Deep Cut Gardens

22 Unique Places to Take Out-of-Towners This Summer

You want to show your family and friends a fantastic time when they come to stay – and show off what a one-of-a-kind destination our state is. With this list of 22 unique places to visit in New Jersey in summer (organized by interest below), you can check both of those boxes and send your guests home, raving that they had the best time ever.

Fun with family

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.

Picture of a tour boat that looks like a pirate ship, on open water, in Wildwood Crest, New Jersey

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, book 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.

A big cat at the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, New Jersey

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. The outdoor fun never ends on the lake!

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 catering packages are available for nibbles to enjoy 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!)

The Garden State is known for its thriving winery, brewery and distillery scene for couples and friends. For a twist on the fun, we invite you and your visitors to sip on mighty meads and crisp ciders at a trio of craft beverage makers – Beach Bee Meadery in Long Branch, Ironbound Farm & Ciderhouse in Asbury and Burnt Mills Cider in Bedminster.

A flight of cider at Burnt Mills Cider in Bedminster, New Jersey

Gardens, grub, glass & games 

Flowers and food are universal crowd-pleasers, so we rounded up the 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.

A gazebo in the background of gardened hedges at Duke Farms, in Middletown, New Jersey

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.

All-in for history and heritage

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 Morris Township 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 historic wows.

A historic brick building in an open field , in Basto Village, New Jersey

Your guests will stand in awe of the BAPS Swaminarayan Akshardham, an impressive Hindu house of worship in Robbinsville. Showcasing 13,499 individual carved stone pieces and surrounded by a beautiful, manicured setting, it is a cultural treasure to behold. Top tip: Review key visitor information – including dress code – before your arrival.

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.