New Jersey (NJ) has long been a resort and historical destination in the northeast of the US. Atlantic City was the second city in the US to legalize gambling after Las Vegas and many in the region rush to play their favorite casino table games, online slot machines or contribute to the now $5 billion online casino games industry in NJ. Some say NJ is home to some of the best online casinos in the US.
Yet, New Jersey is so much more than Atlantic City and gambling. The entire state boasts a combination of humid subtropical and continental climates, with a rich history, so it’s no coincidence that some of the best things to do in New Jersey do not require a roof. Let’s explore some of the hidden gems in New Jersey where you can soak in the summer sun, watch the sun set behind the New York skyline, or just sip a cocktail under the New Jersey night sky.
Home to Jersey City and Bergen County, North Jersey sits just across the bay and Hudson river from New York City. Many of the establishments provide fantastic vistas and views over the Hudson of the New York cityscape.
The Alementary Brewing Co.
A great beer garden experience with standing tables available on a first-come, first-served basis and seated accommodation by reservation only. There’s always something new, given that they rotate their craft ales, lagers and beers on tap.
Where: 58 Voorhis Lane, Hackensack
Long Valley Pub & Brewery
An award-winning pub and brewery with centuries of history behind it. It was transformed from a derelict barn house into a brewery and pub in 1995. There is a vast outdoor area with a rotating list on tap. There is weekly live music and a ton of other events, along with tours of the historic site.
Where: 1 Fairmount Road, Long Valley
Pier 13 Hoboken
A buzzing strip of activity, Pier 13 is a beer garden with a difference. Set along a pier hovering over the water, you can drink in the NY skyline while sipping on ale and sampling fare from the local food trucks that park alongside the two bars.
Where: 1301 Sinatra Drive North, Hoboken
A family-friendly restaurant that bills itself as “upscale-casual with a New American menu.”
The rooftop terrace is a delight with its fairylight clusters in the evenings, serving great summer fare and interesting cocktails and a huge selection of ales.
Where: 146 Newark Avenue, Jersey City
The Stirling Hotel
This is the perfect local pub with a great seasonal outdoor beer garden. The outdoor experience is limited and is usually linked to some sort of live music event. The real highlights, apart from the super casual setting and amazing bistro comfort food, are the unique craft cocktails.
Where: 227 Main Avenue, Stirling
Famed for its astounding array of events, from games night to Baconfest, Zeppelin Hall sports one of the largest beer gardens in the state. The Polar Vortex is its famed outdoor bar, with over 140 exotic and local draft beers on offer. Add live music and a German pub menu and you have a vibrant outdoor bar experience.
Where: 88 Liberty View Drive, Jersey City
Soak in the NY vibe on a terraced rooftop while the comforting aromas of brick oven pizza hang in the air around you. Paulie’s is a sports fan’s haven where you can watch your favorite team as you dine on the amazing pizza and beer while taking in the astonishing views.
Where: 264 Central Avenue, Jersey City
Town Bar + Kitchen
Set in the heart of Morristown, Town Bar + Kitchen is a sophisticated yet warm and welcoming establishment. The rooftop terrace is particularly inviting, with its face-brick fireplace standing at the end of an avenue of cafe-style tables and cushioned benches.
Enjoy fine food and select drinks on a relaxed open-air rooftop.
Where: 80 Elm Street, Morristown
Alice’s is less of an outdoor experience and more of a casual, covered deck with spectacular views overlooking Lake Hopatcong. Self-described as a “casual New American eatery and bar that offers market-fresh meals,” Alice’s shareable dishes and varied bar make for a convivial family outing.
Where: 24 Nolans Point Park Road, Lake Hopatcong
Central Jersey incorporates the northern part of the famous Jersey shore and many of its establishments sit on the many boardwalks and beaches with views of the Atlantic.
Artie’s Bar and Grill
Artie’s brings the beach to Frenchtown. Whether you’re seated at the covered outdoor beach bar or dining at a table on the deck, you will believe you’re at the beach. Play volleyball or horseshoes if you’re feeling sporty. Watch a national concert or join the locals for their regular line-dancing evenings. Whatever you fancy, Arties offers a full food menu and a large tap list of craft and regular beers.
Where: 1121 NJ-12, Frenchtown
Not quite an entrance hall as the name suggests, The Lobby has one of the most well-appointed outdoor patios in New Jersey. Dominating the patio is a 20-foot LED screen for ardent sports fans, with a hint of sophistication. There is a strict dress code and the food goes way beyond the usual sports pub fare. This is matched by an expansive cocktail menu.
Where: 821 Spring Street, Elizabeth
Stage House Tavern
If you’re more inclined towards rustic, old-world charm, then the Stage House Tavern is a must-see. Originally The Stage House Inn, the bar has been a local staple since the 17th century. Comfort food and a massive drinks menu complement the outdoor bar and patio, where you can also enjoy live music.
Where: 366 Park Avenue, Scotch Plains
Blackthorn Restaurant & Irish Pub
Inside you will be greeted by a traditional Irish pub, but outside is a bustling patio where the locals come to mingle and let their hair down. To get a fully authentic experience, make sure you sample Guinness stout and proper Irish pub fare like corned beef and cabbage or shepherd’s pie.
