There are lots of obvious great attractions in the Garden State — mountains, beaches, rivers, historical sites, entertainment venues, restaurants, and nightlife. New Jersey has it all. But, the state also offers many less familiar places that provide some of the most memorable experiences for visitors.
These are New Jersey’s best-kept secrets. Here are ten very special places in New Jersey that offer some of the world’s most different and fun things to see and do.
Paterson Great Falls National Park
Tucked away on the Passaic River just beyond the outskirts of Paterson New Jersey is a natural wonder in its own right. The Paterson Great Falls are among the largest waterfalls in the United States. The views at the mouth of the river and throughout the area surrounding the falls are incredible.
A charming footbridge crosses the river, delights visitors with an over-the-top experience of the natural spectacle. This unusual and captivating array of waterfalls has inspired poets and Hollywood producers. It’s a must-see for visitors to the area.
The Luna Parc House
In the Sandyston Township of Sussex County, New Jersey is this fascinating private home that is open to the public for only a few days twice per year. For the $5 price of admission, visitors receive a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
A lush forest frames the property, and inside the peculiar residence is a world of exciting visual stimuli. The interior is replete with curious and common objects of interest, original artworks, and more than a million hand-laid mosaic tiles in a spectacular exhibit.
Watchung Reservation Area
Expanding over nearly 2,000 acres of Union County, NJ, the Watchung reserve is a world apart, offering all that outdoor adventurists visiting the Northeast could want. That includes exciting hiking trails, some with splendid waterfalls alongside. There is also plenty of camping and picnic space.
The Trailside Nature and Science Center informs visitors about wildlife in the reserve. There are featured activities for children during the spring and summer seasons.
Udelco Vintage Warehouse
Hawthorne, NJ is home to the amazing Udelco, Inc. warehouse, where all great vintage fashions go to be rediscovered. The immense building is packed with a staggering expanse of big boxes of vintage clothes categorized by decades and styles.
Looking for bell-bottom pants? Tie-dyed treasures? Fashions from various bygone decades? This is the place. Bring cash and browse away the day. Things are well organized, but there’s a vast volume of items. Everything is under $20.
South Mountain Reservation Area
This pristine 2,100-acre nature reserve extends across some of the most beautiful areas of four New Jersey counties. The reserve offers abundant hiking opportunities, waterfall views, and serene picnic areas. For the quietest visitors, wildlife can sometimes be seen walking by.
South Mountain is a local favorite because it features so many areas for nature-lovers to explore. See maps of the reserve in advance to choose your favorite points of interest.
The Kings Spa
If you want the perfect escape from the stresses of daily responsibilities, treat yourself to a day at the ultimate spa. The Kings Spa in Palisades Park, NJ is the East Coast’s largest spa of its kind. It offers several floors featuring saunas, lounges, an exceptional restaurant, and a vast menu of spa treatments.
Available spa sessions include a wide array of skin treatments, massages, and even the ultra-luxurious 24k-gold Egyptian sauna. This room is ideal for groups to share the finest in spa experiences.
The White Manna
Perhaps the world’s finest burger spot is this favorite of New Jersey locals, world-renowned chefs, and food critics alike. This tiny restaurant founded in 1946 is one of the most precious gems of Americana. The hamburgers here are so good that they’ve been featured by multiple famous news publications and cuisine shows, including Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.
Visitors enjoy the delectable sliders and old-fashioned milkshakes in this quaint little hamburger place situated among beautiful natural surroundings near the Hackensack River.
The Pine Barrens
The Pine Barrens is a tranquil area of natural beauty. It is known by some as the setting for a notorious Sopranos episode and by others as the place where the mythical New Jersey Devil lurks. Folklore aside, the area is especially popular for river kayaking, hiking in the gorgeous forest, and joining nature tours.
This special natural area spans over seven New Jersey counties, featuring stone cliffs, waterfalls, and many other exquisite scenic views.
Princeton University, located in Princeton, New Jersey, is a prestigious Ivy League institution renowned for its academic excellence and historic campus. Founded in 1746, it stands as one of the oldest universities in the United States. Princeton’s picturesque campus features iconic architecture and beautiful gardens, offering an inspiring environment for learning and research. With a strong commitment to scholarship and a rich tradition of producing influential alumni, Princeton University continues to be a global leader in higher education.
Madam Marie’s Temple Of Knowledge
This unique and fun entertainment recommendation is for a visit to the little booth on the Asbury Park Boardwalk where the famed Marie Castello opened up shop in 1932 and offered her fortune telling services until her death in 2008. Dainzie Costell, Marie’s granddaughter, has carried on her legacy.
Madam Marie was immortalized in the song by Bruce Springsteen, and many famous performers visited her. She became known as the Gypsy Queen of the Boardwalk.