The Top 27 Bucket List Destinations in New Jersey

Published on September 7th, 2021

New Jersey is a wonderful place. The coast there is absolutely beautiful, and despite its small size, the state actually offers a huge number of awesome things to see and do. For this reason, we recommend making a New Jersey bucket list before you visit.

Considering the number of options when it comes to New Jersey attractions, it might feel a little overwhelming to get started on a New Jersey travel list. Lucky for you, we’re here to help. In this article we will discuss what a bucket list is and then share our favorite New Jersey bucket list ideas so you can get started making a travel bucket list of your own. 

New Jersey Bucket List

What is a Bucket List?

Let’s start this article by talking about the definition of a bucket list. Essentially, these are just lists of things you want to see and do before you die. Your list might include places to visit, foods to try, or things to do. It might be a very long list, or you could shorten it by being picky about what you add.

No matter how many items you decide to put on yours, we highly recommend making separate travel bucket lists for each state you plan to visit. This helps keep things organized and makes it much easier to plan when the time comes. 

As an example of what a state list might look like, we’ve provided our New Jersey bucket list below. Check it out, get inspired, and make your own version of a travel bucket list.

Gateway National Recreation Area
Photo source: Acroterion

— Bucket List Vacations: New Jersey’s National Parks —

No matter what state you’re in, some of the best things to see are always going to be the national parks sites. The National Park Service does a fantastic job of preserving parks and presenting information, making learning fun and exciting for all ages. 

Below are the NPS sites that we feel deserve a spot on any New Jersey bucket list.

#1. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

The perfect place to get away into nature, the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is a sacred land. It features beautiful green fields and forests that are full of opportunities for outdoor recreation or relaxation. 

#2. Ellis Island | Statue of Liberty National Monument

Ellis Island was once the gateway to the American Dream. Today, it holds the stories of the 12 million immigrants who passed through the island in search of a better life. Learn about these people at Ellis Island. 

#3. Gateway National Recreation Area

Green spaces, beaches, historic structures, and cultural landscapes come together to create the beautiful Gateway National Recreation Area. No matter how you choose to enjoy this park, you’re sure to have a memorable experience. 

#4. Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River

The Delaware River is the largest free-flowing river in the eastern United States. Therefore, it only makes sense that the National Park Service would want to preserve and protect this beautiful waterway. Enjoy what the NPS works so hard to provide at the Lower Delaware National Wild and Scenic River park.

#5. Morristown National Historical Park

Located in the place where General Washington and his army spent the cold, cold winter of 1779 and 1780, Morristown National Historical Park is a wonderful place to visit. Learn about the things these soldiers endured in order to fight for freedom. 

#6. New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve

The country’s first National Reserve, New Jersey Pinelands National Reserve is a gorgeous place. Here you will find farms, forests, wetlands, and plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty of nature. 

#7. Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park

Paterson, NJ was America’s first planned industrial city. This city was built in 1792 and centered around the beautiful Great Falls, which provided the power needed to run a mill. From this humble beginning rose industries that changed the history of the country. Visit the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park to learn the story of this place. 

#8. Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Step back in time and pay a visit to Thomas Edison’s home and laboratory. See his inventions in action and get a feel for what life might have been like for this great mind at Thomas Edison National Historical Park. 

#9. National Trails

The National Park Service also maintains a couple of important trails that run through the state of New Jersey. These are well worth visiting for the beautiful scenery as well as the history lessons they provide. 

They include:

  • Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
  • Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Atlantic City at Night

— More New Jersey Bucket List Experiences —

Of course, there are many more options for your New Jersey bucket list. We’ve picked our very favorites and compiled a list below. Add these experiences to your list and you’re sure to have a fun time while hanging out in New Jersey.

#10. Stroll Grounds for Sculpture

A beautiful park in Hamilton, NJ, Grounds for Sculpture features plenty of wonderful art, well-manicured gardens, and even a nice little cafe with delicious food. The park caters to those with disabilities via tours designed especially for those in wheelchairs, as well as touch tours for the blind. Additionally, the park offers special events throughout the year. 

#11. Snap a Photo of the Red Mill

The Red Mill is one of the most photographed spots in New Jersey. Once you see it, you’ll understand why. The mill is striking, and the scenery around it is equally beautiful. On top of all that, the mill is also a museum that is interesting, engaging, and well worth visiting. 

#12. Get Hands-On at the Liberty Science Center

The perfect place to have an absolute blast while learning something new, the Liberty Science Center is the ideal destination for families. Learn about various kinds of energy, explore the history of communication, and learn how animals hunt their prey in this amazing museum. 

#13. Explore Atlantic City

Whether you prefer gaming, fine dining, shows, shopping, beaches, or amusement parks, there is something for you in Atlantic City. Make sure to plan at least one day in this popular vacation destination during your time in New Jersey!

