What is New Jersey Known for?

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Swiftly transforming from the garden of the colonies to a hub of innovation and industry, New Jersey rapidly evolved alongside America, and at the turn of the century, created a beachfront paradise the neighbourhood states couldn’t resist. Soon after the American Revolution marched across the state corridors, paving the way for independence, people from around the world entered New Jersey hoping to be part of this new nation built on freedom.

Rich farmlands yielded crops that boosted the economy and introduced the country to new-world Italian recipes, highlighting the incredible flavours of New Jersey tomato in hoagies and tomato pies. Industry boomed a century later, and the population grew, ready to make the most of a turning point in history. Thomas Edison arrived eager to share his inventions, filling the world with light, music, and photography.

New Jersey’s wealth began to funnel into the stunning coastlines, building long boardwalks next to the sand, filled with games, rides, and concerts. This vibrant scene exploded in the roaring 20s, and the party continued for decades as celebrities and musicians shed light on a new American icon. The spotlight fell on Atlantic City, where you could stroll down the lively boardwalk day and night, chewing on saltwater taffy as you looked out over the ocean. Legalized gambling brought even more visitors, boosting population density to the highest in the country. Now let’s dive into what all the excitement is about by taking a closer look at what New Jersey is famous for.

What is New Jersey Known for?

Top Tours

1- Atlantic City

White Ferris Wheel On Steel Pier In Atlantic City
Atlantic City is a place New Jersey is known for.

When it comes to casinos and gambling, Atlantic City serves as the Las Vegas of the East Coast, enticing over 27 million tourists each year to take part in the seaside thrills found in the state.

In the mid-1800s the city began as a resort town for vacationers, and after the completion of the Atlantic City Boardwalk in 1870, the popularity of the ‘A.C.’ exploded when parades, stunt shows, amusement rides, and arcade games covered the waterfront.

Atlantic City grew in fame, as TV shows, and songs immortalised these extravagant American lifestyles, and between the 1930s and 1950s, it became a hotspot for the rich and famous.


When gambling arrived and was legalised in 1977, a new crowd rolled into town, shifting the atmosphere in a new direction, and sparking the end of a vibrant era.

The city also inspired the popular board game Monopoly, with the street names matching all of the property places in the game.

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2- Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison In Front Of His Phonograph
Thomas Edison is a famous person New Jersey is best known for.

As America’s most prolific inventor, Thomas Edison revolutionized the modern world with inventions such as the incandescent lightbulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera while acquiring 1,093 patents during his lifetime.

Born in Ohio in 1847, he worked as a telegraph operator early in his career and in 1876, he moved to Menlo Park, NJ where he constructed his famous laboratory, where he became the ‘Wizard of Menlo Park’.

Over time he became a successful businessman and manufacturer in the state, marketing and selling his inventions to the public, and building a larger laboratory in West Orange, NJ.

There he started his work on the phonograph, before shifting his focus to the electric light system in 1878.

In November, his experiments not only created the incandescent light bulb, but a way to support the technology throughout cities.

He then built the electric light factory in East Newark, NJ and after a short time, his lights would illuminate a good portion of lower Manhattan, before expanding across the globe.

3- ‘Garden State’

The City Park In Morristown
Being the “Garden State” is what the state of New Jersey is known for.

Before New Jersey’s bustling city suburbs and roadways covered the state, the land served as an agricultural paradise, growing everything from tomatoes, cranberries, cabbage, pumpkins, beans, apples, pears, and its official state fruit, blueberries.

New Jersey’s nickname the ‘Garden State’ comes from Abraham Browning of Camden.

While speaking at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876, he said “That our Garden State is an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing at one end and New Yorkers from the other”

Along with industries such as shipbuilding, textiles, and lumber, much of New Jersey’s early economic growth came from agricultural products.

Nowadays, only 15% of the land remains in agricultural use.

Despite the reduction in scale after the Industrial Revolution, New Jersey is still a top 10 producer of several crops such as bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, asparagus, and peaches.

4- Salt Water Taffy

Pink Saltwater Candy
Salt water taffy is what New Jersey is known for producing.

Soft chewy sweets are sold on oceanfront boardwalks all across the world, but no other delights the tastebuds as much as salt water taffy, and it all started on Atlantic City Boardwalk back in 1883.

As the story goes, a storm surge on the coast flooded a local sweets shop on the boardwalk, destroying all of the candies.

When a young girl stopped by to ask what was still available, the owner jokingly said that all he had for sale was saltwater taffy.

The name stuck just like taffy to your teeth on a warm summer day, and despite the owner’s comical comments, salt water taffy doesn’t include salt water in the recipe.

The earliest versions used mostly molasses and sugar, with a touch of salt.

Over time the flavours multiplied, and nowadays, over 70 different varieties of this delicious treat can be found in New Jersey.

5- Boardwalks

Early Morning On The Boardwalk
Boardwalks are what New Jersey is most known for.

Much of New Jersey’s beautiful oceanfront comes backed with long stretches of boardwalks filled with shops, restaurants, and plenty of family fun activities.

