I've heard a few people insult the State of New Jersey, saying its ugly and doesn't have any culture, all strip malls and fast food. I disagree. There is culture, its Jersey culture and Wawa's and Quickchecks are part of it. You have to be from Jersey to understand so I can't elaborate because for the record (and to tease my Jersey friends) I am not from New Jersey, but I have come to appreciate it as a beautiful place.
Driving down I-95, not a great example of what the state has to offer, you come across some strange "aromas" to put it lightly and very industrial looking areas, like the "Emerald City," an energy plant that is eerily lit at night and lots of container ship cranes and massive parking lots filled with thousands of cars. Don't be so quick to judge. Crossing over the Gowanus Canal or the Newtown Creek in Brooklyn fills the nose with odors that Jersey can't compete with, and didn't Williamsburg make factories cool again?
Don't just use Jersey for its international airport. Take an exit off the thruway and you might change your mind. This weekend I got a lot of culture when I visited New Jersey off Exit 11 near the shore. Red Bank, a town in Central Jersey was having a huge Jazz festival, and I ate at a great Mexican Restaurant called Juanita's. Nearby in the town of Holmdel there was a Greek Festival, with lots of delicious food vendors. We went to Mya's 6th birthday party at Fun Time America and we attended an amazing Ribeye Brother's concert in Long Branch. I did not go to any strip malls, either. Lying. Its unavoidable, but the parking is amazing! And I truly didn't eat fast food.
As for beauty, we visited Holmdel Farm, where they have farm animals! and an incredible arboretum, then we took a gorgeous hike at Cheesequake State Park. It was as beautiful as a Northern California hiking trail, with water views and without the danger of a cougar attack.
Aunt Peggy hosted Mike's Grandparents' 60th Wedding Anniversary where Mike and I announced our engagement to his family! (Thats not a typo.) Aunt Peggy served delicious pasta with broccoli and Grandma Peggy made really tasty turkey stuffed peppers, which I am going to try to recreate. My favorite part of the meal was dessert, the cheese puffs to be exact. I always say, "they do everything BIG in Jersey," and the cheese puffs came in a giant tub! Yes! And even funnier the leftover cheese puffs ended up in an organic lettuce container. Jersey: what's not to love?