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Top 10 Scenic Drives in New Jersey

When the state of New Jersey comes to mind, natural beauty may not be among the first thoughts. This doesn’t mean that the region is just a bland hub for industry, full of concrete and steel. When travelers get off the beaten road and try new routes, they will be pleasantly surprised at just how much New Jersey has to offer on its scenic roads from its sites with living history to immaculate shores. Try one of our favorite drives as a starting point to become acquainted with Jersey’s softer side:

No. 10 – Route 49

Route 49 New Jersey
Flickr user: Jeremy S. Grites

Starting Location: Deepwater, NJ
Ending Location: Tuckahoe, NJ
Length: 55 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Explore the southern part of the state on this scenic route, full of sights like country churches, striking abandoned buildings, and crab shacks. Stop at Elsinboro Point in Hope Creek for photographs of the sweeping landscape below. In Tuckahoe, forge a connection with nature at Cape May National Wildlife Refuge, which is full of coastal wildlife and seabirds.

No. 9 – Batsto Wilderness Route

Batsto Wilderness Route New Jersey
Flickr user: Jimmy Emerson

Starting Location: New Gretna, NJ
Ending Location: Hammonton, NJ
Length: 21 miles
Best Season to Drive: Summer
See this drive on Google Maps

This drive along Route 542 passes through virtual wilderness, and it’s not unusual to be the only traveler on the road. Step back in time with a stopover in Batsto Village, full of historic buildings and a simpler feel to life. At Wading River, dip a toe in the water to cool off in the summer, take a kayak tour, or see if the fish are biting for outdoor fun.

No. 8 – Garden State Parkway

Garden State Parkway New Jersey
Flickr user: Casey Thomas

Starting Location: Ocean City, NJ
Ending Location: North Wildwood, NJ
Length: 29 miles
Best Season to Drive: Summer
See this drive on Google Maps

Although travelers along this route will encounter multiple toll booths, the views of the Atlantic Ocean make the loss of spare change worth it. In Strathmore lies one of the state’s few free public beaches to take a dip in the sea or develop a tan during the summer months. Stop in Corson’s Inlet State Park to explore its many hiking trails or have a picnic.

No. 7 – Hunterdon County Roads

Hunterdon County Roads New Jersey
Flickr user: cotterpin

Starting Location: West Milford, NJ
Ending Location: Frenchtown, NJ
Length: 66 miles
Best Season to Drive: Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

This route, which is especially nice with the changing colors in the fall, goes through various small towns, farms, and forests. Stop in Newfoundland to see the old train station that once was featured in the film The Station Agent. In Clinton, tour the old red mill by the south branch of the Raritan River, which also sets the scene for memorable photography or an angler’s adventure.

No. 6 – Route 521

Route 521 New Jersey
Flickr user: Dennis

Starting Location: Montague, NJ
Ending Location: Hope, NJ
Length: 34 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

This thrilling drive full of hills and turns passes through a particularly pretty portion of the state with streams, lakes, and state parks just off the pavement. Enjoy the panoramic views and a hearty meal at the Boathouse Restaurant that overlooks Swartswood Lake. Later, stop at the still-operational 1876 general store in Stillwater to stock up on supplies or just browse the wares.

No. 5 – Land of Make Believe Highway

Land of Make Believe Highway New Jersey
Flickr user: bridges&balloons

Starting Location: Colesville, NJ
Ending Location: Rosemont, NJ
Length: 89 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This winding route through a part of New Jersey characterized by tiny towns and farmland transports travelers to times gone by. Explore some of the many antique shops for hidden treasures in places like Harmony and Plumbsock. Don’t miss Goliath, the world’s largest preserved bear, at Space Farms in Beemerville for quirky fun.

No. 4 – Secret Backway to the Shore

Secret Backway to the Shore New Jersey
Flickr user: Tommy P World

Starting Location: Allentown, NJ
Ending Location: Tuckerton, NJ
Length: 58 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

This largely ocean-lined drive was once a way known only to locals, but the proverbial cat has since escaped the bag. The increased traffic, however, doesn’t detract from this route’s beauty that abounds along the coast and in the charming towns along the way. Stop in Warren Grove to see the Wawas, and refuel with a legendary pie from Emery’s Berry Farm in New Egypt.

No. 3 – Delaware Valley

Delaware Valley New Jersey
Flickr user: Vilseskogen

Starting Location: Trenton, NJ
Ending Location: Frenchtown, NJ
Length: 33 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this drive on Google Maps

Brush up on your American Revolution history and enjoy the sights along the Delaware River on this relatively short but charming trip. Stop at Washington Crossing State Park where – as its name suggests – George Washington crossed over the river with his army for the attack on Trenton that was a game changer in the Revolutionary War. Also, check out the Howell Living History Farm that uses methods and equipment that date back to the 1800s.

No. 2 – Kittatinny Ridge Loop

Kittatinny Ridge Loop New Jersey
Flickr user: Nicholas A. Tonelli

Starting Location: Hardwick, NJ
Ending Location: Newton, NJ
Length: 61 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
See this Drive on Google Maps

On this drive that travels around the flat-topped Kittatinny Ridge, there are plenty of rolling hills and pastoral scenes to behold. Athletic types may want to stop and climb Mt. Tammany, which has panoramic views from the summit. In Millbrook, stop to learn about the region’s history from costumed park rangers and tour the village’s original 1800s buildings.

No. 1 – The Wallkill

The Wallkill New Jersey
Flickr user: Kurt Wagner

Starting Location: Sparta, NJ
Ending Location: Sussex, NJ
Length: 21 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
See this drive on Google Maps

This scenic drive begins at Lake Mohawk, which is the mouth of the Wallkill River, and snakes north along the river to Sussex. The views along the way include fertile farmland, rolling hills, and quaint towns with charming old buildings. In Ogdensburg, learn about the region’s mining history at the Sterling Hill Mine Tour and Museum, then sample a local vintage at one of the several operating wineries near Sussex.

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