Out of the 18 boardwalks in the state, Atlantic City’s famous boardwalk draws the most attention, for the nostalgic buildings, casinos, amusement rides, and vibrant nightlife.

Constructed in 1870, it’s the world’s oldest and longest boardwalk, stretching 6 km from the Absecon Inlet to city limits.

Another 2.4 km of the boardwalk extends beyond that into Ventor City.

As the subject of the HBO TV series ‘Boardwalk Empire’, the Atlantic City Boardwalk grew in fame during the roaring 20s, especially after hosting the first Miss America Pageant back in 1921.

During this time, visitors from all over the country came to take part in the never-ending party filled with stunt shows, big band concerts, and parades.

With loads of family-friendly activities, right on the edge of stunning beaches, it’s no wonder why New Jersey’s boardwalks grew in popularity so rapidly.

6- Diners

Often referred to as the ‘diner capital of the world’, New Jersey contains 525 of these roadside gems, constituting more than ¼ of those found in the U.S., mainly because there are more diner manufacturers in this state than anywhere else in the country.

On the roadways between New York and Philadelphia, the diners were the most convenient option for people driving on long-distance road trips.

With most diners open 24/7, offering bottomless coffee, breakfasts, and hamburgers straight off the grill at affordable prices, it only made sense to stop and grab a bite to eat on the way.

Most have a nostalgic feel, with retro-50 style decorations and stools that cosy up to the bar.

The large padded seats in the booths added a layer of comfort to weary travellers driving through the ‘Garden State’.

The experience of eating in a diner is truly American, harkening back to the days of road trips across Route 66.

7- Princeton University

Princeton University
Princeton University is what the state of New Jersey known for education wise.

Often rated as the #1 university in the country, Princeton’s reputation for the finest academic standards stretches across the world, and as one of only eight Ivy League schools in the nation, it’s no wonder why over 25,000 people have applied for enrollment in the last five years.

Founded in 1746, Princeton University’s history runs deep, as the fourth oldest university in the U.S.

In addition to a superb academic program with 36 majors, the grounds of this prestigious institution are equally as impressive.

Situated in the heart of some of New Jersey’s most beautiful forests, the trees and neo-gothic buildings add to the allure of Princeton, creating a charming and refined atmosphere when strolling between classes.

The university standards for admission are rigorous, with typically less than 5% of applicants being accepted to join the 5,000 students enrolled.

Social sciences, engineering, and technology are the most popular areas of study, along with biological sciences and public administration.

8- Jersey Shore

Jersey Shore
Jersey Shore is what New Jersey is famous for.

Long before the famous TV show swept across the nation, the Jersey Shore drew millions of visitors each year to come and enjoy the pristine beaches, and long boardwalks teeming with games and rides.

With over 130 miles of stunning coastline and 44 wide and sandy beaches, the residents of New York, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Pennsylvania all head to the Jersey Shore when summer arrives.

In addition to the wide beaches stretching down the coast, the ocean water is exceptionally cleaner as well, due to the lack of plankton and algae, making it a perfect destination for all types of watersports and activities.

In the offseason, tourists venture out to see the lighthouses on the coast, some even taking the tour to see all 11 of them.

Others simply drive out to the coast to catch a spectacular sunset from one of New Jersey’s fantastic state parks.

9- ‘Hoagies’

Sandwich Hoagie
Hoagies and Subs are what food New Jersey is known for.

The name variations are plentiful when it comes to describing one of New Jersey’s staple lunches.

In New York City, they are known as ‘heroes’, in New England they are called ‘grinders’, in North Jersey the people say ‘subs’, but in South Jersey ‘hoagies’ are the norm.

What sets a New Jersey hoagie apart from the sandwiches found in Philadelphia where these delectable sandwiches were created, are the Italian cheeses, meats, and fresh New Jersey tomatoes used to create this bountiful meal.

The name ‘hoagie’ possibly comes from the Hog Island Shipyard in Philadelphia where Italian immigrants during World War I began calling these sandwiches ‘hoggies’, and as time passed, the name changed into what’s heard on many Jersey shores today.

Using fresh ingredients, the classic ‘hoagie’ consists of loads of thinly sliced ham, salami, and deli cheese combined with an Italian dressing, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and oregano.

Size matters too, with hoagies tending to be much bigger than their New England counterparts.

10- The Sopranos

Winning an impressive 21 Primetime Emmy Awards, the hit TV series The Sopranos captured audiences across the globe with a dramatic storyline about an Italian-American mobster struggling to maintain his family life while leading a criminal organisation based in New Jersey.

Shining a light on the dark world of Mafia crime in the tri-state area, the show follows the main character, Tony Soprano, as he deals with anxiety and panic attacks by reluctantly visiting a psychiatrist for help.

For six seasons, viewers sat on the edge of their seats, trying to guess which character would be ‘whacked’ next.

Although the majority of indoor scenes were filmed in New York, the outdoor backdrops are places found in New Jersey’s Rockland and Orange Counties.

