things to do in nj

RightTurn’s Road Trip Destinations Series: New Jersey

Often overlooked, road trips are the true great escape from boring everyday tasks. With plenty of things to do in New Jersey, what better way to get to them than by packing it up and plugging along? New Jersey is a unique place with some oddities about it (just wait and see.). So hold on — we’re going for a ride!

War of the Worlds

In 1938, Orson Welles created a summer radio show for CBS. Adapting H.G. Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds for radio broadcast, Welles managed to convince many people that Earth was being attacked by Martians landing in West Windsor Township, New Jersey. There, you can now visit the monument that commemorates the strange evening where lizard-like beings with tentacles and drooling mouths exited silver spacecrafts searching for a world to dominate.

Popcorn Park Zoo

If you’re an animal lover, you’ll love Popcorn Park Zoo. Established in the late ‘70s, the sanctuary helps provide a real home for exotic wildlife animals that have been abandoned, injured, abused, exploited, or have fallen ill. Located in Forked River, the zoo has programs to learn about the 15,000 animals that come through yearly and even offers some of their animals for adoption, including less exotic animals like dogs and cats.

Hindenburg

Another event that shook the world was the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. New Jersey’s Lakehurst Naval Air Station was expecting the big beautiful zeppelin to arrive from Germany and upon docking, caught fire and crashed remarkably into the empty field. The field now has a memorial to those who lost their lives on what was the largest aircraft ever to take flight. The Hindenburg memorial is marked in the shape of the aircraft on the ground with cement and brick where it crashed.

The Race of Gentlemen

If racing is your thing, it doesn’t get much better than The Race of Gentlemen. Along the beach in Wildwood, every year old reconstructed racecars and motorcycles take part in a head-to-head racing on a one-eighth mile beach track. An entry car’s body must be 1934 or older and American made with an engine that’s 1948 or older, and parts that pre-date 1953. Similar requirements exist for motorcycles in that they must be American made from 1947 or earlier with a tank shift or factory transmission.

The Birthplace of Baseball

On June 19, 1846, the first official baseball game took place at Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. It wasn’t much of a game since the New York Base Ball Club beat the Knickerbocker Club 23–1. Alexander Cartwright developed the rules for this first official match of the wonderful national pastime we enjoy today. As the game gained popularity, Hoboken was too far for New York teams to travel, so the last game there took place in 1873. A monument exists where the original diamond was located.

Did You Know?!

I told you New Jersey was filled with oddities, didn’t I? Well what if I told you that two of the most recognizable New York tourist landmarks are actually New Jersey landmarks? Ellis Island is actually located on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that because New Jersey owns the surrounding water, it then owns 90% of Ellis Island.

Additionally, the Statue of Liberty, which stands proudly upon Liberty Island, is also in New Jersey waters, making for a fascinating discussion. However, the U.S. Government owns the National Monument, so it’s kind of just a squabble with no real winners. Both landmarks are in New Jersey, but everyone considers them iconic attractions of the great state of New York. But just know that when you go to visit, you’re not in New York anymore!

No Left Turns!

The jughandle. The very word makes people cringe since no matter how badly you might want to, you won’t be making a left-hand turn at certain intersections. You must be in the right lane where you will make essentially what amounts to three right turns to get where you want to go. Traffic experts suggest it might be counterintuitive and annoying, but safer in the end. Not to mention, they move more vehicles in heavier traffic situations. In 2013, the Federal Highway Administration found that jughandles had 26% fewer crashes resulting in fatalities than comparable intersections. Who knows, maybe there’s a jughandle coming to a town near you!

Most Diners in the World

Who doesn’t love a good meal from an authentic diner? Well if you’re in New Jersey, you’ll have a lot to choose from. The easiest on-the-go meal is a perfectly placed diner; and with over 600 diners to nosh at with old-style architecture, kitsch, and design, your road trip will at least have your belly full.

Your gas tank?

Keeping that full is a different story. New Jersey is one of two states in the U.S. that prohibits self serve gas stations. The law was created in 1949 and stands today with the idea of safety as the most pressing issue. Not to mention, it creates jobs! So if you’re in New Jersey and you need gas on your road trip, just tell ’em to fill ‘er up and sit back and relax!

See? New Jersey is way more interesting than you ever even knew.

Not sure where we’ve been? You can always search “Road Trip Destinations Series” in the search bar at the top of the blog to find out. Let’s just hope that none of these locations require a left-hand turn to get in!