Five Overlooked New Jersey Attractions

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New Jersey has one of the most vibrant tourism industries in New England. With its historical settings and its fun-filled shoreline, there is truly something for every type of traveler. While the full list of possible attractions is impressive, the popularity of the sites means that some get overlooked. If you want to experience something a little different on your next New Jersey trip, consider these five attractions off the beaten path.

1. Asbury Lanes. From the outside, Asbury Lanes does not look like much. This aging bowling alley certainly would not be anyone’s first choice at first glance. However, there is much more to this attraction than meets the eye. While Asbury Lanes does indeed offer bowling, the interior provides guests a full evening of fun and entertainment. There is plenty of food on hand, which completes the bowling ambiance for those with ample experience on the lanes and those who are trying bowling out for the first time. Even if you do not want to bowl, Asbury Lanes is a great place to stop in the summer thanks to its events. Asbury Lanes hosts everything from live bands to dance parties. There are even movie showings throughout the summer. With all this, Asbury Lanes is a great nighttime destination for adults anytime during the summer.

2. Cowtown Rodeo. As a state on the East Coast, cowboys are not an expected attraction in the Garden State. That is not to say, however, that there is nothing of the West that New Jersey does not get right. To the contrary, New Jersey is home to the best rodeo in the northeast thanks to Cowtown Rodeo. This rodeo has been a staple of the state since it opened in 1929, and despite its eastern location, it remains a respected rodeo destination. As a family owned business, Cowtown Rodeo stays true to its roots and offers a family friendly rodeo experience that is fun and exhilarating. Many of the animals at Cowtown are regarded among the best in the country. Rodeos are held each week, and there are other attractions and events held on the grounds as well, especially in the summer. There is even a popular market with vendors inside and out, offering fresh produce and other items in a great venue. Even if you know nothing about rodeo, Cowtown is a great experience that no one should miss.

3. Grape Expectations. The New Jersey wine scene is one of the best. Though there are a growing number of respected wineries across the state, one of the best to visit is undoubtedly Grape Expectations. The winemakers here are award winning, and the winery is well suited to guests, thanks to its inviting atmosphere. In particular, Grape Expectations brings the process of winemaking to life, giving guests the chance to see and experience all stages of the process. From pressing grapes to bottling a barrel, Grape Expectations is a comprehensive experience. There is also a wide range of wines available for tasting, including exotic options with grapes from all around the world. Even those who are not interested in winemaking will enjoy the social atmosphere. Plus, guests can even make their own wine to take home with them, and many people visit prior to a wedding or special event to create a concoction to commemorate the event. Grape Expectations is located in Bridgewater.

4. Dragon Boat Festival. Dragon boats may have originated in China, but there is no need to travel halfway around the world to experience the wonder of this specialized watercraft. In fact, New Jersey has its own dragon boat event with the Dragon Boat Festival in Cape May Harbor. This event is designed to support charity since every boat that enters will compete in the name of its desired charitable organization. Even those who know nothing of dragon boats are welcome to participate since all supplies, including boats and safety gear, are provided by event organizers. Teams simply have to pick a charity, sign up and show up to have fun. There are two main races with a shorter course on Saturday and a longer one on Sunday. The festival will also include other activities, such as food, shopping and live entertainment. The whole family can come out to Cape May Harbor to cheer on the racers or just to appreciate the beauty of these unique boats.

5. C.F. Martin Guitar Factory tours. Music aficionados are sure to enjoy the C.F. Martin Guitar Factory. This factory makes some of the best guitars in the country, and tours are available for interested guests. These hour long tours are led by a company guide, who is well versed in the history of the company and the construction of these magnificent instruments. With a tour, guests will see how guitars are made, which can provide unique insight into the wonder of the guitar’s musical capabilities. A good tour should always be paired with a trip to the Martin Guitar Museum, which is located nearby. This museum showcases the best of music history with a particular emphasis on instrument usage and overall craftsmanship. Although the factory and museum are not technically in New Jersey, the nearby location in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, makes this a worthwhile day trip during any New Jersey getaway.

New Jersey is full of attractions. While it is fun to go to the most popular venues, sometimes the lesser-known attractions can offer a distinct experience that can be hard to replicate. Clearly, whether you are a New Jersey resident or a first-time visitor, there is always something new to try. Consider one of these destinations or come up with one of your own to make your next New Jersey trip the best yet.