20 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in New Jersey

Jul 22, 2021

New Jersey is as much a state of mind as it is an actual location. While its two most popular sites—New York City and the Philadelphia area—are located hundreds of miles to the north, the scenic, historic, and cultural treasures of this coast are easy day trips from the Garden State's famous urban centers.

It's easy to get to New Jersey, which is divided into two regions: North Jersey (roughly north of New York City) and Central Jersey (down south).

The first thing you need to do when visiting is decide whether you're interested in the New York City shoreline, with its historical sites and modern attractions, or the Delaware Water Gap and its unmatched beauty.

With plenty of things to do, from antiques shopping in Mount Holly to family fun in Wildwood, it's easy to find a sweet spot to call home during your stay in the state. Just use our top attractions in New Jersey list to plan your vacation!

New Jersey State Museum

Photo of Camden, New Jersey
Camden, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

The New Jersey State Museum is one of New Jersey's most popular attractions. Located in Newark's Central Park, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to explore the history of the state, from its origins as an early river port, to the role the United States played in world history. The museum presents an overview of the story of New Jersey, from the time the Native Americans first settled it, through the first European settlers, the American Revolution, the industrialization of America in the 19th century, the expansion of American territory, World War II, the space age and other modern eras.

Atlantic City

Photo of Atlantic City, New Jersey
Atlantic City, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Atlantic City's casinos (five in all) are located along the ocean on a narrow strip of sand, with the boardwalk along the shore-facing side of the peninsula. They offer a wide variety of slots, table games, gambling restaurants, and nightclubs. Atlantic City's nightlife is among the best in New Jersey, with a heavy dose of historic-themed hotels, including the Boardwalk Regency (1908) with its 500 rooms, Caven Point (1904) and the legendary Tropicana (1934), with its ritzy casino interior. Although Atlantic City is a major tourist attraction, it has no streets on the National Register of Historic Places and few of the architectural treasures you would expect from a casino town. Nevertheless, the annual boardwalk festival, a new Christmas fantasy light show, the Atlantic City Ballet and more than a dozen golf courses are reason enough to visit.

Cape May

Photo of Cape May, New Jersey
Cape May, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Located on the East Coast, Cape May is a town that still preserves the charm of old New Jersey. Spacious 19th-century houses, abundant lawns, and beautiful beaches are just some of the features of this picturesque fishing village. Known for its sunsets, Cape May can be reached by the Cape May Cruise and Packet Boat Company, offering a scenic 40-minute journey that takes passengers to the barrier island of Lower Township. The famous NJ beaches at Cape May include Ocean View and Neptune beaches, both of which are located on the southern shore of the city.

North Wildwood

Photo of North Wildwood, New Jersey
North Wildwood, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Wildwood is part of Cape May County, a municipality in Cape May County, New Jersey in the United States. The beach is a long barrier island and a wildlife conservation area located in the Outer Bar-Matthews Grove National Wildlife Refuge on the Atlantic Ocean. There are also a number of archaeological sites dating back over 10,000 years in the county. North Wildwood can be accessed by bus from the Center City area, also known as Cape May. Some of the best things to do in North Wildwood are visit the nearby Juniper Grove, Garden State Beach, Wildwood Crest, Cape May Point Lighthouse, National Park or Wildwood Crest.

Morristown National Historical Park

Photo of Morristown National Historical Park
Morristown National Historical Park: en.wikipedia.org

An excellent example of Morristown's innovative architectural, engineering, and landscaping skills, this park commemorates the American Revolutionary War through the layout and design of the city and includes museums, living history villages, and events like costumed living-history demonstrations. The elaborate 18th-century Newark Iron Bridge was built in 1792 and gives travelers a good idea of how the area would have looked in the 18th century. As the only remaining operational example of a full-time wooden bridge in North America, this innovative bridge served as a model for future construction.

Statue of Liberty

Photo of Statue of Liberty National Monument
Statue of Liberty National Monument: en.wikipedia.org

The Statue of Liberty, along with Ellis Island and the Gateway Arch, is one of the three most recognizable icons of the United States. It is a monument to the immigrants who came to this country, and it stands as a reminder of the sacrifices and courage it took to get to this land of opportunity. The Statue of Liberty has its own website with tips on visiting the statue and further information on New York.

New Jersey Performing Arts Center

Photo of Jersey City, New Jersey
Jersey City, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

With over 21,000 seats, the NJPA center offers a fabulous spot for a night out in Atlantic City. Built in the Greek revival style with a massive copper dome, the center contains three performance venues: the 1,100-seat Main Theater and 2,000-seat Main Arena, as well as the smaller Dreyfus Theatre and Harrah's Entertainment Theater, each capable of seating about 500 people. Performances are just about every day of the week, but events vary by season. Guided tours of the performing arts center can be arranged in advance by the center's education department. Visits focus on the education program, and include musical and theatrical presentations, and backstage tours of the facility.

