Top Five Historical Places to Visit in New Jersey

Did you know that New Jersey is considered "The Crossroads of the American Revolution?" Yes, it's true. The Garden State is known for a lot more than Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen and a bunch of real housewives that like to throw tables. That's right. There is a whole lot of history in New Jersey. After all, it was one of the original 13 colonies and the third state in the United States, officially joining on December 18, 1787.

Henry Hudson may have been the first explorer to take note of the unique beauty of the diverse state, but George Washington spent quite a lot of time here and he wasn't just sleeping. New Jersey played a vital role in the American Revolution because of its location.

It's always about location, location, location when it comes to hot spots and since New Jersey was sandwiched between the British-held New York City and the rebel home front of Philadelphia, the Garden State was high on the radar of both sides during the American Revolution.

The result is a plethora of historic sites and landmarks that make New Jersey a great destination for history buffs. Of course, stop by one of the many National Parks and Trails on your stay along with the awesome shore line and you'll have one exciting vacation that is full of adventure and education.

It was tough going to narrow the lengthy field, but here are the top five don't miss historical sites in New Jersey.

Washington Crossing State Park

We did mention that George Washington spent a lot of time in New Jersey and he did. There are numerous towns that sport a sign saying that America's first president slept here. However, when he and his Continental Army navigated the frigid waters of the Delaware River, they landed right smack at Johnson's Ferry, which today is the site of Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell Township. Enjoy some wonderful views and get an exciting history lesson. There is a visitor's museum as well as an open-air theater that hosts events throughout the year. Be sure to stop by the Johnson Ferry House. The 18th century farmhouse and tavern was originally owned and operated by Garret Johnson.

Princeton Battlefield State Park

Head to Princeton to visit the site of one of the American Revolution's toughest battles; the Battle of Princeton. On January 3, 1777, General George Washington and his troops caught a group of British soldiers off-guard and scored a big win for the rebels. Don't miss the Clarke House Museum as well as the Princeton Battle Monument. A stone patio marks the grave of 21 British and 15 American soldiers who lost their lives in the battle. General Hugh Mercer, a close pal of Washington, died in Clarke House. He was brought there after being wounded in the battle and succumbed to his wound nine days after the victory.

Walt Whitman House

While the famous poet and journalist wasn't a native Jersey boy, he did live out his twilight years in Camden. Whitman lived in the home from 1884 until his death in 1892. Fellow writers Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker visited the residence. The Walt Whitman House is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Admission is free. However, the website does recommend that visitors call ahead of time in order to confirm the availability of tours and other historic programs.

Thomas Edison State Park

Where would we be without the inventions of Thomas Edison? Well, for one thing, we would be in the dark. Among his many contributions, Edison's main claim to fame is his invention of the light bulb. Other famous creations include the phonograph and the first motion pictures. The phonograph was said to be Edison's personal favorite. Visit West Orange and explore the inventor's laboratory and estate at Thomas Edison State Park. The extremely vast collection includes more than 300,000 items.

Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal

From Liberty State Park in Jersey City, visitors can catch a ferry to explore Ellis Island as well as the Statue of Liberty. However, don't leave without taking more than a quick peek at the Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal. Some of your relatives may have passed through there way back when. The terminal was used from 1892 until 1954 to transport newly arrived immigrants to their destinations after they were processed on Ellis Island. Spend some time taking in the history of the terminal and be sure to enjoy the stellar views of the Manhattan skyline across the river.

Dawn Miller is a freelance writer and mystery author. She lives in New Jersey.