Summer, at last ! Across the Garden State, there are tried-and-true experiments, but there’s also newness. Do something different this year. Pick a day, drive, explore, be amazed, relax, enjoy.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg has a spectacular display of fluorescent minerals in a former mine. Photo by Michael Kucinski

Skylands Region

Farms, ball festivals, 4-H fairs, Double-A baseball – this is Skylands. Plus, there’s caving in the caverns at the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Sussex County. In Morris County, enjoy the Chester Music Festival and historic Fosterfields Living Farm, and pretend you’re in Athens watching actors from New Jersey’s Shakespeare Theater perform on an outdoor stage. Traveling through Somerset County, catch a Somerset Patriots game, take a yoga class with goats, or spend a weekend night in downtown Somerville, home to bands, vintage cars, and plenty of restaurants . In rural Hunterdon County, your country tendencies are satisfied under the stars while listening to music at Deer Path Park, cheering on competitors in the annual Great Rubber Duckie Race alongside Clinton’s historic Red Mill, or biking the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park towpath, which begins in beautiful Frenchtown.

Venture into Liberty State Park for exceptional views of the New York skyline. Photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

Gateway region

Notable monuments, botanical gardens, city tours, horse racing, theatre, nature walks and eco-cruises on the Hackensack River comprise an area stretching from historic Cranbury to recreational delights of Mahwah. Take in the views atop the American Dream Observation Wheel in Meadowlands or from a seat on a Statue Cruise from Liberty State Park. Discover our first colonial capital with a self-guided walking tour of Elizabeth. If you plan to dine by the water or go kayaking, you can’t beat the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway area. Stop by Jersey City’s Journal Square for a delicious dessert – oh, and take a selfie with the 14-foot-tall statue of baseball great, Jackie Robinson. The Newark Black Film Festival and the MTV Video Music Awards return to this great metropolis in 2022. In New Brunswick, it’s all about performances and outdoor dining in the city where Rutgers University is located. Nine miles away, settle in for an outdoor theatrical experience with a Plays-in-the-Park performance at Edison’s Roosevelt Park.

Spanning nearly three football fields and more than 11 stories along the Camden waterfront, Battleship New Jersey is the most decorated battleship in United States history. Photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

Delaware River Region

Don’t let Princeton’s Ivy League sophistication, with its many wonderful shops and museums, keep you from visiting other places, like the Howell Living History Farm, Trenton City Museum, Grounds For Sculpture, Baldpate Mountain or Trenton Thunder Ballpark around of Mercer County. Travel further south and the landscape changes to forests, wetlands and berry farms in the Pine Barrens. Head west to the Delaware River waterfront in Camden to visit the looming 887-foot-long Battleship New Jersey, or the underwater world of the Adventure Aquarium. The neighboring county of Gloucester hosts the annual Butterfly Festival in July. About half an hour further south in Salem County is the iconic Cowtown Rodeo in Pilesgrove and a night of wilderness glamping in Pittsgrove.

The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States, and you can find it in the Gateway area. Photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

coastal region

It’s all about the beaches and the fun of walks in Ocean and Monmouth counties, especially if surfing at LBI (Long Beach Island) or the Belmar Pro event excites you. Relax and breathe in the fresh ocean air while watching movies on Seaside Heights Beach or shopping for antiques at Point Pleasant Beach. Come for the chowder and fresh seafood, but stay for the stunning views of the many lighthouses that dot the shore, including the nation’s oldest at Sandy Hook. Pinball, eclectic restaurants and The Stone Pony bring visitors to the thriving seaside town of Asbury Park. Inland, visitors attend the annual five-day Monmouth County Fair at Freehold in July. Keep Waretown on your radar for alpaca farm tours at Out Of Sight Alpacas and bluegrass music Saturdays.

The Renault Winery estate, located in the Atlantic City metropolitan area, was recently landscaped for festivals and recreation. Photo courtesy of Renault Winery

Greater Atlantic City Area

Our coasts are all so different ⁠—but, again, you probably already know that. Besides swimming, fishing, and boating in Atlantic City, nightlife, gaming, and spa options abound. It is also home to the East Coast’s largest arcade, Lucky Snake. If you can manage the 228 steps, take in the great views from Absecon Lighthouse 171 feet above the city. Are you coming in July? Head inside for the National Sports Collectors Convention. August? Save the date for the Thunder Over the Boardwalk Air Show on August 24.

In this same area is the sprawling 250-acre Renault Wine Estate, the second oldest in the United States, bordering Egg Harbor City and Galloway Township, which hosts a variety of events for all ages nearly every week. The grounds have been newly landscaped for festivals with festoon lighting, an outdoor bar, tents and parking for hundreds of hotel visitors, a golf course and special events, such as live entertainment, next to the hearths and cabins. Plus, every day is wine tasting day here.

“We want people to rediscover Renault,” said Rob Pattillo, VP of Hospitality, on year-round seasonal programming. Visit renaultwinery.com for more information.

Rail biking is an exciting expedition that can be found in the South Rim region, especially in Cape May. Photo courtesy of Revolution Rail Co.

South Shore Region

Just thinking about scenic Cape May conjures up days filled with shopping, whale watching, railcycling, concerts, golfing and zoo visits. For birdwatchers, Cape May Point State Park’s Bayshore Scenic Heritage Byway leads to the shoreline of Delaware Bay, with wildlife viewing platforms in the American Flyway. Sunbathers at Wildwood’s free beaches often end their day with a stroll on the award-winning boardwalk. Do you like grilling? Treat your taste buds at the New Jersey State BBQ Championship (July 8-10). Want to party ? The Beach Boys will be at the Wildwoods Convention Center (August 27). Make sure you don’t miss the World’s Largest Boat Parade in Ocean City in July.

“Each of New Jersey’s six diverse regions offers fun summer adventures, whether you visit us for a day, a weekend or a week,” said Jeff Vasser, executive director of New Jersey’s travel and tourism division. Jersey. “From hiking the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Trail, to climbing the highest peak in High Point State Park, to fishing and water sports along the historic Delaware River, to the sun and sea air at one of our many beautiful beaches, New Jersey promises to be at the top of your “must see” exploration list this season.”

This summer, it’s easy to fill your calendar app with outings. Now it’s time to explore New Jersey.

Debra Stevko Miller is a journalism graduate from Rutgers University and a member of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors. Along with writing feature articles and profiles for various publications, she also founded BiosToGo.com and dabbled in screenwriting and children’s picture book poetry.

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Explore New Jersey, a travel booklet produced by Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.

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