Seaside Heights

Photo of Seaside Heights, New Jersey
Seaside Heights, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Seaside Heights is on the north shore of New Jersey, a few miles from the New York state border. Not as overblown as its more well-known neighbor, Atlantic City, this seaside resort town offers a pretty coastline with beautiful views and easy access to shopping and dining in Ocean City, about seven miles to the east. Things to do in Seaside Heights include taking a tour of the town's 19th century boardwalk and boardwalk casinos, watching for the famous Mermaid Parade, and attending one of the summer music festivals that take place in Seaside Heights.

New Jersey Botanical Garden

Photo of Ringwood, New Jersey
Ringwood, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Situated in the village of Millstone, New Jersey Botanical Garden contains New Jersey's only botanical garden, offering visitors some of the best-preserved examples of woodland and prairie in the Garden State. Among the highlights are the five-hundred-acre woodlands that once formed the Garden State's foundation. More than 1,000 species of native plants, including American chestnut, balsam fir, eastern hemlock, red oak, sugar maple, sugarbush, and Virginia pine, can be found in the woods, as can 200 plant species that were introduced to North America by European settlers. Adjacent to the woods is the garden's 17-acre lake, the centerpiece of which is the Four Seasons, a dramatic wintertime icehouse that houses an exhibit of rare ice. Visitors can also explore the Thorne Water Garden, which showcases a collection of aquatic plants.

Wildwood Crest

Photo of Wildwood Crest, New Jersey
Wildwood Crest, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

A small city, Wildwood Crest has a population of 15,000 people. Most of them seem to live in town, and it is easy to see why. Wildwood's 350-plus open spaces include three golf courses, the Wildwood Country Club, a municipal park with a band shell, two freshwater ponds, a waterfall, and the famous Tom Fazio-designed Sandylands, a championship golf course. Wildwood's oceanfront park, Joseph M. Sanborn State Park, is a superb recreational area where a great many families and couples picnic, stroll, and swim. A state park, the park offers boat rentals, but with the village as a backdrop, this park will not disappoint, even if you don't rent a boat. Also here is a museum with exhibits about local wildlife. A large section of Wildwood Crest is made up of single-family homes, but Wildwood attracts some 55,000 visitors a year, and many of the summer rentals are apartment buildings.

Barnegat Lighthouse

Photo of Barnegat Lighthouse
Barnegat Lighthouse: en.wikipedia.org

Located at New Jersey's southernmost point, the Barnegat Lighthouse on the Barnegat Peninsula juts out into the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the area's major attractions, though the view from the top is obscured by clouds more often than not. The Barnegat Lighthouse was built in 1857 to replace an earlier, smaller version destroyed in a storm in 1849. Despite being almost 200 feet high and 190 feet in diameter, the lighthouse still retains its light. It is one of eight tall lighthouses still operating in the United States. The lighthouse is also part of a self-guided driving tour available at the Smiley Face Visitor Center, open from May through October. In the winter, this is a great place to watch migrating shore birds and whales.

Palisades Amusement Park

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Palisades Amusement Park: en.wikipedia.org

Palisades Amusement Park was the biggest amusement park in the world when it opened in 1929. Overlooking the ocean in Atlantic City, it was intended to provide a fun getaway for the summer crowds, and included all the usual fairground attractions of its day. Over the years, and especially during the 1950s and 1960s, the amusement park became very popular among celebrities and high-profile guests of the city. Today, it's a huge facility and visitors can take rides like the Big Dipper, Silver Streak, Giant Dipper and a replica of an 1880s mining train. The park is mostly open from late April to mid-October, with a small number of rides and attractions open on selected weekends and holidays throughout the year.

MetLife Stadium

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MetLife Stadium: en.wikipedia.org

MetLife Stadium in New Jersey is the home of the NFL New York Jets. It is one of the newest stadiums in the league and is an awesome facility. The seating is very close to the field, giving a great view of the action. There are a lot of excellent restaurants in the area and they have nice craft beer selection. There is some history in the area as the stadium was where the 1976 Olympic Games basketball finals were held.

