The Official Jersey Bucket List – Part Two

After the publishing of my “Official Jersey Bucket List,” I received many requests for a part two. I will admit as soon as I published it, I continued to come up with more ideas. There is so much to see in New Jersey, it is almost impossible to include it all in one list.

Let’s face it, in light of the Coronavirus outbreak, many of us will staycation this summer, so why not turn into a Jersey tourist for a day and check out some of our great places right outside your front door! Some are currently open, while others aren’t quite there just yet. But that’s OK, as you will have plenty ideas as the summer continues. Here are some more ideas in my “Official Jersey Bucket List – Part Two.”

Visit a public farm: While many refer to Jersey as “The Mall State,” we are officially known as “The Garden State.” From the top of the state to the bottom, there are public farms, wineries, nurseries, and “pick your own” options available. I recommend you check out Hillcrest Orchard & Dairy in Branchville, the home of Jersey Girl Cheese.

Visit one of our great museums: In 2018, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City put in place a mandatory entrance fee of $25 for non-New York residents. Up until now, The Met’s entrance fee was by “suggested donation,” which made it accessible for all. Now it will be far from that for many. I can’t tell you how much this ticked me off. However, it was a good reminder that there are MANY great museums right here in New Jersey! I recommend you check out the Newark Museum, our largest museum in the state, which opened in 1909. A personal favorite of mine is the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts, which focuses on 18th- and 19th- century craftsmen and artisans. If you are looking for something outside, visit the Grounds for Sculpture, which opened in 1992. It is a 42-acre sculpture park, museum, and arboretum founded on the site of the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds. These are just three museums in our great state. There is at least one museum in every county, so no matter where you live, there’s a museum nearby.

Check out the Jersey music scene: Bands like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes are known for that “Jersey sound.” What some may not know is that the sound is actually something we all know from the shore – the Calliope. Listen to the keyboard of those bands and see if your memory brings you back to The pipe organ and drum sound from the merry-go-round you couldn’t wait to ride when you were a child. Of course The Stone Pony is a Jersey icon, but there are plenty other music venues in the state. Check out the Count Basie Center for the Arts.

Visit Ellis Island: New Jersey has one of the most diverse immigrant populations in the country. And while New York thinks they “own” Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, they are actually in Jersey waters. Ellis Island is a National Park and offers an amazing amount of information about the story of immigration in the United States. Trace your family history in their genealogy database and you can even add your family information to the story of the Island.

Go to Fort Hancock: Another great National Park in New Jersey is Sandy Hook. While many people head to Sandy Hook just for the beach, there is a lot more to do on the over 4,000 acres of land that comprise the park. This piece of land has played a significant part of American History going back to the 1700s. One part of Sandy Hook is Fort Hancock. In 1895, the U.S. Army renamed the “Fortifications at Sandy Hook” as Fort Hancock. The installation would protect New York Harbor from invasion by sea. Its yellow brick buildings were constructed largely between 1898-1910, with the fort reaching its peak population in World War II. There is now a push on to preserve these old buildings that are, unfortunately, beginning to crumble. Hopefully, they will continue to persevere.

Visit the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park: Located in-between New York City and Philadelphia, New Jersey was able to play a part of the industrial revolution during the early 19th century. How? Through the Delaware & Raritan Canal (known as the D&R). In 1834, the D&R was officially open for business and was one of the busiest navigation canals in the United States. Its peak years were in the mid to late 1800s, primarily moving tons of Pennsylvania coal. By the end of the 19th century, canal use was declining throughout the country. In 1973, the canal and its remaining structures were entered on the National Register of Historic Places. It is now a beautiful place to fish, hike and bike along the 70 miles of the canal.

Visit Walpack, but please be respectful: Officially founded in 1731, the Dutch lived on the land known as “Wallpack” as early as the mid-1600s. The of the town’s name comes from the Lenape Native American content word “wahlpeck,” which means “turn-hole (eddy or whirlpool). It is not considered a “ghost town,” as about 20 residents still call Walpack home. The town is located within the confines of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The town has a sad history since the 1970s that includes a failed national project, eminent domain, vandalism, looting, and fires intentionally set. Many are afraid one day what is left of the town will be gone. During the lockdown, vandals broke into several buildings and left behind an incredible amount of damage. If you are so inclined, consider joining their historical society to help repair what was damaged. If you know anything about the damage, please contact NPS Dispatch at 570-426-2457. It is a beautiful place, but if you visit, please be respectful of the history of the town and its residents. Take only photos and leave only footprints.

I hope you enjoyed this “part two” of my official Jersey bucket list and it provides you with more ways to enjoy your staycation in our wonderful state!

What My New Jersey Is…

I love those “you know you’re from…” lists you see on sites like Facebook. Well, I came up with my own New Jersey list. I would love to hear if you think I missed anything!

  1. You’ve been seriously injured at Action Park (probably on the Alpine Slide).
  2. You know that the only people who call it “Joisey” are from New York (usually The Bronx) or Texas.
  3. You don’t think of citrus when people mention “The Oranges.”
  4. You know that it’s called “Great Adventure,” not “Six Flags.”
  5. Coffee and a buttered roll is a perfectly acceptable breakfast.
  6. You went to Seaside Heights for prom weekend.
  7. You know what a “jug handle” is and how to properly negotiate one.
  8. You go “down the shore” and not “to the beach.”
  9. Your school cafeteria made very good Italian subs.
  10. You know how to properly negotiate a Circle.
  11. You knew that the last question had to do with driving.
  12. You know where to get a freshly cooked taylor ham egg and cheese sandwich at 2 am.
  13. You don’t think “What exit” is very funny.
  14. Every year, you had at least two kids in your class named Tony, Michael, Vito, and Marie
  15. You know the location of every “clip” shown in the Sopranos opening credits.
  16. You know that “youse” is not a synonym for utilize but for y’all.
  17. You’ve never pumped your own gas.
  18. You can’t stand PA drivers.
  19. You know that there are bakeries which are not part of a supermarket, but actual individual stores.
  20. At least half the people you knew in high school went to Rutgers.
  21. You know that you cannot visit “the boards” in Seaside Heights without stopping by Midway for the best sausage, pepper and onion or cheese steak.
  22. You know that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are IN New Jersey, NOT New York.
  23. It’s a sub, not a hoagie
  24. You call pizza without toppings “plain,” not “cheese” and you have at least one Uncle that calls it a “tomato pie.”
  25. You have paid a toll with a hook shot from the passenger side of the car.
  26. You know there are TWO Jerseys… North and South and they ARE very different.
  27. You don’t understand why people look at you funny when you order fries with mozzarella and brown gravy.
  28. You know what taylor ham is.
  29. There is an ongoing debate between your friends – Jimmy Buffs or Rutt’s Hut.
  30. You consider taking your car to inspection one of the traumatic events in an individual’s life.
  31. You know it’s pronounced “Nork,” not “New-ark” and how to properly pronounce Boonton.
  32. You don’t understand how people eat Sunday dinner after 3:00 p.m.
  33. You remember seeing concerts at the Capitol Theater.
  34. You felt that two of the best places to go were Pizza Town and the Short Stop.
  35. Everyone has an opinion on the best diner in Jersey.