South Jersey has a rich historic past that only begins to unfurl with the events of colonial-era America. Discover places where escaped slaves traveled along the Underground Railroad, explore the first dinosaur dig site in the state, or stroll through a pre-industrial community nestled within a preserved forest. Special seasonal celebrations add to the sense of place and spirit that persists here.
Deep in Hammonton, the blueberry capital of New Jersey, is nestled Batsto Village, whose wooded glades have entertained generations of visitors seeking relaxation in its springs. Established in the 1700s, the ironworks at Batsto eventually grew into a glassworks, cranberry bog, and lumber mill, and much of the surviving infrastructure of that time is still available to visit today. The historic village offers self-guided tours, monthly hikes, and an annual Halloween celebration.
Revolutionary War-era buffs seeking a peaceful walk back through the years should visit Red Bank Battlefield Park in Red Bank. Once home to Fort Mercer, a strategic military base erected on the estate of James and Ann Whitall, the land saw brief but furious fighting during the Revolutionary War. The Whitalls were a prosperous Quaker family whose property reverted to farmland afterwards, but their home and the acreage around it has been preserved as a public park and historical monument, open year-round from dawn to dusk.
Only somewhat farther down the road in historic Swedesboro, guests can navigate a self-guided walking tour that spans the Victorian downtown shopping district and eight registered historic places. The Cemetery Walking Tour includes a glimpse into the lives of many prominent New Jerseyans, including military veterans, local leaders, and other noteworthy individuals.
One of the most significant figures in South Jersey history lived in the oldest known house in Lawnside, NJ. Peter Mott, “a free black man and an agent of the Underground Railroad,” lent the use of his two-story property to the aid of that cause. The caretakers of his property open it to the public for tours every Saturday.
For a taste of living military history in South Jersey, look no further than the venerable Battleship New Jersey, the most decorated naval vessel in American military history. Now converted into a floating museum, it offers guided tours, veteran interactions, and a 4D flight simulator, all on the Delaware River in Camden City.