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Best Scenic Weekend Getaways in New Jersey

Aug 17, 2007
New Jersey is blessed with many scenic attractions, and with its relatively small land area, many of the scenic attractions can be experienced during a short weekend trip. With so many scenic destinations to choose from, we have chosen the best scenic weekend getaways in New Jersey.

From the rugged Kittatinny Mountains along the Delaware River in the northwest Skylands, to the rolling farmland and historic sites of Hunterdon County, and across the state to the Jersey Shore with it's fantastic beaches, amusements piers, boardwalks, and charming Gingerbread Victorian homes, New Jersey offers a wide choice of scenic destinations for travelers of all interests from active adventure to a slower paced relaxed destination.

The Best Scenic Weekend Getaways In New Jersey

Cape May
Cape May is an ideal place to visit for that special scenic seaside weekend getaway. This beach resort town offers beautiful, powdery sand beaches, a charming village with Gingerbread Victorian homes, gas-lit street lamps, horse drawn carriages, tree lined streets, and an historic light house. To complete the weekend getaway experience, there are a variety of Victorian bed and breakfasts, quaint shops, and fine dining restaurants that appeal to all tastes. While the summer season is the most popular time to visit, Cape May has become a year round attraction offering seasonal programs, candlelit house tours, and a variety of other cooler weather activities.

Cape May is also the home of one of the largest commercial fishing ports in the United States, and as a result you will find a good variety of seafood restaurants that serve up locally caught fresh sea food.

Things to do
If relaxing on the beach is not your thing, there are plenty of other activities that can occupy your day time leisure hours. They include; bike riding, with many bike rentals available locally by the hour or day. Cycle down to Sunset Beach or the Cape May Light House built 1859 and listed on the State and National Registers of historic places, or the nearby Bird Observatory operated by the New Jersey Audubon society. There is picnicking, beach walking at sunrise or sunset, where you might see schools of dolphins swimming by, whale and dolphin watching boat trips, kayaking in the salt water marshlands, a salt marsh safari, deep sea fishing, a nautical museum, and an historic W.W. II coastal defense gun emplacement.

Places to Stay
The Albert Stevens Inn - Located within walking distance of the Cape May Point Lighthouse and the Cape May Bird Observatory.

The Bedford Inn - A Victorian home with gingerbread trim, a block from the beach, has a large old-fashioned veranda with rocking chairs, and a Victorian parlor with a fireplace.

Victoria B & B - A Victorian home with home made quilts adorning the beds. Located in the center of the historic district and a block from the beach, it has four Victorian buildings with front porches and sitting parlors.

Hunterdon County - Clinton/Frenchtown/Lambertville/Sergeantsville
Hunterdon County is a special scenic destination with rolling farmlands, historic sites, and charming towns. Featured here are the towns of Clinton, Frenchtown, Lambertville, and Sergeantsville. All are small charming towns with surrounding rural scenic beauty that can easily be seen during a weekend getaway.

Clinton nestled in the hills, is a classic American small town that has attracted photographers, movie makers, and visitors here for its scenic and historic beauty. It's a charming historic village with shops and cherry tree lined streets, a river with a 200 foot wide waterfall winding through it, and lined with old grist mills.

Things to do
Hunterdon Museum of Art - A contemporary art museum located in an 1836 stone gristmill listed on the National and State Historic Registers. 908-735-8415

Red Mill Museum Village - The most photographed spot in New Jersey, is situated on 10 scenic acres next to Clinton's waterfall. The museum is just steps across the antique iron bridge with over 40,000 artifacts and chronicles more than 180 years of Hunterdon County history. 908-735-4101

Clinton Canoe & Kayak Rental - 908-735-6767

Ken Lockwood Gorge, Califon - From Califon down to High Bridge, the Raritan River cuts through a beautiful scenic gorge straddled with huge boulders.

Places to Stay
Courtyard Lebanon - A new hotel with spacious rooms, a small heated pool and a complimentary breakfast.

Holiday Inn Select - Within walking distance to the downtown shops.

Frenchtown is an undiscovered secret that is attracting visitors with its many three story multi-colored Victorian homes, art galleries, antique shops, clothing boutiques, and restaurants, all surrounded by rural scenic rolling hills, a river and historic sites.

Things to Do
If you chose to make Frenchtown your overnight base for exploring Hunterdon County, rent a bike at Freeman's bike shop and ride south along the D & R Canal towpath, stopping in at Stockton, then continue on to Lambertville. Return to Frenchtown by way of Route 29.

Check out Alexandria Balloon Flights - 908-479-4878.
View Frenchtown's romantic sunsets from a hot air balloon. See fantastic views of the river, the riverbanks, and the rolling hills.

If its summer, rent an inner tube at Delaware Tubing, 908-996-5386, for a leisurely float along the Delaware River. Check out the Sand Castle Winery for tasting and tours

Places to Stay
National Hotel with dark wood beams, beds draped in mosquito netting.

The Widow McCrea House, a Victorian inn with antique guest rooms and a candlelit gourmet breakfast.

Lambertville is Hunterdon County's only city and is popular with visitors attracted to its quaint town with tree lined streets, Victorian homes, antique shops, clothing boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. Its five block downtown area along the Delaware River attracts window shoppers and browsers.

