Northeast

8 Surprising New Jersey Weekend Getaways

New Jersey is a hidden gem destination with 130 miles of golden beaches, skiing, hiking, history, and entertainment.

As a life-long “Jersey Girl,” I’ve spent years trying to explain that my state is more than the stereotypes you see on television – of mafia hits and alcoholic beach bashes and disturbed housewives flipping over tables.

From a travel perspective, New Jersey is a hidden gem of the eastern seaboard; we have 130 miles of golden beaches, a winter ski resort in our mountainous north, and history all around, from George Washington’s stomping grounds to the oldest resort in the country – not to mention the rolling farms and verdant forests that earned us the nickname “The Garden State.”

To discover all the hidden vacation secrets of New Jersey, choose one of these delightful weekend getaways and get ready to be amazed by the “real” Jersey.

Painted Ladies and golden sand at Exit Zero

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Head all the way south until you hit the state’s final curve and all you’ll see is blue signaling that you’ve arrived at Exit Zero, Cape May (in fact, to keep going, you need to take the Cape May Ferry across the Delaware Bay). Cape May is the country’s oldest seaside resort, dating back to the early 1800s. However, it’s much more than just a beach destination, although the soft sand here is some of the most impressive on the coast.

The 19th century Victorian architecture lends the town – all of which is protected as a US National Historical Site – an air of genteel sophistication. You’ll want to make sure you tour the cobblestone and gaslit streets to see the peacock feather-toned homes called Painted Ladies, with their swirling gingerbread trim and wide rocking-chair strew porches. Cape May MAC (Museums + Arts + Culture) conducts both walking and trolley tours of the area.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Cape May

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Immerse yourself in history at the 200-year-old Congress Hall, the stylish yellow hued resort that’s an iconic landmark in Cape May. When the property opened, it hosted United States Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Benjamin Harrison who walked the same original halls you’ll traverse now to get to your much modernized rooms. There’s an outdoor swimming pool, chair side beach service, and tasty dining options, including the outdoor Blue Pig Restaurant. The resort hotel is also a destination in the non-summer months with roaring fireplaces and cozy nooks to curl up in, plus festive holiday celebrations and decorations.

Congress Hall

Top rated
Cape May
8.7 Excellent (1517 reviews)

The hippest mile of beach on the East Coast

California has Venice Beach, and New York City has the Rockaways, but New Jersey’s hipster beach town, Asbury Park, out-cools them all with a boardwalk filled with alt-shops, indie dining spots, and colorful creative murals that line the vintage boardwalk.

It’s hard to beat the musical bona fides here: this is where Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band got their start a the legendary Stone Pony, which is still going strong. You can also catch live acts (and a bite to eat) at Asbury Lanes or outdoors as part of the Summer Stage series. Grab a drink at the Wonder Bar, another Asbury Park classic hangout, or play pinball on the vintage machines at the Silverball Museum.

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The Asbury Hotel not only puts you near the action when you stay in one of the sleek, contemporary rooms, but makes you part of the action, since the many nightlife options here attract both locals and visitors. Check out the vibrant bars and hangout spots like the rooftop lounge, outdoor movie theater, and lively lobby bar Soundbooth, where live music and open mic nights are on the schedule almost every night. During the day, the rooftop offers a pool with views plus live fitness and yoga classes to get your day started right.

The Asbury

Asbury Park
8.3 Very good (1248 reviews)

Country charm along the Delaware River

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Nestled on the banks of the Delaware River, Lambertville is a historic town dotted with romantic inns and filled with antique and vintage shops. This is prime leaf-peeping country, so expect crowds if you visit in the autumn when the magenta, gold, and copper leaves are at their peak. However, nearby is the glorious Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve, filled with flowers that bloom throughout the spring and summer.

Across the river is New Hope, Lambertville’s sister city in Pennsylvania, chock full of swanky art galleries and boutiques nestled next to shops geared toward mystics and motorcycle riders – basically something for everyone. Grab a bite with a river view at The Deck Restaurant & Bar located behind the famous Bucks County Playhouse, on the patio at The Landing Restaurant, or at celebrity chef Jose Garces’ Stella.

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The Woolverton Inn is a romantic bed and breakfast perfect for couples looking for a cozy spot to reconnect. The property is set on 10-acres of rolling grass and surrounded by nearly 300 acres of forest and farmlands, so quiet is virtually guaranteed. Individually decorated rooms run the gamut from pastel flowers and four-poster beds to red velvet swathed bedspreads and working fireplaces. Every morning starts with a decadent 3-course breakfast in the dining room or outdoors in the garden, or even delivered for special breakfast in bed.

The Woolverton Inn

Stockton
9.3 Excellent (68 reviews)

An Ivy League experience without the college tuition

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Princeton is often synonymous with its historic ivy-draped university, but there’s more to the charming town than just the storied school – although the former stomping grounds of Albert Einstein are definitely worth a visit as well, especially the collections at the Princeton University Art Museum.

