Your out-of-state friends might think of New Jersey as the armpit of America, but they don’t know just how good it is here. Trying to sell them on what we have to offer can be hard, but bringing them here just might convince them. We’ve created a guide for you with some suggestions on what to show your out-of-state bestie to make them fall in love with New Jersey and maybe become your new in-state bestie.
Show Them The Views of NYC
North Jersey is probably the best spot to take in the view of New York City. The Watchung Mountains provide fantastic vantage points from elevated terrain while the waterfront along the Hudson River offers a close-up feel. The Eagle Rock Reservation, Mills Reservation, Watchung Reservation, Palisades Interstate Park, and Garret Mountain are nature reserves that offer views of the skyline.
^ The view from Eagle Rock Reservation
If you’re looking for a hike with a close-up view, Palisades Interstate Park is a must. If you’re looking for a bite to eat with a view of the skyline, then The Highlawn in West Orange, Chit Chat Diner in West Orange, Batello in Jersey City, Alto in Montclair, and the Chart House in Weehawken are a must.
^ View of NYC from the Hudson River
Palisades Interstate Park and the Chart House along the Hudson River are not the only waterfront spots to catch a glimpse of the city. Hoboken’s Pier A and Pier C Park, Morris Canal Park and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, Lincoln Harbor Park, and Hamilton Park in Weehawken are great options.
Show Them What it’s like Not to Pump Gas
As of recently, only one state in the country pumps your gas for you: New Jersey and Oregon. Typically when us Jerseyans pull up to the pump we scream out “20 regular cash.” This phrase has been adopted into our state slang and is part of our identity. Showing your friend what it’s like to not have to pump your gas just might convince them to never leave. Through rain, shine, snow, and sleet you never need to leave the comfort of your seat, and you’ll never smell like gasoline.
Bring Them to the Beach
Here in Jersey we say “going down the shore” or “DTS” regardless if we are actually going south. Our shore culture is strong and so are our boardwalks. There are so many towns to choose from it could be hard to pick. You can drive down the shore with your friends or introduce them to NJ Transit. The North Jersey Coast Train Line offers service to or close to Long Branch, Ocean Grove, Belmar, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Manasquan, Point Pleasant, and Bay Head.
If your friends like arcades, roller coaster rides, and sugary treats bring them over to the boardwalks at Point Pleasant, Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Wildwood, and Seaside Heights. If they like serenity and brisk bike rides, then Belmar and Silver Lake are the best options.
If you are looking for a picturesque vibe that feels like a vacation in the past then Ocean Grove is the perfect spot to visit. This community in Neptune started as a Methodist meeting town in the 1800s. The architecture of the homes and the walkability of the neighborhood are like nothing else. While here you have to bring your friends to Tino’s Artisan Pizza for dinner and finish the night at Days Ice Cream which has been open since 1882.
^ Days Ice Cream
Asbury Park which borders Ocean Grove is another beach town destination to bring your friends to. It’s one of the few places out there with a cat cafe, called Catsbury Park, which is perfect if your friend is a feline fanatic. We suggest stopping by Purple Glaze for donuts, the Iron Whale for drinks and oceanside dinner, and Porta for pizza.
^ Pizza at the Jersey Shore
The music scene here is unforgettable with The Stone Pony as the anchor. Locals like Bruce Springsteen, Southside John, and Steve Van Zandt have put this place on the map and rising stars continue to build the venue’s legacy. Summer performances here will showcase Demi Lovato, Trey Anastasio, Morgan Wade, Dean Lewis, and more. Make sure to check out our sister site @theasburygirl for all things Asbury Park.
Show Them Our Art, Culture, + Parks
New Jersey is home to some famous people and some famous events, movements, and inventions. It’s the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, where the movie was invented, and the crossroads of the American Revolution. It’s only right that you show off our history, art, and culture to your friends.
Bring them to the birthplace of Grover Cleveland, our 22nd and 24th President, located in Caldwell. A few towns over is West Orange where you’ll find the Thomas Edison National Historic Park. Located here is Edison‘s home and laboratory. Although it’s no longer there, this was also the site of his Black Maria, the first film production studio in the world. Other historic parks filled with nature and history include Morristown National Historical Park in Morristown, Fort Lee Historic Park in Fort Lee, and Paterson Great Falls Historic Park in Paterson.
^ Paterson Great Falls Historic Park
As home to the first county park system, New Jersey has some of the best parks offering walking trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, boating, fishing, and more. Bring your friends to Newark’s Branch Brook Park, home to the largest Cherry Blossom collection, for the Cherry Blossom festival in April. Leonard J. Buck Garden in Far Hills, Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township, Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, and High Point State Park and Stokes State Park in Sussex County are other picturesque spots to bring them to.
^ Reeves-Reed Arboretum
If you’re interested in an indoor history lesson, New Jersey has plenty of spots. The Hoboken Historical Museum offers education on local history including that of famous singer and Hoboken native Frank Sinatra. The Montclair History Center in Montclair offers a look at local history from the colonial era to today. If your friends are into sports, bring them up to the Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair and let them explore this local legend’s story.
