Fall is the perfect time to explore cool coastal towns, historical sites and amazing attractions—without the summer heat, hustle and bustle and large crowds. We rounded up where to go, where to eat and where to stay in six amazing cities – one for each of New Jersey’s six regions.
Why You’ll Love It: Just across the Hudson River from New York City, this hipster-cool enclave touts picture-perfect views of the Manhattan skyline, and during the leaf-peeping season, you’ll enjoy beautiful tree-lined streets with breathtaking fall colors. Stop into the Hoboken Historical Museum or Barsky Gallery to see the latest art exhibitions. Go window shopping at one-of-a-kind stores and unique boutiques along Washington Street. Or just stroll along the Hoboken Waterfront to enjoy some fresh air and riverfront views.
Where to Stay: Take in panoramic views of the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline when you stay in the midst of the action at the W Hoboken, where plush rooms, the Woodhouse Day Spa and Halifax Restaurant—the on-site eatery focusing on local ingredients sourced from nearby farmers, fishermen and artisans—will have you feeling amply pampered. Looking to break a sweat on your getaway? Check out FIT, the W’s 1,520-square-foot gym, which features Hudson River and city views. Another waterfront property is the Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel, just minutes away in nearby Weehawken. Here, you’ll also find sprawling cityscape views and Ruth's Chris Steak House serving up signature fare in an elegant atmosphere.
Where to Eat: With a rich diversity of cultures, take your pick from a variety of international cuisines: Cuban dishes at The Cuban Restaurant and Bar or La Isla, Italian-style sandwiches at Fiore's Deli and flavorful Mediterranean dishes at GreekTown. In the morning, enjoy a leisurely brunch at Anthony David’s, where fan favorites include gourmet items such as chorizo and guacamole Eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, and a crab cake sandwich slathered with lemon aioli.
Delaware River Region
Why You’ll Love It: Get back-to-school vibes in our capital city’s museums and important historical sites. See dinosaur fossils, Civil War relics, Native American artifacts and a collection of fine artwork at the New Jersey State Museum. Explore the gardens and grounds of a historic country house at The 1719 William Trent House Museum, and then see where American troops rested, recovered and lived during the Revolutionary War when you take a tour of the Old Barracks Museum, dating back to the mid-1700s.
Where to Stay: Within 15 minutes of downtown Trenton, discover an array of brand-name hotel chains in neighboring towns: Springhill Suites by Marriott in Ewing Township, Hilton Garden Inn in Hamilton and Hampton Inn in Bordentown. For a romantic getaway, plan a weekend stay at the Inn at Glencairn, a charming bed-and-breakfast in Princeton within a historic home, where you can enjoy the rural beauty of the area and a fresh, healthy breakfast made from scratch.
Where to Eat: Trenton has plenty of options for delicious dining. 1911 Smoke House BBQ always has wings and ribs fresh off the grill with over 20 sauces and seasonings. Trenton Social hosts First Fridays with art exhibits, and any day of the week, stop by to grab a bite and enjoy the ambiance. (And be sure to check the schedule for special events.) For dining with water views, head to Cooper's Riverview—and keep an eye on their calendar for happenings like karaoke nights and Sunday jazz brunch.
Greater Atlantic City Region
Why You’ll Love It: Enjoy a quiet day at the beach in this Jersey Shore town, then stroll along Ventnor Avenue to peruse the numerous unique shops (and maybe even catch some end-of-summer sales). Both beloved and iconic, Margate is ideally located and has many fans- from beach lovers and sports enthusiasts to anglers and surfers alike.
Where to Stay: Just up the Shore, Ventnor City is decorated in vintage-style décor, offering charming accommodations and a prime location near the beach. Just over five miles away is Atlantic City, where you can choose from an array of hotel-casinos, budget-friendly motels and specialized boutique hotels. For a luxury experience, book a room at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, featuring a spa, fitness center and more than 20 dining and nightlife options on-site.
Where to Eat: There’s no better place to enjoy fresh seafood than just off the ocean. Dine on freshly shucked oysters, clam chowder, lobster mac & cheese, jumbo lump crab cake and many more fruits of the ocean at Steve & Cookie's By The Bay. At Tomatoe’s, enjoy the best of land and sea, from burgers and fried chicken to sushi and fresh catches of the day. Meanwhile, Margate Dairy Bar & Burger has been serving up juicy burgers, loaded up hot dogs and thick milkshakes since 1952.