#14. See the High Point Monument and View

High Point Monument is beautiful, and the view from the spot where it stands is simply incredible. This is the highest point in New Jersey, and if the sky is clear you should be able to see both New York and Pennsylvania from this beautiful spot. 

#15. Visit Liberty State Park

Liberty State Park is a beautiful place to visit. The greenery all around makes it a great place to get your fill of nature, and the location on the Hudson River means you have fantastic water views as well. Look across the water to admire Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, and be sure to spend some time at the touching 9/11 memorial within the park. 

#16. Spend Time in the Cape May Historic District

Easily one of the most quaint and adorable towns in the country, Cape May is a must-visit during your time in New Jersey. While you’re there, be sure to spend time in the town’s historic district. Enjoy the beautiful views, the classy Victorian architecture, and check out the Cape May Lighthouse and World War II Lookout Tower. 

#17. Check Out Cape May Zoo

An absolutely adorable little zoo, the Cape May Zoo is a must-see for anyone with kids, as well as adults who love animals. The zoo features a surprising variety of animals considering its size, including our favorite: the red panda. Fun playgrounds are located right outside the zoo, as are some great picnic spots. Best of all, this zoo is 100% free to see!

#18. Learn at Battleship New Jersey

Battleship New Jersey is the most decorated battleship museum in the United States. The memorial and museum do an excellent job of presenting information on the USS New Jersey and the history surrounding it. Of course, the highlight of any visit is the ability to see this amazing ship in person. 

#19. Gather Cape May Diamonds

A visit to Cape May’s Sunset Beach is another fantastic bucket list item. The beach is absolutely dreamy and the perfect place for a morning stroll or an afternoon nap. To make a good thing even better, this beach offers guests the opportunity to hunt for lovely little quartz pebbles known as Cape May Diamonds. 

#20. Have Fun at the Ocean City Boardwalk

An amazing 3-mile stretch of fun for everyone, the Ocean City Boardwalk is the place to be any time of year, but especially during the summer months. Whether you choose to keep it simple with a stroll along the famous boardwalk or visit the carousel or Life-Saving Station Museum, you’re sure to have a good time at this bustling spot. 

#21. Befriend Wolves at the Lakota Wolf Preserve

Wolves are pretty amazing animals. Learn all about these beautiful creatures and even spend some time observing them at the Lakota Wolf Preserve. Who knows? You might even leave the preserve having made a new wolf friend. 

#22. Get Fresh Air at Frelinghuysen Arboretum

An arboretum is always a wonderful place to visit, and the Frelinghuysen Arboretum is no exception. This garden is absolutely gorgeous, and the staff and volunteers there are doing a wonderful job of educating guests about horticulture and the natural world. After strolling the grounds, be sure to stop by Matilda’s Cafe for a bite to eat!

#23. Tour the Wallace House 

The Wallace House is an amazing Georgian-style house with a super cool history. The house was used by General Washington and his soldiers as a base from 1778 to 1789. If you enjoy history, you’re sure to love this stop, as well as its sister tour at the Old Dutch Parsonage. 

#24. Wander the Princeton University Art Museum

Art enthusiasts are sure to appreciate the Princeton University Art Museum. This museum features ancient art, modern art, and a little bit of everything in between. It’s the perfect place to discover an appreciation for art or expand your horizons, finding new pieces that you love. 

#25. Admire Emlen Physick Estate

Another awesome historic home, the Ellen Physick Estate is a beautiful Victorian mansion that history buffs and architecture nerds alike will adore. Tour the home and learn all about Victorian architecture, home decor, and customs. You’ll also learn all about the Physick family.

#26. Dive Deep at Adventure Aquarium

An aquarium visit is fun no matter how old you are. That’s why we highly recommend adding Adventure Aquarium to your New Jersey trip itinerary. This attraction is located on the Camden waterfront and is home to more than 8,500 aquatic animals. Be sure to check out the great hammerhead sharks and the little blue penguins. 

#27. Time Travel at Historic Cold Spring Village

An excellent living history museum that really allows you to imagine you’ve traveled back in time, Historic Cold Spring Village is home to a number of historic buildings. Each building has its own history and offers guests a different experience inside. We especially love the fiber arts demonstration, the tinsmith, the bakery, and the schoolhouse. 

Yes, New Jersey is definitely a great place to visit, and you aren’t likely to run out of things to do while there. What you might run out of by the end of each day is energy, making comfortable lodging a necessity. Luckily, there are New Jersey RV rentals.

Staying in an RV during your time in New Jersey is a great option because it gives you the option of moving freely about the state, taking in all of the sights on your New Jersey bucket list. Why not book an RV rental today so you can start checking off your bucket list items as soon as possible?

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