The Jersey Shore is nothing like what MTV led you to believe.

Snooki gave New Jersey a bad name. The Jersey Shore is not a giant orgy of orange-skinned Guidos. The party towns that dot the shore do not outnumber the peaceful and beautiful family friendly beach towns. If your day at the beach doesn’t involve Jaeger Bombs (I’d say that is probably most of us) then you will have no problem finding a beautiful and relaxing spot on one of the many New Jersey Beaches.

Don’t judge the whole state based on what you see at the airport.

I get it, arriving in the transportation hub of Newark isn’t the best scene for welcoming tourists to New Jersey. The smokestacks, never-ending highways, and unfortunate smells make it seem like you should turn around and go back to where you came from.

I am telling you right now, do not judge the whole state based on the tiny bit you see at the airport. It’s called the Garden State for a reason. Drive 20 minutes from Newark in any direction and you will find yourself in the midst of farmlands, forests and cute towns.

New Jersey is not covered in trash.

I left New Jersey when I was 18 to go to college in Vermont. That is when I got my first taste of how the rest of the country sees my home state. Plastering the walls all around campus were signs urging students to clean up after themselves with the slogan, “Don’t Jersey Vermont”.

What a warm welcome!

It may surprise people from other states, but we did learn all about recycling in school. I even had the unfortunate job of dragging the garbage and recycling bins to the curb once a week. Even people from NJ care about the earth, and we do all that we can to keep our beautiful state clean.

Learn how to navigate a jug handle, learn how to drive.

Don’t arrive in New Jersey thinking you can passively motor down the Jersey Turnpike. The driving here is aggressive and fast, but safe because we all know how to do it. You best know to get out of the left hand lane if you’re going any speed under 85. And you damn well better not accelerate above 25 when you are in a neighborhood (because kids!).

Learn how to navigate a jug handle (kind of like a roundabout). Don’t be afraid to use your horn, and do not come to a complete stop while going through an EZ Pass Toll. Oh yeah, and stay in your car at the gas station — we don’t pump our own gas.

It’s pronounced New JeRsey.

See that R in the title of the state? Yeah, it’s there for a reason – to be spoken. Nobody from New Jersey says New Joisey. We may say some words a bit differently, but New Jersey is not one of them. When you visit, make sure you pronounce it the correct way.

There are deer everywhere…and they’re not so cute.

If you’re already an out-of-state driver, you don’t need anything else to take your attention away from the road. Unfortunately, a ‘cute’ deer may do just that. There are over 200,000 deer roaming the state just waiting to dart in front of your car or cause an accident due to an out-of-stater’s gawking. Be aware.

Wawa is so much more than ‘just a convenience store.’

If you don’t know what a Wawa is, clearly you are not from a mid-Atlantic state. At first glance you may think it is nothing more than your basic run-in/run-out convenience store. But oh, how wrong you would be. It has everything you need to function throughout the day: coffee, deli sandwiches, make your own milkshakes (just me?). It’s also clean, has its own brand of ice cream, and regularly gives back to the community.

You will not go hungry.

When you wake up in the middle of the night with the hunger…don’t fret. With over 600 diners, many open 24 hours a day, you never need to hear your stomach grumble. Plus with some of the best bagels, bakeries and pizza in the US, you will probably want to eat the entire time you are here.

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