Though New Jersey is often derided by neighboring New Yorkers in popular culture, this Atlantic Ocean-facing state is a far cry from being New York’s loser neighbor. It is the home state to the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Buzz Aldrin and Meryl Streep. However, it is also the home of the highest number of millionaires per capita as well as the highest-ranking public school system in the country. As a visitor, you may come for the Taylor ham and the scrapple, but you will also have your hands full with the many national historic landmarks in New Jersey you must visit. This list can hardly contain them all but we have tried to put together the ones that will truly make your visit to this state memorable.
The best sights and historical landmarks in New Jersey
1. Hamilton Park
After the meteoric rise to fame of Broadway’s musical Hamilton, certain New Jersey landmarks really gained traction as well. One of those places is definitely Hamilton Park. This park is located in Weehawken. It is the site where Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had their 1804 duel that resulted in Hamilton’s death. In a tragic sequence of events, this is also the place where Hamilton’s son Phillip died three years earlier. The stone against which Hamilton rested after Burr shot him is still said to be there. Even without this, though, the park is beautiful and boasts an incredible view of the New York City skyline.
2. Waterloo Village
Before the arrival of the Dutch and the Swedes followed by the English, Native Americans inhabited the territory of New Jersey for over 2,800 years. One of New Jersey’s historic tribes is the Lenape people. Winakung is the name of a Lenape village located on an island in Waterloo Lake. The village allows you to go four hundred years back into the past and experience a rather different way of life. The Lenape people and their culture were among the most advanced in the eastern United States. It is one of the best historical places in NJ.
After making a visit to Winakung, you can then travel through time again. And to the 19th century this time. Waterloo was a canal town at the time and a lot of its facilities have been preserved. You can visit the sawmill, general store and blacksmith shop. In the summer months, its Sunday farmer’s market is really worth a visit. It is things like this that make people consider moving to this interesting state.
3. Princeton University Chapel
This chapel is part of the Princeton University campus. It is a non-denominational chapel and provides a home for many of Princeton’s religious groups. The chapel’s interior is mostly stonemasonry, wood carvings and stained glass. All of its services and events are open to the general public. If you’re moving into the campus, you can have a moving company like acelinemoving.com take care of the move for you, and you can focus your energy on exploring the campus starting with the Chapel.
4. Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the fifth largest cathedral in the US and is located in Newark. Its French gothic exterior makes it one of the most recognizable New Jersey landmarks. The church holds organ concerts throughout the year which are open to the public.
5. Monmouth Battlefield
One of the most famous national historic landmarks in New Jersey you must visit is surely the Monmouth Battlefield. Here one of the largest battles of the American Revolutionary War took place in 1778. It marked a turning point for the Continental forces against the British. As the battle took place on June 28th, there are annual reenactments that are held for its anniversary. Soldiers in uniform can be seen cleaning their weapons and the army’s women are making food and doing the laundry. During the rest of the year, the park offers many different activities, from history hikes to fruit picking in its orchards. Depending on when you come, you may be able to join a strawberry harvest or pick apples, peaches and cherries. Much like Waterloo Village, this New Jersey landmark can be great fun for the whole family.
6. Walt Whitman House
One of the most unassuming national historic landmarks in New Jersey you must visit sits in downtown Camden. It's Walt Whitman's house, who is known as one of the most influential poets.
Walt Whitman sang the body electric and this was the only home he himself ever owned. He died here in 1892 and even the death notice that hung on his door remains in his home in Camden.
By paying a visit to one of the best historic places in New Jersey, you will be able to see many of Whitman’s belongings, his furniture, and correspondence.
If you need an additional push to pique your interest, this was the place where he hosted the famous Bram Stoker as well as Oscar Wilde.
7. Thomas Edison National Historical Park
The final one of the national historic landmarks in New Jersey you must visit is the Thomas Edison Park. As its website boasts, this is where modern America was invented. Here you can travel through time by visiting Thomas Edison’s house and laboratory. You can get acquainted with the origins of sound recording, for example, and the surrounding grounds are a great place for a pleasant picnic. Furthermore, the park holds all kinds of events throughout the year. Thus you may want to go to the park’s website before planning your visit. It can be a great day out for the whole family. The park even has programs that they aim at children in particular. One of those programs is the Be a Junior Ranger program which lets children experience what the park has to offer in a very active way like through hiking.
About the author
Shannon Murphy is a writer living in New Jersey. The topics that interest her most are travel and eco-tourism.
Site updated on 1. March 2021