^ Montclair History Center
Bring Them to Eat
New Jersey is known for its food — from pizza to bagels and everything in between. It’s got diners galore offering stacks of pancakes and pasta dishes at almost any time of the day. There are Italian restaurants on what feels like every street corner and cuisine from almost every country in the world. The most noteworthy dishes include rippers and fries, Italian hot dogs, Italian pastries, deli sandwiches, disco fries, and the Sloppy Joe. But the crown jewel of the Great State of New Jersey is a Taylor Ham, egg, and cheese.
Up North, we campaign hard for Taylor Ham while the Southern half of the state champions for p*rk r*ll. This meat serves as the base for the popular breakfast sandwiches which are easy to find as the state Constitution requires each town to have a deli, bagel shop, and pizza parlor. Some of our favorite bagel spots include: Bagels by Jarrett in West Orange, Bagelwich Bagel Bakery in Verona, Sunrise Bagel in Montclair, Boxcar Bagels in Bogota, Bagel Chateau in Westfield, Church Street Bagels in Denville, Skolnik’s Bagel Bakery in Union, and O’Bagel which has locations in Hoboken, Basking Ridge, and Stirling.
View this post on Instagram
Italian and Italian-American cuisine reign supreme throughout North Jersey and are a must for any visitor. You’ve got to bring your friends for a slice, a hearty pasta dish, and a cannoli. If you’re looking to wow them, grab a pie from Star Tavern in Orange, Patsy’s Tavern in Paterson, Forte’s in Caldwell, Razza in Jersey City, Santillo’s Brick Oven Pizza in Elizabeth, Massa in Scotch Plains, Coniglio’s in Morristown, Mr. Dino’s in Montclair, The Pizza Terminal in Verona, and John’s Boy in Glen Rock.
^ Star Tavern
If you and your friends want to sit down and devour a pasta dish or chicken cutlet, we suggest Calandra’s in Caldwell or Fairfield, La Strada in Millburn, Da Mimmo in Dumont, Bella Italia in Orange, Matthew’s Italian Restaurant in Clifton, Lacio’s in Jersey City, LuNello in Cedar Grove, Augustino’s in Hoboken, Belmont Tavern in Belleville, and 15 Fox Place in Jersey City. 15 Fox Place is definitely an experience. This former family home of the Budinich family is now a restaurant where the family serves you homemade (literally) meals. You’re in for a surprise as there is no menu here. Just sit back, relax, and wait for the five-course feast to roll in.
^ La Strada
Deli sandwiches are like nothing else in New Jersey. These cram-packed bread babies might just convince your bestie to never go to Subway again. We suggest bringing them to Millburn Deli, Henry’s Fine Foods in Verona, Belgiovines in Montclair, Town Hall Deli in South Orange, Syrena’s Polish Deli in Linden, Cosmo’s Salumeria in Hackensack, Eppes Essen in Livingston, Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant in Newark, Mike’s Pasta and Sandwich Shoppe in Nutley, Violante + Son in Cedar Grove, and Benanti’s Italian Delicatessen in Bayonne which is as old school as it comes.
^ Millburn Deli
When it comes to bakeries and pastry shops, the Italian ones need their own spotlight. Bring your friends for sfogliatella (aka lobster tail), biscotti, gelato, bomboloni, and some fresh baked bread. We suggest bringing them to Nicolo’s in Montclair, Bread + Salt in Jersey City, Gencarelli’s Bakery in Bloomfield, Vito’s Bakery in Secaucus, Sorrento Bakery in East Hanover, Palazzone 1960 in Wayne, Second Street Bakery in Jersey City, and Rispoli Pastry Shop in Ridgefield. Most of these shops also offer sandwiches and pizza so it’s a win-win all around.
As the Diner Capital of the World, New Jersey’s 400+ establishments offer a wide selection of eats and nostalgia for the interior design of the 40s, 50s, and 60s. We suggest Top’s Diner in East Newark, Arlington Diner in North Arlington, Summit Diner in Summit, Holsten’s in Bloomfield, Tick Tock Diner in Clifton, Brownstone Pancake Factory, State Street Grill in Bloomfield, West Essex Diner in Fairfield, and Clinton Station Diner in Clinton.
^ Tops Diner
Now that we’ve given you some suggestions for bagels, delis, Italian restaurants, bakeries, and sandwich shops, we’ve still got more. New Jersey is home to some unique hot dogs like the Ripper and Texas Wiener. We suggest visiting Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, the home of the ripper, a hot dog deep-fried until the casing bursts or “rips”. For a Texas Weiner, we suggest Hot Grill in Clifton and Manny’s Texas Weiners for some of the tastiest weiners out there.
^ Rutt’s Hut
If your friends aren’t a fan of any of the food we’ve listed above (stop being friends with them) we’ve got suggestions for other spots like ice cream, donuts, and tacos. For some of the best doughnuts out there, we recommend Montclair Bread Co. in Montclair and Beignets in Denville. For some ice cream, we suggest Falls Creamery in Little Falls, Torico Homemade Ice Cream in Jersey City, and Magic Fountain in Summit. For tacos, we suggest Yetlas in Cedar Grove, Tacoria in Montclair, Carlito’s in Lyndhurst, El Azteca in Park Ridge, and Mexican Spice in Chatham.