Many people think of New Jersey in only two ways: the Jersey Shore or the crowded gateway to New York City. The fact is, New Jersey was not nicknamed the “Garden State” as a joke. Western New Jersey is a rural playground full of parks, farms, rolling hills, rivers, lakes and living history. Here are ten things to do in New Jersey that aren’t on the shore.
1. Grounds for Sculpture: This amazing outdoor sculpture park will wow your whole family. The kids love the peacocks that roam free on the grounds. (Hamilton, NJ, adults $12, kids 6-17 $8, seniors $10)
2. Lakota Wolf Preserve: Beautiful spot to hike and learn about the true behavior of the wolf. Lots of other wildlife to see here, too. (Columbia, NJ, ages 12+ $16, ages 2-11 $7.50)
3. Tubing on the Delaware: Float down the beautiful Delaware River in an inner tube, then stop at “The Famous River Hot Dog Man” for lunch. (Frenchtown, NJ, $25-$35 depending on day; lunch included; group rates available)
4. Howell Living History Farm: Step back in time to 1900 and spend a day working on the farm. They host all kinds of special programs throughout the year. If you visit in October you can experience one of the most challenging corn mazes around! (Lambertville, NJ, free admission and parking) Related: Schaefers Farm for the scariest haunted hayride. New Jersey’s Hunterdon and Warren counties are well-known for their autumn/Halloween farm experiences.
5. Northlandz: Rainy day? Northlandz holds the Guinness World Record for Largest Model Railroad with 100 trains traveling over more than 8 miles of track. (Flemington, NJ, $13.75, ages 2-12 $9.75, ages 62+ $12.50)
6. Delaware Water Gap: Outdoor enthusiasts will love this National Recreation Area. Learn about the formation of the Water Gap while hiking, swimming, biking, fishing, canoeing, picnicking, birding and more. (Kittatiny Point, NJ, free)
7. Turtleback Zoo: A bit closer to NYC, but I think this is the best zoo in New Jersey. (West Orange, NJ, adults $10, children $7, under 2 free)
While the following are not technically in NJ, they’re just a quick hop over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania and are can’t miss attractions when you are in western NJ.
8. Ringing Rocks Park: Just over the Delaware River from Milford, NJ, this amazing park boasts a seven-acre field of boulders that’s not only fun to climb on, it’s also musical! Many of the rocks, when struck with a hammer, ring like bells. The park also offers beautiful hiking trails, rivers and waterfalls. (Upper Black Eddy, PA, free admission and parking)
9. The Crayola Factory: See how crayons are made, then experience hands-on coloring, drawing, painting and creating with the latest Crayola products. Plan to spend 2-3 hours at Crayola, then check out another nearby attraction: the DaVinci Center, the Banana Factory, or the Martin Guitar Factory are all good choices. (Easton, PA, $12, under 2 free)
10. Bowman’s Hill Tower: A commemorative monument to George Washington and his army, this tower stands 125 feet tall and provides stunning views (visit during peak fall foliage!) of the Delaware River, New Jersey and Bucks County, PA. Located in Washington Crossing Historic Park, where Washington and his men crossed the Delaware on Christmas night in 1776. (Washington Crossing, PA, $5)