With steep costs for air travel and gasoline, many New Yorkers are seeking affordable vacation alternatives. Look no further than across the river in CENTRAL JERSEY, an area recently named a top-10 AFFORDABLE DESTINATION by Travel & Leisure.
Less famous than the state’s seashore, Central Jersey offers stunning parks and wilderness areas, wholesome farms, scrumptious food and craft beverages, and noteworthy historic sites. Sometimes known as NEW JERSEY’S CANAL REGION, Central Jersey is straddled by a 70-mile-long trail and water system known as the D&R Canal State Park, one of the state’s best-kept secrets. Operating as a freight canal between the 1830s to the 1930s, the Delaware and Raritan Canal today offers dozens of entry points with great hiking, biking, and paddling among too many historic and scenic vistas to count.
You can visit Central Jersey by car, train, or bus and stay overnight affordably in one of its key hotel districts around New Brunswick and Somerset, Basking Ridge, Bridgewater, Flemington, or Princeton. Our FAVORITE HOTELS include a tiny, stone inn from the 1700s and a 100-room retreat, both on the outskirts of Princeton.
While visiting, you’ll find lots to do, whether you are here for a weekend or a week.
Visit Garden State Farms
New Jersey is known as the Garden State for a reason! Many BEAUTIFUL FARMS welcome visitors during the summer and fall months. Families with kids will especially enjoy the chance to see farm animals such as alpacas at Hidden Spring Lavender, playful goats at Gorgeous Goat Creamery, and grass-fed cows at Cherry Grove Farm and Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse.
There are lots of activities for adults and children alike—including fruit and vegetable picking—at Terhune Orchards, the region’s agritourism leader, Norz-Hill Farm, and Snyders. Dogwood Farms offers a bucolic and historic setting with organically grown produce of all kinds, while Griggstown Farm’s on-farm market is perfectly suited to collecting provisions after a paddle on the D&R Canal, or a drive along the MILLSTONE VALLEY NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY.
Craft Beverage Makers
Central Jersey is emerging now as a major growth area for CRAFT BEVERAGE MAKING, as demonstrated by the new SIP & SEE SOMERSET trail through the heart of Central Jersey, combining five beer, cider, and spirits makers, plus visits to historic sites and parks. Another eight brewers are available on the HUNTERDON BEER TRAIL on the western side of Central Jersey. You’ll also fine award-winning wineries such as Unionville Vineyards.
Many of these beverage makers offer both indoor and outdoor seating, live music, and board games to pass the time with while sipping a local pilsner, gin, or flavored cider.
Downtowns for Food & Culture
Central Jersey is getting an increasing reputation for its eclectic mix of innovative restaurants, ARTS & CULTURE, and charming downtowns. At the top of the list is Princeton and Hopewell with their booming FARM-TO-TABLE RESTAURANT scenes; SOMERVILLE and NEW BRUNSWICK with wide varieties of ethnic cuisines and culture; and the funky little Delaware River towns of Lambertville, Stockton, and Frenchtown.
And don’t forget New Jersey’s capitol city of TRENTON, where you’ll find more history per square-mile than perhaps anywhere else in the country.
Central Jersey is increasingly becoming a BICYCLING MECCA with both on-road and off-road cycling opportunities, as well as hiking appropriate to any experience level.
One of your best RECREATION OPPORTUNITIES is the hard-packed gravel towpath along the D&R Canal State Park, which offers hiking, biking, and walking free from automobile traffic. Mountain bikers are particularly fond of the enormous Six Mile Run Park in the Somerset section of Franklin Township. You can also find numerous opportunities for biking and hiking in the Sourland Mountain area, at Duke Farms in Hillsborough, or at many of the many state and county parks throughout the region.
If you still have a doubt about Central Jersey, consider the region has been endorsed by one of New York’s greatest brands, the New York Yankees. The SOMERSET PATRIOTS of Central Jersey are now the AA-affiliate of the Yankees, offering a great minor league experience in the Garden State.
So, skip the airport and come explore the beauty and bounty of Central Jersey, and plan on staying a while. You’ll be glad you did!