Day Trips In New Jersey: Top 23 Most Unique Spots | Stanton House Inn
Red Mill in Clinton, NJ; one of the most charming day trips in New Jersey

Day Trips in New Jersey: Top 23 Most Unique Spots

Pier in Ocean City, NJ, a fantastic pick among day trips in New Jersey

New Jersey often gets overlooked for the behemoths on either side of it. Like Connecticut, most seem to equate it with driving through to New York City or Philadelphia, respectively.

But the reality is that New Jersey is a pleasant surprise as far as what you can see and do there. The state’s packed with:

  • Historic sites stretching back to the early days of the state

  • Botanic gardens blooming with Mother Nature’s finest

  • And over 130 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline

Fancy a flutter?

Atlantic City’s casinos are the ace up New Jersey’s sleeve.

Take a jaunt through historic towns like Cape May, as well-preserved as grandma’s jam. Or strut down the boardwalks of Ocean City, cotton candy in hand. State parks and forests offer a lungful of fresh air with year-round outdoor recreation. Think hiking, swimming, skiing, or snowshoeing.

Each town in New Jersey is a cultural potpourri, perfect for day trippers who relish a good find in a quirky shop or a tucked-away eatery. This guide is your golden ticket to the best, most accessible destinations for day-trippers. It’s time to play hooky from the office and discover a new side of New Jersey.

Ready to explore the best day trips in New Jersey? Let’s get into it:

Quick hits

  • New Jersey is an unsung hero for day trips. There are a ton of unique attractions here, from historic sites to cultural hotspots and coastal retreats. It’s a playground for adventurers and families alike. It’s like the state has a secret recipe for fun!

  • The highlights of NJ are many and varied. Montclair buzzes with an artsy vibe. The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens are a visual feast, and Morristown’s revolutionary tales grip you like a thriller. Meanwhile, the iconic boardwalks and beaches of the New Jersey Shore are the perfect finale to a day of exploration.

  • Near major cities, New Jersey is the perfect launchpad for even more adventures. Day trips to nearby states like Connecticut and New York mean maritime escapades and culinary tours are a short drive away.

The Best Day Trips in New Jersey

Scenic view of one of New Jersey's iconic coastal attractions and great New Jersey day trips, Long Beach Island

New Jersey, often the unsung chorus in the grand symphony of states, is a treasure chest of unique adventures. With over 130 miles of Atlantic coastline, it’s the state’s own yellow brick road. This path leads to historic sites that whisper secrets of yore and to a trove of parks and forests. Whether you’re craving a spontaneous day trip or plotting an escape from the daily grind, New Jersey stands ready. With open arms and a cheeky grin, it promises a day full of escapades and cherished memories.

Jersey City

Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey

Facing Manhattan across New York Harbor, Jersey City awaits. It’s a perfect (and easy) pick among New Jersey day trips, with attractions and activities like:

  • Liberty State Park, offers expansive greenery and a front-row seat to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island

  • Liberty Science Center, to delve into the wonders of science

  • Kayak eco-tours around the Hudson River

Don’t forget to pay homage at the memorials, including ‘Empty Sky’ which commemorates the tragic events of 9/11.

Hoboken

Historic buildings in Hoboken, NJ

Upriver, Hoboken’s waterfront offers postcard-perfect views of the New York City skyline. This town’s rich history is palpable. And it’s home to some unique and historic firsts:

  • Its the birthplace of baseball

  • It was also the hometown of Frank Sinatra

Wander the streets and you’ll find a vibrant selection of bars and restaurants, each with its own character.

Chatham

Chatham invites you to experience its historic Main Street and savor its apple-pie charm. A walk uncovers an array of quaint shops and eateries, such as Sorriso Kitchen. Meanwhile, the Chatham Community Players bring a vibrant arts scene to this cozy corner of Morris County.

Ridgewood

Ridgewood is a blend of urban convenience and suburban serenity. The town boasts a historic business district established in 1853 around its train station and town square. Other spots to explore include Graydon Park and Ridgewood Wild Duck Pond.

