Let me state, first off, that even though I wasn't born in New Jersey, I consider myself as being from there. The reason is very simple. I was born in Connecticut, but only lived there a couple of years. When I was about 2 1/2, my mother and I moved to New Jersey, and lived there until she married a man who was in the Air Force. We later moved back to New Jersey and I graduated high school there. All totaled, I lived 12 years of my childhood there.
That having been said, I say this. I take offense when people bad mouth New Jersey. I usually find that the people that do this have either never been to New Jersey and are forming their opinions based on what they see on TV and movies, or they have passed through it on the turnpike or the parkway.
New Jersey has bad points. Everyplace has bad points. But the good points outweigh the bad points. Sure, you can encounter a lot of crime. Crime is very prevalent in this country. That's not a surprise to any of us is it?! And sure, you'll see some pollution and some bad areas. Well, you'll find those everywhere in this country, even in Hawaii. Does that mean these places aren't beautiful? No, it doesn't.
I have run across many people who made fun of New Jersey being known as the "Garden State". I say to those people, you obviously have not spent much time in New Jersey, nor have you explored it. New Jersey is a beautiful site. Explore New Jersey and you will see a lot of trees, a lot of greenery and flowers, rivers, lakes, and of course, the ocean. Even though New Jersey has a lot of industry and corporations, it also has rural areas and farms.
This makes New Jersey unique from any other state I've ever lived in. Notice I said from any state I've ever lived in. I haven't lived in every state, therefore, I'm not going to say that no other state is like it. I will say that I've lived in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, and Delaware. And New Jersey was unique from all of them.
In the town I lived in New Jersey, we had a dual classification. We were classified as rural/urban. Now many would think that that is a contradiction. And yet, as is typical in New Jersey, it wasn't. We had a town population of about 1100 or so. However, as small as our town was, we were close to everything. Thus our dual classification. A common site in New Jersey is to be driving along and pass farms, with horses and cows, in areas you would never expect to see them.
New Jersey has something fun to offer everyone. For those who enjoy summer sports, there is Ocean City, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights, Wildwood (my personal favorite), as well as amusement parks like Six Flags Great Adventure. For those people that like winter sports, there are plenty of places to ice skate and ski. For people that enjoy shopping, we have tons of malls, as well as some really great flea markets and outlet stores. There are also plenty of beautiful parks to sit and relax in or fish in.
Another attraction for many is the gambling. While I myself don't get into gambling, I did try it once. I went to the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City and enjoyed myself playing the slots. The casino was beautiful.
Yet another thing I love about New Jersey is the restaurants. There are so many wonderful restaurants to eat at and so many different types of cuisine you can try. I myself have two personal favorite: The Bamboo House and Mastorri's.
The Bamboo house is located in Wrightstown, which is close to McGuire Air Force Base. It is actually a Japanese grocery store with a small restaurant located in the back. The food is delicious and it's the only Japanese restaurant my grandmother approved of, which considering she was Japanese, born and raised in Japan, and had very high standard about authenticity, that was saying a lot!
Mastorri's is a family owned restaurant in Bordentown. It's a great restaurant that has several differently themed rooms to eat in. One looks like a diner, one looks like a morning room, one looks like a bar (and does in fact have a fully stocked bar), one looks like a regular restaurant. They are all very pretty rooms, comfortable to eat in, and the food is wonderful. The portions are huge, the prices very reasonable, and the food quality excellent. The portions are so huge that most people have a hard time finishing their meal and have the rest packed up to take with them. This restaurant serves breakfast all day long.
New Jersey also has a lot of historic areas to visit, so for people into that sort of sightseeing, you will find that there is a lot to do.
You will also find the people in New Jersey very down-to-earth. And while there are some racist people everywhere, I can not ever recall coming across racism in New Jersey. Inter-racial relationships are very common there.
As you can see, I could just go on an on about New Jersey, and how wonderful it is, but I won't. I will end this by pointing out one other thing about New Jersey that I love. How close and convenient it is to other great places. I grew up near Fort Dix and from there, I had only 1/2 an hour to travel to get to Philly. I only had to travel about 45 minutes (depending on traffic) to get to NYC. And if I wanted to get to the beach, it was about an hour or hour and a half depending on which one I wanted to go to.
I would recommend a trip or a stay in New Jersey for anyone. The prices are reasonable, the state tax isn't much (about 6 percent) and there is so much to see and do.