New attractions, famed trails, major events and celebrated festivals are just a few of the reasons you might want to leave the house and explore New Jersey in 2022.
Here are 22 reasons why the Garden State is a must-visit destination this year, courtesy of the New Jersey Department of Tourism:
- Chase thrills at one of the state’s record-breaking amusement parks
A visit to New Jersey isn’t complete without a trip to the Western Hemisphere’s largest theme park, located in East Rutherford. American Dream is home to thrilling rides and experiences, including DreamWorks Water Park, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and the new Observation Wheel, with unveiled views of New York City’s skyline from 235 feet in the air.
- Go birding in one of North America’s top Audubon destinations
Devoted birders can head to South Jersey to catch the World Series of Birding on May 14, where participants compete to see how many birds they can spot within 24 hours. On Sept. 17, the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor will hold guided viewings of thousands of birds as they head south during their Fall Migration Festival. Other birding hot spots include Parvin State Park in Pittsgrove, Scherman-Hoffman Sanctuary in Bernardsville and Institute Woods in Princeton.
- Relax in the sand or catch a wave on the coast
With more than 130 miles of coastline, New Jersey has a beach (and iconic boardwalk) for everyone – from quiet and serene, to family-friendly to the life of the party. Families return annually to Long Beach Island, while surfers and boogie boarders ride the surf at Manasquan. For a low-key beach outing, a peaceful day in the sand beckons in Avalon and Ocean Grove. Those visiting late in the summer will be among the first to experience the recently renovated boardwalk in The Wildwoods.
- Experience the expansive wines of New Jersey with a vineyard visit
More than 50 vineyards and wineries offer a chance to savor award-winning varietals with festivals celebrating food, music, crafts and curated wine history. Six trails help visitors create seamless day trips around their winery visits, including: Atlantic County, Cape May, Gloucester-Salem, Monmouth-Ocean County, South Jersey and Hunterdon County. Several of the trails feature Autumn Hills Winery, Sharrott Winery and other winners from the 2021 Governor’s Cup.
- Bet your odds in Atlantic City
Slots, poker rooms, baccarat pits, keno, race books and table games provide non-stop action in AC – with each casino providing its own distinctive theme and flair. Along the famed Boardwalk, visitors test their luck at Caesars, The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and Ocean Resort Casino, which recently underwent $15 million in renovations to its guest rooms. Additional renovations include The Cove, a high-limit slot experience, and The Loft, a private luxury gaming experience.
- Make memories at an annual festival
From June 16-19 in Wildwood, country music lovers can see Eric Church, Cole Swindell and Jason Aldean at the second annual Barefoot Country Music Fest, the state’s largest country music festival. In Readington, The New Jersey Festival of Ballooning is the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America. Taking place July 29-31, participants will see mass ascensions of up to 100 balloons, with an exclusive performance from headliner Kansas. The Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta hosts the New Jersey State Fair Aug. 6-13, welcoming more than 220,000 attendees each year since 1999.
- Celebrate history at the Harriet Tubman Museum
Founded in Cape May last year as a highlighted stop on the state’s Black Heritage Trail, the museum displays artifacts related to the pioneering freedom fighter and former New Jersey resident. Included in the displays are exhibits of African American art, and on loan is Journey to Freedom, a nine-foot-tall statue created to commemorate Tubman’s resilience and contributions to history just ahead of her 200th birthday.
- Welcome spring blooms at 2022 Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival
After a cancellation in 2020 and virtual schedule last year, the country’s largest Cherry Blossom display returns to Newark April 2-10. Home to over 3,000 cherry trees, Branch Brook Park hosts a week-long celebration complete with a 10K race, trolley tours, Family Day and Japanese cultural activities, such as origami, bonsai, ikebana and martial arts.
- Warm up with chowder at ChowderFest in Long Beach Island
From Oct. 1-2, local flavors are celebrated at the annual ChowderFest and cook-off classic in Long Beach Island. Visitors and residents alike will taste and vote to award winners in four categories: New England Chowder, Manhattan Chowder, Creative and Best Booth. Visitors should plan to stop by the Merchant Mart, where local vendors offer deals of the season on specialty items and services.
- Reap the rewards of the farm-to-table scene
In Cape May, Beach Plum Farm offers an unforgettable farm-to-fork experience across the 62-acre working farm with more than 100 kinds of produce available. In addition to its expansive market, the property offers lodging and programming for guests – from on-site morning yoga, bicycles and golf carts, to special classes in gardening and archery. In the warmer months, “u-pick” farms are scattered across the state. Visitors can peruse the fields and pick their own peas at DeWolf’s U-Pick Farm, blueberries at DiMeo Farms and Blueberry Plant Nursery and lavender at Pleasant Valley Lavender.
- Hit the links at a celebrated green
The Garden State hosts more than 150 public golf courses, from Scottish links-style courses along the coast to challenging wooded courses upstate. New Jersey also boasts the nation’s largest collection of golf artifacts and memorabilia at the United States Golf Association Museum in Bernards Township. Golfers can test their mettle at the celebrated Liberty National Course in Jersey City, which hosted the PGA Northern Trust in 2021.