Ellis Island

Photo of Ellis Island
Ellis Island: en.wikipedia.org

Although it was built at the end of the 19th century, Ellis Island has been the main gateway to America for many immigrants arriving from the first to the last days of the New World, and was therefore the single most important point of entry for the immigrants who came between 1892 and 1924. When its closed to immigration, all of them used the most famous symbol of the United States, Ellis Island, as a station for their first contact with the country. It was abandoned in 1954, and subsequently demolished in 1962. Even though no trace of the actual buildings remain, the freedom and enthusiasm the immigrants felt entering America in the beginning still can be felt today. The design of the New York Harbor is an ideal symbol for New York, as Ellis Island looks like a transport passage: a natural funnel-shaped outlet for the surge of sea, while the Stony Pillars, a building system made of massive blocks, recalls the sandstone monuments found along the East coast of the U.S.

Clifton

Photo of Clifton, New Jersey
Clifton, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Clifton is a beautiful old town whose well-preserved 19th century streetscapes are lined with elegant Tudor, Queen Anne, and Colonial buildings, many converted into cafes, shops, and restaurants. The historic green, many times greened since, is home to the Corbin Castle and the beautifully restored Corbin Hotel, as well as numerous other intriguing shops and eateries. A pleasant downtown walk connects restaurants and galleries with Clifton's star attraction: the town's famed Green's restaurant. You will find the restaurant on the grounds of the former Clifton Estate, which dates back to 1761 and was once the home of Commodore Samuel Clifton and his wife, Queen Anne, after whom the town was named.

Spring Lake

Photo of Spring Lake, New Jersey
Spring Lake, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Located 10 miles north of Central Park in New Jersey, Spring Lake has long been considered a quiet community in the middle of one of the country's most famous tourist regions. Although the lake is small and the beaches are not for those looking to swim, it does offer the ideal spot for families and other boating enthusiasts who like to cruise on the crystal-clear waters. The tour-bus drop-off area can be overwhelming, but not necessarily so. The top sights are the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, with its waterfalls and various boat cruises, and the Long Pond Fish House and Park, which has a craft shop, café, and park.

Longport

Photo of Longport, New Jersey
Longport, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Longport is a modern, well-planned town nestled in the wooded cliffs of the Highlands region of New Jersey. A former mill town, Longport had its heyday during the 1950s and 1960s, but it is now a quiet place to live with a pleasant mix of culture and nature. A walk down Washington Avenue can easily take you through some of Longport's main attractions: the historic and impressive Asbury Methodist Church (built in 1872, the largest church building in the country with 90 foot ceilings and 500 windows), the Captain Cox, a large black church with a bell tower (c.1700), and Green Pastures (c.1730), the oldest house in Longport. The town's light industry has now turned into something more high-tech with annual local events such as the Ben Franklin Film Festival and the annual summer regatta, both held on Lake Hopatcong, a popular summer spot. The Downtown Shopping Mall (built in 1973) was refurbished recently and has shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and a bank.

Toms River State Park

Photo of Toms River, New Jersey
Toms River, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Situated 10 miles north of Atlantic City, Toms River State Park is one of the world's largest parks and was developed in 1913. It is one of the top 10 most photographed places in the United States. This national park is known for its various species of fauna and birds, and has a historic look, thanks to its long history. A 6-mile-long bike trail around Toms River follows the shoreline. It's well worth having a swim, especially if it is warm, or take a stroll along the beautiful waterfront boardwalk, where a plethora of restaurants and bars serve food and drink. Also on site are a zoo, a museum, a nature center, and horseback riding areas.

Gloucester City

Photo of Gloucester City, New Jersey
Gloucester City, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

With a population of just over 40,000, Gloucester City is known as the "Birthplace of G.I. Joe," having been home to dozens of Army units since the 1800s. A major shipping port and oil center in the 1950s, today the city is more famous for its New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, which includes outdoor performances every year from June to October. The city also has an interesting industrial history with brickyards and factories dating back to the Civil War. The city also boasts some interesting museums, including the Antique Automobile Museum, which includes the stunning Brandywine Coachbuilt, a 1949 Pierce-Arrow Mark VI.

Wildwood Boardwalk and Pavilion Park

Photo of Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey: en.wikipedia.org

Wildwood Boardwalk and Pavilion Park, tucked between the Atlantic Ocean and a large section of the Great Manasquan River in Manasquan, New Jersey, are situated just a few minutes outside of Asbury Park. With about 600 miles of sandy beaches, this area is famous for its free summer concerts and moonlight rides. Boardwalks are a great place to stroll, grab a bite to eat, or meet friends and family while riding the waves. Access to the boardwalk and Pavilion Park is through a river walk, which is paved and spans seven miles. Along the way there are opportunities to cross the Great Manasquan River on several wooden bridges and dine at one of the cafés lining the paths.