New Jersey 

You will find here a list of various things to do: dining out, places to visit and a lot more. I did most of what you will find here, and I have included my personal rating or comments for a couple of items. 
After diner 
Outdoor activities 
Cultural activities
The Ryland Inn   908-534-4011

At Whitehouse, in Hunterdon county. It is the only four diamond restaurant in NJ.  This place is more expensive than the famous five star restaurant Le Bec Fin. An evening at Ryland Inn is best combined with a night at the Holly Thorn House
The Inn at Millrace Pond   908-459-4884

A very charming place in an old mill with very good food, located in Hope (a picturesque historical small village with old stone houses) in North Western NJ. They also have rooms. This place is also known as The Grist Mill. You can combine a diner there with an excursion to the Poconos Mountains or to the Delaware Water Gap. 
Bernards Inn   908-766-0002

A typical three star restaurant, offering fine American cuisine. The hotel is rated four diamonds and is located in Bernardsville, one of the most affluent areas of New Jersey. The wine selection, however, is limited. When you go there, have a look at the movie theater and the railway station located nearby the hotel. 
The Harvest Moon Inn   908-806-6020

At Ringoes. Sometimes they have wild boar. Very good food, but there's only one guy there capable of providing great service. The restaurant is located in a historical building and is worth a visit for a very romantic experience. Limited selection of wines. Sign up to receive their newsletter for information about forthcoming special events, such as wine tasting. 
Lahieres   609-921-2798

This is one of the best restaurants in Princeton, with very good French cuisine. I like their foie gras. However the wine list is limited. On more than one occasion, some items either on the menu or on the wine list were not available. The kitchen is closed by 10pm, like many other places in New Jersey, but it is generally not difficult to get a table even if you make the reservation only a couple of hours in advance, especially for late diner. 
Dynasty  908-752-6363

Chinese restaurants are generally cheap places to go, offering family cuisine. This one is pretty much different. This place located on Route 22 at Green Brook is not mentioned in any guide I know and it is mainly frequented by Chinese people. However it is a top class restaurant, offering many exotic fish dishes including shark and others I don't even remember. The prices were sometimes well above $30 per entree. The basic ingredients (rice) are very well prepared and affordable, but the most expensive items on the menu (above $100) are written only in chinese. I had a conversation in French with the chef. Bring your own wine. 
Le Bec Fin   215-567-1000

At Philadelphia. This is a world class restaurant, and the steep price for the prix fixe diner ($120 in July 98) is really worth the money. The dessert chariot is impressive and the wine list is exceptional, though not organized in a book with several chapters like at  Lespinasse (Manhattan). The food and atmosphere are perfect. The cuisine is not as sophisticated as what you can find at Lespinasse, but this is definitely a plus. Be prepared to book three months in advance for an unforgettable romantic Saturday night and to have the privilege of being seated in one of the two tiny rooms. This experience is best combined with a night at the Four Seasons hotel. 
There are many other restaurants worth a visit. I will mention a few here. A good exhaustive reference with numerous reviews is the New Jersey Online dining guide. Among the places I would recommend, are three elegant French restaurants: Jean Pierre at Newton (PA), Le Petit Chateau at Bernardsville and La Campagne at Cherry Hill, with a nice garden. 

New Jersey also has many good Italian restaurants, such as Cafe Repetti at  Bridgewater Manor, Il Mulino at Flemington, Aqua at Raritan and La Fontana at New Brunswick. You can also eat very well at Clydes (New Brunswick, nice bar, large selection of wild martinis and exotic dishes such as Kangaroo), Verve (Somerville, live band on Friday and Saturday night) and the Peacock Inn, the top restaurant in Princeton. Finally, small towns such as Flemington, Lambertville and Morristown offer many opportunities for a good dining experience. 

For more exotic food, you could try Sunny Garden at Princeton, one of the best Chinese and Japonese restaurant in the area. There are many Indian restaurants in Edison. Finally, the Clam Hut in Highlands has delicious soft shell crab.