- Relive Revolutionary War history in Trenton during Patriots Week
Held annually Dec. 26-31, Patriots Week commemorates and recognizes the state capital’s pivotal role in the American Revolution – the very streets and buildings still stand today as they were in 1776. New this year is the launch of Ten Crucial Days Audio Tour, which allows participants to embark on a self-guided tour through the sites from this historical event.
- Soak up the arts and culture scene at the New Jersey State Museum
The New Jersey State Museum makes learning fun with everything from dinosaurs, ancient artifacts, and eclectic art to stargazing at the Planetarium, now launching out-of-this-world, ultra-high, 8K resolution shows. New this season is Posing Beauty in African American Culture, a thoughtful exhibition exploring the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts.
- Experience the great outdoors at the Delaware Water Gap
Navigable in all seasons, the Delaware Water Gap (DWG) offers over 150 miles of hiking and biking, swimming holes, paddle boards, boats, fishing, and a variety of scenic drives. Red Dot Trail offers a water view from atop Mt. Tammany – the state’s most challenging hike – while Kittatinny Point offers panoramic views of the Gap, which was once touted as a scenic Wonder of the World. Several trails provide access to waterfalls, like Buttermilk Falls or Silver Spray Falls, ensuring a rewarding time in nature. Due to the splendor of the area, efforts are underway to officially name the DWG a national park.
- Take a deep breath and relax at a glorious spa
Offering a plethora of services in tranquil environments, New Jersey spas are ideal places for rest and relaxation. In Hamburg, Elements Spa at Crystal Springs Resort is a utopia where the healing powers of the earth have been incorporated into revitalizing services. SoJo Spa Club – a traditional Korean spa and bath house in Edgewater – offers multiple levels of rejuvenation with jaw dropping views of Manhattan.
- Peruse the menus of the culinary icon along the Anthony Bourdain Food Trail
The Anthony Bourdain Food Trail pays tribute to Bourdain’s childhood growing up in Leonia, and summers spent at the Jersey Shore, with a curated tour of his favorite spots. Highlighted restaurants include: Dock’s Oyster House in Atlantic City, Donkey’s Place in Camden and Hiram’s Roadstand in Fort Lee.
- Shop local or snag deals at the most popular outlets
Locally owned boutiques are sprinkled throughout the charming towns of Smithville and Red Bank with trendy retailers, quaint book shops and more. For those seeking upscale fashions, The Mall at Short Hills in the Gateway Region features more than 175 designer boutiques including Jimmy Choo, Prada and Tori Burch. The mall also recently welcomed NJ’s first location of Venchi Fine Italian Chocolates.
- Walk amidst larger-than-life artwork at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton
Created to make contemporary sculpture more accessible, this sprawling garden provides a casual setting for visitors to stroll through its 42 manicured acres. New this season and running through April 3, Night Forms: dreamloop by Klip Collective offers “an after-hours multisensory experience created between art and nature.”
- Make your heart sing with a visit to Asbury Park – the music mecca of New Jersey
Asbury Park is always riffing with live music, offering something for everyone. The Stone Pony – the legendary music club that launched Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi – will welcome performances this year from Fitz and the Tantrums, Lauren Alaina, Jesse McCartney, Jake Owen and more. Sea.Hear.Now celebrates its third year at the Jersey Shore Sept. 17-18, where festival goers will bid adieu to the summer with performances from Pearl Jam, The Avett Brothers and Billy Idol, among others.
- Visit the nation’s very first National Reserve in the Pinelands
Established by Congress as the country’s first National Reserve in 1978, the Pinelands (or Pine Barrens) cover over one million acres of farms, forests and wetlands near Hammonton. It is home to blueberries, renowned cranberry bogs and the ubiquitous Jersey Devil. Wharton State Forest offers a variety of campgrounds to take in the area’s unique beauty, with the largest single tract of land with the State Park System.
- Root, root, root for the home – or away – team
New Jersey is home to many sports teams, welcoming spectators from near and far to enjoy minor league baseball, horse and auto racing, soccer, hockey and, of course, collegiate and professional football. Whether Met Life Stadium in the Meadowlands or Newark’s Prudential Center, TD Bank Ballpark in Bridgewater or Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport, there’s something to cheer on year-round.
- Try biking in all its forms, exclusively in New Jersey
In Lambertville, Pedego Bikes allows exploration with ease on their electric bikes. Cyclists can utilize the pedal-assisted technology on even hilly terrain, making treks to historic Washington Crossing State Park or Bull’s Island a breeze. Revolution Rail is one of a few places in the country to offer rail biking – allowing access to Cape May’s salt marshes on a bicycle, which is mounted along a retired railroad. The trip promises sightings of wildflowers, butterflies and birds as the track weaves throughout the 180-acre Garrett Family Preserve.
To experience even more in the Garden State, please visit www.visitnj.org.
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