Often overlooked because of nearby New York City, the state of New Jersey has plenty to offer in its own right. Plan a day full of art, culture, and delicious food when you spend a day out and about in the northern part of the Garden State.

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Think you know Jersey because of what you’ve seen on Real Housewives or Jersey Shore? Think again! With acres of gorgeous greenery and lush, fertile farmland all over — not for nothing is it called the Garden State — New Jersey will surprise you with its beauty and variety.

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Soak in the Charm. Just a half-hour ride away from New York City, Hoboken is convenient to everything in north Jersey. Take a stroll along the Hudson River — there’s a stellar view of the Manhattan skyline on the other side. Enjoy the charm of Washington Avenue, the main drag, and stop into one of its cute coffee shops to organize your day’s adventures.

Start Out at the Outlets! Jersey Gardens is the state’s largest outlet mall, with over two hundred stores and twenty places to eat. The Gardens boasts a visitor count of over 16 million people from more than 160 countries annually. It’s also the site of the newest ALEX AND ANI boutique — stop in and say hello! And while you’re there, pick up a New Jersey Charm Bangle to add to your collection. Follow the Jersey Gardens team on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date with promotions and events!

Stop by the Cathedral. After you get your fill of outlet shopping, head over to Newark to indulge your sense of wonder at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a historic cathedral on par with those found in Europe. Construction started in 1899 on this French Gothic Revival church, and every square inch pays homage to the divine. During the holiday season, the altars are covered in thousands of living plants — a truly awesome sight to see.

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Break for Lunch. After your cathedral visit, stop in at Hobby’s Delicatessen & Restaurant, an old-fashioned Jewish deli run by the Brummer family since 1962. The delicatessen pickles its famous corned beef in fifty-gallon vats in the back, and the results are a must-try. Also sample the potato pancakes, which have a perfectly crispy outside and tender inside.

Go Wine Tasting. Yes, in New Jersey! Head to Beneduce Vineyards in Pittstown to taste some delicious and unique vino. It’s produced in small lots, allowing the winemakers to capitalize on the nuances in each blend. The tasting bar is busy on the weekends, but it’s well worth the wait to sample the Riesling and Shotgun Red, which are perennial favorites.

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Have Dinner, Portuguese-Style. At Portuguese favorite Valenca in Elizabeth, owner/chefs Martinho and Teresa Pereira have brought traditional Portuguese dishes and hospitality to New Jersey. The filet mignon is served with a hot stone so you can prepare it just the way you like it. Or go for the steak and seafood paella, which locals call “unforgettable.”

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Take in a Show. After you’ve refueled, get yourself over to the Ritz Theatre before the curtain goes up. One of New Jersey’s oldest operating theaters, it has some of the best acoustics in any venue in the entire US. Once a vaudeville house that featured such stories acts as the Marx Brothers, the Ritz is now a concert and show venue that features live plays and musical performances.

Written by Shannon O’Donnell

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