Westfield

Westfield’s picturesque atmosphere is palpable as soon as you arrive. The downtown, lined with chic boutiques and historic sites, is a snapshot of New Jersey’s charm.

Westfield’s unique connection to the Addams Family lends an amusing and slightly macabre flavor to your visit. Hometown of the famed cartoonist, Charles Addams, Westfield is where the spooky Addams Family sprang to life.

Summit

In Summit, you’ll find a bustling downtown district brimming with a variety of shops and eateries. And all within easy reach of the peaceful Reeves-Reed Arboretum. This town truly delivers the best of both worlds, blending a vibrant urban center with surrounding natural splendor.

Maplewood

Maplewood exudes nostalgia with a diverse community and scenic green spaces like Memorial Park. It proudly claims the title of the birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee, adding a distinctive touch.

Essex County

Historic landmarks in Essex County, New Jersey

Essex County, New Jersey, is more than a destination; it’s a sensation. Here, urban sophistication and suburban charm dance in harmony. The region is a celebration where the arts, history, and nature come together.

Montclair

Montclair, affectionately known as “the Brooklyn of New Jersey,” is a hub for arts and performances. With a history that includes icons like Yogi Berra and Stephen Colbert, this town is a melting pot of creativity.

The Montclair Film Festival and the Montclair Jazz Festival are just two events that draw thousands to its vibrant streets. And either are great excuses to visit. Though this innkeeper doesn’t need one to visit.

The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens

The Presby Memorial Iris Gardens, known as the “rainbow on the hill,” is a horticultural haven. With over 4,000 varieties of irises, it’s a place where color and fragrance merge to create a feast for the senses. The gardens serve not only as a beautiful retreat but also as an educational resource. Some highlights of the gardens include:

  • Over 4,000 varieties of irises

  • A beautiful and serene atmosphere

  • Educational resources for visitors

  • Live music events during bloom season

Come and experience the beauty and tranquility of the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens.

Warren County

View of the Delaware Water Gap from the top of Mount Tammany.

Warren County, with its sweeping vistas and historic allure, is as a proud representation of New Jersey’s rich tapestry. Here, you can ascend to the skies in a hot air balloon, feeling like you’re on a whimsical journey above the world. Or wander through Shippen Manor, where history resonates within its storied walls. Warren County beckons as a call to embrace the great outdoors and dive into the annals of local lore.

Columbia

In Columbia, nestled within the scenic Delaware Water Gap, you’ll find a testament to conservation at the Lakota Wolf Preserve. This sanctuary is home to wolves, foxes, and bobcats born in captivity. Through educational tours, visitors can observe these magnificent creatures up close and support vital conservation work.

Delaware Water Gap

The Delaware Water Gap is where the Delaware River carves through the Appalachian Mountains. With over 100 miles of trails, and spots for activities such as fishing, kayaking, and rafting, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream.

The area’s waterfalls and wildlife management program ensure that the beauty of the Gap can be enjoyed by future generations. So have at it!

Hunterdon County

Red Mill in Clinton, NJ

Hunterdon County beckons with its picturesque rolling hills and charming historic towns. It’s like stepping straight into a storybook. The Red Mill Museum Village in Clinton offers a vivid journey through time. Meanwhile, Lambertville’s artsy vibe showcases New Jersey’s more genteel side.

Clinton

Clinton enchants visitors. Start at the Red Mill Museum Village, a landmark that’s also a living history museum. The town’s vibrant downtown district further complements the experience. Take some time to poke around the art galleries, cafes, and a sense of community that’s as inviting as it is historic. Plus, the Hunterdon art museum. Located in an 1836 mill building, it showcases contemporary art and craft.

Lambertville

Aerial view of Lambertville, NJ, looking across the Delaware Rive to New Hope, PA

Lambertville’s historic architecture and stunning views of the Delaware River make it a photographer’s delight. Its boutiques and antique shops provide endless browsing opportunities. And events like the Two-Town Turkey Trot showcase the town’s community spirit. And you can easily walk across the bridge to New Hope, PA, one of the coolest weekend getaways in the Northeast.

