4 Day Trips In NJ When You Need A Vacation

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Need to get away? Planning day trips in NJ can be just the vacation you’re looking for if you’re itching to go somewhere. Thanks to our prime location in the Garden State, you can have sand between your toes, hike along scenic wooded trails, jump in a lake or walk in the footsteps of history, all while feeling like you’ve been far, far away. Read below for the perfect spots that satisfy any family vacation craving and bonus options if you find yourself wanting to spend the night there are options or check out our family resorts. (Feature Photo Credit: Highlands Natural Pool)

4 day trips in NJ that feel like a vacation

day trips in NJ Avon by the sea

Spend sun up to sundown strolling along the boardwalk and beach at Avon-by-the-Sea for beach-inspired day trips in NJ. Photo taken at the Avon boardwalk

Head to a quiet beach

Skip the rowdy crowds and buzzing boardwalk, and head to a quieter spot by the shore for a beachy day trip in NJ. Avon-by-the-Sea offers plenty of waterfront play with amenities, like a playground, pavilion with restrooms, free parking, and a no-frills boardwalk to make a day trip feel like a solid vacation. Start your morning with a hearty breakfast at the local favorite Avon Pavilion, steps away from the sand on the boardwalk. The fantastic views within a chic, whitewashed décor feel more Mykonos than Jersey Shore. Buy a badge, stake out your spot on the beach, and finally relax on the pristine shore renowned for its cleanliness and family atmosphere.

Overnight Option: If you want to clock in extra beach time, spend a night at the Cashelmara Inn across the street from the ocean. The Victorian-era spot is a restored historic home featuring large rooms with marble baths and includes access to their renovated theatre room, where you can book a private viewing complete with popcorn, candy, and soda. After you check in, sit back for sunset on their wrap-around porch, and you’ll instantly be in a vacay state of mind, even if you’ve only escaped 24 hours.

Go jump in a lake

New Jersey’s bigger lakes can get overrun with boats, so for a pure swimming spot, try Highlands Natural Pool in Ringwood. This spring-fed swimming hole is a hidden gem where kids can take the “go jump in a lake” command seriously. Bring a cooler and map out your day. There are lifeguards and roped-off areas just like a pool, a sandy volleyball area, a sandbox for littles, and hiking trails that offer scenic views of New York City on site.

Overnight Option: Just 25 minutes from Ringwood past the NY state border, The Waterstone Inn is on the shoreline of Greenwood Lake. Paddle out on a canoe or kayak right from the waterfront, or venture out on a motorboat rental at the nearby marina.

day trips in NJ jockey hollow New Jersey

Soak up patriotic history at the soldiers’ huts in Jockey Hollow Park, one of the historical day trips in NJ. Photo Credit: @KateyStanley

Relive the past

If your family is obsessed with history or wants to appreciate our country’s roots, historical day trips in NJ starting in Morristown are a must. Spend the day retracing Washington’s steps from his headquarters to Jockey Hollow, where revolutionary soldiers fought and lived during the brutal winter of 1780. Start at The Ford Mansion, known as Washington’s Headquarters, one of the oldest house museums in the US, and shows off the rooms restored to reflect what they were like during Washington’s stay. Make a burger pit stop at The Committed Pig, which boasts views of the historic Green. Afterward, head to nearby Jockey Hollow park, where kids can learn more about the war fought on the grounds and get up close to the authentic soldier huts.

Overnight Option: Right down the road from Washington’s Headquarters is the Westin Governor Morris, a modern respite from the revolutionary past with an outdoor pool. If you’re still on the history hunt, visit the 19th- century restored Fosterfields Living Historical Farm or Historic Speedwell, where Samuel Morse invented the telegraph. Though the interactive museum about telecommunication is temporarily closed, you can still walk around the lake and admire the waterfall.

Relax in the great outdoors

Pack a picnic and take a drive to Cheesequake State Park, known for its unique landscape, one of the most beautiful day trips in NJ. It has saltwater and fresh marshes with hardwood trees, positioning it among two different ecosystems of the sea and forest. The interpretive nature center is an excellent place to start, where you can view the nature, wildlife, and history exhibits, learn about the three habitats located within the park and read up on Native Americans and early colonizers of the area. You can also pick up a trail map and decide which of the five trails you can all enjoy—they range from easy to moderate with inclines, and some allow bikes.

Overnight Option: Roast s’mores and sleep under the stars at the on-site campgrounds (a reservation is required). With bathroom facilities and fishing spots nearby that include a kid-popular crabbing bridge, spending the night here can be just the place for your family to unplug.

Where are your favorite day trips in NJ? Let us know!

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About Author

Lisa Cohen Lee is a freelance writer, editor, and mom to a tween-age boy based in Summit, NJ. Her work has appeared in print and online, including Glamour, Self, Woman’s Day, O The Oprah Magazine, NY Post, NJ Monthly, Allure.com, Prevention.com, and Brit + Co, among others. A Garden State native, Lisa is always on the lookout for new local adventures and events to entertain her son and husband. Most days, you can find her chauffeuring her son around town and trolling the coolest coffee houses for #NJMOM fuel.

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