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Roadside Photo Spots: Central Jersey

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  • Post published:03/22/2021
  • Reading time:5 mins read
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Central New Jersey can be an odd bit of real estate to define. Northern counties may feel parts belong to their geography to lay claim to highlights such as Rutgers University and the restaurants of New Brunswick. South Jersey may feel a kinship with beautiful farms.  However, those of us that are lucky enough to live here know that Central Jersey has its own unique charm and magical places to visit. 

After living here 40 plus, years it is my joy and my privilege to introduce you to just a small sampling of some of the hidden gems and wonders that exist here in the appropriately named Garden State. Far from being a wasteland, New Jersey is a treasure chest filled with wonders – if only you have the spirit to look for them.

Explore roadside attractions across New Jersey with this guide — and let us know if we missed any! 

See North and South Jersey‘s spots here.

Around 1906, Mr. & Mrs. John Anderson Bensel began construction on their home in the Mountain Colony of Bernardsville.  In what has now become part of the Brigade Encampment Area of Morristown National Park they built a mansion with formal gardens, and what may be its best feature, a beautiful 5- story granite water tower to supply water to this remote location.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

MANNEQUIN HOUSE

(Middlesex County)

Artists Dee Luzack and Michael Calantoni originally started placing these custom-made mannequins out of found objects in front of their home to slow down drivers on busy Washington Place; often used as a cut through from Rt. 130.  They now have numerous mannequins all around their home and the display frequently changes to reflect the seasons and holidays.

You can see the display On the corner of Washington place and Route 130 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

Built in 1938 to commemorate Edison’s 91st birthday, this 131-foot-high tower features a 14’18” Pyrex lightbulb, believed to be the world’s largest.  Located in a 36-acre state park, the tower marks the location of Edison’s Menlo Park Lab.  There’s a museum, in the tower, with Edison artifacts as well.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

NOMADIC EXPEDITIONS TOPIARY CAMELS

Middlesex County)

Some things just make you stop in your tracks when you’re driving.  These three life sized camel topiaries in front of a travel agency that offers tours to exotic places like; Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are definitely out of place across from the warehouses in Cranbury on Station Road.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

SOMERSET COW

(Somerset County)

This giant cow on Bennets Lane and Middlebush Road sits in front of Big Cow Creamery, a working Dairy.  It’s often surrounded by real life cows grazing in the fields. 

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

MAKE-A-WISH CASTLE

(Middlesex County)

This 20,000-foot castle is home to the New Jersey Make-A-Wish Foundation. This one-of-a-kind Wishing Place opened in 2011 as a site to bring joy to very sick children.  Another place that when driving by, one feels compelled to stop.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

Originally built as a carriage house in the late 19th century, this structure was remodeled in 1994 as a Japanese teahouse and gallery. It’s located on Rt. 27 and the museum houses the collection and workshop of Ty & Kiyoko Heineken.  It contains Tansu cabinetry and daily life objects from the Tohoku Region.  Hours are limited, watch for Open House dates if you want to see more than the exterior.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

BEAUTIFUL PAVILION

(Mercer County)

Built in 2017 to honor the memory of Nobel prize winner, Princeton University Professor and local resident, John Nash.  Nash was the focus of the move, “A Beautiful Mind.”  This pagoda style building is located at the junction of Alexander Road and Princeton-Hightstown Road.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

BUDDHIST VIHARA

(Middlesex County)

This 30-foot-tall Buddha statue is believed to be the largest Buddha in North America.  It resides in the back of an active Buddhist Center on Rt. 27.  Visitors are permitted and there are several other beautiful states and a nature meditation path. Please be respectful of the posted rules.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

This Dutch-owned family run 140-acre farm has only been in business since 2017 but they have become a local institution.  Fields of pick your own tulips in the spring and sunflowers in the fall are a photographer’s dream. There are also a few farm animals around the barn for kids of all ages.

Photo Credit: Abbey Dufoe

GLEN GARNER BRIDGE

(Hunterdon County)

Built in 1870 and one of only three bridges in NJ using cast iron, this 80-foot-long bridge is truly a work of art.  Rehabilitated in 1992 the detail and design of the metal trusses are extraordinary.  If you are feeling adventurous, follow Sanatorium Road on the other side of the bridge to the old site of Hagedorn Psychiatric Hospital.

Photo Credit: Sue Fajgier

Explore more of Central Jersey with our guides. And let us know what we might have missed in the comments!

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