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B1G 2021: New Jersey visitors guide

Visiting Jersey for a Rutgers game? There’s SO much other stuff you can do too!

Atlantic City. Ironically not on my list.

Hey Big Ten fans. I’m sure many of us have been so cooped in this past year that you’re just dying to travel to more Big Ten away games than most years.

This year Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, and Maryland fans have the privilege of making the journey to Piscataway and New Brunswick, but this article, barring some catastrophe causing the end the state of New Jersey was we know it, will be applicable for years to come and for general visits to New Jersey, not just for Rutgers games.

Also, be sure to check out my past article that highlights things to do at Rutgers itself. This article, however, is specifically Jersey-general things to do on your visit for those willing to venture out on their visit. New Brunswick and Piscataway are pretty central locations in the state and staying in the area for a game is a great location to branch out in all directions.

Also, this week is coincidentally “Be Nice to New Jersey Week.” This list will definitely make you feel compelled to do that.

So without further ado, here is the Zuzu Approved Jersey To-Do Guide. If anyone reading this owns or is a leader in any of these attractions, you owe me one. (links to each attraction’s website are in the headers).

Kingda Ka

Six Flags Great Adventure— Jackson, NJ

New Brunswick, New Jersey is only about one hour from Six Flags: Great Adventure. If you like roller coasters, this Six Flags is truly unrivaled. Classics like Superman, Bizarro, El Toro, and especially Nitro are my absolute favorites, but Great Adventure is also home to the tallest fastest roller coaster in the world, Kingda Ka. There’s even a sea lion show and safari. For those who visit New Jersey for games in October, Fright Fest is in my opinion the best time to go to Six Flags.

Adventure Aquarium— Camden, NJ

This is a world-class aquarium right in Camden, New Jersey. About an hour and a half from New Brunswick, it’s exceedingly underrated. Sharks, sea turtles, touch tanks, tropical fish, animal feedings, penguins, and hippos. There’s even a brand new “Flying Fish Beer Garden.” Flying Fish Brewing Company is a New Jersey craft beer company. It’s a stellar aquarium. I actually haven’t been there in ages!

Liberty Science Center— Jersey City, NJ

Traveling to a game with kids? The Liberty Science Center is genuinely awesome for the entire family and I have some of my fondest science exploration memories from visiting the Liberty Science Center on school field trips. And I’m a scientist now, sooo. If you want your kids to become a scientist... bring them here. The Planetarium is amazing and is the “Biggest Planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.” The exhibitions are also fantastic, and this year the exhibition SUE: The T. rex Experience will be there until January 2022. This is one of the closest attractions to New Brunswick on this list, only about 45 minutes from New Brunswick.

American Dream— East Rutherford, NJ

So New Jersey and malls go together like peanut butter and jelly. American Dream, the monster mall developed by the same people behind The Mall of America is pretty new having opened in late 2019. It is the only attraction on this list I have not been to, but I’ve only heard great things about it. This mall has a waterpark, a theme park, an aquarium, indoor ski slope, ice skating, and tons of other things in addition to your standard mall shopping. I’m genuinely so jealous this place opened after I left Jersey. This mall is also only about 45 minutes from New Brunswick.

Turtle Back Zoo—West Orange, NJ

The number one rated zoo in New Jersey and accredited by both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and Zoological Association of America, the Turtle Back Zoo was my childhood zoo. It’s one of my favorites zoos ever because it’s reasonably-sized and you can comfortably visit every exhibit within day. It is also about 45 minutes from New Brunswick. Home to wolves, big cats, alligators, bears, capybaras, and an absurd amount of other animals, it’s really amazing how quality of a zoo this is crunched into a pretty small space. It also has a dope carousel, but that may just be kid me speaking.

New Jersey State Museum— Trenton, NJ

Like American history? Well, New Jersey has a ton of it. This quaint state museum located in the state capital, Trenton, has everything from fossils and fine art to Native American artifacts and colonial history. It also boasts a Planetarium. Located about an hour from New Brunswick.

Duke Farms

Duke Farms— Hillsborough, NJ

If you like nature, Duke Farms is a lovely place to visit and is the closest thing to do on this list, only about 30 minutes from New Brunswick. Formerly the estate of entrepreneur and tycoon James Buchanan Duke, the estate was transferred to his daughter Doris after his death. She created a foundation and transformed this 2700 acre plot of land along the Raritan River into one of the most beautiful and pristine nature attractions in the state. Opened to the public in 1964 Duke Farms is a sustainable and ecologically friendly plot of woodlands, grasslands, and lakes. I’ve done some of my best nature spotting at Duke Farms.

Jenkinson’s Boardwalk— Point Pleasant, NJ.

Now there are obviously tons of Jersey Shore spots to visit. However, if you’re only visiting New Jersey for a few days over a gameday weekend, Jenkinson’s is a great choice as it’s more or less an attraction itself. Featuring a theme park, aquarium, boardwalk and all associated things [restaurants, bars, arcades], and a beautiful beach, Jenkinson’s was always the Jersey Shore spot I’d go to when I wanted some classic beach and boardwalk fun, but didn’t want to go all the way to Wildwood or LBI (but please go to these places if you have the time). Only about an hour from New Brunswick.

Sterling Hill Mining Museum

Sterling Hill Mining Museum— Ogdensburg, NJ

Last on this list, but certainly not least is the Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Located in my home county of Sussex, in the small town of Ogdensburg, this place is an absolute treasure and one of the most jaw dropping geological sites in the world. A zinc mine turned museum, this little corner of the world is home to famous fluorescent rocks and minerals. Seriously, it’s the Fluorescent Mineral Capital of the world. You likely have seen rocks from here in the mineral halls of museums you’ve been to before, usually featured under a black light. Now imagine that, but in a tunnel made up of these colorful minerals. Located about an hour and forty-five minutes from New Brunswick, the trek is worth it and you get to see some of the most scenic spots of New Jersey along the way.

So any of these things you’re considering visiting on your next trip to New Jersey? Anything that you’ve done before which you think I missed? Let me know in the comments!

This list was tough to make and I was trying my best to think of things within reasonable distance to the Rutgers area that are worth a day trip.