Sussex County

Snow board at Mountain Creek Resort

Sussex County unfurls a landscape far removed from New Jersey’s urban hustle. It’s a realm where towering trees replace skyscrapers and birdsong drowns out car horns. Here, you can swap your office attire for outdoor gear and embrace nature’s playground.

Mountain Creek, Vernon Township

Mountain Creek in Vernon Township is where adventure seekers get their fix. Some of the activities you can enjoy include:

  • Zip-lining across the landscape for an exhilarating perspective

  • Riding the alpine coaster for a thrilling experience

  • Visiting the water park for some watery fun

In winter, the resort transforms into a snowy wonderland. This ski resort is one of the best spots near NYC for skiing and snowboarding.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum dives deep into New Jersey’s mining history. Its ADA-accessible underground mine tour takes you to a dazzling rainbow wall. The place is a geological spectacle.

The museum’s educational resources and mineral collecting opportunities make it a unique and informative destination.

Central New Jersey

Man on his phone in Palmer Square in Princeton, NJ

Central New Jersey is a patchwork quilt of pastoral and historical charm. It’s a treasure trove for day-trippers. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll find:

  • Preserved farmland stretching across thousands of acres

  • Battlefields and historic homes woven into the landscape

  • Agricultural bounty of the Garden State, offering foodies a slice of local flavor.

  • Cultural offerings highlight the area’s storied heritage.

  • Outdoor activities abound, inviting you to answer the call of the wild with every hike and kayak paddle.

Princeton

Princeton University campus in New Jersey

Princeton is synonymous with its prestigious university, but there’s much more to this town than academia. With:

  • Historic landmarks like Princeton Battlefield State Park

  • And a dining scene that ranges from global cuisine on Nassau Street to farm-to-table spots

Princeton is a microcosm of Central New Jersey’s diverse appeal. It’s one of the best road trips from NYC for a reason.

Monmouth County

Monmouth County sparkles as New Jersey’s coastal gem. Each beach town here adds its unique zest to the mix. Meanwhile, the state parks preserve the region’s natural beauty. If a seaside escape is what you’re after, head here.

Asbury Park
Winter surfing, the boardwalk in the background, in Asbury Park, New Jersey

. A unique, historic, beach town, Asbury Park hosts an eclectic scene of bars and restaurants near its boardwalk. Asbury Park attractions include:

  • That eclectic boardwalk

  • Iconic music venues like The Stone Pony

  • Pet-friendly beach

  • All sorts of dining options

Highlands

Overlooking Sandy Hook Bay and Atlantic Ocean coastline, Highlands, NJ, offers:

  • Breathtaking views from its twin historic lighthouses, restored in 1862

  • Over seven miles of unspoiled beaches along the picturesque Sandy Hook Bay

  • Proximity to Sandy Hook Bay and the Atlantic Ocean

  • Signature seafood establishments such as Bahrs Landing Seafood Restaurant and the Lusty Lobster Seafood Market

Highlands is a place of natural beauty and maritime heritage that begs to be appreciated.

Long Branch
Seagull taking off from Long Branch Beach

Long Branch’s vibrant beach scene and chic boutiques provide a lively atmosphere that’s perfect for a sun-soaked day trip. With Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park and a boardwalk lined with enticing eateries, Long Branch is quite the beach town.

Red Bank

Red Bank’s scenic riverside park and thriving restaurant scene are complemented by local breweries. It makes for a dynamic day trip destination. It’s a town that perfectly marries the tranquility of the water with the excitement of urban life.

Allaire State Park

Allaire State Park is a step back in time with its restored 19th-century ironworks site, Allaire Village, and the Pine Creek Railroad. Offering a mix of history and outdoor activities, it’s a park that represents the versatility of Monmouth County’s attractions.

Camden County

A peacock at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton Township, NJ

Camden County is a blend of historic sites and modern amenities, where you can shop, dine, and delve into the past. Explore the shopping district of Haddonfield and take in the historic significance of Morristown. Camden County offers a multifaceted experience.

Haddonfield

Haddonfield’s reputation as a shopping and dining destination is well-deserved. After all, it has over 200 shops and art galleries to explore. Its close to Philadelphia, which only adds to its appeal. It’s an accessible and delightful day trip from anywhere in New Jersey, and beyond.

