tough guys, and the working-class hymns of home
boys Bruce Springsteen, John Bon Jovi and Tom Waits
are what I used to think of when New Jersey was
mentioned. I was really shocked when I found that
"Joi-see," as the natives pronounce it, actually
lives up to its license-plate moniker "The Garden
per cent of the state is farmland and forest, there
are over 800 sq. km of mountains, lakes and inland
waters and, over 200 km of beach.
to Jersey in May, and I'd advise visiting around
this time since spring comes early to the state.
After landing in Newark and doing a quick tour of
Atlantic City, I headed out to the Pinelands, where
a profusion of blossoms did much to warm my chilled
definitely calling me here. For my first adventure,
I chose a canoe ride along the Batsto River. Quietly
dipping my paddle into the cool waters, I saw many
a red belly turtle out catching rays on fallen trees
(and was told pickerel were swimming beneath the
boat--didn't see any, though). Canoes can be rented
for about $35 per day. The rental company chauffeured
me via a bumpy jeep ride to a point on the river
to start, and picked me up a couple of miles downstream
two hours later.
After my day
of canoeing, I opted for another favorite leisure
activity--shopping. New Jersey has great bargains
and no clothing tax, so even with the exchange rate
for Canadian journey women, it's possible to get
a deal. The next day, I hit Liberty Village Factory
Outlet in Flemington and prowled through the Anne
Klein, Perry Ellis, Royal Doulton and Jones New
York stores. While still in shopping mode, I noticed
many an antique shop, especially in the towns of
Lambertville, Milford, New Hope, Chester and Belvedere.
Unfortunately there was not enough time to see them
all. I reached Milford just as everything was closing.
However, next to shopping, eating is always my next
best choice. I spied a beautifully restored Victorian
building with a plaque proclaiming it to be The
Ship's Inn, cc. 1860.
operated by Ann Hall and her husband, The Ship's
Inn was originally a bakery, then an ice cream parlor,
then a popular town tavern and bowling alley. Now
it's New Jersey's first brew pub and people come
from miles around to bask in the Hall's hospitality
and sample items from the British-meets-American
menu. I had a cranberry-topped brie cheese round,
wrapped in pastry. Delicious. Attempting to burn
off at least some of the cholesterol, I took a walk
around the corner and discovered a real B&B gem.
Meticulously restored, Chestnut Hill was selected
by The Discerning Traveler as a "romantic hideaway."
I got the royal tour, including the teddy-bear festooned
third floor room. Next trip it will be a must.
is chock-a-block with picturesque little towns.
In Clinton, I stumbled upon the annual Cherry Blossom
Walk (every May, around the 4-5th) where the little
main street was literally carpeted with tender pink
blossoms. Shops of collectibles lined the streets
and at one end of town sat the impossibly pretty
Red Mill, one of the most photographed mills in
Last on my
New Jersey agenda was Princeton, which abounds in
the architectural style known as Gothic Collegiate.
Not only the location of Albert Einstein's (as well
as Brooke Shields') alma mater, it is home to Drumthwacket,
the Governor's Mansion. Built in 1835, Drumthwacket
became Governor Christine Whitman's official residence
front hall of this sprawling, white pillared, plantation-style
mansion (open to the public for tours every Wednesday
afternoon), I was greeted by a portrait of Whitman's
infamous distant relative "Old Uncle Josh," who,
the guide informed me, was hung for grand larceny.
Inside, I saw Whitman's Chippendale chairs, silver
bowls and candelabras, as well as photos of her
husband, two children and three Scottie dogs--Coors,
Brie and Julie. Grand yet homey, the residence featured
one touch that summed up my new-found impression
of the state--nestling on a wing chair was a small
pillow bearing the neatly stitched words "Relax,
There's A Woman On The Job."
Notes and Numbers
| New Jersey Travel & Tourism:
New Jersey website:
New Jersey Travel Guide: 1-800-JERSEY
7, ext. 7010
Bel Haven Canoe
Rentals: (609) 965-2206
Hill B&B, Milford: (908) 995-9761
Factory Outlet Shopping: Liberty
Village, Clinton: (908) 782-8550
Drumthwacket, Princeton: (609)
The Ship Inn, Milford: