The One Thing You Must Do in Every NJ County

The Garden State is jam-packed with fun things to do. We've picked something special in every county, from North to South.

Warren County
Hike the Appalachian Trail

The view of the Delaware River from Mount Tammany in Worthington State Forest. Photo by Lauren Bowers

The view of the Delaware River from Mount Tammany in Worthington State Forest. Photo by Lauren Bowers

Not all 2,160 miles, of course, which stretches from Maine to Georgia along the Appalachian Mountains. A manageable portion (72 miles) wanders through New Jersey. The trail enters New Jersey at the Delaware Water Gap (assuming you’re traveling from the South) and traverses through Warren County’s massive Worthington State Forest. The trail then enters Sussex County where the trails pass through Stokes State Forest and High Point State Forest. It briefly exits at the New York border then reenters, traveling through Wawayanda State Park before passing the top left corner of Passaic county and leaving Jersey again (but this time for good). Some memorable sections of Appalachian Trail in Warren County include Mount Tammany and Sunfish Pond, Rattlesnake Swamp Loop, Catfish Pond and Catfish Fire Tower.
Afraid to commit? No need to hike the entire New Jersey section of the trail in one sitting. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has some great ideas for day hikers too.

Hunterdon County
Travel By Hot Air Balloon

Courtesy of littlemoresunshine via Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of littlemoresunshine via Flickr Creative Commons

Hunterdon County is home to the annual New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, a popular summertime event for more than three decades. Take a flight with Hunterdon Ballooning, whose tagline claims you can “take a nature walk in the sky.” Similar companies offering the same experience include Above & Beyond Ballooning, Alexandria Balloon Flights, and A-Lot-A Hot Air are all located nearby. Balloons fly at sunrise or about two hours before sunrise; both flights offer a unique experience. Of course, a hot air balloon’s flight path can be unpredictable at times, but Hunterdon County’s scenic location and proximity to the Delaware River ensure spectacular views every time. Standard flights for groups with no more than three people start around $215 per person. Often, special rates are available for groups of four or more.
On a budget? Buy tickets for the annual balloon festival instead, where attendees can watch a mass inflation and ascension at sunrise or sunset.

Somerset County
Take the Scenic Route

Courtesy of Joseph Brent via Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of Joseph Brent via Flickr Creative Commons

No matter the mode of transportation, enjoy the scenery Somerset County has to offer. The Millstone River starts in Manville where it breaks from the larger Raritan River and ends in Kingston when it spills into Carnegie Lake. The Somerset County Park Commission offers several canoe and kayak programs throughout the summer months. For bikers, there’s a path adjacent to the river, part of the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, which covers a total of 70 miles throughout the state—far beyond Somerset County.
Short on time? At approximately 27.5 miles, the Millstone Valley Scenic Byway is one of only two New Jersey roads with the National Scenic Byway designation. With roads on either side of the canal, be sure to take Canal Road in one direction and River Road in the other.

Middlesex County
Root For the Home Team

Courtesy of slgckc via Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of slgckc via Flickr Creative Commons

Visit the spot where the first intercollegiate football game was played in November 1869. Rutgers University beat its neighbor Princeton University with a final score of 6-4. On that fall day, 100 spectators gathered to witness 50 players—25 on each team—play a rugby-style game of football where the present-day Rutgers gymnasium now stands. Today, High Point Solutions Stadium, seats more than 500 times the amount of fans with a capacity of 52,454.

Mercer County
Marvel at the Ivy-Covered Buildings

The view from an archway on Princeton University's campus. Photo by Lauren Bowers

The view from an archway on Princeton University’s campus. Photo by Lauren Bowers

One of eight Ivy League schools and the fourth oldest college in the United States, Princeton University was known as the College of New Jersey for 150 years. In popular culture, it is best known for the part it plays in the biographical drama film, A Beautiful Mind, based on the life of mathematician John Nash. The university’s Orange Key guide service provides visitors with a one-hour campus tour year-round. The tour departure locations change based on the time of year. Find out more about the free tours here.
Want to make a day of it? Enjoy a stroll around downtown Princeton, with its shops and trendy restaurants. For a unique shopping experience, stop by the Princeton Record Exchange. Dining hotspots include Agricola, for a locally-sourced lunch; Blue Point Grill for seafood; Mediterra for Mediterranean fare, of course; or La Mezzaluna for Italian. For a delicious dessert, visit the Bent Spoon, where you can expect a line.

Monmouth County
Sing Along at the Stone Pony Summer Stage

Courtesy of ShanMcG213 via Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of ShanMcG213 via Flickr Creative Commons

Opened in 1974, the Stone Pony’s most famous performer is Bruce—Springsteen, that is. The Blackberry Booze Band, eventually renamed Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, featured “Southside” Johnny Lyon and Steve Van Zandt. Although Van Zandt left the band to join friend Springsteen’s new version of the E Street Band, he became the Jukes’ manager and produced a demo to send to record labels. By 1976, Epic Records had signed the band. The same year, a Memorial Day concert with appearances by Springsteen, Ronnie Spector and Lee Dorsey put both the Jukes and the Pony on the map. In the 2000s, the Stone Pony was the near victim of the rundown Asbury Park’s redevelopment plan. It escaped demolition and, much like Asbury Park itself, has a bright future ahead. At the Stone Pony Summer Stage, concert-goers can enjoy the music within earshot of the waves.
When: See schedule for the summer lineup
Where: 913 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park
Cost: Prices vary, visit Ticketmaster to purchase tickets

Ocean County
Catch a Wave on the Barrier Islands

Courtesy of jerseygal2009 via Flickr Creative Commons

Courtesy of jerseygal2009 via Flickr Creative Commons

Experienced wave riders say New Jersey is one of the best places on the Eastern Seaboard to do just that. It’s a great place to learn for a few reasons. First, the warm water (which can get up to 70 degrees in the summer months) makes it easier for riders to stay in the surf for a few hours at a time. Second, the Jersey Shore waves are small and consistent—perfect conditions for beginners—especially during the morning hours. Find the surf school that’s perfect for you.
Scared to surf? Try stand-up paddle boarding, or SUP, instead. All of the places in our roundup of shore surf schools offer SUP lessons, too.


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  1. Joe Randazzo

    The best you can come up with for Camden county is freakin’ Haddonfield?

    Susquehanna Bank Center, Adventure Aquarium, Battleship New Jersey, Sharrott Winery, Miller Farms, Discovery Museum.

    …boring old Haddonfield???? I don’t get it