Where: 651 North Michigan Avenue, Kenilworth and 61 Church Street, New Brunswick
The Tewksbury Inn
Another member of the 200-year club, The Tewksbury Inn positions itself as upscale American, so be prepared to don a jacket. The outdoor area was recently upgraded but retains the old-world charm without losing the air of sophistication. Be ready for fine cuisine and wash it down with a good wine.
Where: 55 Old Turnpike Road, Tewksbury
Recently immortalized by the TV reality show of the same name, the Jersey Shore is the most popular holiday destination for residents in the Northeast. With its boardwalks, amusement parks, arcades and water parks, the Jersey Shore (or The Shore, as it is known by locals) sports some of the best outdoor bars in the state.
Salvation is a chic rooftop cocktail bar atop the Asbury Hotel, a stone’s throw away from the Asbury Boardwalk and beach. Minimalistic in its aesthetic, this zen getaway gives you panoramic views to complement the dry bubbles popping on your tongue. Don’t miss the Baronet garden on the 5th-floor rooftop, where you can watch outdoor movies all year round.
Where: 210 Fifth Avenue, Asbury Park
Vue Rooftop Bar
As the name suggests, Vue Rooftop Bar boasts some of the most spectacular views of Atlantic City and the beach. Nestled above the Claridge Hotel, the bar sports two open decks with panoramic views, a bar with signature cocktails and great American pub fare.
Where: The Claridge Hotel, 123 South Indiana Avenue, Atlantic City
9th Avenue Pier
You can’t go to Belmar and not visit 9th Avenue Pier for a summer day out. As they happily invite you to “grab a bite and a rum bucket,” be prepared for exactly that. Buckets filled with rum-based cocktails to get you more than a little tipsy while you take in live music and try to putt a ball into a hole at the two mini-golf courses.
Where: 905 NJ-35, Belmar
Bar Anticipation, or Bar A as it is more fondly known, is THE party spot on the Jersey Shore. It is a sprawling complex of bars along the beach side and is a peculiar honeypot for old college reunions and the ever-present party crowd. A particular highlight are private VIP cabanas at Grotto Beach that you can book that come complete with a waterfall and palm trees.
Where: 703 16th Avenue, Lake Como
Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa
Not strictly an outdoor experience, Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa offers a multitude of options to rival some of the outdoor options listed here, including its Water Club pools, which are popular with registered guests. With seven bars and 14 restaurants, you would be hard-pressed to find a bigger or better range of dining and drinking venues in the whole of Atlantic City.
Where: 1 Borgata Way, Atlantic City
Beachcomber Bar & Grill
This is one of those local gems that you could easily miss. A modest facade on the boardwalk, Beachcomber Bar & Grill is a local hit. Live music, a rooftop deck and view of the ocean to complement the exceptional food and service are all staples at this boardwalk bar. They’re so confident of their reputation that they simply put a picture and calendar on their website. That’s it.
Where: 100 Ocean Terrace, Seaside Heights
Kix is an eclectic venue that doesn’t fit into any pigeonhole. Yet whatever it is, it does it well. The KIX complex includes an iconic nightclub for over 30s, a parking lot bar where you bring your own chair for the cheapest shots in town, a patio bar with frozen cocktails and acoustic music, and even a laidback indoor/outdoor lounge to sip signature cocktails and listen to music.
Where: 120 63rd Street, Sea Isle City
Martell’s Tiki Bar
Martell’s is a Jersey Shore institution that’s been serving the bathing suit crowd with their inimitable style for decades. The Tiki Bar is a boardwalk special evoking island feels with a host of culinary options and signature cocktails. Bask in the summer sun as you sip on a Fuzzy Mango while sampling the seafood delights of Jake’s Crabhouse, The Lobster House or their very own Sushi Bar.
Where: 308 Boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach
Home to Atlantic City, Jersey’s most famous resort destination and gambling hub, South Jersey’s subtropical climate and low rainfall attracts a diverse crowd from all over the US.
Here you will find some of the best games to play at a casino, but also take a break at some of the amazing outdoor bars.
The Golden Nugget Tavern
A complete departure from the tropical vibes of Jersey Shore, The Golden Nugget Tavern is an authentic country bar with live music every weekend of the year. But what would any self-respecting NJ joint be without an outdoor tiki bar where you can dance under the stars? This place is over 60 years old, yet still manages to offer daily specials, including an astonishing $1 all-you-can-eat Pizza Monday special.
Where: 433 Berlin New Freedom Road, Berlin
Keg & Kitchen
This one is for the mathematically challenged beer-seeker. Everything is $5 during Happy Hour. Food, drink. Everything. They bill themselves as Haddon Township’s craft bar and scratch kitchen (which loosely translates to cooking whatever is in season). The same goes for the beer and hard tack, which is sourced locally from nearby breweries and distilleries.
Where: 90 Haddon Avenue, Haddon Township
Uncle Ricky’s Outdoor Bar & Grill
Uncle Ricky’s is so down to earth, they don’t even have a website. A hidden, low-tech gem that writes up specials on a whiteboard big enough for the patrons to read. Thing is, Uncle Ricky’s is not for the younger set. It is one of those exclusively outdoor spots where local oldies come back for well-priced familiar fare and to watch the younglings grow up. Keep an eye out for their blue crab claw special, which you can wash down with an ice-cold beer.
Where: 470 Wheat Road, Vineland
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On the other hand, when you feel like a break from your computer screen, make a trip to Atlantic City and experience it for real at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, where you can enjoy the entertainment, dining and nightlife complement a fantastic casino experience.