1. You’ve stepped back in time.
New Jersey is home to some of the most crucial historical moments this country has seen, and we work hard to keep this history alive. You can help harvest crops at Howell Living History Farm, tour an iron works community like Allaire, or walk around a battlefield. George Washington spent more time in Jersey during the Revolutionary War than anywhere else in the country. At Johnson’s Ferry on Christmas Day you can watch a reenactment of the famous Washington Crossing, or you can visit the Princeton Battlefield where you’re more likely to run into picnickers and kite-flyers than men and women in colonial garb.
2. You’ve risked splinters wandering barefoot along a Jersey Shore boardwalk.
No trip to Jersey is complete without a visit “down the shore”. Whether you surf, fish or swim, if you want to climb to the top of a historic lighthouse, soak in the sun on a crowded boardwalk, or head to a concert at The Stone Pony, there is something for everyone along our 140-mile-long coastline.
3. You’ve had a diner breakfast.
Any time of day or night is the right time for a proper diner breakfast in Jersey. With hundreds of casual, laid-back diners to chose from, you’re bound to end up in one with coffee that seems to refill itself, and where you can order a side of bacon with your bacon without the chatty waitress blinking an eye. Our diners are the stuff of wholesome TV shows where you sit at a booth or a barstool, point to the layer cake you want a piece of, and can count on a friendly smile.
4. You’ve explored the famed university town of Princeton.
I’m not just saying this because I’m from Princeton – anyone who wants to take advantage of a trip to Jersey should really spend an afternoon walking around the campus. The university boasts some of the oldest and most impressive buildings found on any school grounds, and houses a spectacular art museum. Outside of the university, you can visit Einstein’s house, stop at the Bent Spoon for gelato, or attend a show at the prestigious McCarter Theatre.
5. You’ve been antiquing at the Golden Nugget.
A haven for professional antique collectors and sellers alike, the most serious members of this weekend community show up at the Golden Nugget Antique Market in Lambertville at the crack of dawn, flashlights in hand. For the less ardent visitor, a long Sunday spent wandering through the indoor and outdoor stalls is sure to entertain. If you’re lucky, you may come away with furniture or that very specific 1964 nickel you were looking for, but even those leaving empty handed are guaranteed to have made the acquaintance of some truly unique characters.
6. You’ve had an aggressively friendly interaction with a local.
The abrupt way they entered your conversation may have put you on edge, but suddenly you’re having a friendly chat with a stranger. You are sure to meet some outgoing and opinionated locals in Jersey who will give advice on where to eat and complement your hair in one breath, and before you know it you’re wishing their son Johnny well on his math test and left standing slightly dazed on the sidewalk.
7. You’ve entered the mind-bending world of the Grounds for Sculpture.
Spread over 42 acres, this contemporary sculpture park and art museum houses frequently changing exhibitions and events. Starting with the lifelike statues you pass nearing the entrance, the way the art blends into its surroundings is truly unique and forces visitors to step outside of reality. This isn’t your average museum visit — over 250 large-scale sculptures are displayed throughout the beautifully designed park and visitors explore and interact with the art. Rat’s Restaurant shares the property and is similarly magical, with a misty lily pond and romantic bridge surrounding the outdoor seating area intended to make guests feel as though they are in Monet’s town of Giverny.
8. You’ve gotten lost in nature.
Driving around the winding country roads is one of the most wonderful parts of a trip to New Jersey. Pulling over at small pick-your-own farms for produce or apple cider, you can breathe in fresh air and forget about that long to-do list in your head. The Pine Barrens is a perfect setting for hiking along forested trails, or you can choose to bike alongside one of our many canals.
9. You’ve been told a ghost story.
We love our weird phenomena and mysterious happenings in Jersey. Whether you join a historical tour of colonial houses or sign up for a haunted hayride in the autumn, we have a spooky tale to accompany your visit. The Pine Barrens have inspired legends of monsters hiding in the dark and our beaches are said to conceal the buried gold of Captain Kidd. Stories like the cursed Devil’s Tree, the Atco Ghost, and our iconic Jersey Devil are all hallmarks of the state and the list grows with every new publication of ‘Weird NJ’. Maybe on your way out of the state, you’ll be lucky enough to spot the Ghost Train of Newark station speeding by.
10. You have a NJ Transit horror story.
Unfortunately, not all of our horror stories are relegated to the past. Look, it can’t all be good, okay?