You can spend full days strolling and dining, especially around leafy Palmer Square adjacent to the university. Follow the red brick sidewalks to the Bent Spoon for some of the best ice cream in the state or tuck into modern Mediterranean cuisine at Mediterra before picking up one-of-a-kind jewelry, kitchen wares, books, and clothing at the shops that line the lively square.

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Wrap up the day with a cozy stay just off of Palmer Square at the quaint Nassau InnThe only hotel property in downtown Princeton offers up Colonial charm in a shingled history-filled building that’s been hosting visitors for centuries. Regular rooms are modern and spacious; suites are named after famous guests, including Christopher Reeves and Albert Einstein. The latter even carved his name in a restaurant booth at the hotel’s Yankee Doodle Tap Room. You shouldn’t do the same, but do visit the gastropub to try its bacon Wagyu burger or barbecue pork ribs, plus a wide selection of microbrews.

Nassau Inn

Princeton
8.3 Very good (634 reviews)

History, theater, and dining on the green

A magnet for history buffs, Morristown is where George Washington established both his Revolutionary War headquarters and Fort Nonsense, both of which can be visited today.

Even if you’re not a history lover, there’s plenty to do in bustling downtown Morristown. Around the central green are a number of destination dining options, including the award-winning Jockey Hollow Bar and Kitchen. Live theater productions and star-powered concerts are held at the MAYO theater.

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Although it has a small-town feel, Morristown boasts a big-name hotel in the Westin Governor Morris Inn. It hosts an array of amenities, including the Depasquale Spa for luxurious face and body treatments. An outdoor pool, fitness center, and a Westin’s kids program make this a perfect vacation choice for the whole family.

The Westin Governor Morris, Morristown

Morristown
8.3 Very good (584 reviews)

A four season mountain resort Vernon

New Jersey’s ski mountain resort town, Vernon, offers 1,000 vertical feet of winter slopes at Mountain Creek across four different peaks traversed by trails and gondolas – plus a snow tubing park, so even the littlest snow lovers can join in on the winter fun.

The slopes aren’t just popular in the winter, though. In sunnier seasons, the mountain transforms into green getaway with downhill mountain biking trails and a waterpark that utilizes the hills for particularly zippy waterslides. Speaking of zippy, there’s a treetop zipline as well.

Outside the mountain resort, there’s plenty of other greenery, including several golf courses and hiking trails that include large swaths of the famed Appalachian Trail.

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You can stay right on the slopes in a 1 bedroom condo at the Appalachian Lodge. The unit offers a king size bed as well as a fold out couch, plus a well-stocked kitchenette for cooking meals at home. The modern building is packed with amenities, including a heated outdoor pool and hot tub with views of all the mountain action.

1 BR condo at the Appalachian Lodge, Mountain Creek, Vernon, NJ

Vernon
9.4 Excellent (118 reviews)

Stunning city views from the west side of the Hudson

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Here’s an insider tip that New Jerseyans love to share: The best views of New York City are actually from across the Hudson River in Jersey. In fact, from the arts and entertainment hub of Hoboken, you’ll have stellar views from the Statue of Liberty straight up to the lights of Times Square. Outdoor dining at upscale spots like Blue Eyes (named for Hoboken’s favorite son, Frank Sinatra) or super trendy The Ainsworth allow you to enjoy dinner with a view.

Hoboken in also a magnet for creative arts, with many musicians, artists, and actors calling the city home. You can catch performances year round at local clubs and galleries, or at outdoor venues like Pier A Park, or plan a visit for the twice annual Hoboken Arts and Music Festival held in the spring and fall.

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Since Hoboken is only a single square mile in size, you’ll find more lodging options just to the south in Jersey City. You’ll have the same great views, plus biking and walking access to Liberty State Park where you can catch a crowd-free ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Stay at this Historic Brownstone Apartment in the Paula’s Hook neighborhood, right in the hub of public transportation that can whisk you to Hoboken in just a few minutes by light rail or into Manhattan in less than 15 minutes by ferry or PATH train. The stylish one bedroom apartment features period detailing, like exposed brick and an ornamental fireplace, plus a private balcony and modern kitchen.

Historic Brownstone Apartment 15 Min To Nyc Downtown

Jersey City

Enjoy the natural wonders of the Delaware Water Gap

Another New Jersey surprise for nature lovers is the scenic beauty of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the body of water separating New Jersey and Pennsylvania (interestingly, despite its name, it’s nowhere near Delaware).

Base your explorations in Blairstown, a charming small town with a historic mill at its center. From here you can reach waterfalls, tubing, canoeing, fishing, and swimming locations.

Plan a hike in Worthington State Forest. The trail leads uphill to a fantastic overlook of the “Gap,” the break in the Kittatinny Mountains that was carved by the Delaware River with great views surrounding area and Mount Minsi.

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“Take in breathtaking scenery” at this two bedroom, two bathroom apartment located in Shawnee Village Resort, just across the river in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Staying at this spacious vacation property gives you access to resort amenities, including a recreation center with basketball courts and other games, a large indoor pool, an outdoor lake, and easy access to a verdant golf course.

Take in breathtaking scenery!

East Stroudsburg
8.5 Excellent (10 reviews)