While it might generally be tough to convince a non-Jerseyan that the state is in fact beautiful, we say seeing is believing. Because when you truly look past New Jersey’s suburban sprawl, the industrial complexes and factories outside of Newark Airport, you’ll see the Garden State for its unique natural beauty and charms.

Here are just some of the most beautiful places to visit in New Jersey, and where you should stay nearby at each.

RELATED: The 12 Most Charming Small Towns in New Jersey

Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Delaware Water Gap
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1. Delaware Water Gap

This recreation area may technically be shared with another State (Pennsylvania), but both sides are spoiled with things to do in over 70,000 acres of stunning natural landscapes containing forest, vistas, streams and, of course, the winding Delaware River itself. On the Jersey side, Mt. Tammany Red Dot trail and the Blue Blaze Blue Dot trail are popular hikes, and Turtle Beach is the kind of grassy beach where you can lay your towel down alongside a river to catch some rays.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Sunset Beach Cape May
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2. Sunset Beach Cape May

This beach at the southern tip of New Jersey never disappoints, especially in the summer months when fiery, western facing Jersey sunsets (they’re a thing, just look on Instagram) live up to its name. Aside from orange, pink, and yellow hued sunsets, the natural, sandy beach is also home to the unique SS Atlantus Concrete Ship, which ran aground here after a storm. The wreckage is now permanently on display within easy eyesight of the shore.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Twin Lights
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3. Twin Lights

This historic lighthouse sits high above a bluff on Sandy Hook Bay and has panoramic views of New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors have the ability to climb both lighthouse towers, though just taking in the beauty of the handsome brownstone structure from ground level is good enough if you’re not a fan of stairs.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey New Hope Lambertville Bridge
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4. New Hope-Lambertville Bridge

With gorgeous views of the Delaware River, surrounding trees, riverfront homes and historical buildings, this beautiful bridge straddles New Jersey and its neighbor Pennsylvania. The short, walkable New Hope-Lambertville bridge—which is just over 1,000 feet in length—has six spans and provides access between the charming towns of Lambertville, NJ and the equally darling and slightly more eclectic New Hope, PA.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey CAT
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5. The Red Mill, Clinton

This charming country town is just over an hour west of the Lincoln Tunnel, but it feels like it’s worlds away. The picturesque Red Mill has a unique roof and has become a focal point in town. Its history as a wool processing plant, a peach basket factory, and a textile mill dates all the way back to 1810, but today, visitors gawk at its unique color and position on a dam, where gentle streams of water run past it in the most tranquil of ways. The historic buildings that surround the Red Mill are also part of an open air museum, Red Mill Museum Village, and home to a variety of events.

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6. Palmer Square, Princeton

Could there be a more idyllic town than Princeton, the home of the famed university in Mercer County? As you drive in from Route 1, the area appears protected by trees and Carnegie Lake, where depending on the season, you might spot row teams as they practice. Our favorite spot to settle down around in Princeton is in Palmer Square, though, the actual town square with a grass lawn and park surrounded by charming, historic architecture. During the holiday months, it’s also the sight of the town’s tree lighting and the adjacent shops are a fine place to stock up on gifts.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Sayen Gardens
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7. Sayen Gardens

An adorable arched bridge, spraying water fountains and charming pergolas mix with a variety of thriving plants and flowers at these gardens in Central NJ. Among them, they include species from China and Japan, as well as 1,000 azaleas and nearly 500 rhododendrons. This relaxing, peaceful place was built in 1912, and the gardens are free for visitors. They’re also a popular place for weddings and celebrations, providing a picture perfect backdrop for wedding shoots, birth announcements, family portraits and more—as long as you show up with the right permit.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple
Courtesy, BAPS BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

8. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple

You don’t have to travel all the way to India to visit an authentic Hindu temple. Just over an hour away between NYC and Philadelphia is Robbinsville, NJ, a central New Jersey town which is the home of this awe-inspiring place filled with intricate carvings, domes and spires, arches, sacred figures, and a wealth of beauty. Completed in 2014 and built of beautiful Italian Carrara marble, it’s a site where, according to their website, “the mind becomes still and experiences inner peace”. We’ll take that over traffic on the Turnpike any day.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Hudson River Waterfront
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9. Hudson River Waterfront

Our favorite part of the Hudson Riverfront spans from Jersey City north through Hoboken and Weehawken, where you’ll have unparalleled views of the Hudson River—and at times, the Verrazano and GW Bridge depending on your location. This is all at the backdrop of the glittering Manhattan skyline, because, after all, the best view of New York City is from New Jersey. Pro tip: To really take in the views and enjoy some outside time by yourself, with your pup, or with a group of friends, park your butt at Liberty State Park in Jersey City.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
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10. Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Situated on the northern tip of Long Beach Island, this state park includes a maritime forest, a picnic area and ample opportunities for bird watching. The crown jewel, of course, is the historic lighthouse, which offers panoramic views of Barnegat Bay if you climb to the tippy top.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Allaire State Park
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11. Allaire State Park

If you want to take a trip back in time, look no further than the historic Allaire Village, where you can get a glimpse of what life was really like in a 19th-century iron-making town. Halloween is a particularly good time to visit this park since they have a few spooky-themed events coming up. And you can even cap your visit with a 15-minute ride on a vintage train at the Pine Creek Railroad.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Seven Mile Beach  Stone Harbor
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12. Seven Mile Beach, Stone Harbor

Clean and oh-so-serene, Seven Mile Beach is the destination for anyone looking for a quiet ocean getaway in New Jersey. While this certainly isn’t a party town, there are still a few bars and restaurants where you can grab a drink or bite to eat after a relaxing day of surf and sun.

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Most Beautiful Places in New Jersey Paterson Great Falls
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13. Paterson Great Falls

The magnificent, 77-foot high waterfall on the Passaic River is clearly the main attraction here, but people also come to look at the historic buildings that date back to the Industrial Revolution. The Great Falls usually take people by surprise, as they lie in the heart of what is to this day the fairly industrial city of Paterson. Expert tip: Make the most of this town by enjoying its authentic Peruvian food at spots like D’Carbon and Kikiriki.

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14. William Heritage Winery

A visit to this family-owned vineyard in Mullica Hill is a delight and it’s sure a heck of a lot easier to get to than flying out to Napa. It will also convince you that New Jersey can compete with the best Northeastern wineries. Here, you can enjoy a flight of assorted wines paired with a charcuterie board in their lively outdoor seating area or hop on a hayride that takes guests to a pumpkin patch and apple orchard.

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15. Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls, Crater Lake, Hemlock Pond…If these names sound like they’re lifted straight out of a children’s storybook, it’s because this foaming cascade is simply magical. You can view the Falls at the base, but climbing the steep, rocky terrain is typically a fun challenge for hiking enthusiasts. The Falls are also part of the greater Delaware Water Gap, which offers a wealth of trails and opportunities for swimming and fishing.

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16. St. Hubert’s Chapel

Seeing this Gothic chapel sitting on a secluded island is a bit like stumbling upon a fairytale. It was built in the late 1880s by tobacco tycoon Francis S. Kinney, the “Baron of Kinnelon,” for his devoutly Catholic wife, Mary. The interior, which features stained glass windows by the legendary Tiffany & Co., is equally breathtaking, but tours are unfortunately postponed at this time due to COVID.

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17. Alstede Farms

This adorable farm showcases country living at its very best. From fresh fruits and vegetables to homemade honey and jam to home baked pies, there’s always something new and delicious to discover here depending on the season. You can grab a meal at The Hen House, hang out with some of the barnyard animals, traverse your way through their many mazes, or take a tour of their Cider Mill.

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*All published rates are representative as of press time.

RELATED: The 6 Best Places to Live in New Jersey

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