After Diner
Hemmingway restaurant & dance club 

Located at Bridgewater Manor. This place has a nice restaurant and has enough space and elegance for organizing wedding parties. On Thursday night in summer time, people gather outside in the parking lot, which is transformed into a big dance floor. The atmosphere is more casual, and many of the customers come from the big companies (AT&T) located nearby on Route 202. 
Tiger's Tale  bar & restaurant 

This is one of the few places near Princeton (together with Good Time Charley's at Kingston) where there is always a nice atmosphere and good food. Try their raw oysters or cajun shrimp. On Friday night, there is a live band and it is generally impossible to find a table. 
Verve bar & restaurant 

Verve is probably the best place to go out in Somerville. The cigar bar has a French atmosphere and the cuisine is very creative. I love the chocolate mousse (a cappuccino mousse in fact). It used to be served with a burning stick of cinnamon. For a while, wine was served outside on the few tables on the sidewalk. They usually have a live band on Friday and Saturday night. Sometime, they have foie gras on the menu. 
Holly Thorn House bed and breakfast 

You've been eating out, dancing or going to the movie theater. It's now time to go to bed. If you choose for a romantic night to share with your significant other, I strongly recommend the Holly Thorn House (908-789-8998), the only 4 diamond B&B in New Jersey. It used to be a barn, now it is a very charming place, and you will have to choose between the blue room, the peach room or the pink room. It is really affordable ($120 per night approx.) You can also check the B&B online guide to find other similar places. 
There are other places where you might want to spend a couple of hours in Central New Jersey. Just to mention a few: Clydes at New Brunswick is a nice bar associated with a very good restaurant, Harvest Moon (New Brunswick) and Triumph Brewery (Princeton) are two popular breweries, and the Marriott Hotel at Forestall Village (Princeton, near Route 1) houses the only dance club I know in Princeton area. Easton. Morristown is also a good place to go out. 

For a different kind of activity, you can check the theaters (there is a famous one in Princeton) or the movie theaters (Bridgewater Mall). Hoboken, with its numerous pubs, is a good place to meet new people.



Outdoor activities & excursions
Parks and gardens  

New Jersey deserves its nickname of Garden State for its numerous parks, farms, lakes and forests. There are two national parks. Sandy Hook in Monmouth county offers beautiful beaches. Also visit the historic lighthouse. You can have a scenic drive overlooking the ocean, the coast and NYC, and visit the Twin Lights lighthouse. This lighthouse is on top of the highest hill on the East coast seashore down to Mexico. The Delaware Water Gap (the other national park) offers impressive mountain views when you enter New Jersey, coming from Pennsylvania on highway I-80. There are also many state parks. Paterson Historic District and its waterfall on the Passaic river, the second highest waterfall east of Mississippi. However, you may prefer Bushkill Falls in the Pocono mountains (PA), which is located in much safer and beautiful surroundings. Washington Rock State Park affords a sweeping view of Central New Jersey and Manhattan. It is the place to go at night for a romantic walk (there's another beautiful scenic view, on I-78, one mile east of the intersection with I-287). High Point State Park is the place to go for hiking and camping (you might see bears). On top of the highest mountain in NJ (1,800 feet), you can see three states: NJ, PA and NY. If you take Route 23 down to NY state (5 mile drive), you will have a  scenic drive (Route 513 in North Western NJ also offers a scenic drive). Hopatcong State Park is where you will find the biggest lake in New Jersey. When I visited the park, it was very crowded, but surprisingly everybody but me was speaking Spanish. Finally, I would mention Duke Gardens in Somerville, although they don't welcome tourists. 
Historic towns  

There are numerous picturesque small towns with a rich past and sometimes interesting architecture in this area:  Princeton, Morristown, Waterloo Village, New Hope (PA), Haddonfield, Cape May, Clinton, Summit, Chatham, Flemington, Lambertville, Frenchtown and Cranberry. All of these places are worth a visit. Cape May is a resort known for its beaches, lighthouses, diner cruises and Victorian bed and breakfasts. Waterloo Village is the largest restoration in New Jersey. It is also known for its summer music festival. Special events like wine tasting are scheduled regularly. New Hope, with its craftshops and antique stores, attracts a crowd of gay and new age people. Not far from New Hope is Peddlers Village and its outlets, worth a visit especially at Christmas time. 

