Day Trips Near Me This Summer In New Jersey You Should Do
Summer is right around the corner and if you’re anything like us, you’re already making a list of fun things to do.
Hot weather to-do lists certainly include plenty of days at the beach, but sometimes you just need a break from the sand and sun.
When you feel like something different, get in the car and go on an adventure. See a pontoon bridge that crosses a lake or an ever-changing display of graffiti hidden in the woods. Catch a movie at the drive-in theater or visit an orchard to pick fresh strawberries, blueberries and peaches.
The beach can wait.
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Cross a lake on a floating path
About an hour west of the coast (maybe a bit farther if you’re coming from the most northerly or southerly points of the coast) is Smithville Historical Park in Eastampton Township, in Burlington County.
Not to be confused with Smithville, a quaint Atlantic County shopping village that also makes a great day trip, Historic Smithville Park is a former industrial village now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
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The 312-acre park has spots for biking, hiking, fishing, canoeing, and picnicking, and animal lovers should keep an eye out for beavers, turtles, and herons. But perhaps its coolest feature is a “floating trail” on Lake Smithville. At over 500 feet long, the trail feels like you’re walking on water and there’s more parkland to explore on both sides.
If you’re traveling a long distance to get here, make the most of the trip by stopping at the nearby Columbus Flea Market. Spend time shopping, then visit the Food Hall, Farmers Market, and Amish Markets before heading home.
To go: 803 Smithville Road, Eastampton; 609-265-5858, co.burlington.nj.us.
Go see a movie at the drive-in
Dinner and a movie take on new meaning at a drive-in, and gazing under the stars is a perfect way to spend a summer night.
The Delsea Drive-In Theater in Vineland, Cumberland County is New Jersey’s last official drive-in theater. It plays two double feature films on two screens each night and serves dinner and snacks from a concession stand.
Moviegoers bring folding chairs and blankets or settle into beds of pickup trucks and hatchbacks to watch the movies, which start after dusk.
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Tickets are $12.50 per person and include a double feature. Movies air Friday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day; the ticket office opens at 6:15 p.m.
To go: 2203 South Delsea Drive, Vineland; 856-696-0011, delseadrive-in.com.
Choose your own products
There’s nothing quite like a ripe, sunny, juicy Jersey peach.
Find them at any farm stand in the summer, or head to one of these farms or orchards to pick your own – along with strawberries, blueberries, and cherries:
- Battleview Orchard in Freehold Township begins its picking season with strawberries then moves on to sour cherries, peaches and nectarines; 91 Wemrock Rd, 732-462-0756, battlevieworchards.com
- Eastmont Orchards in Colts Neck is a favorite for peaches and nectarines; 169 County Road 537, 732-542-5404, eastmontorchards.com
- Hallock U-Pick Farm in the New Egypt section of Plumsted, there are strawberries, tomatoes and plenty of vegetables to pick; 38 Fischer Rd, 609-758-8847, hallocksupick.com
- Emery’s Farm in Plumsted grows five varieties of blueberries and is famous for its blueberry ice cream (346 Long Swamp Road, 609-758-8514, emerysfarm.com). Other blueberry picking farms include bear berries at Brown’s Mills (1449 Junction Rd, 609-636-5158, facebook.com/bearberries91); Haines Berry Farm in Pemberton (98 Sheep Pen Hill Road, 609-894-8630, hatesberryfarm.com); and Hammonton DiMeo Farms (3101 Nesco Road, 609-561-5905, dimeofarms.com), Blueberry Bill Farms (914 11th St., 609-839-4306, blueberrybillfarms.com, and Lindsay’s Pick Your Own Blueberries (436 Pleasant Mills Road, 609-561-2474, facebook.com/LindsaysBlueberries).
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The story continues under the gallery.
Graffiti hunt in the woods
New Jersey’s Pine Barrens have long been a source of mystery, thanks to tales of the Jersey Devil; the lure of the magnificent Blue Hole, a water-filled quarry where swimming is so dangerous it’s against the law; and abandoned buildings nestled among pine trees.
One such location is the Brooksbrae Brick Factory, nestled along the eastern edge of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest in the Whiting section of Manchester, Ocean County. Built in the 1900s, the site was intended to become a clay brick factory, but its owner died before the factory opened.
Over the years, the spot became something else entirely: a canvas for graffiti artists, who painted and repainted the walls, floors and ceilings of buildings left behind after a fire on the site. It’s a bit scary but a bit beautiful too, and since people still visit spray painting, the art is constantly changing.
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To get there, program your card on Pasadena Woodmanse Road in Whiting, which winds between Route 72 in the south and Route 530 in the north. About halfway through, keep your eyes on the road: graffiti on the asphalt will tell you where to park.
From there, head west into the woods and cross the train tracks (also abandoned). Watch for spray painted leaves, tree trunks and small signs: follow them and a few minutes walk from the slopes you will find the site.
Beat the heat indoors
When faced with a rainy day — or the need to hang out in the air conditioning — take a trip to Bell Works, a sprawling complex full of food, entertainment, and plenty of space to stretch your legs.
The second floor of the 2 million square foot building in Holmdel, Monmouth County is lined with offices, but the first floor houses the township library, an indoor golf course, an escape room, a reality center virtual and stores. sale of jewelry and clothing.
When you’re hungry, visit the food hall for pizza, pasta, sushi, and baked goods; Oink and Moo BBQ & Burgers for brisket and burnt tips; Booskerdoo Coffee & Baking Co. for lattes; Bar Bella for cocktails; and Jersey Freeze for ice cream.
To go: 101 Crawfords Corner Road in Holmdel; 732-226-8818, bell.works/new-jersey/explore.
To go back in time
As the 2021 season approached, management at the historic village of Allaire feared the pandemic would keep visitors away. They were happy to be wrong, and as the pandemic winds down, Allaire Village is expanding its hours of operation.
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The village and its historic buildings, houses and shops are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday, from April to the end of November. In the past, this calendar was contained between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
In April 1822, James P. Allaire purchased 5,000 acres of land in what is now Wall and Howell. The village you’ll find there today in Allaire State Park includes 13 buildings of the former Howell Iron Works Co., which flourished as a self-contained, isolated community of up to 500 people from 1822 to 1846. A snapshot of life during the Industrial Revolution, it has become one of New Jersey’s most popular living history sites and is operated as a nonprofit with limited state assistance.
History buffs will appreciate one of Allaire’s guided tours, offered at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from April to November ($5).
To go: 4263 Atlantic Ave. Wall; 732-919-3500, allairevillage.org.
Writer Jerry Carino contributed to this story.