Things to do
If you chose to make Lambertville your overnight base for exploring Hunterdon County, and you have your own bike, head North to Frenchtown on Route 29, and return south along the D & R Canal towpath, stopping in at Stockton.

Lambertville Historical Society - The Marshall House with 1834 furnishings, a Shad history display, and quilts.

Magic Glass Studio - Create your very own one of a kind glass piece at their unique studio.

The Museum At Holcombe-Jimison Farmstead - where you can see old farming equipment, a country kitchen, a rural post office, Dr. Leaver's doctor/dentist office, a blacksmith shop, a print shop, a carpentry shop, and a period herb garden.

The River Horse Brewery - is the area's only microbrewery producing handcrafted lagers and ales. Take a walking tour of the kegging and bottling operation and sample products in the tasting room.

Places to Stay
Chimney Hill Farm Estate - This fieldstone country inn was built in 1820, and is surrounded by eight acres of fields and landscaped grounds.

Inn at Lambertville Station - The cities largest bed & breakfast is family friendly. Its three stories with most rooms
The In having a view of the river.

York Street House B & B - A Victorian home with a front porch and wooden rocking chairs and a candlelight breakfast.

Sergeantsville is a small village that resembles Pennsylvania's Amish Country with its rolling hills, open farmland, and the State's last pre-20th century covered bridge, and an old fashioned general store.

Things to Do
Drive through the last pre-20th century covered bridge in New Jersey, and stop by to visit an old fashioned general store.

Northern Skylands
Here you can experience New England scenic beauty without leaving New Jersey. The Northern Skylands Region is rich with mountainous terrain, riverfront towns, state parks, farmlands, wildlife, bed and breakfasts, and plenty of recreational opportunities. This is an area that has some of New Jersey's best cycling, fishing, tubing, canoeing, and camping.

The Upper Highlands Region of the Skylands, from the east at Ringwood State Park, west to Vernon Valley, and south to the glacial lakes remnants of the former Morris canal, and North to the New York State border, it attracts more annual visitors than Yellowstone National Park. It is a beautiful scenic panorama of forests, sheer cliffs, and a scattering of open areas of lakes and streams. This area is popular for down hill skiing, snowboarding, camping, trout fishing, hiking, and golf.

The Ridge and Valley region of the Skylands covers the extreme Northwest corner of the State and the Kittatinny Mountains. The region is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts. It has the highest point in New Jersey at 1,803 feet and attracts active visitors seeking camping, hiking, skydiving, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fly fishing.

Things to do
High Point State Park
The view from High Point Monument, at 1,803 feet above sea level, is a spectacular panorama covering three states of rolling farmlands, mountains, forests, rivers and streams. The park also contains an 18 mile section of the Appalachian Trail. It's an all season park for attracting visitors for mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking, swimming, fishing, cross country skiing, ice fishing, dog sledding, and snowshoeing.

Stokes State Forest is 15,996 acres of scenic mountain views and a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail. The rugged terrain makes the forest a popular area for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, horse back riding, swimming, and camping.

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area borders over 40 miles of the Delaware River and almost 70,000 acres expanse of scenic beauty, breath taking cliffs, and a 1,400 foot deep, 900 foot wide gap that separates New Jersey's 1,528 foot Mt. Tammany and Pennsylvania's 1,462 foot Mt. Minsky. It's a popular place for back packing, hiking, biking, canoeing, camping, cross country skiing, picnicking, horseback riding, and fishing. For the less active, take a one-day auto tour of the park and experience waterfalls, rural scenery, and historic Millbrook Village.

Skylands Manor and New Jersey Botanical Garden at Ringwood. Spend a couple of hours wandering through the 96 acre gardens with over 400 varieties of lilac. Take a stroll though the woodland paths of magnolia walk, and crab apple vista, with a visit to the elegant Tudor-style manor house.

Franklin Mineral Museum at The Franklin mine is a zinc mine known for its unique display of mineral fluorescence, (glowing rocks) and variety of rare species. They have thousands of mineral specimens on display with a huge fluorescent presentation of brilliant and glowing colorful minerals.

Places to Stay
The Inn at Panther Valley - Is a beautiful large full service Inn, ideal for some one looking for a weekend getaway inn with plenty of amenities. Located 20 minutes from the Delaware Water Gap, in the heart of the Northwest NJ Skylands, it has a modern fitness center, shops, restaurants, and nightly entertainment. They also support corporate retreats and weddings.

Alpine Haus Bed and Breakfast Inn - Located next to Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, this 19th Century Victorian Inn has eight well-appointed, cozy rooms all with private baths. There are two Carriage House suites with fireplace and Jacuzzi

Crystal Springs Resort - The new Minerals Hotel features 175 rooms from luxury to the Presidential suite, all with attractive mountain, pool or golf course views. Many of the rooms have cozy fireplaces. It also offers the regions best fine dining restaurant.
About the Author
Frank Dalotto is a freelance writer and travel consultant, and is the owner and editor of New Jersey Leisure Guide and a travel consultant for Leisure Travel Mart.
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