This city was the first capital and for a while, the largest city in US. There's probably no city in this country that can match Philadelphia's historical past. The visitors will find numerous attractions to remind them of this past, most of them located in the Independence National Historical Park. The Reading Terminal Market (previously an important railway station) and Penns Landing (on the waterfront) are the most interesting shopping areas. The cultural center of the city is located at Logan Square. 
New York  

Cruises on Hudson River at night with amazing views of Manhattan skyline. The Guggenheim Museum in Central Park. The Cloisters. A helicopter tour over the city. East Village and its numerous ethnic restaurants. Shopping in China Town or around Rockfeller Center. Broadway theaters. The Grand Central Terminal. The Public Library. Battery Park and the business district. New York bridges. The grilled chestnuts and their smell, on many streets (you will also eat chestnuts in NYC finest restaurants). If you have a lot of money to spend, go for a diner on top of the World Trade Center (Windows on the World) and a night at the Four Seasons hotel or at Hotel St. Regis, which houses the famous Lespinasse restaurant (suites at $4,500 per night). 
It is impossible to list all the attractions in this small guide. I mention here a few extra suggestions that do not fall in the previous categories. For shopping, you should visit the Mall at Short Hills. This is the place where all Manhattanites go. For gourmet stores, I recommend Bon Appetit (Main Street, Princeton) or the liquor store on Lenoco Plaza at Clinton (exceptional selection of wines and cigars). These are the only places in New Jersey where I've been able to find foie gras. You can also visit and buy local wine in the vineyards. Amwell Valley Vineyard, in a rural setting and owned by a British winemaker, is one of them. 

Other attractions include the Readington Ballooning Festival (end of July, it is possible to have a balloon flight), candlelight walking, rock climbing, Atlantic City, a trip to the Catskills Mountains (NY) or in Dutch County (PA), the Black River and Western Railroad (excursion ride on old steam train, between Flemington and Ringoes, they also have a night ride), the old car exhibit on Friday night in Somerville (in summer, always crowded), and the steeple chase in Far Hills by the end of October (more than 50,000 people). 

If you would like to visit a cave, go to Howe Caverns in upstate New York or Penn's Cave in Centre Hall, PA. The Lackawanna Coal Mine in Scranton (PA) is also a popular attraction. Northwest New Jersey also has its own iron mine and furnace at Oxford



Cultural activities



The Liberty Science Center, Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum, the Franklin Institute (Philadelphia), the New Jersey State Aquarium (Camden) and the New Jersey State Museum (Trenton) are arguably the best places to visit outside NYC. There are plenty of less well known yet interesting museums worth a visit. New Jersey is the fluorescent rock capital of the world. If you are fascinated with rocks as I am, then the Franklin Mineral Museum is the right place to go. See also the Sterling Hill Mine and Museum nearby. If you are interested in miniatures, then I would recommend the  Northlandz Railroad Museum which features a model railroad. The Princeton Art Museum at Princeton University has some Van Gogh paintings. Commemorating Edison's birthplace, the Edison Memorial Tower and Museum will entertain young children. 
I didn't write about theaters here, mainly because most of them are in NYC. However, Newark is home of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. You should also look at the historic towns section for more cultural information. For a more extensive list of museums and attractions, you should consult the book New Jersey Day Trips published by The Woodmont Press and updated every year. 

New Jersey also has a good system of public libraries. Rutgers and Princeton University bookshops have many technical advanced books. The largest bookshop is probably Barnes and Noble on Route 1 near Princeton. Incidentally, this is also a good place to meet new people of the opposite sex.

Restaurants After diner Outdoor activities Cultural activities  Home Page:  8/20/99