Okay so here’s the deal. I am not originally from New Jersey. I was born in Florida, but moved here at age 12 or so. I have not left since then, not for longer than 2 weeks, anyway (or for 9 weeks, those two times I stayed the entire summer at camp). I hated it at first. I remember one of my first summer camp interactions being an argument about whether or not New Jersey was terrible. I was on the wrong side of the argument back then and I said it was indeed terrible. But I was 14 or 15, and everything WAS terrible.
Later, I learned that New Jersey is not just a wonderful place to be, but also has its own abundance of wonderful things! For example, our state insect is the highly superior honeybee, and the story is that a group of schoolchildren convinced the governor that the honeybee was the appropriate choice in 1974. Our state animal is the horse, what better option! We even have a state cryptid, my good friend, The Jersey Devil.
In addition to beautiful, crazy things, it also has great places! My personal favorite is Branch Brook Park. Have you heard of it?
Branch Brook Park was our nation’s first county park! The park has the largest collection of cherry blossom trees in the country (totally putting D.C.’s well-known attraction to shame). Most of the beautiful trees were originally donated by Caroline Bamberger Fuld, a lovely businesswoman and philanthropist, and the sister of Louis Bamberger. They also founded a department store, later sold to Macy’s (although it retained the name Bamberger’s until 1986). Later, they founded the Institute of Advanced Studies.
The park currently has all sorts of interesting plants in addition to the famous cherry trees. There are bridges, fountains, statues, and even a skating rink in the park. It is truly a wonderful place, the highlight of Newark, and the pride of New Jersey.