Adventurous Things to Do in New Jersey

New Jersey's most exhilarating adventures, from swimming with sharks at Camden's Adventure Aquarium to skydiving.

Two skydivers soar through the sky.
Have an adventure with Skydive East Coast. Photo courtesy of Skydive East Coast

Are you the type of person who craves an adrenaline rush, especially as the weather turns warmer and the urge to get outside and start exploring revs up?

Our list of exhilarating adventures, which spans across all areas of the Garden State, runs the gamut from swimming with sharks to riding the world’s fastest single-rail roller coaster (located at Six Flags Great Adventure) to racing high-speed cars to trying some truly adventurous restaurant dishes.

On the flip side, if you’d rather spend your free time in a more peaceful manner, check out our guide to the Garden State’s chillest, most relaxing things to do.

Get out there and start exploring!

DARE TO WALK THE GW BRIDGE

Walking on a 10-foot-wide path, 212 feet above the Hudson River would be nerve-racking if not for the safety netting that encages the south walkway on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge. Even with the netting, the experience is a major thrill. A leisurely stroll across the GW takes 20-30 minutes each way. Gaze up in awe at the bridge’s 604-foot-tall towers and enjoy unparalleled views of the Palisades and the New York skyline. As you enter the walkway from Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, catch a glimpse of the famous Little Red Lighthouse on the Manhattan side. There is ample metered parking north of the bridge on Hudson Terrace. The walkway is free (no toll!) and open daily from 6 am-midnight, weather permitting. —Ken Schlager

SWING THROUGH THE TREES

A child climbs Treetop Adventure at Turtle Back Zoo.

A little explorer takes on Treetop Adventure at the Turtle Back Zoo. Photo courtesy of Turtle Back Zoo

If swinging through trees sounds like your kind of adrenaline rush, then Treetop Adventure at the Turtle Back Zoo is the place for you. It features a newly expanded aerial obstacle course and a redesigned zip line, which takes visitors up to 40 feet above the ground and measures more than a football field in length. The thrilling course, which is open to both adults and children and requires all participants to wear harnesses, involves maneuvering between platforms attached to trees. A bonus: Treetop Adventure is not far from the zoo’s bald eagle habitat, so participants can get a bird’s-eye view of these magnificent creatures. —Jacqueline Mroz
560 Northfield Avenue, West Orange

PADDLE BY THE LIGHT OF THE MOON

Sure, you may have gone kayaking in daylight, but what about after nightfall hits? That’s a true thrill and one you can experience at Secaucus’s Laurel Hill Paddling Center, where two-hour moonlight group paddles are offered by Hackensack Riverkeeper. Experienced guides will soon have you steering around islands of native cordgrass through the Meadowlands’ Sawmill Creek Wildlife Management Area beneath the moon rising over the Manhattan skyline. When not dipping your oars in the quiet waters, your guides will have you pause to absorb the scene of nature and cityscape—and maybe snap a few photos. Reservations required. Excursions offered throughout spring, summer and fall. —Monica Cardoza
1005 New County Road, Secaucus

RIDE THE WORLD’S FASTEST COASTER

The Jersey Devil Coaster at Six Flags in Jackson Township.

The Jersey Devil is the fastest single-rail roller coaster in the world. Photo courtesy of sixflags.com

The Jersey Devil Coaster—which debuted at Six Flags Great Adventure last summer as the tallest, fastest and longest single-rail roller coaster in the world (yes, the world!)—lives up to the hype, but is there any choice in a park that features the iconic Kingda Ka? Peaking at 13 stories and 58 mph, the Devil packs plenty of twists, turns and loops, but is surprisingly smooth. Lines for the ride, which features a stomach-turning 130-foot drop, typically move quickly. —Ed Condran
1 Six Flags Boulevard, Jackson Township

The cover of New Jersey Monthly's May 2022 issue.

Buy our May 2022 issue here. Photo by Rebecca Handler

DIVE UNDER THE SEA

New Jersey may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking of scuba diving, but a bevy of intriguing underwater locations can be found beyond our great state’s famous shores. There are thousands of shipwrecks, including the R.P. Resor, which was torpedoed by a World War II-era German U-boat, to check out. The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife has also created several artificial reefs that are home to a variety of marine life. These submerged sites can be explored with companies like Cape May’s Atlantic Divers, Denville’s Underwater Adventures Dive Center and Cedar Knolls’ Elite Divers. —Gary Phillips

CATCH WAVES AT NJ’S TOP SURF SPOT

When Seaside Heights’ Casino Pier fell into the sea during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Manasquan Inlet became New Jersey’s most iconic surfing spot. The wave quality is boosted by the large jetty, which gives it shape and protection from summer’s southerly winds. Embellished tales of giant hurricane swells and exiting contests stretch back to the 1960s, with fourth-generation locals now surfing here. Hosting all levels of wave riders, it also, unfortunately, can get impossibly crowded. —Jon Coen

CLIMB THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN

Stairway to Heaven delivers on its name, as this 2.6-mile out-and-back Vernon Township hike features a steep ascent with divine views of New Jersey and New York. This rocky slope, part of the Appalachian Trail, is not for beginners, and a walking stick and/or spikes are recommended in the winter, when ice blankets the mountain. White trail markers can also be hard to spot; pay attention to your surroundings. Black bears, timber rattlesnakes and Northern copperheads have been seen in this area, so be sure to keep yourself, children and pets on the trail, which culminates with the scenic Pinwheel Vista. —GP

VROOM TO MOVE

Imagine putting pedal to the metal in some of the fiercest cars on the planet. Several New Jersey racetracks offer high-speed driving experiences on limited schedules—and at hefty prices. Here’s where to satisfy your need for speed: Xtreme Experience at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville from May 11-15 and Raceway Park in Englishtown from July 7-10; Formula 2000 Racecar Driving Experience at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville on May 27; Green Flag Driving Experience at Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall Township on select Saturdays from May through October; and Virgin Driving Experience at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville from August 26-28. For full details on these experiences, click here. —KS

HAVE A MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE

It’s not powder above the tree line. But instead of dreaming of the Alps once winter hits, you could actually be skiing or snowboarding Mountain Creek Resort after work. The Vernon spot does a great job with just over 1,000 feet of vertical in 167 acres just outside the North Jersey metro area. Add in some 72 jumps and 45 terrain features, and it’s a fantastic snow experience that you can hit on the regular. Can’t wait until winter for your Mountain Creek thrills? It turns into a mountain-bike park beginning April 30. —JC
200 Route 94, Vernon

ROCK OUT AT A ROLLER DERBY

Members of the Garden State Rollergirls.

Members of the Garden State Rollergirls provide thrills to the audience. Photo courtesy of Quick Draw Sports

During the 1930s, Madison Square Garden was packed with fans who experienced the visceral thrill of the Roller Derby. The game, which is basically rugby on skates, no longer headlines arenas but it remains an exciting physical event at local Jersey rinks. Participants, who are primarily women, use their shoulders, hips and thighs in an adept manner in order to knock opponents to the floor and win a compelling battle. The derby is fast, furious and fun. Check out the action from Garden State Rollergirls, New Jersey Roller Derby or another group in the Garden State. —EC

BITE INTO AN ADVENTURE 

A burger from Dark Side of the Moo in Jersey City.

Dark Side of the Moo in Jersey City offers exotic-meat dishes. Photo courtesy of darksideofthemoo.com

Are you game for an adventurous eating experience? Swap your beef burger for one made with yak, camel, kangaroo or bison—all very lean proteins. Renowned for its exotic-meat dishes, Dark Side of the Moo originated as a food truck in Hoboken in 2013, expanding to a brick-and-mortar location in the Heights neighborhood of Jersey City in 2015. Beyond burgers, get a taste of alligator sausage or wild-boar tacos. —Shelby Vittek
52 Bowers Street, Jersey City

