New Jersey has gotten an undeserved reputation: this is no “Dirty Jersey”. Though it may be tiny — especially compared to its neighbor New York — The Garden State is home to some serious gems. Whether you’re an NYC resident looking for a getaway, or something else is drawing you to the state, we think you’ll be more than pleasantly surprised by these destinations and adventures. Take a look at some of the best weekend getaways in NJ.
Yes, the Atlantic City they sing about in Guys and Dolls for its gambling fame. Consider this the Las Vegas of the east coast, except NJ has a Ferris wheel on the beach and lots of casinos. AC has undergone a rebirth in the last decade or so and has become a destination for the high-brow New York crowd, but there’s still plenty of affordable fun to be had. If you’re not interested in gambling you could take in some culture at the Atlantic City Ballet, go round and round on the Ferris wheel as you and your sweetheart (or kids!) take in the view of the coastline, or stroll the boardwalk and enjoy the beach.
Just a few miles outside of New York, the birthplace of Frank Sinatra has a decidedly Italian feel with a happening nightlife and lower price tag than the neighboring options. For New Yorkers without cars, the Path train is your ticket to one of the closest quick weekend getaways in NJ. Take in a show over dinner at Maxwell’s Tavern, the legendary venue featured in a Bruce Springsteen video, or visit any one of the many bars — more bars per capita than New York, in fact, a draw for many to move to Hoboken after college. Note: Driving in Hoboken is a pain for everyone, even taxi drivers. Consider walking whenever possible.
So good that Bruce Springsteen named an album after it, Asbury is the LGBTQ paradise calling itself the next Fire Island. Full of relics from the ’80s and still in the midst of revitalization, this City by the Sea got a new life when the community’s open mindset brought LGBTQ couples flocking to buy homes and start businesses. The city is home to the Stone Pony, made infamous on the tv show The Boss, which has been hosting legendary acts like The Violent Femmes and the Indigo Girls since it opened in 1974. Asbury Park has also gained a name in recent years for its exquisite dining, so you’ll be well fed.
If you’re looking for a family option among the best weekend getaways in NJ, look no further than the sweet beach town of Cape May. This town offers options both for those with kids in tow, and those just looking to indulge their inner child. One of the country’s oldest resort towns, you’ll want to spend plenty of time at the beach and leave time to play in the amusement park at Wildwoods. Don’t forget to stop by HotDog Tommy’s, whether you have kids or you just feel like a kid when you buy a hotdog on the boardwalk. For a swanky weekend away get a room at the Sandpiper Beach Club, and just leave your car in the lot while you stroll around town.
You might feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you arrive in this rural town. Excellent for a weekend getaway in NJ in winter, you can stay in one of the Victorian manor bed and breakfasts in the historic district. Satisfy your sweet tooth with gourmet chocolates at the Fudge Shoppe before sipping a pint at Lone Eagle Brewing. If you visit in summer, you can head to Schaefer Farm to meet the animals and sample some local produce. Flemington is a hub for local farmers, so you’ll be able to find fresh local foods all around town.
Honorable Mention: Newark
Home to New Jersey’s biggest airport, there is a surprising amount of art and culture in Newark. It’s definitely a big city feel with a lot of activity due to the airport, but you can find some true gems if you look off the beaten path.
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