Celebrating the Fourth of July with 5 Must-Visit New Jersey Places
New Jersey is basically the home of the Fourth of July. That's right, you Philadelphians, I said it. Sure, everyone considers Philly the home of freedom because of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall and Ben Franklin. But New Jersey is where it's at. If you don't mind me popping on my teacher hat for a minute, the Battle of Princeton and the Battle of Trenton transformed the fight against the British. The battlefields and historic buildings touched by George Washington and his troops are all over New Jersey. So this Independence Day why don't you visit some of the "revolutionary" places in New Jersey?
Washington Crossing State Park
This picturesque park is located on the banks of the Delaware River in Titusville, NJ and Washington's Crossing, PA. It's the spot where Washington urged his tired troops across the river Christmas evening to surprise the Hessian soldiers at Trenton. The Hessians were captured and it turned the war around for America. How's that for freedom? Visit both sides of the river to get the full picture. The PA side has a great little museum to help you brush up on your history and stop at the Washington's Crossing Inn for drinks Washington would approve of. This is also the spot we took wedding pictures so it's got a special spot in my heart.
The Old Barracks Museum, Trenton
Small museums are my first love and the Old Barracks Museum does not disappoint. Besides being the only remaining colonial barracks in America, their interpreters make you feel like you traveled back in time. The barracks housed both British and American troops throughout the war and it has been maintained beautifully. As a bonus, you can also visit the New Jersey State Museum which is free and great for kids and adults. They have some beautiful colonial pieces and a planetarium if you're looking for than just history. Then bonus BONUS, capture the perfect picture of the Trenton Makes bridge down on the canal path.
Princeton Battlefield Park
This is the park I grew up going to and just thought everyone's hometown had their own battlefield. What looks like a big open field today was the home of one of the bloodiest battles of the American Revolution. But don't let that stop you from bringing a picnic! The Mercer Oak used to sit in the middle of the field but it fell about a fifteen years ago. Preservationists saved seeds from the tree and now you can see its offspring (is that the correct name for a plant baby?) sitting in the same spot.
Nassau Hall at Princeton University
Located in my hometown and on the ivy-covered campus of Princeton University, Nassau Hall is one of the oldest buildings in New Jersey, built in 1756. Princeton was the capital of the United States for a brief period post-war and Nassau Hall was home to the government offices and the Continental Congress. Now it's the main administrative offices for the university. Okay, enough with the history stuff. Nassau Hall is one of the most photographic spots on campus, which is saying something because the whole place is filled with gorgeous Gothic and modern architecture. I could seriously fill my Instagram with photos of Nassau Hall and Princeton University so it's worth taking a stroll around the campus.
Princeton is a big little town with great shopping and even better restaurants. It's worth taking a stroll and seeing some of the great architecture, both historic and modern. Looking to experience more colonial history? Just down the road from the Princeton campus is Morven Museum and Garden. This gorgeous mansion-turned-museum shares both the history of the colonial home to New Jersey state history. Plus it has the most gorgeous gardens to stroll through. Also, I did my very first college internship there so I can't say enough good things about it!
Morristown National Historical Park
It's bit risky but I'm including the Morristown National Historical Park even though I have yet to visit. But I feel like I had to put it on the list because it's part of the Hamilton love story. Yes, that Hamilton, of the super popular musical, also known as one of our founding fathers. It's also a place I highlighted when teaching New Jersey history. It was the winter home of Washington's troops. While the Americans suffered through a cold and miserable New Jersey winter here, you can now explore the large field and accompanying colonial structures.