The skinny coastal state of NEW JERSEY has been at the heart of US history since the Revolution, when a battle was fought at Princeton, and George Washington spent two bleak winters at Morristown. As the Civil War came, the state’s commitment to an industrial future ensured that, despite its border location along the Mason–Dixon Line, it fought with the Union.
That commitment to industry has doomed New Jersey in modern times; most travellers only see “the Garden State”, so called for the rich market garden territory at the state’s heart, from the stupendously ugly New Jersey Turnpike toll road, which is always heavy with truck traffic. Even the songs of Bruce Springsteen, Asbury Park’s golden boy, paint his home state as a gritty urban wasteland of empty lots, grey highways, lost dreams and blue-collar heartache. The majority of the refineries and factories actually hug only a mere fifteen-mile-wide swath along the turnpike, but bleak cities like Newark, home to the major airport, and Trenton, the forgettable capital, reinforce the dour image. But there is more to New Jersey than factories and pollution. Alongside its revolutionary history, the northwest corner near the Delaware Water Gap is traced with picturesque lakes, streams and woodlands, while in the south, the town of Princeton adds architectural elegance to the interior with the grand buildings of its Ivy League university. Best of all perhaps, the Atlantic shore offers many bustling resorts, from the compelling tattered glitz of Atlantic City to the old-world charm of Cape May.Read More
Self-satisfied PRINCETON, which began its days inauspiciously as Stony Brook in the late 1600s, lies on US-206 eleven miles north of Trenton. It rose to fame as home to Princeton University, the nation’s fourth oldest, which broke away from overly religious Yale in 1756. In January 1777, a week after Washington’s triumph against the British at Trenton, the Battle of Princeton occurred southwest of town, another turning point in the Revolutionary effort. After the war, in 1783, the Continental Congress, fearful of potential attack from incensed unpaid veterans in Philadelphia, met here for four months; the leafy, well-kept town was then left in peace to follow its academic pursuits. Alumni of Princeton University include actor James Stewart, Jazz-Age writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, actress Brooke Shields and presidents Wilson and Madison.
- Atlantic City
The traditionally blue-collar resort of nearby Wildwood, on a barrier island east of Rte-47, offers a counterpoint to the pretty but often pretentious olde-worlde charm of Cape May. Its 1950s architecture, left lovingly intact, includes dozens of gaudy and fun-looking hotels with names like Pink Orchid, Waikiki and The Shalimar, all still featuring plastic palm trees, kidney-shaped swimming pools and plenty of aqua, orange and pink paint. To best appreciate the town’s brash charm, take a stroll along the boardwalk and stop along the wide, throbbing, free beaches. Additionally, check out the local amusement rides and water parks, such as Morey’s Piers, Raging Waters and Splash Zone.