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Complaining about New Jersey has always been a thing. Whether it’s the property taxes (the highest in the US), the traffic (the worst bottleneck in the country is said to be the approach to the George Washington Bridge from the Jersey side) or that it’s been ranked one of the worst places to retire, the Garden State gets its fair share of bad press.

But as a New Jersey parenting magazine that’s been around for more than 30 years, it’s no secret that we not only love this state but we’re endlessly grateful to be raising our kids here. There are so many reasons to love our home and that’s what inspired us to celebrate all that’s quintessentially NJ in this issue.

Whether you’re a native New Jerseyan or moved here for work, schools or because you, too, fell in love, there’s lots to appreciate about the Garden State. For starters, our public schools are ranked among the best in the country. We’ve got the Jersey Shore (who doesn’t love a Cape May getaway?), beautiful national parks and hiking trails, vibrant cities like Jersey City and Hoboken and charming downtowns. Because of our geography, we have easy access to New York City (and Broadway!) and Philly. And there’s no shortage of pro sports teams to route for (or cry about) in our state with the Devils, Jets and Giants calling NJ home.

And then there’s the food. Authentic local eateries, high-end restaurants from chefs like David Burke, Jersey tomatoes, corn and more fresh produce, open air farmer’s markets, breweries, wineries and more. There’s no diner like a NJ diner, where you can get breakfast any time of the day and disco fries like no place else. We love that you can eat your way through every possible cuisine without ever setting foot in New York City, but it’s nice to know it’s so close by.

When I ask friends who’ve moved what they miss most, food is almost always at the top of the list: a Taylor ham/pork roll or egg and cheese sandwich, thin crust pizza, piping hot bagels, Italian bread, zeppoles, fresh mutz, salt water taffy and funnel cake from the boardwalk are all worth traveling for.

We have the best shopping with no tax on clothes which is why our NY and PA neighbors travel to our malls. We’re home to the one-of-a-kind mega mall and entertainment destination American Dream and high-end spots like The Mall at Short Hills and Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus plus favorites like Freehold Raceway Mall and Cherry Hill Mall. We’ve got charming downtowns like Lambertville, Princeton, Red Bank, Morristown, Montclair, Westfield, Summit, Haddonfield, Ridgewood and many more plus spectacular local theater venues throughout NJ.

We’re the state that produced Bruce, Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, Meryl Streep, Danny DeVito, Paul Rudd, Shaq and so many more celebs. You probably know the Jonas Brothers are from Wyckoff but did you know the Lumineers hail from Ramsey?

If you’re raising kids here, there’s so much to see and experience. So the next time someone tries to hate on our amazing state, join us in sharing your NJ pride. Our Quintessential New Jersey issue is a celebration of all things great about the Garden State and we hope you love it as much as we do.

Read More:
Why New Jersey Schools Rule
Kid-Friendly New Jersey
Food and Drink
There’s More to the Shore Than Just the Beach
 Jersey Legends
Transit in New Jersey
Jersey Devil
The Sounds of NJ
Debating Central Jersey
The Malls
Jersey Geography