It isn’t hard to find fun in New Jersey. Most of the time, fun just happens to find me. There’s always something going on here, someplace new to see. If you’re seeking adventure, you’re in the right state. And, perhaps best of all, you can travel almost anywhere within a day. Here are some of the best day trips you can take in the Garden State. You may be familiar with several of these places but I’m sure you’ll discover something new.
1. Lakota Wolf Preserve - 89 Mount Pleasant Road, Columbia
This incredible non-profit organization helps care for wolves born in captivity along with foxes and bobcats. This preserve is the largest of its kind in the Northeastern United States and it is open to the public for tours. Educational tours are available twice per day, except on Mondays, and you must arrive early to register. Learn all about the way these wolves live and witness them up close for 60-75 minutes. Private photography tours are also available.
2. Grounds For Sculpture - 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton
If you enjoy art, nature and good food, Grounds For Sculpture has got it all. You'll find stunning sculptures scattered throughout the 42-acre grounds, along with gorgeous landscaping that changes with the seasons and a gourmet eatery - Rat's Restaurant. The restaurant is designed to look like a Claude Monet painting and is truly a work of art. You'll find hidden surprises tucked in nearly every corner of the park, including elevated viewpoints and air-conditioned areas to relax. My favorite thing to do here? Get lost. You may just spot a peacock while trying to find your way.
3. Cape May
While this seaside resort is perfect for a weekend getaway, it also makes for a great day trip. Start with breakfast at The Mad Batter, shop the Washington Street Mall, take a trolley tour to suit your interests (ghosts, history, nature...) and end the day at Sunset Beach. Snap some photos of the SS Atlantus while you can; one day, it will be entirely engulfed by the ocean.
4. Liberty State Park - 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City
This urban oasis has a lot to offer. While being a departure point for cruises to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty may be the biggest draw, you'll also find the Liberty Science Center on the grounds, kayak eco-tours, a restored railroad terminal, opportunities for fishing and picnicking and bike rentals. But this isn't all! Don't miss the magnificent Liberty House and Maritime Parc Restaurants. If casual dining is more your scene, check out Baozi Brew, a beer garden and dim sum spot offering summer movies. Visit on May 28th for Fleet Week activities including military drills and demonstrations along with children's activities.
5. Ziplining at Mountain Creek - 200 NJ 94, Vernon Township
There's plenty to do at Mountain Creek, but the zipline tours are out of this world. Enjoy scenic views from the sky as you zip over the water and through the woods. Enjoy the mountain in a whole new way, all while safely strapped in to your harness.
Is it really summer if you haven't spent a day at Morey's Piers? The beachfront amusement park opens for the season on May 25th and offers a wide variety of arcade games, family attractions and thrill rides. You'll also find waterparks and classic boardwalk grub along this 6-block adventure paradise. Be sure to try breakfast in the sky - a truly unique experience.
While the historic Red Mill is Clinton's most iconic attraction and should definitely be part of your day trip, don't forget to stop by the Hunterdon Art Museum. Located right across the river, current exhibits include The Art of Construction and a Young Artists Showcase. Don't miss Art on Tap (June 4th), an annual beer and food tasting fundraiser. Before the day is done, take a stroll downtown.
The ultimate New Jersey day trip destination for history buffs, this entire town could easily have the slogan, "Washington was here." His winter headquarters can be found at the Ford Mansion while his troops stayed in Jockey Hollow. Other popular attractions include Fort Nonsense and the Frelinghuysen Arboretum.
This charming smaller town is a major shopping and dining destination. Don't miss the British Chip Shop (restaurant) and the English Gardner (gift shop) for a little slice of the UK. When you've perused as many shops as you can, stop by the Indian Tavern Museum (open Wednesday-Sunday) for a dose of local history.
10. The Tuckerton Seaport - 120 Main Street, Tuckerton
An immersive experience, The Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen's Musuem brings to life the Jersey Shore's maritime traditions. Enjoy hands-on activities, interpretive exhibits, demonstrations, nature trails and live aquatic displays. Fun for the whole family, visit on June 10th for the Privateers & Pirates Festival. Hunt for treasure as you learn about the golden age of pirating.
11. The Sterling Hill Mining Museum - 30 Plant Street, Ogdensburg
Learn about New Jersey's mining history, see the world's largest collection of fluorescent minerals and, best of all, take an underground mine tour. The tour is ADA-accessible and provides visitors with an in depth look into the way a mine works. You'll also get to enjoy the rainbow wall, a spectacular sight to behold. Add-ons to the 2-hour tour include a rock discovery center and mineral collecting.
12. Wharton State Forest
A nature lover's paradise, this massive state park offers a multitude of hiking trails, opportunities for kayaking, a swimming beach (Atsion), ghost town ruins and a thriving historic village. Batsto Village allows visitors to experience industrial life over a century ago through restored buildings and live demonstrations. Structures including a gristmill, sawmill, mansion, blacksmith and cottages date as far back as the 1700s.
This list is only just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to New Jersey day trip ideas – what’s your favorite? For more information on Wildwood’s breakfast in the sky (which I highly recommend, just to say you did), check out my previous article:
Enjoy Breakfast In The Sky On This Beachfront Ferris Wheel Along The Jersey Shore. The views are phenomenal!