Is New Jersey Worth Visiting? This is a proto from Manhattan Yacht Club, the launch of the Honorable William Wall boat, in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Is New Jersey Worth Visiting? 13 Best Things to Do in NJ

New Jersey isn’t a state that many associate with travel or vacations. You may be wondering, “Is New Jersey Worth Visiting?”

There are many different areas of New Jersey – some urban, some suburban, and some rural. I love going down the shore in the summer, and you’ll find that many of my features highlight shore towns. This post is not an all-encompassing guide – but it highlights the top places I’ve explored in New Jersey in the five years I’ve lived here.

Eleanor at the Honorable William Wall, accessible via boat from Jersey City

1. Take in the Skyline Views from Hoboken (the top reason to visit New Jersey!)

Hailing from New York City, I now call Hoboken home. I love it here.

Hoboken is a small, square-mile city located just outside of Manhattan. The only thing between us is the Hudson River. Hoboken is only a ten-minute ride via PATH train or bus and seven minutes via commuter ferry.

My favorite thing to do in Hoboken is to sit at Pier A Park and take in the skyline (I do have skyline views from my apartment, too, though). Pier A Park is a large, grassy park right on the Hudson River. The waterfront public space stretches nearly the entire length of the city. You can walk almost all along the waterfront, with a minor detour about halfway through. I highly recommend this.

The waterfront views are so incredible that I also recommend coming to this side of the Hudson for NYC visitors, not just those visiting New Jersey. The views are very much worth the short train ride.

2. Savor Hoboken Italian Food

Hoboken is known for its Italian heritage, and it offers many American-Italian eateries.

Where to Eat Italian Food in Hoboken:

🍽 Blue Eyes – a classic Italian spot on the Hoboken waterfront with incredible views. I bring all my guests here!

🍽 Margherita’s – best chicken parmesan in Hoboken

🍽 Il Tavolo – for classic Italian, in a modern setting

🍽 Grimaldi’s – for pizza

Recommendations for Other Cuisine:

🍽 Illuzion – for sushi*

🍽 Chango’s – for Cuban*

🍽 Seven Valleys – for mediterranean*

The restaurants marked with an asterisk are BYOB! And, all of the restaurants listed have outdoor seating.

Visitors can also enjoy a traditional Italian deli at Fiore’s (famous for Roast Beef Mutz, and only available on Thursdays and Saturdays) or Losurdo’s.

Where to Stay in Hoboken:

📍W Hoboken – luxury on the waterfront. The only hotel in Hoboken.

📍Hyatt Place Secaucus or Meadowlands Plaza Hotel – mid-budget hotels in Secaucus very close to Secaucus Junction train station, where you can easily get a train to Hoboken, down the shore, or into Manhattan. Both hotels offer an area shuttle to the train.

3. Indulge in the Jersey City Food & Bar Scene

No, it’s not New York City. But, Jersey City has an appetizing food and bar scene!

Where to Eat in Jersey City:

🍽 Batello – chic Italian on the waterfront

🍽 Ani Ramen – ramen and other Asian dishes

🍽 Hamilton Inn – modern American

🍽 Razza – Neapolitan pies

🍽 Porta – wood-fired pizza

Where to Get Drinks in Jersey City:

🍸 Dullboy – cute cocktail bar with an adorable backyard

🍺 Smorgasbar – large outdoor waterfront bar with food stands (pictured below!)

🍺 Surf City – huge seaside seafood bar

🍺 Zeppelin Hall – beer hall with large outdoor space (with fire pits in the winter!)

🍺 Hudson Hall – beer hall

🍺 South House (& you can bar hop on Grove Street!) – bar with live music

Where to stay in Jersey City: 

📍Canopy by Hilton Jersey City Arts District

📍Hyatt House Jersey City

Hotel selections are based on location, price, and quality of stay.

4. Explore Liberty State Park in Jersey City

Liberty State Park is an enormous 1200-acre park located just north of Downtown Jersey City. It boasts incredible views of the Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor. This park is incredibly close to Lady Liberty, and you can get a quick boat to Liberty and Ellis Islands from the park.

The park also contains Liberty Science Center, which hosts a themed party for adults once a month on a Thursday night. (Otherwise, its best for kids.)

