The Very Best of New Jersey
Yes, you read that title correct. This post is all about the very best of New Jersey. I know many of you will scoff at that. New Jersey has long been the butt of jokes in this country. Those yahoos on “Jersey Shore” didn’t help matters. I’m here to tell you that New Jersey is more than loud Italtians in wife beaters and big hair.
I have lived in New Jersey all of my life. I grew up in the shadow of the capitol, Trenton and currently live near the Pine Barrens. I love my state and really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But, I’m aware that New Jersey isn’t your first thought when planning a vacation.
I get it, really. All you ever hear about are the bad parts of this state. But, New Jersey has so much to offer. Let me show you.
The Shore. The Beach. Whatever you call it, New Jersey has 141 miles of it. I’m going to tell you my favorite beach in the state. But, first, there are some things you need to know when visiting the Shore.
- Most towns require you to purchase a beach tag to use their beaches. These range in price, but usually are around $5-$10/day per adult. Children are usually free, but I advise you to check before you go. The tags can be purchased at the entrance to the beach or on the boardwalk. If you are caught without a tag, there is a fine of a few hundred dollars. So, just get a beach tag. It helps keep our beaches clean. Beach tags are not needed in the off season (before Memorial Day or after Labor Day).
- Parking is hard to find. If you are going for the day, you will either have to hunt for a metered parking spot or pay a premium to park in a lot. If I know I’m going to be there for more than a couple hours, I will splurge for the parking lot. FYI, off season (before Memorial Day or after Labor Day) you can usually find free street parking.
- The seagulls are quite aggressive and will steal food from your hands. You’ve been warned.
Ocean City is my absolute favorite beach town. It is perfect for families with small children. There is a large Boardwalk with rides, mini golf, and arcades. There are lots of great restaurants. The beach is beautiful and clean, and beach tags aren’t too expensive.
One caveat, Ocean City is a dry town. You can not purchase alcohol anywhere in town. But, don’t worry there are liquor stores strategically located on either end of the island, just over the town line. However, because it is a dry town, you don’t have the loud, obnoxious tourists like you do in other beach towns. Ocean City is not a party town. It is a family destination.
So, grab some Jilly Fries, a Kohr’s ice cream cone, and settle down for a relaxing day at the beach.
For a small state, NJ has a lot of great Amusement Parks. Not only does every boardwalk have rides and attractions, but we also have theme parks for every age group.
By Storybook Land – Storybookland.com, FAL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14772243
Storybook Land is the best place to take toddlers and preschoolers for a day of fun. The park is celebrating its 60th year and it easy to see why it has been in business for so long. The park is clean and never too crowded (except during holidays and special events). There is plenty of shade and cool down areas. And, the theming is charming and nostalgic. The park looks very much like it did when it opened back 60 years ago.
I’ve been taking my son here since he was a little over a year old. Even at that young age, he could go on just about every ride. There aren’t any big rollercoasters or thrill rides here. The scariest ride they have is the little caterpillar kiddie coaster. Everything else is perfect for the littlest rider.
Parking is free and you can bring your own food and drinks if you don’t want to eat the park food. Like all amusement parks in NJ, they are open from Spring to Fall, though hours are limited to weekends during non-summer months.
If you have a truck lover between the ages for 3 and 10, Diggerland USA is a must. My 4yo and I visited fort he first time recently and he loved it. I’m glad I got a membership because we are going to be there a lot.
Diggerland USA has a very simple theme, trucks. Construction trucks to be exact. And, lots of them. Every ride features some sort of truck or moving vehicle. There are trucks that you child can drive (they may have to sit in your lap to do it, but it doesn’t hinder the fun). There are trucks they can dig with (diggers, duh). They even have a truck themed carousel.
We spent 4 hours there and my son was planning his next visit before we even left the parking lot. Confession, this place is really just for the truck lovers. It is definitely not someplace I would choose to go if I didn’t have a little boy.
Parking is free, but you can’t bring outside food into the park. There also is no shade anywhere in this park. And, since most of the rides require kids under 48” to be lap riders, single parents of multiple children will want to bring a friend or family member to help out.
The king of the theme parks in NJ is Great Adventure. Perfect for older kids, teens, and adults, GA (as we locals call it. Or maybe is was just my friends) has lots of thrills and entertainment. Not only does Six Flags have some of the best rides in the world, it also features a Safari and water park.
I must confess that I have not been to Great Adventure in years. I’m not a fan of big coasters and thrill rides in general. Plus, my son really isn’t old enough for those types of rides, yet. However, I spent a lot of time in this park as a kid and I know a lot of people who still love it. It needs to be on the list of anyone who loves amusement parks.
Park is not free and cost about $25 at the time this post was written. Food is available throughout the park but you may not bring in outside food.
Great Adventure is a little like Disney, you want to do some research before you visit so you can get the most out of your day.
These are just a few things that New Jersey has to offer. For more info, check out VisitNJ.
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Pamela thank you for sharing New Jersey with us! I really want to visit The Shore sometime and Six Flags! I bet my two nephews would love that Diggerland! Super excited to share it with my sister!