiquitous spots are symbolic of the state’s culture and charm. Other local staples that your trip should incorporate include the notable Jersey-style pizza, Taylor ham and the shore’s succulent seafood.

Greetings from New Jersey

New Jersey is known as the diner capital of the world with more than 500 diners. (Found Image Holdings/Corbis)

When to visit New Jersey

The prime visiting season is from mid-May to mid-September, when warm and tropical conditions can be enjoyed by beachgoers traveling to Atlantic City. Meanwhile, Jersey City shines as a prime destination during spring and autumn.

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For trips to Jersey City, spring and fall are optimal. However, plan for heavier traffic, especially on holiday weekends, and leave early to avoid the heaviest traffic times.

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