5. Catch a Boat to Willy Wall outside of Jersey City – Definitely Worth Visiting New Jersey For!

The Honorable William Wall, also affectionately referred to as “Willy Wall”, is a floating barge in the harbor. Owned by Manhattan Yacht Club, this spot is open to all with the purchase of a ticket. Book a ticket in advance on the weekend.

You can also get to Willy Wall via ferry from Brookfield Place in Manhattan, so its a great spot to meet a friend from the city.

Views from Willy Wall

6. Venture to Any Shore Town

The shore is my second favorite part of New Jersey. The state has roughly 130 miles of coastline and offers endless beach spots to enjoy.

Throughout the state, beaches are kept clean. At most beaches, visitors are required to buy a beach pass either via app or booth by the beach and wear a wristband for the day.

The shore towns are best visited by car, though traffic can be rough. If coming from up north or NYC, the NJTransit train is also a great option for the beach towns listed below – Long Branch, Asbury Park, Spring Lake, and Belmar. This train runs about every hour during the day. Additionally, Uber and Lyft are available.

The shore towns below are listed from north to south, so the first will be closest to NYC, Hoboken, and Jersey City.

Where to Stay in Long Branch:

📍Cedars & Beeches – budget

📍Bungalow – luxury

7. Devour a Famous Hot Dog While Visiting Long Branch

Famous hot dogs are worth visiting New Jersey for. Max’s Bar & Grill serves hot dogs with a wide variety of toppings in a cool diner setting with live music on the weekends.

8. Appreciate Asbury Park – Well Worth a Visit to New Jersey!

Asbury Park is the most vibrant beach town in New Jersey. It’s a top beach destination and worth visiting New Jersey for.

The area is most known for its happening boardwalk, which gives Coney Island vibes. On the boardwalk, visitors can find sit-down restaurants, bars, food stands, coffee shops, stores, mini golf, and so much more. Because of proximity, ease of parking, businesses, and plentiful bathrooms, Asbury is my top pick for New Jersey beaches.

How to Spend the Day in Asbury Park:

  • Arrive by 10 a.m. and park right by the boardwalk in metered spots (behind Asbury Ocean Club Hotel)
  • Get coffee at Asbury Park Roastery
  • Eat my packed turkey sandwich
  • Read a book
  • Get hot dogs
  • Enjoy a drink at Watermark, Beach Bar, or Wonder Bar, (maybe a pizza at Porta) before going home

Additionally, the Stone Pony, a historic music venue known for launching Bruce Springsteen’s career, is right off the boardwalk. It hosts many concerts on its Summer Stage from June to August but has a smaller indoor venue, too.

Where to Eat and Drink in Downtown Asbury Park:

🍽 The Bonney Road – sit-down seafood restaurant

🍺 Johnny Mac House of Spirit – outdoor bar

🍸 The Black Swan – swanky cocktail bar

Where to Stay in Asbury Park:

📍 The Asbury Hotel (luxury)

📍Sheraton Eatontown (mid-budget option – also nice but is a 9 minute ride away)

9. Relax in Quaint Spring Lake

Spring Lake is an incredibly quaint, picturesque town. It was formerly a resort town for wealthy New Yorkers. Visitors can go to the beach here but prepare for the town to enforce rules around food, drinks, and tents.

You won’t find eateries within easy walking distance from the beach. If driving, you can pack a cooler and leave it in the car. Or, Joe’s Shack is a good lunch spot in neighboring Lake Como (chicken nachos pictured below!).

🍦Pop by Hoffman’s Ice Cream for a quick treat at the end of the day!

10. Beach It in Belmar

Belmar, known as the party capital of the shore, is also a top beach town. It’s directly south of Spring Lake and much more casual. It is filled with the 20s – 30s crowd, with some blocks getting a little rowdy. That said, if you want to avoid it, you easily can!

The town offers easy-to-access bathrooms on the beach, and the area has several eateries within walking distance.

Where to Get Drinks in Belmar:

🍽 Marina Grille – bayfront restaurant with a large, open-air bar and great vibes (pictured below!)

🍺 Bar Anticipation (called Bar A) – a large bar with outdoor and indoor areas. If you’re in the mood for going out, Bar A has live music in the evenings

11.  Relax in Long Beach Island & Barnegat Light

Commonly known as “LBI”, Long Branch Island, is a popular destination for families, as well as young people. As it’s further south, and essentially on an island, it’s not as easy to get to (for most!), and requires a car.

