Holidaymakers who choose to head to the East Coast of the United States usually head straight for one of two locations — New York or Philadelphia. However, there is a world of surprises to discover in their smaller neighbour, New Jersey. From the gorgeous beaches of the Jersey Shore to the rich history, diverse culture, and mouthwatering cuisine, the Garden State is a hidden gem ripe for exploration. There are countless reasons to visit New Jersey, but here are five of the best.
1. A Wealth of Entertainment
New Jersey has a long history as a hotbed for entertainment. If you love seeing a show, why not head to one of the state’s world-class theaters? From Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center (home of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra) to the historic Count Basie theater named after the jazz legend, there are many venues that attract some of the world’s best performers in music, comedy, theatre, and more.
If you’re a gambler, the state is one of the best places in the US to enjoy a flutter. The Resorts International Casino has brought in visitors from all over the world since it opened in 1978, and there are plenty of other casinos to choose from. To contextualise the state as a casino destination, it’s one of the country’s pre-eminent locations for online providers. Many of them call the state home and the NJ online casino scene prides itself on the same 5-star gambling experience as its land-based counterpart. From within NJ it’s possible to partake in online games from roulette and poker to online slots.
2. Beautiful Beaches
Although the Jersey Shore is well-known all over the world because of the controversial reality TV series of the same name, it has far more to offer than may seem on the show! There are plenty of stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean all along the 130 miles of its coastline, as well as plenty to do — whether you want a secluded spot for a romantic stroll or a fun-filled family trip with amusements and rides, you can find it on the Jersey Shore.
One thing that visitors to the Jersey Shore are often pleasantly surprised by is how clean everything is, from the beaches themselves to the picturesque boardwalks to the water itself, which is pristine and perfect for a swim.
3. Pop Culture Landmarks
The state of New Jersey has had an immense impact on popular culture. Aside from the previously-mentioned Count Basie, the state also gave us musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Frank Sinatra, Bon Jovi, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, and Paul Simon. Many of the old stomping grounds and venues these stars frequented can still be visited — for example, there are many Springsteen-related landmarks for fans to make the pilgrimage to!
When it comes to TV landmarks, there’s more than just the previously mentioned Jersey Shore. Iconic TV shows have been filmed and set in the state, from The Sopranos in North Jersey to Boardwalk Empire in Atlantic City. If you’re a fan of prestige drama, why not walk the Atlantic City boardwalks or even take a Sopranos tour?
4. A Selection of Delicious Dishes
For food lovers, New Jersey has plenty to offer. You can get seafood from countless places all along the coast — you can really tell the difference in taste when it’s fresh from the sea! The coast is also home to dozens of world-class pizzerias that you can enjoy on the boardwalk. The state has more people of Italian heritage than any other in the country, and you can taste the authenticity in these pizzas.
Other iconic New Jersey dishes include the Taylor Ham pork roll (which you can make yourself with this Taylor Ham pork roll recipe) and saltwater taffy for those with a sweeter tooth.
5. The Vibrant Sports Scene
New Jersey is a must-visit for sports enthusiasts. The state is home to countless popular sports teams, and teams from all over the world also visit to compete. If you’re a football fan, you can see teams like the New Jersey Giants and the New Jersey Titans play teams like the New York Jets and the New York Giants at the MetLife Stadium.
For hockey fans, the Prudential Center in Newark hosts the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, and soccer lovers can see teams like the New York Red Bulls at the Red Bull Arena. If horse racing is your thing, the Meadowlands Racetrack is an essential place to visit. If you prefer playing sports to watching them, New Jersey also has plenty of golf courses and parks. The coast is also a fantastic place for water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.
An Excellent East Coast Destination
New Jersey is a diverse, welcoming state that’s an excellent vacation destination. Whatever you’re interested in, New Jersey has something to offer. What’s more, it’s also in an excellent location for travelers looking to explore the rest of the East Coast — the state is bordered by New York and Pennsylvania, making it an ideal base for exploring the region.