You want to show your family and friends a fantastic time when they come to visit—and show off what a one-of-a-kind destination New Jersey is. With our list of 22 unique places to take out-of-towners (organized by interest below), you can check both of those boxes and send your guests home raving about our beloved Garden State.
Fun for families
Map your way to a treasured experience and swashbuckling good time when you climb aboard a Dark Star Pirate Cruise in Wildwood Crest—just be sure to watch out for the antics of this 50-foot vessel’s mutinous crew. If the kiddos are more interested in operating real-live (specially-engineered) backhoes, diggers and other heavy equipment, then be sure to clock in at the country’s only construction theme and water park at Diggerland USA in West Berlin.
New Jersey is also home to some curious animal attractions. For creepy-crawlies, a visit to Insectroplis in Toms River is a must. Known as The Bugseum of New Jersey, it’s home to thousands of insects and even a “mud tube” guests can crawl through to see what it’s like to be a termite. For four-legged and furry creatures, schedule a tour at Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia and find yourself surrounded by four different packs as the resident wolves play with each other—and maybe even treat you to a characteristic ahhhh-woooooooo.
Easy-breezy times on (or high above!) the water
If your guests pride themselves on being early adopters of what’s next, head to Lakeview Marina on Lake Hopatcong to ride a ZUP Board™ or Air Chair (read more about them here). If that sounds too intimidating, the marina also offers instruction in more traditional watersports, including wakeboarding and water skiing.
For a relaxing experience, you can choose a cruise. The River Lady in Toms River, the only genuine paddle-wheel boat in the state, is renowned for elegant lunch and dinner cruises. If your tastes run more Mai Tai than Champagne, book a Pau Hana Tiki Boat Tour out of Somers Point. Tiki tip: Pau Hana tours are BYOB but you can add a catering package for cocktail mixers and food that’s ready for your enjoyment on the water.
Seeking a change in altitude? Get your ticket for The Cannibal Queen, one of America’s most historic aircraft, for a biplane ride that soars high above New Jersey beaches.
Beyond the brewery (or winery!)
While the Garden State is known for its thriving winery, brewery and distillery scene, we invite you and your visitors to sip on mighty meads and crisp ciders at a quartet of craft beverage makers—Beach Bee Meadery in Long Branch, Melovino Meadery in Vauxhall, Ironbound Farm Cider in Asbury and Burnt Mills Cider in Bedminster.
Gardens, grub, glass & games
Flowers and food are universal crowd pleasers, so we rounded up a trio of delights to dazzle your guests. Bring garden lovers to Duke Farms in Hillsborough, a 1,000-acre wonder of natural beauty featuring native plants, or Deep Cut Gardens in Middletown—where every season is abloom and a rose parterre showcases 52 varieties on more than 180 bushes. Hungry? The New Jersey Food Tour Trail invites you to eat your way around the entire state through a collaboration of food tour operators covering every region.
Looking for something artsy? WheatonArts in Millville is a full-blown artistic community that houses the highly respected Museum of American Glass along with artist studios, where you can watch demonstrations in glassmaking and other crafts. Care to get hands-on? GlassRoots in Newark hosts classes that cover just about every step of the glassmaking process.
For a one-of-a-kind throwback (and must-do!) experience, you can take your crew to the Silverball Museum Arcade in Asbury Park where an entry pass allows you to play all of the classic pinball and arcade games for free.
All-in for history
For family and friends that would like to witness the past in the here-and-now, take a trip to Fosterfields Living Historical Farm in Morristown to get immersed in the everyday workings of a 1920s farm—or journey back in time at Batsto Village in Hammonton to explore over two-and-a-half centuries of American history.
And a sense of wonder is sure to STEM from our final two unique places to take out-of-towners. The InfoAge Science History Learning Museum in Wall is a consortium of science and history museums and exhibits (think: a mini Smithsonian) that focus on New Jersey’s innovations in telecommunications, while the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum takes off with interactive exhibits and activities centered around aviation and military history—all housed in a real WWII hangar in Cape May.
Our top tip for ensuring zero disappointments? Check the official websites or social media pages of your desired attractions for all the latest visitation information before arriving with your guests in tow. You can discover even more things to do in New Jersey by downloading our free travel guide—and stay in-the-know with monthly inspiration delivered to your inbox by signing up for our e-newsletter.