Six Secret Getaways in New Jersey

Plan a weekend getaway at these hidden gems.

Sure, New Jersey has some incredible vacation destinations, from Atlantic City to Cape May—but what about off-the-beaten-path gems, those small towns with charming Main Streets, quiet parks and independent restaurants and theaters? Take a weekend trip to discover our lesser-known destinations with this roundup of “secret” getaways throughout the state.

Weekend Trip Idea #1 – Natural Beauty and Local Fare in Sussex County

Escape to the breathtaking natural beauty of northern New Jersey, where rolling hillsides and sweeping views of the Kittatinny Mountains await. The stylish Fox and Bear Lodge in Glenwood makes the perfect home base. Be sure to check out one of the many restaurants and farm stands nearby—like Mohawk House (Sparta), Cow Patty’s (Wantage) and Pochuck Valley Farm Market (Glenwood). Looking to sip some local wines? Head to nearby Ventimiglia Vineyard (Wantage). Explore New Jersey’s great outdoors on the Appalachian Trail Boardwalk (just a half-mile from the lodge!), or venture to nearby High Point State Park (Sussex), the Stairway to Heaven Trail (Vernon Township) and Wawayanda State Park (Hewitt).

Weekend Trip Idea #2 – Outdoor Activities and Theatre in Newton

Surrounded by 14 acres of serene woodlands, The Wooden Duck Bed & Breakfast offers a much-needed reprieve from daily stresses. Enjoy the quiet country life as you spot birds and herds of grazing deer or as you unwind by the on-site pool or gardens. During the day, enjoy a variety of outdoor activities—from horseback riding or mountain biking to fishing or hunting—at nearby Kittatinny Valley State Park. At night, head into the town of Newton for a movie, live concert, or theatrical production at The Newton Theatre.

Weekend Trip Idea #3 – Pick Your Passion in Somerset County

Gardens and arboretums, eclectic dining and culinary activities, horseback riding, museums—find it all (and more!) in Somerset County. For a place to lay your head, stay at Bernards Inn (Bernardsville), a boutique hotel in the Somerset Hills. Dine on-site, or venture to a nearby restaurant like Osteria Morini, The Claremont Tavern, Bistro Seven Three, Tsuki Japanese Restaurant, The Station or Ninety Acres. Foodies can sharpen their culinary skills with a class at The Cooking School at Natirar or take a food tour of nearby Somerville with Beyond The Plate Food Tours. And there’s no shortage of other things to do in the area…

Check out one of the many gardens and arboretums, like Cross Estate Gardens (Bernardsville), Leonard J. Buck Garden (Far Hills) and Duke Farms (Hillsborough). Those looking for more active pursuits will feel right at home at Natirar, a 400-plus-acre property with paths for walking, jogging, biking and horseback riding (like the 1.3-mile Great Meadow Trail and 1-mile Upper Field Nature Trail). Museum lovers can head to the USGA Museum (Liberty Corner) and nearby Hunterdon County’s Northlandz (Flemington).

Weekend Trip Idea #4 – Bright Ideas in Ocean County

Toms River may elicit thoughts of summer and the Shore, but it’s a fantastic year-round destination. Stay at Mathis House, a charming B&B in the heart of downtown—and host to a renowned Victorian tea service. Learn something new at the Township of Ocean Historical Museum, Toms River Seaport Society & Maritime Museum and Insectropolis (the “bugseum” of New Jersey). Or head to Ocean County College, where you can see the stars at Robert J. Novins Planetarium or take in a show at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts. Or exercise your mind at one of two escape rooms in Toms River: East Coast Escape Room and Solve the Room.

Weekend Trip #5 – History and Wine in Mays Landing

The historic waterfront town of Mays Landing dates back to the 1700s, and its prime river location allowed it to become a bustling port during the Revolutionary War. Enjoy the local history when you stay in The Inn at Sugar Hill, an 1840s mansion with six antique-filled rooms and an on-site restaurant serving up traditional American cuisine. Just a few miles south, explore the beautiful wetlands and local wildlife by walking along the 1.8-mile Swamp Trail Boardwalk at Estell Manor Park, which was once home to Native Americans, followed by an 1800s glassworks factory and then a munitions plant during World War I. Now it is home to 1,700 acres of natural landscapes and the Warren E. Fox Nature Center. Also nearby, sip award-winning wine at Balić Winery, which dates back to the early 1900s, when descendants of early settlers planted the vineyards.

Weekend Trip #6 – Arts, Culture and Cruising in Millville

In Millville, stay at Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott for cozy accommodations and free breakfast, and get ready for a weekend of arts, culture and more. At The Museum of American Glass at WheatonArts and Cultural Center, marvel at impressive works of glass displayed in eye-catching exhibits, or walk through the craft studios to watch artisans in action as they create colorful glass pieces. In the afternoon, spend a leisurely two hours with Maurice River Cruises—and spot wildlife-filled meadows and waterways along the route. Once the sun goes down, catch a live concert, comedy or musical production at the Levoy Theatre, where a packed schedule offers an array of entertainment. 

For even more weekend getaway inspiration, sign up for our e-newsletter, download a free official travel guide or check out other New Jersey trip ideas. And as always, be sure you have the most up-to-date info about your destinations by checking their websites and social media pages before you go.