I have lived in New Jersey for a few years now and I've really enjoyed exploring this state. I've been everywhere from outlet shopping, to cute towns, and to ski areas and I wanted to compile a list of my favorite parts of this state. Most of these are day trips, but some can quite easily be overnight trips. I'm not someone who likes to drive a lot so all these places are actually within driving distance from Piscataway, NJ. The list is in no particular order.
New Hope, PA, Lambertville, NJ
New Hope and Lambertville are on opposite sides of the Delaware river in Pennsylvania and New Jersey respectively. These towns are beautiful, cute, with antique shops, and fun dining. New Hope's main street has quite a few restaurants, some of which overlook the main street. So you can sit at Havana's, a bar on the main street, sip a beer, relax and watch people parade their Harley's and old restored cars. New Hope Winery is close by too if you're up for some wine tasting. It also has a historic steam engine train station that you can wander through the county in. New Hope is more lively, while Lambertville is the quieter of the two towns. It has a bunch of antique shops, a nice ice cream place called Bucks, and a supposedly fantastic restaurant with a great view of the river, the Lambertville Station Restaurant. I always wanted to eat there, but we couldn't ever find it! I know where it is now though, and I'll just have to wait till this summer to try it. I've been to both these towns a bunch of times, and it's always been fun.
Cape May, NJ
Cape May is by far, the nicest Jersey shore town in my opinion. It is without the riffraff that accompanies some of the northern shore towns, and far removed from the ugliness of Atlantic City. It has a fun boardwalk, great restaurants, and a cool ferry to Delaware, though I haven't been on that yet. Another attraction is the yearly Cape May Wine Festival.
Clinton has a cute downtown, a historic red sawmill, an awesome bridge on main street, and a restaurant with a beautiful view of all of the above, the Old River House Restaurant. I would recommend going next door to the Balic of Clinton to taste some wines, buying what you like, and uncorking them at the Old River House.
East Stroudsburg, PA
My latest discovery and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. This town is fantastic. It has a population of about 10,000 and about 20 pubs. Yuengling is brewed nearby and you can find $1.00 draughts. That's right. I said $1.00. I recommend Tony's pizzeria for dinner, and Maritas Cantina for the after party.
Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park
I found this park by accident while driving home with my parents one day. This is a park that goes along a bunch of canals in the area. Although we just walked part of it, one can kayak down the water or use the bike pathways as well. It was scenic, peaceful, and a good place to relax and go for a walk... if you're in to that kind of thing.
Shawnee Mountain, Campgaw Mountain
Both these ski areas are about an hour from me, and both have their pros and cons. Shawnee is bigger, with more trails, but is usually very crowded. Campgaw is a tiny hill, but it is devoid of crowds usually. Shawnee offers student discounts as well.
Somerville, NJ reminds me of Wellesley, MA for some reason which I can't pinpoint. Unfortunately I have only visited this town once, but it looks cute, very walkable and seems fun. The reason I am recommending it, is because its got an amazing fondue restaurant, the Melting Pot. You have to try it!
My fiance and I wandered over here by mistake, as we were driving to Atlantic City, and we got hungry. But Keansburg is kind of fun, in a trashy sort of way! It's a quiet beach town, with an amusement park. There are no nice restaurants, as far as we could see, but plenty of seaside type eats. Watch out for the fried food stalls though. They were frying pretty much everything under the sun. Fried snickers, fried bananas, fried you-name-it!
Sandy Hook, NJ
This is a Jersey Shore town without the crowds and the bars. It has a bunch of seafood restaurants, and a deserted military base, with lighthouses. It's really close by, and if I'm in the mood for the beach, which is rare, this is where I go!
Fall drive through Frenchtown
This was really fun this past fall. My fiance and I drove through Frenchtown, avoiding the major roads. We wanted to see fall colors and this was a great place in Jersey to see them. We also visited the famous, and one and only covered bridge in New Jersey, the Green Sergeant's Covered Bridge. However, seeing this bridge was definitely very anti climatic, but cool in a weird way. I would recommend the Sergeantsville Inn for lunch. Great food!