10 badass facts about nature in NJ

September 1, 2016

1. It’s a gold mine for birders

 (Pine Grosbeak in Manalapan/Lenny Guarino)

 

Whether you’re scoping out the various migratory birds in Cape May, searching for bald eagles at the Manasquan Reservoir, or scouting the rare Bobolink at Pole Farm, you really never know what you’ll encounter while you’re on a nature walk. Local nature lovers know it’s always a good idea to keep those binoculars handy—you never know what you could run into.

 

2. Interactive farms make autumn feel magical

When the air gets crisp and the leaves turn copper and gold, New Jersey natives start getting the itch to go apple and pumpkin picking. It may sound basic, but there’s nothing more wholesome and satisfying than hanging out in the orchards with your loved ones in the fall. While pumpkin picking is perfect for a daytime date (and a cute new profile picture with your significant other), apple picking is a fun way to pick the best fruits for a homemade pie. Corn mazes and haunted hay rides add to the excitement of fall in the Garden State. And there’s no better way to end the day than with a freshly baked apple cider donut from a country store like Delicious Orchards.

 

3. Cranberry harvests are a rare but beautiful sight

So rare, I couldn't find a picture! Nestled in the Pine Barrens is a wondrous scene that can only be witnessed for a short period of time: the cranberry bogs. The name might be silly, but the view is seriously beautiful. Locals know September and October are the prime months for seeing the cranberry bogs before they disappear.

 

4. NJ is more than just highways and shopping malls

Outsiders like to hurl nasty stereotypes at New Jersey, but natives know there are plenty of natural treasures that make it an awesome place to live. We’ve got the beaches of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook all the way down to Atlantic City, the Kittatinny mountains at the northern end of the state, the Great Falls in Paterson, and plenty of forests, farms, meadows, and marshlands in between. In fact, New Jersey is home to 2 national trails that snake through multiple states, 2 national recreation areas, and a national park.

 

5. One word: WINE

What better way to truly appreciate the fruits of nature than by visiting a winery? During the summer, you could easily fill up your calendar with wine tasting events every weekend at local vineyards. According to the New Jersey Wine Growers Association, the Garden State is home to more than 40 wineries. One of the most popular wineries in the state, Laurita Winery, regularly hosts food and music festivals and other events to keep the crowds rolling in throughout the year.

 

 

6. History and nature collide in NJ

If you’ve lived here for more than 5 seconds, you’ve probably noticed a handful of signs in your area commemorating a local spot’s significance in American history. Morristown is home to a national historical park where George Washington famously camped with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. In Freehold, you can walk the hills of Monmouth Battlefield where the rebels fought the British. Every June, history enthusiasts gather in the park to reenact the epic encounter.

 

7. “Down the shore, everything’s all right”

Bruce Springsteen said it best. When you head to the beach in New Jersey, you know you’re bound to have a good time. Whether you’re soaking up some rays in LBI or diving into the waves in Margate, a summer at the Jersey Shore is a summer well spent.

 

8. We’re the Garden State—and we’ve got the produce to prove it

Jersey Fresh produce is a big thing here. Head to any roadside farm stand or farmer’s market, and you’ll find that our tomatoes and sweet white corn are unparalleled. On top of the apple, peach, and strawberry orchards across the state, Hammonton, New Jersey, is considered the blueberry capital of the WORLD. Can’t beat that, can you?

 

9. You might not see the Jersey Devil, but there are plenty of other beasts

If you don’t live under a rock, you’ve probably already seen this viral video of a bear family frolicking in someone’s backyard pool and playground set. That, my friends, happened here in Rockaway. Not a fan of bears? Head to Sandy Hook, and you might be lucky enough to spot a whale, a dolphin, or even a shark.

 

10. Surf’s up!

New Jersey is probably not the first place you think of when someone mentions surfing, but that doesn’t mean you should discount it. Dean Randazzo is considered one of the best pro surfers to ever come from here, and pro surfer and Lavallette native Sam Hammer says winter is a great time to catch waves in the state.

 

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© 2016 by Raquel Guarino

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