New Jersey has dozens of incredible places to visit, but many don’t get nearly the amount of attention that they deserve. When people think Jersey attractions, they think Jenkinson’s, Six Flags and Liberty Science Center. There are plenty of smaller spots that fly under the radar, waiting to be discovered.
1. Space Farms Museum and Zoo, Sussex
This eclectic museum and zoo is truly unique. You can find something here to suit almost any interest. Visitors can enjoy classic cars, a miniature circus, vintage dolls, unique clocks, Native American artifacts, and the second largest privately owned collection of antique firearms in the United States. The zoo includes the largest private collection of North American wildlife in the world - over 500 animals. The zoo also participates in many programs which help to benefit endangered species.
2. Roebling Museum, Roebling
This unique museum is highly specialized, and a favorite amongst engineers. According to its website, "The mission of the Roebling Museum is to document, preserve and exhibit the history of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, the Roebling family and the village of Roebling. Its focus is not only on the industrial and technological achievements of the company but on the unique social history of its workforce and the town it created."
3. Adventure Aquarium, Camden
This is already a pretty popular attraction, but some still stay away because of its location. I know Camden isn't the safest city, but the aquarium isn't dangerous...just dangerously awesome. Two words: shark tunnel. If you have some extra cash, you can even get up close with the animals!
4. Newark Museum, Newark
Another incredible attraction in a less desirable city, Newark DOES have nice areas. This museum is right near all the universities and offers an extensive art collection, the historic Victorian Ballantine house, and a planetarium. It is the largest museum in New Jersey.
5. Bowcraft Amusement Park, Scotch Plains
I have lived in New Jersey all my life, but I didn't hear about this family-friendly amusement park until recently. Open since 1946, the park currently includes a selection of kiddie and family rides, along with several thrill rides. The crossbow coaster is perfect for the more adventurous. There is also an arcade and a great pizza place on the premises.
6. Tuckerton Seaport, Tuckerton
Tuckerton Seaport’s 40-acre site includes 17 historic and recreated buildings connected by a boardwalk, a maritime forest and wetlands nature trail, two houseboats, a decoy gallery, a working boatworks building, decoy carving workshops and the recreated Tucker’s Island Lighthouse. The Jersey Shore’s rich maritime heritage is brought to life by historically accurate daily demonstrations.
7. Sterling Hill Mining Museum, Ogdensburg
Explore an underground mine filled with fluorescent rocks and learn about New Jersey's rich mining history! Sterling Hill provides a truly unique experience that the whole family can enjoy. The museum offers a wide variety of hands-on activities including mineral collecting and a fossil discovery center.
8. Wild West City, Netcong
This "Wild West" theme park takes visitors back in time. Guests can enjoy train, stagecoach and pony rides, but the shows are by far the best. Enjoy 22 live-action performances, replicating life in the Old West.
9. Popcorn Park Animal Refuge, Forked River
This incredible animal refuge is maintained by the Associated Humane Societies and operates as a zoo. Popcorn Park is a sanctuary for abandoned, injured, ill, exploited, abused or elderly wildlife, exotic and farm animals, and birds. Learn about each unique rescue story, support a non-profit and even interact with some of the animals! Above is a photo of Mr. Wiggles, a Squirrel Monkey who was being kept illegally as a pet before he was rescued.
10. Aviation Hall of Fame, Teterboro
Every time I've visited, the museum has been nearly empty. New Jersey was a pioneer in the aviation industry and much can be learned at this museum. Visit during an open cockpit weekend for interactive fun!
11. Lakota Wolf Preserve, Columbia
A non-profit organization, Lakota allows tours by appointment only. While you cannot handle the wolves, you can enjoy them up close in their natural environment. Photography is allowed and encouraged!
12. Historic Smithville and The Village Green, Smithville
This quaint village is reminiscent of days past, though it does not focus on a specific time period. A great spot for both antiquing and discovering new treasures, enjoy a simpler time and stay for the weekend. A popular place for lodging and relaxation is the Colonial Inn. Enjoy shopping, vintage arcade games and historic reenactments. This holiday season, enjoy Christmas lights on the lake.
13. Howell Living History Farm, Lambertville
Howell Living History Farm serves as an example of farming as it was practiced in New Jersey in the period between 1890 -1910. It is very interactive, allowing visitors to harvest crops, care for animals and even make ice cream the old fashioned way!
14. Diggerland, West Berlin
The ONLY construction theme park in the USA, Diggerland offers nearly two dozen rides as well as a stunt show and ropes course. Have you ever tried bowling with a 2-ton excavator?
Some of these places are more popular than others, but they don’t get the credit they deserve. Have you been to any of these attractions? What others would you add to this list?