Rockingham State Historic Site

Rockingham State Historic Site is a jewel steeped in America’s Revolutionary War history. It’s home to the final headquarters of General George Washington. The well-preserved site offers an authentic glimpse into the past at Washington’s Headquarters Museum. Complete with guided tours and educational workshops, it brings history to life for visitors of all ages.

Hamilton Township

Hamilton Township shines with a vibrant art scene. The major draw is Grounds For Sculpture, a 42-acre park filled with stunning sculptures and beautiful landscaping.

A meal at Rat’s Restaurant is the perfect way to end a day of visual splendor. A Wind in the Willows character inspired the restaurant’s name.

Morristown

Morristown is a haven for history enthusiasts. It boasts sites that played pivotal roles in the American Revolution. From the stately Ford Mansion to the lush trails of Jockey Hollow, Morristown is a living history book where the past is always within reach.

And for more contemporary pleasures, the town’s dining and nightlife scenes do not disappoint.

New Jersey Shore

Scenic view of Cape May, New Jersey shore

The New Jersey Shore is the epitome of summer. Its boardwalks are as iconic as the state’s famed diners. And the beaches are as tranquil as a meditating yogi. Along the Atlantic, this region is like New Jersey’s own festive backyard. Each town, from the Victorian charmer Cape May to the vibrant Atlantic City, offers distinct attractions. Think of it as a beachside ice cream parlor, where every town is a delightful flavor!

Cape May

Cape May’s allure lies in its:

  • Historic district, where time seems to stand still among the Victorian homes and quaint bed and breakfasts

  • Beachfront, which beckons with its soft sand and soothing waves

  • Washington Street Mall, which offers an array of shopping and dining experiences.

Whether you’re seeking out the Cape May diamonds or embarking on a trolley tour, Cape May is a must-visit for anyone. It’s a sweet taste of New Jersey’s seaside heritage.

Margate City

Margate City, home to the beloved Lucy the Elephant, is a quieter beach experience among busier shores. Its residential charm and lifeguarded beaches create an idyllic setting for a day of sunbathing.

Whether you’re renting a summer home or just passing through, Margate City’s laid-back atmosphere is a refreshing change of pace.

Toms River

Toms River, a family-friendly destination, boasts attractions including:

  • The Ocean County Mall

  • Insectropolis

  • And the River Lady cruises

Its annual Halloween parade is a spectacle not to be missed. It draws crowds from near and far to witness the creative and spooky displays that take over the town.

Point Pleasant Beach

Wildlife taking off from the beach

With award-winning beaches and family-oriented boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach is a staple of New Jersey’s shoreline. Some highlights of Point Pleasant Beach include:

  • Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, with its aquarium, amusement park, and a ton of dining options

  • The local fishing industry memorial

  • The annual Festival of the Sea

Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island is a slice of coastal paradise. The island hosts serene beaches, historic Barnegat Lighthouse, and charming towns like Surf City. The island’s laid-back vibe is perfect for a break from the hustle. And attractions like Fantasy Island Amusement Park ensure there’s plenty of family fun to be had.

Tuckerton

Tuckerton invites you to celebrate its maritime heritage with events like the Privateers & Pirates Festival. At the Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum, interactive exhibits and nature trails allow for a hands-on exploration of the Jersey Shore’s maritime traditions. The town’s dedication to preserving and sharing its coastal culture is clear for all ages to enjoy.

Atlantic City

Rainbow over Atlantic City

Atlantic City is a place of contrasts. It’s where the excitement of casinos and nightclubs coexists with busy beach scenes. The famed Boardwalk is a hub of activity, offering everything from Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to the Steel Pier Ferris wheel.

Beyond the glitz and glamour, family-friendly attractions like:

  • Storybook Land

  • And the Atlantic City Aquarium

Offer a different kind of entertainment.

More Ideas for Day Trips from New Jersey

The Pocono Mountains are a nature lover's paradise

The areas bordering New Jersey are ripe with day trips, too. The rustic Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania are where towering trees meet fresh air. Or Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach, with its sandy shores and sweet treats. Each destination offers its own distinct charm, inviting new experiences just a short drive away.