GET A RUSH BY POLE-VAULTING

For an adrenaline rush that dates back to the ancient Greeks, try your hand at pole-vaulting. The sport will not only provide thrills, it will get you into shape, says Branko Miric, the owner of Apex Vaulting in Fairfield—one of the sport’s few clubs in New Jersey. While most of Miric’s clients are high school students looking for some extra coaching for their track teams, he does get adult pole-vaulters, too—his oldest client is 62. Many of them are former high school or college athletes. “The longer you do it, the higher you’ll jump, and then it’s even more of a thrill,” Miric says of the sport. —JM
6 Evans Street, Fairfield

START A NERF BLASTER BATTLE

A new take on Nerf blasters has made its way to Jersey. Pups of War, which also has four locations in Hawaii, offers a 4,000-square-foot space where people aged 3 and up can shoot each other with foam darts and balls at parties and open play. The Pups of War battlefield has obstacles and mock buildings to hide in that offer vantage points for snipers. Participants can choose a variety of blasters from a massive armory. Not every option is the children’s toy you might remember; some armaments can shoot 150-180 feet. The ones that pack a real punch are reserved for Adult Night promotions. Don’t worry; players are required to wear protective glasses, as well as non-slip socks. —GP
Brunswick Square Mall Arena, 755 NJ-18, East Brunswick

SWIM WITH SHARKS

Adventure Aquarium’s 45-minute shark encounter is for thrill seekers aged 12 and up. Visitors can pay $190 to swim with the venue’s most intimidating tenants. That experience also includes a 15-minute stingray feeding, during which guests can wade through 3 feet of water while cownose rays swarm them in search of fish. Adventure Aquarium also offers a behind-the-scenes hippo encounter, a chance to waddle with penguins, and a sea-turtle feeding. The shark encounter, however, is the only one that allows you to go face to face with some of the ocean’s top predators. And if that’s not enough of a buzz, volunteer scuba divers are welcome to help at the aquarium. —GP
1 Riverside Drive, Camden

GET CREEPED OUT AT BRIGHTON ASYLUM

The wait for October can prove an excruciating time for Halloween superfans, but Brighton Asylum has those bases covered with the Halfway to Halloween event. On May 13 and 14, patrons can experience the haunted house well outside of its usual fall schedule. Its eerie warehouse location, paired with its immersive horror sets and frighteningly realistic actors portraying such horror icons as Michael Myers and Jason Vorhees, make this attraction a can’t-miss happening. Regular shows return come fall. —Thomas Neira
2 Brighton Avenue, Passaic

FIRE UP YOUR DINNER PLANS

A performer handles fire at Vibe in Atlantic City.

The dinner show gets fiery at Vibe. Photo courtesy of Harrah’s

The combination of indulgent fare and unusual entertainment makes for an extreme dining experience at Vibe, Harrah’s Pool After Dark’s marquee bistro. On the menu are dishes including truffle mac-and-cheese-stuffed lobster, a stacked shellfish tower—with lobster, shrimp, crab, oysters and clams—and bison flatbreads. Enjoy it all while witnessing performances from fire breathers, aerialists and dancers. —EC
777 Harrah’s Boulevard, Atlantic City

GET YOUR GAME ON

Get an old-school adrenaline rush at Morristown Game Vault as retro video games, pinball machines, and all the exciting sights and sounds that come with them lure you into a day of play. Located in what used to be a bank—with the real vault still visible—the spot has all of its games set to free play, and guests pay by the hour ($9 for a half-hour and $12 for an hour). So that’s all the Pac-Man and Dig Dug you like. Game Vault can also be rented out for private events and parties. —Maggie Leenas
22 South Street, Morristown

SOAR THROUGH THE SKY

Push your adrenaline to new heights with skydiving. Anyone 18 or older in good health who meets weight limits can jump from 13,500 feet for one minute of freefall before the parachute opens. First-timers jump tandem, attached to an instructor. Solo jumps require special training. Prices start at $200. Top local options include Skydive Sussex in Sussex, Skydive Cross Keys in Williamstown and Skydive East Coast in West Creek. Landing on sand down the Shore is even an option at the Wildwood Beach Boogie, taking place August 5-7. —Sharon Waters

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