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New Jersey Off the Beaten Path:
There's no avoiding it; New Jersey has a very bad rep. I ought to know: I was raised there. I heard all the New Jersey jokes, suffered all the sneers, all the smart comments just dripping with contumely. But I'm grown now, enough to appreciate the riches of New Jersey, enough to welcome a book such as the one William and Kay Scheller have turned out that ditches the turnpike for the steadfast glories of the Pine Barrens and the Kittatinny Mountains, and the newly chic charms of Hoboken. From the black basalt cliffs of the Palisades to the marshy treasure of the Hackensack Meadows (in which more than 270 species of birds have been observed), New Jersey is more wilderness than most people realize. But there's history, too. New Jersey, well established and well settled by the time the War for Independence shook up the colonies, was known as the "Cockpit of the Revolution" and was no less essential to the following industrial revolution.
Home to the Battle of Trenton, Thomas Edison, and thousands of acres of preserved primeval freshwater wetlands, there is in fact no end to rewarding New Jersey destinations, excursions, and activities, if one plucks one's nose from the air and has an idea of where to look. To this end, the Schellers' guide is an excellent reference. A fount of historical tidbits, cultural oddities, and New Jersey savvy, Off the Beaten Path meanders from the African Art Museum of the S.M.A. Fathers to Lambert Castle, Turtle Back Zoo to the Turkish Kitchen, South Mountain Reservation to the Clam Broth House--and that's just in the urban Northeast. They provide the same eclectic service for Northern, Central, and Southern New Jersey plus the long narrow strip known as the Shore. Whether you live in New Jersey and want to counter your friends' sassy comments or are traveling through and want to see more than a stretch of highway, the Schellers' advice is thoroughly trustworthy and a pleasure to read. --Stephanie Gold [via]