Barnegat Light is connected to Long Beach Island to the north. I’d recommend the Tiki Tour there – not on a cold early June day!

Where to Eat in Long Beach Island:

🍽 The Engleside Inn – upscale restaurant right next to the Sea Shell Resort

🍽 The Chicken or the Egg – diner for breakfast (did you know that New Jersey is the diner capital of the world? There are more diners per capita than anywhere else!)

🍺 The Sea Shell Bar – a lively outdoor bar with sandy areas, corn hole, and fire pits (pictured below and in places to stay)

Where to Stay in Long Beach Island:

📍Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club – it’s a vibe!

📍Hotel LBI

12. Go All Out in Atlantic City

Atlantic City is the Las Vegas of New Jersey. The city is made up of mega casino resorts, each with casinos, hotels, entertainment venues, restaurants, bars, pools, and so much more. If you enjoy gambling or visiting casino resorts, Atlantic City makes New Jersey worth visiting.

Atlantic City has the world’s oldest boardwalk. It’s now 8 miles.

Many travel to Atlantic City to gamble, but also to see concerts, shop at the outlets, hit the beach, and enjoy a night out.

Atlantic City is best accessible by car and is about 2 hours from NYC without traffic. But, there’s always traffic. It’s not accessible via train from shore points or NYC, but there is a bus from NYC. There is a rail link from Philadelphia.

Tip: Atlantic City can be dangerous so stay at the casino resorts, walk along the boardwalk between them (not on the street), or take a car share or taxi where you need to go.

Where to Eat in Atlantic City:

🍽 Carmine’s in the Tropicana – Italian family style (this is a chain)

🍽 Vic & Anthony’s Steakhouse at the Golden Nugget – upscale, pricey but solid

🍽 Noodles of the World – ramen at the Borgata

🍽 Atlantic City Bar & Grill – hidden gem behind the casinos, featuring plentiful American seafood and meat dishes

🍽 Pirates Den in Brigantine – great lower-cost diner worth a short drive

Where to Get Drinks in Atlantic City:

You really can stop by anywhere!

🍸 B Bar at Borgata

🍺 Bally’s Wild West country bar

🍺 Bally’s Bikini Beach Bar

Where to Stay in Atlantic City:

📍Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

📍Ocean Casino Resort

📍Borgata Hotel & Casino

Stay at a legitimate casino resort – not a hotel off the strip.

13. Take a Break at Wawa

Wawa is a New Jersey favorite. It’s an elevated convenience store found at gas stations. Wawa has everything! My friends always hyped it up but I didn’t believe that WaWa was so great until I experienced it myself. They have delicious sandwiches, awesome late-night food, and just about any snack you might crave.

How To Get to New Jersey

  • By Air: Fly into Newark International Airport. It’s a United hub but serviced by all the major US carriers. (Do not stay in Newark, unless it’s an airport hotel. Newark is not a safe area to visit.)
  • By Train: Amtrak runs into the main station – Newark Penn Station, as well as a few others. NJTransit trains run in and out of New York City to many points throughout the state. From New York City to Hoboken or Jersey City, you can take the PATH train, an NJTransit Bus out of Port Authority, or the NY Waterway ferry.
  • By Car: You can easily drive here from points along the eastern seaboard, as well as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
  • By Bus: From NYC Port Authority Bus Station.

Conclusion: Is New Jersey Worth Visiting?

New Jersey is worth visiting if…

✅ It’s summer and you enjoy beach towns

✅ You’re visiting family, friends, or attending a concert or other event at Met Life Stadium, PNC Bank Arts Center (outdoor), or the Prudential Center, or already traveling for business

✅ If you’re visiting Hoboken or Jersey City as an outing from New York City

I love living in New Jersey. However, outside of the beaches and its proximity to New York City, I don’t think it’s worth taking a special trip in the spring, fall, or winter.

I’ve lived here for five years but there are still there are lakes, hiking trails, wineries, and so much more that I just haven’t gotten to explore yet. Stay tuned for a post update!

Thinking about heading to New Jersey?

Contact me to discuss itinerary planning services!