Connecticut

Sailing and local history abound in Connecticut

The Nutmeg State is just a hop, skip, and a jump from New Jersey. It’s where to go for day-trippers craving a sprinkle of New England charm. Stroll through Yale University in New Haven, CT, where the academic air might will make you feel smarter by osmosis. Or set sail for a maritime adventure in Mystic, CT, where belugas become your new best friends and historic ships beckon you to take the helm.

Don’t miss Gillette Castle State Park, where a medieval fantasy awaits, sans dragons, in the peculiar abode of a Sherlock Holmes actor. Then dive into the Maritime Aquarium, a place where sharks swim by with a nod and sea turtles seem to ask about your day. Connecticut day trips offer a delightful detour.

New York

Hiking trails from any quaint little town lead to beautiful sights

New York is a day-tripper’s dream, serving up a smorgasbord of destinations. Find tranquility in the Catskills Mountains. Discover the artistic vibe in Beacon, NY, with sculptures and murals at every turn. In Sleepy Hollow, New York, dare to walk the historic streets where the headless horseman roams. Food enthusiasts, rejoice at the Culinary Institute of America, a mecca for culinary delights. Whatever your preference, New York has an activity to match.

More Road Trip Ideas

Architectural detail at the Williamsburg, VA, historical sites and interpretive center

The East Coast is a treasure map. Destinations are marked for exploration, each an invitation to a memorable road trip from New Jersey. Maine’s Portland and Bar Harbor offer the rich flavors of travel, much like their famed lobster rolls. That make perfect New England summer getaways. Maryland’s Eastern Shore beckons with its quaint crab shacks and picturesque lighthouses. In Virginia’s Williamsburg, you’ll find yourself stepping back in time, each path has a story to tell.

Lace up your hiking boots for an ascent through the White Mountains, where the air is as invigorating as a freshly picked apple. Or take a leisurely trip through the Brandywine Valley. Here, art and nature coalesce, reminiscent of long-time friends reuniting at a summer gathering. These summer road trip ideas are akin to sparklers on the cake of adventure, each one igniting a sense of wanderlust with every passing mile.

Tl;dr

New Jersey is like a day trip buffet, offering everything from the bustling streets of Jersey City to the soothing sands of the Jersey Shore. If thrills are what you seek, amusement parks await. For those craving serenity, state parks offer peaceful retreats. History enthusiasts can step back in time at Revolutionary War sites. So pack your picnic basket, unfold your map, and set out on a journey. You’ll uncover hidden treasures and popular haunts in the vibrant tapestry of the Garden State. Every turn is a new chapter; every stop, a story waiting to be told.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I spend a day in New Jersey?

In New Jersey, you can spend a day witnessing wildlife in Columbia, delving into revolutionary history in Morristown, and exploring the museums of Princeton. Other memorable experiences include the Red Mill in Clinton, the lively Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach, the historical Allaire State Park in Farmingdale, and the captivating Adventure Aquarium in Camden.

How many days do you need to visit New Jersey?

You should plan to stay for at least 15 to 20 days to fully enjoy your visit to New Jersey, considering the coast, adventure sports, and city tours. Enjoy your trip!

How do I spend a day in Delaware?

You can spend a day in Delaware by exploring Downtown Lewes, Tanger Outlets, Downtown Rehoboth Beach, and Bethany Beach in Southern Delaware, or by visiting attractions like the Air Mobility Command Museum and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Enjoy the beaches, state parks, and biking trails for outdoor activities.

What is a full day trip?

A full day trip is a visit to a destination and returning to the same place in the evening, typically lasting 24 hours or less. It’s like a mini vacation packed with adventure, perfect for a quick getaway or a day of exploration.

What are some family-friendly destinations in New Jersey for a day trip?

Consider visiting Point Pleasant Beach, the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, or Storybook Land near Atlantic City for a family-friendly day trip in New Jersey. Enjoy the boardwalk, aquarium, interactive exhibits, and amusement rides themed around nursery rhymes.

 

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