It’s been 2.5 years since I moved to New Jersey. After a customary post in 2018 commemorating my Year 1, I did get a chance to explore more places in the state but little chance to document it. So, here comes Part 2 with the help of Google Photos of course, which always helps me recall every place and its details in chronological order.
First up, let’s talk about the capital – Trenton in Mercer County, bordering Philadelphia metro area is the home of NJ State Governments. Getting to Trenton is a lot easier compared to other districts, for it’s well connected by NJ Transit, Amtrak, and SEPTA.
Rich in history and culture, the Old Barracks Museum on American Revolution, The State Museum for natural history and fine arts, and the Planetarium are steps away. The grand architecture of the gold dome and rotunda at the New Jersey State House, boulevard of cherry blossom trees, and the Delaware waterfront describers the neighborhood of Trenton.
We visited the New Jersey State Museum overlooking the Delaware River at the border of NJ. The museum’s collection includes archaeological artifacts, natural history specimens, fine arts objects and exhibition, ethnographic artifacts, and a planetarium. We enjoyed a spectacular show on stars and galaxies, which was the planetarium’s last show for the day. Our second favorite thing to do in museums, of course after a planetarium visit, is to explore the fossils. New Jersey’s own Dryptosaurus, the world’s first known carnivorous dinosaur is reconstructed and displayed in the State Museum along with Hadrosaurus and Mosasaurus.
Talking of Planetariums, Liberty Science Center in Jersey City is home to Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the biggest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere! We visited during ‘Summer of Mars’ in July 2018, when the red planet made its closest approach to Earth and its brightest appearance in the skies in 15 years. It’s just that we were not lucky enough to experience this spectacle through the telescope as it was a rainy day and all we could see was dense clouds. Nevertheless, thanks to NASA and its footages from the space which we enjoyed from our seats at the planetarium. Alongside the planetarium, the Science centre houses live animal collection, giant aquariums, hurricane and tornado simulators, classrooms and labs, teacher-development programs etc. If there is a must-visit place in NJ, then this is it.
Summer of 2018 V and I managed to hike Hacklebarney State Park in Morris County. The park has multiple hiking trails with the Black River as its centerpiece. The trail surface is mostly easy and can get rough in sections, with large roots and rocks to negotiate along the river. A family-run Hacklebarney Farm Cider Mill from across the park which serves apple cider and apple cider donuts is a good place for refreshments.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville is one of the largest Hindu temples outside of India. Inaugurated in 2014, the marble temple was constructed in three years. We learnt that the Italian marbles from quarries in Europe were shipped to Rajasthan, where hundreds of artisans carved the stones before numbering and shipping them to the US where they were assembled to facilitate the construction of the biggest Hindu temple in the USA. The craftmanship is a feast for the eyes.
Known as the Queen of seaside resorts, Sunset beach in Cape May was one of the first beaches I ever visited in NJ. It is designated as a National Historic Landmark for its Victorian buildings from the 19th century. During World War II numerous US Navy facilities were located here to protect the American coasts. The lookout tower at the beachfront stands as a proof for the bustling military activities that took place in the southern tip of the state. The beach is clean, water is calm and offers gorgeous views of the south. Dolphin and Whale watching is a famous recreation.
Avon By the Sea in Monmouth County is a great beach for families, perhaps that’s what makes it overcrowded. The boardwalk is a nice stretch one can walk over straight on to Belmar beach. There’s a small pavilion to grab a snack or ice cream, shops selling gift and beach accessories. No much activities around and you’ll mostly find people sunbathing, playing beach volleyball, or just relaxing in their beach chairs.
Watchung reservation in our neighborhood offers a variety of activities for a day-out. My favorite of them all has been exploring the ‘Deserted Village’.
Originally known as Feltville, named after David Felt, was a self-sufficient manufacturing town, and is listed on National Registers of Historic Places. David Felt built a printing factory along the brook. He built an entire town on the bluff above the brook to support the mill operations. It went on to be called Glenside Park when the mill town was converted into a summer resort. After David Felt sold the property, followed by several successors’ failed businesses, the place became known as “The Deserted Village”. Today, Feltville has a spooky touch to it with sparse habitation, many deserted houses with plaques and signboards explaining the architecture of Feltville in the 19th century.
Watchung Lake Park
Watchung lake with cascading dam and a walking/ jogging loop around the lake which is about a mile is perfect for evening strolls. The only bummer was geese droppings every step of the way.
Another great plan for a picnic or hiking is Hedden Park near Randolph. A park in the woods with walking trail, water streams, softball and baseball fields, picnic benches with barbeque grills.
Before I sign off here are some pictures from Winter 2018. Winter was harsh. Nonetheless, you can never get enough of the picturesque winter landscapes.
P.S. I found yet another spot overlooking the Hudson River and the Manhattan skyline at Edgewater. Great place to walk, jog, cycle, read a book, or just sit in peace and enjoy the view.
Thanks for reading. See you soon with a new post from my upcoming vacation.