Tony Soprano’s famous house is in North Caldwell, and it went for sale in 2019 for a whopping $3.4 million, but it’s unknown if the sale went through or not. Join the Sopranos Filming Locations Bus Tour to learn more.

11- Tomato Pie

Although tomato pies originated in Philadelphia, a small restaurant called Joe’s Tomato Pies in Trenton, New Jersey played a major role in their popularity around the U.S.

Joe’s opened its doors in 1910, hiring a young 15-year-old Giuseppe ‘Joe’ Papa from Naples, Italy to join their team.

Just two years later, Papa opened his own restaurant called Papa’s Tomato Pies.

For 112 years, Papa’s has been serving up this signature New Jersey dish, making it the longest-running family-owned pizzeria in the U.S.

In 2013, the restaurant moved to the suburbs of Robbinsville to compete with a rival tomato pie maker.

Unlike traditional pizza, tomato pie is arranged in a slightly different order.

First, the dough is covered with cheese and toppings, then fresh high-quality crushed tomatoes are splattered across the top.

The result: a unique pizza dish with a thin crispy crust and a vibrant, sweet and tangy tomato flavour the people of New Jersey come to love and cherish.

12- Bruce Springsteen

map of usa with New Jersey highlighted in yellow
What is New Jersey known for?

As one of the greatest American musicians of all time, Bruce Springsteen’s music earned him 20 Grammy Awards and several other accolades, but he still owes much of his fame and fortune to his early days performing in bars and clubs around New Jersey.

In 1969, he moved to the Jersey Shore from his hometown Freehold, NJ at the age of 20, and at the beginning of his musical career, he earned the nickname “The Boss” by making sure everyone on the crew was paid, many times even dolling out the paychecks himself.

Proud to ‘Born in the USA’, Springsteen pioneered heartland rock, connecting to his audience with lyrics depicting life as a member of the working class.

His over-the-top, energetic performances blew away crowds, sometimes lasting for over four hours.

At the age of 74, Springsteen is still on tour, performing shows at venues across the U.S. and Canada.

When not out on the road, he returns home to his roots in Monmouth County, NJ.

13- Baseball

New Jersey Baseball
Baseball is what New Jersey is most known for.

As the birthplace of America’s national pastime, New Jersey held the first-ever organised baseball game at Elysian Fields in Hoboken on July 19, 1846, just one year after Alexander Cartwright invented the first-ever baseball field.

Known as the ‘Father of Modern Baseball’, Cartwright along with the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club, created the first rules and regulations in the sport, forming the structure for the modern baseball game seen across the country today.

The first match was played between the New York Nine vs.

New York Knickerbockers, ending in a 23-1 defeat of the Knickerbockers in just four innings.

The rules were developed from a game similar to ‘cricket’ or another children’s game called ‘rounders’.

Today, the first baseball field no longer exists, with buildings and roads covering what used to be a recreational parkland in the 19th century.

At the intersection of Washington and 11th Street, a marker still pays tribute to this monumental occasion.

14- Revolutionary War

Revolutionary War Historic House
The Revolutionary War is what New Jersey is known for.

Just under 300 battles took place on New Jersey’s soil, the most of any colony during the Revolutionary War.

Strategically situated between Philadelphia and New York City, many have referred to the state as the ‘Crossroads of the American Revolution’.

George Washington and his army spent more time in New Jersey than any other place during the revolution.

His famous Delaware River crossing on Christmas Eve in 1776 led to the defeat of the British in the Battle of Trenton, a key turning point in the war.

Around the state, 150 memorials are dedicated to those who lost their lives in the name of freedom and independence, and for those wishing to explore the actual battlegrounds, the Monmouth, Princeton, and Red Bank Battlefield Parks allow visitors to relive America’s fight against the British with reenactments during the year.

15- Liberty State Park

When comes to gazing across Manhattan’s stunning city skyline, Liberty State Park in New Jersey offers the most unprecedented views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which are technically in New Jersey’s waters.

Spanning across 490 ha on the banks of the Hudson River, the park features a 3.2 km promenade connected to picnic areas, an interpretive centre, and a ferry terminal, allowing easy access to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

In the northern section of Liberty State Park the new outdoor performance entertains audiences with live concerts, while the state-of-the-art Liberty Science Center in the western section impresses visitors with its interactive science exhibits.

Enjoy fishing, hiking, boating, or canoeing when the weather is right, or even stop by on the 4th of July to have the perfect view of the fireworks display.

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Grant Doremus
Grant Doremus is a freelance writer from the United States, eager to share his travel experiences and knowledge about some of the best destinations in the world. He grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, and after a successful career in finance, he decided to chase his dreams of becoming a digital nomad. As an avid hiker and outdoor enthusiast he went on a road trip across the U.S. visiting 26 states, exploring most of the country's national parks, and climbing some of the highest peaks in the country. After a year on the road, he headed to Europe where he backpacked through 10 countries before finally settling in Spain. Grant loves to write about Spanish culture, its rich history, and traditions. His favourite destination so far is Mallorca, but he hasn’t finished his travels just yet!