1. The local art scene
The New Jersey art scene may be overwhelmed by our proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, but part of the appeal of living in New Jersey is the vibrant local art culture — and it’s something you’ll miss when you leave.
From the young and urban art culture that has emerged in Asbury Park, to the more established artist communities of towns like New Hope and Lambertville, people in New Jersey are incredibly supportive of the arts.
For the past ten years, Art All Night in Trenton has offered the opportunity for local artists, from schoolchildren to well-renowned professionals, to showcase their work in an old Wire Works factory. Open for 24 hours straight, live music and food trucks make this a lively and social event.
When you leave New Jersey, you’ll miss this everyday appreciation of both emerging and established local artists.
2. Fresh corn
Sitting outside in the summer eating fresh corn on the cob from a local roadside farm stand is a classic New Jersey experience. We have the best corn in the world, and when you leave Jersey, nothing else will compare.
3. The autumn
One of the most appealing parts of living in New Jersey is being able to enjoy all four seasons, but the one you will probably miss most when you leave the area is autumn. Not only is New Jersey a prime location for enjoying the fall foliage the entire northeast is known for, our state is also full of special autumn traditions that those of us from Jersey miss when we move away.
The abundance of farms throughout the Garden State means that you have countless options for pumpkin or apple picking, and that it’s easy to stop for homemade cider donuts and hot apple cider. When you need something to do on a weekend, there’s always a haunted hay ride or corn maze nearby.
We also do Halloween really well in New Jersey. Scarecrows can be spotted propped up on benches or leaning out of windows in October, while old Victorian houses embrace a haunted look with spooky seasonal décor.
5. Salt water taffy
Even for those who aren’t fans of this retro seaside treat, a New Jersey native who moves away will feel a pang of nostalgia walking around out-of-state beach towns when they realize none of the shops are advertising salt water taffy.
Salt water taffy originated in Atlantic City in the late 1800s, and remains a New Jersey summer staple. It’s a bit of a misnomer, since the candy is really just chewy, pastel-colored sugar, but the name originated as a joke. When his shop flooded in 1883, Mr. Bradley’s entire stock of taffy was contaminated with ocean water. He offered a piece of this ‘salt water taffy’ to a customer in jest, and the name stuck.
Stepping into a taffy shop today still feels a bit like stepping into the past — the cooled sugar and corn syrup mix is stretched out on hooks and many places keep their operations out in the open where customers can watch the pulling process.
5. The architecture
You can easily find yourself distracted walking by all the beautiful homes in New Jersey. Sure, we have our share of suburban McMansions — and they reach a truly outrageous level of hideous — but just avoid looking directly at them and keep moving. The rest of the state is made up of historic cities and towns that have maintained a variety of picturesque architectural styles.
Main streets in New Jersey towns are lined with elaborate Victorian mansions with their wide porches or tall towers, while beautiful old stone farmhouses dominate the countryside. You can spend hours wandering shore towns like Cape May gazing around at the whimsical beach houses. Leaving New Jersey, you’ll miss being surrounded by this range of striking architecture.
6. Good (cheap) food
Not only is New Jersey an understated food-mecca, our classic state dishes are also wonderfully affordable. When you leave New Jersey, you’ll miss the late night diner meals and the coffee stops at Wawa. You’ll frequently crave a Jersey bagel or slice of pizza, and you’ll lament the fact that you can’t find a proper Italian hoagie anywhere else. You take for granted the constant availability of a proper Italian meal at a family-run trattoria, until you move away and realize how lucky you were.
7. The extreme camaraderie
It’s widely accepted that people love to hate New Jersey. When you leave New Jersey, you’ll find yourself frequently facing insults about your home state, and you’ll even join in on the criticisms occasionally. But when you meet a fellow out-of-state New Jerseyan, you can’t help but smile because you know you have something in common: no matter how much you grumble about Jersey or go along with the jokes, you both know how great New Jersey really is.
While you may miss the state solidarity that results from being an underdog, you know that pride is something you’ll be able to count on no matter where you are.