Why You’ll Love It: After a fresh dose of creativity, this coastal town is enjoying a resurgence, with plenty of new (and classic) eateries, nightlife and hotel hotspots to explore. Catch a live show at The Stone Pony or the Paramount Theatre. Make the scene at The Wonder Bar or Soundbooth, a sleek bar at The Asbury Hotel. Visit the Silverball Museum to try your hand at classic pinball games in their retro arcade. Or take in the sights along the boardwalk and shop the many unique storefronts along the way.
Where to Stay: Just two blocks from the Asbury Park Boardwalk, stay in style at The Asbury Hotel—which offers a modern-meets-retro vibe, a chic swimming pool and numerous cocktail bars, plus Baronet, a 4,300-square-foot rooftop space that plays host to well-being classes and outdoor movies. Going to a show at The Stone Pony? Book a room at The Empress, just a few hundred feet from the venue.
Where to Eat: This historic Shore town has found a new groove, with trendy hot spots stealing the scene. Go for farm-to-table diner food served inside a rock-n-roll-inspired bowling alley at the legendary Asbury Lanes. Try modern Middle Eastern fare at Reyla, including fish dishes, kebabs and hummus. Or start your day with brunch pizza pies (yes, that’s a thing) at Talula’s.
Why You’ll Love It: Fall foliage. Need we say more? These neighboring towns in northwestern New Jersey are wooded, rural and absolutely gorgeous when the leaves begin to change colors. Hike the trails at High Point State Park to take in the sight of the monolithic monument rising above rolling hillsides awash in crimson and gold. At Wallkill River National Wildlife Refuge, go for a stroll to see the fall color, and be sure to keep your eyes out for flocks of birds. Then, kick back and relax with an outdoor tasting and overlook the vines at Ventimiglia Vineyard.
Where to Stay: These rural towns in northwestern New Jersey were made for rustic escapes. After a day of hiking, biking or fishing at High Point State Park, stay overnight in one of the on-site cabins (open through October 15) which stay cozy with a woodstove (or pitch a tent in one of their family- and pet-friendly campsites). Bring your RV or sleep in a miniature log cabin for a “glamping” experience at Sun Retreats Pleasant Acres Farm Campground.
Where to Eat: After a day of exploring the great outdoors (and marveling at fall foliage all along the way), a hearty dinner of gourmet pizzas, pasta, calzones and pizza rolls at Lorenzo’s Pizzeria & Restaurant is sure to satisfy. Nearby, The Green Olive serves up an array of Greek and Italian cuisine, from gyros to short rib ravioli. For flavorful Asian specialties, stop by Eastern Garden for colorful platters of sushi, fried rice and wok-fried meats and veggies.
West Cape May
Southern Shore Region
Why You’ll Love It: As the weather gets cooler, the beach-seeking tourists depart and flocks of birds arrive instead. Bring a pair of binoculars to this rural town on the southernmost tip of the Jersey Shore and explore the wetlands at Cape May Point State Park—a well-known birding area, particularly during fall’s migration. While you’re here, hike the trails and take in views from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse. Nearby, revel in the bounty of harvest season in the on-site market at Beach Plum Farm, offering just-picked produce, freshly pressed juice and local jam, honey and more. For more local flavor, take a vineyard tour at Willow Creek Farm & Winery, and enjoy a wine tasting with one of their wine educators.
Where to Stay: Escape for the weekend and enjoy all of the area’s historic appeal when you stay at the Highland House, a pet-friendly bed-and-breakfast brimming with country cottage charm. Nearby, the Wilbraham Mansion is a Victorian-era residence carefully transformed into an elegant bed-and-breakfast, complete with vintage furnishings, intricate wallpaper and turn-of-the-century architectural details.
Where to Eat: Funky, low-key and offbeat is the vibe in West Cape May (the more casual side of neighboring Cape May) and its food scene reflects that. Dine on tasty tacos filled with island flavor—Caribbean spices, fresh seafood and plenty of tropical citrus—at Key West Tacos. Fresh salads, sandwiches and plenty of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are on the menu at Bella Vida Garden Café. An option for an elegant dinner is Sapore Italiano, a BYOB Italian restaurant housed in a Victorian-style home.
Before visiting your chosen destinations, please call ahead or visit the official websites or social media pages to get the latest hours of operation and other need-to-know details.