With the new year approaching, everyone is thinking about the perfect resolutions to create a better, happier life in 2016. Maybe you want to spend more time with family, get your dream job, give up soda or climb Mount Everest. Here at Only In New Jersey, my resolution is to have more fun and explore our great state! There are so many amazing things to do, but these incredible activities just can’t wait. Put them on your New Jersey 2016 bucket list!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. See salt water taffy being made at Shriver's.
Visit the oldest business on the boardwalk in Ocean City to see salt water taffy being made, and be sure to pick up some sweet treats for yourself while there. It's really interesting to see the process up close!
2. Fall in love at Lakota Wolf Preserve.
How can you not be in love with these majestic creatures? Observe them in their natural habitat at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia. It's a fun time for anyone and a great opportunity for photographers. Educational tours are just $15 for adults and $7 for children up to age 11.
3. Visit Ocean City during "Weird Week."
This family-friendly celebration bills itself as being "wacky but not tacky" and is filled to the brim with unique competitions. Previous events have included French fry sculpting, Little Miss and Mister Chaos Pageants, and an ear-wiggling contest. Typically held twice each summer, in June and August.
4. Explore the state capital!
There is so much to do and see in Trenton. Visit the New Jersey State House, Old Barracks Museum or Pennsbury Manor, to start. Did you know that our state house is the 3rd oldest continuously operational state house in the United States?
5. Go whale watching off the coast of Cape May.
Cape May Whale Watcher is probably the most popular pick, offering whale, dolphin, dinner and lighthouse cruises! Marine mammal sightings are guaranteed (on marine mammal watching cruises). For more information, visit
Cape May Whale Watcher
6. Set your sights higher at the Quick Chek festival of Ballooning.
VIDEO This massive ballooning festival has been held annually in Readington, starting on the third Friday in July since 1983. Besides unique balloons, the event also features major musical acts including The Beach Boys and The Jonas Brothers. Part of the proceeds help support pediatric hospitals in New Jersey.
7. Get your grub on at Jimmy Buff's.
Home of the Italian-style hot dog and sausage, Jimmy Buff's has been a New Jersey staple since 1932. Locations have come and gone over the years, but West Orange and Kenilworth are still standing strong. What makes an Italian-style frank? Onions, peppers, potatoes, and mouth-watering flavor!
8. Spend a summer weekend in Asbury Park.
You don't need to travel far for an amazing beach vacation! Travel + Leisure magazine ranked Asbury Park one of the top places to travel in 2016... in the world! Crazy! Learn more
9. Celebrate cranberries at the Chatsworth Cranberry Festival.
Held annually in October, this 32 year strong tradition celebrates New Jersey's sizable cranberry crop and the spectacular Pine Barrens where the berries are harvested. The festival is free and features many local artists and craftsmen.
10. Visit all of New Jersey's spectacular state parks.
$50 per vehicle (for New Jersey residents) will get you unlimited access to all of our state parks and forests. Free passes are available for seniors 62 and up! Enjoy hiking, biking, boating, swimming, wildlife, and stunning natural beauty. If you can't visit them all, at least visit two this year...
11. Picnic at Liberty State Park.
Secluded from the hustle and bustle of Jersey City, you'll be afforded spectacular views of New York City, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty. Visitors can enjoy kayaking, biking and more.
12. Hike to the top of High Point.
Or drive. Either way, you'll get stunning 360-degree views of three states. Besides the magnificent monument, there is plenty to do in this Sussex County state park - swimming, boating, horseback riding, camping and more.
13. Take the New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge.
Held annually in October, this event helps to raise money for the continued preservation of our historic lighthouses. Try to visit them all over one weekend to complete the challenge and create wonderful memories that will last a lifetime.
14. Support your community.
Nothing feels better than giving back, right? Visit
to find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you. Whatever your interests, skills, or schedule, you can find a way to do good in your state.
15. Take a trip back in time at Lead East.
The "World's Biggest 50s Party" is a weekend of fun in Parsippany. It will be held in 2016 from August 31- September 4 and will feature over 1000 vintage cars! Guests will also enjoy live Doo Wop and Oldies music, a 50s fashion show, karaoke, swap meet and so much more!
16. Head to Red Bank for RiverFest.
A great destination year-round, Red Bank gets even better during RiverFest food and music festival! Typically held in May, the 3-day festival features cruises on the Navesink, local vendors, live music, fresh food, arcade games, a kid's zone, and much more. Admission is free.
17. Head to Delsea Drive-In and catch a flick.
Outdoors! New Jersey's last remaining drive-in is located in Vineland, open seasonally, and offers double features with a fantastic concession stand.
18. Have an adventure on the Delaware.
VIDEO Delaware River Tubing in Milford offers visitors an exciting way to enjoy the Delaware River. Tubing can be relaxing, but there is definitely a bit of thrill mixed in. A free BBQ meal is included with your ticket purchase. This is definitely a unique experience that you won't soon forget.
Which of these are you most excited to try? What other must-see attractions or must-do events would you add to this New Jersey 2016 bucket list?