NJ is famous for many things—Lucy the Elephant, Liberty State Park, and Princeton, among others—but there are a few hidden gems in NJ that even long-time residents overlook. And to make you feel like you’re in on the secret, we’re going to spill the details: From hidden hiking spots to not-so-famous parks to historic eateries to under-the-radar towns, these 7 spots are worth a visit, even during COVID-19 (all are taking precautions and instilling safety measures). Scroll down to start planning your itinerary now.
featured image via @finding_pretty_places
These are 7 hidden gems in NJ to visit now
An absolute hidden gem in NJ, this entire trail is a whopping 70 miles, but don’t let that deter you, since there are plenty of smooth and flat paths. There are many entry points along the canal with picturesque views at every turn (imagine those Insta posts). Got kids who love to ride their bikes? Bring them to ride on the trail and along the river. Plan to pack a lunch and have a picnic on the trail—there are tables and grills at certain spots, but you can also grab a patch of grass and lay down a blanket. And if you get lucky, you might even come across a plodding turtle or cute bunny on the path.
Trailheads starting in Tention, Frenchtown, and New Brunswick
This swinging bridge is a must if you’re looking for a little adventure. Kids will like “walking the plank” of this bridge, which has ropes that line the edge while you cross. For the most Insta-worthy shots, going during fall is prime, since the foliage around the bridge pops, giving you that feeling you’ve stumbled upon a hidden treasure. It’s a bit tricky to find (most hidden gems are), but as you start to make your way down the trail, you’ll see it. Park at the Princeton Battlefield State Park and from there, turn off of Mercer Road, walk past the Clarke House Museum, and then go down a few unmarked trails for about 1. 3 miles until you uncover the secret bridge.
Located in Princeton
Hamilton Park, named for Alexander Hamilton, has a bust of the founding father and lots of green space. Still, the real reason to come to this NJ hidden gem is for the screen-worthy views—a fantastic backdrop for Instashots and holiday card photo ops. And if you fam is a fan of Hamilton or you want to teach your kids about Revolutionary War history, then stop by the plaque signifying the Weehawken Dueling Grounds located within the park, commemorating where Hamilton and Aaron Burr had their famous duel.
Snag a slice and piece of history at the oldest pizza joint in New Jersey and the longest operating one owned by the same family in the United States since 1912. They’re known for their unique Spicy Brown Mustard pie where they spread a dollop of mustard in between the dough before baking it (ah, yum?!). But don’t worry if your fam doesn’t get it—they’ve also got the beloved classic pies, pasta, and delicious Italian favorites.
19 Robbinsville Allentown Road
Robbinsville, NJ 08691
If you and your fam drool over the Food Network Cupcake Wars, then head to this Season 2 winner and one of our fave hidden gems in NJ. The OG location is in Princeton, but there are stores in East Brunswick and Clifton too. With over 30 flavors, there’s something for every taste. Kids will gobble up the Candy Cup or the Worms in Dirt flavors, while you enjoy an espresso or margarita one. And expect to see a line outside the door, hitting up their limited flavors that debut every season—can someone say Pumpkin Spice? Yes, please.
32 Witherspoon Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
This quieter beach town is a great place to visit any time of year because it has a simple boardwalk and a small historic village made for exploring, which puts it right on our list for must-go-to hidden gems in NJ. The legendary Great Auditorium is the heart of the town—the site of music and religious services—and generations of Methodist families own the 114 tents surrounding it. Make a pit stop at Day’s Ice Cream for an old-fashioned ice cream parlor experience, which has been in open for 138 years and has the honor of being the town’s oldest continually operating business. Kids will like heading down the Ocean Pathway, a stretch of grass (and sidewalks with benches) that connects the village to the beach lined with charming Victorian-style houses.