8 Places To Visit In New Jersey This Summer

8 Places To Visit In New Jersey This Summer

New Jersey is full of hidden natural beauty and so many underrated attractions.

New Jersey is often referred to as "the armpit of America," however I disagree. I say this not just because I am a New Jersey resident myself, I say this because New Jersey has so many amazing places to visit that most people - even New Jersey residents themselves - don't even know exist! If you are looking for anything to do this summer, here are eight different places to visit in the Garden State!

1. The Shore

New Jersey is known for its 130 miles of beautiful coastline that spans from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Some of the more popular shore towns and beaches include Seaside, LBI, Ocean City, and Wildwood. My favorite beach though is Island Beach State Park because it is a preserved section of the barrier island that protects the natural shoreline and its habitats. The park has about 10 miles of sandy beaches but also a shoreline along Barnegat Bay.

2. Grounds for Sculpture

Grounds for Sculpture is a sculpture park and museum that spans 42-acres in Hamilton and is on the former site of the New Jersey State Fairgrounds. Visitors can enjoy over 270 sculptures made by both well-known and rising contemporary artists.

3. Absecon Lighthouse

The Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City is one of the oldest in the country and the country’s third tallest lighthouse. It is over 160 years old and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic City skyline if you are willing to climb the 228 steps to reach the top!

4. Cape May County Park and Zoo

This park in Cape May offers a wildlife preserve, a wildlife sanctuary, a recreational area, and a forested 200-acre park that includes the zoo. Admission is completely free for the park and zoo. The zoo contains over 550 animals including many rare and endangered species.

5. Highlands Natural Swimming Pool

This is a hidden gem located in Ringwood features an Olympic-sized freshwater swimming pool that was carved out of a hillside in 1935 and is fed by a mountain stream. Aside from swimming, you can hike many trails throughout the Norvin Green State Forest for some added fun!

6. Old Barracks Museum

This museum has a unique history dating back to the 1700’s during the French and Indian War. The Old Barracks Museum is located in Trenton and is the only remaining colonial barracks in New Jersey.

7. Delaware River Tubing

While there are many places that offer to tube down the Delaware River, Delaware River Tubing located in Milford is one of the best! Not only is this inexpensive but is fun and relaxing. You can also stop and eat lunch during your trip at their famous hot dog stand!

8. Adventure Aquarium

Located in Camden, Adventure Aquarium is the only aquarium in the world where you can see hippos and the only aquarium in the country that features one of the largest and rarest sharks, the hammerhead.

Cover Image Credit: Travel Home

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6 Fundamental Truths Of Attending An Out-Of-State College

In case you don't remember, I'm "The One from Maryland."

I've gone over how I'm from out of state many a time, though I've never actually talked about what it's like to attend college out of state.

Let me tell you, it's... an experience.

1. Culture Shock

Now, Maryland and New Jersey are technically part of the same region (Insert obligatory Maryland is Not the South rant here), but there are a bunch of differences. I had my speculations, of course, that Jersey was trash, but I was pleasantly surprised it wasn't. It's bizarre how it's illegal to fill your own gas tank, and that there are so many diners. And most of them are good! Apparently, however, I haven't met anyone with the "Joisey" accent, and they think mashed and smashed potatoes are the same thing. Um...

2. But there are a few things that remind you of home

I'll say it right out. PEOPLE. HERE. CANNOT. DRIVE. But that's OK. People in Maryland can't drive either. There are good restaurants, some even from home. (I had no idea Cracker Barrel and Chick-Fil-A went this far north!) Princeton is a picturesque historical town that reminds me of downtown Annapolis (though it sadly lacks the city dock). Wawa is cool here too... But apparently, a much bigger deal than it is back home.

3. Navigation

I may have been here for almost two years, but I STILL don't know most of the directions. (Left turns. LEFT TURNS. What's so hard about that?) Also, the school consists of mostly in-states, so when someone says, I'm from *random town name here*, North/South Jersey, a bunch of people are, like "Oh, I know where that is!" And I sit there like "uh... Where is that?" Cue the explanation consisting of "I'm not from Jersey, I don't know anything about this state."

4. Singled Out

Again, Rider consists of a lot of students from New Jersey. The out of state people come in small handfuls. I remember having a class last semester where everyone was from Jersey, aside from myself and this girl from Texas. The other students liked to refer to us as "The one from Texas" and "The one from Maryland." Cripes.

5. Weekends

Everyone goes home for the weekend... Well, excepting the students from other states and countries. And nothing goes on during the weekend, that is, unless you're lucky enough to have a job, or you're a party person. What if you're neither? Now what? What are we supposed to do besides sleep all day and entertain ourselves in our rooms? Whatever, we'll adapt.

6. Trips

I'm lucky enough to get driven home, but I'm aware that some have to drive themselves, take a train, or take a plane. I'd luckily gotten used to road trips early in life, so it didn't faze me as much. No matter, they're long and rather boring, so breaks are both anticipated and dreaded.

Cover Image Credit: Bobby Hidy / Flickr

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Yes Hurricane Harvey Happened in September, But Houston is Still Hurting.

Our work is far from finished.

This spring break, rather than making my way to the beach to work on my tan or going home to spend time with my family and friends for a week, I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to travel to Houston, Texas to assist with the ongoing process of restoring people's lives after Hurricane Harvey devastated them this past August. When telling people that I was traveling to Houston to help with hurricane relief in March, they all seemed a bit baffled. "That happened kind of a while ago, is there even still work to be done?" Believe it or not, yes. People are still recovering from the damage the hurricane caused, many of them homeless, tearing down, or in the process of rebuilding their homes.

The thing is, living in the midwest and never having experienced a hurricane myself, I can completely understand where those who were confused about the intensity of the situation were coming from. It can be easy to sympathize with the situation while it is being televised and reported on in the media, but once the initial hype dies down, it's not something that is typically at the forefront of people's minds who were not directly effected by it. It is difficult to empathize with a situation when you have no experience with is whatsoever, and hard to wrap your head around the true caliber of the damage that has been done.

That being said, the first time the bus pulled down the street of the house my team would be working on for the week, I was left speechless. The usually rowdy atmosphere of the vehicle stopped abruptly, leaving everyone at a loss for works as we took in the destructed and desolate conditions of this neighborhood. As I gazed out the window at the pieces of houses strewn throughout the neighborhood, the weight of all the damage caused by Harvey started to hit me. This storm uprooted so many people's lives when its waves hit in August, and somehow even though the water was gone it was still managing to do so.

My team worked for four days with a woman named Maria, helping to start the process of getting her life and her house back in working order. She worked alongside us as we tore down the walls of her home that were no longer stable due to the storm, sorting through debris and preparing her house to be rebuilt. Although it was heart-wrenching to tear her home apart as she watched us do so, it was all worth it after seeing how much hope she had, and how grateful she was for all of the help we were giving her.

Although the wealthier population of Houston has recovered from the wrath of Hurricane Harvey's waves, there are still so many people like Maria who are struggling to find the funds and the assistance to rebuild. There are still houses that have not been touched since September, and still lives that are being effected by this storm. These people desperately need help, and whether you can book a plane ticket to go help with construction, donate to those in need or simply say a prayer for those in need, any small thing helps.

Houston, you have my heart. Thank you for opening my eyes, and changing my life.

Cover Image Credit: Sam Melvin

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