It’s become a new trend: planning fun and fascinating outings and adventures for your wedding guests to enjoy the days before or after your wedding day. Since many of your guests may have traveled from far away, they’ll love getting to enjoy an additional activity, and you’ll love getting extra quality time—and fabulous photos!—with them.
New Jersey offers a wide range of phenomenal sights, culture, nature, cuisine and more. But before you start selecting what you want to do for your wedding weekend, here are some tips to keep in mind:
• Make it easy on yourself and your budget by choosing one outing for the weekend—just one amazing activity that your entire group will enjoy.
• Choose an event that is nearby, to cut down on travel time and costs.
• Keep the cost low, and let guests know if they will pay their own way.
• Send invitations or Evites to your select invitees.
• Encourage groups to plan their own outings with a suggested list of things to do on your personal wedding website. Guests with kids may go one place, and your parents may take their friends elsewhere.
Here are our top 15 things to do:
1. NJ Adventure Aquarium, Camden. You’ll visit with penguins, sharks, stingrays, sea turtles, seals and more; adventureaquarium.com.
2. Cape May County Park Zoo. More than 250 species of exotic animals are at this gorgeously landscaped zoo, transporting you to foreign lands. This easily walkable zoo is free, but donations are accepted; capemaycountyzoo.org.
3. Cape May Tours. Bring your group on your choice of walking, trolley and horse-and-carriage ride tours to see an array of beautiful Victorian homes, including ghost and pirate tours.
4. Wineries and breweries. New Jersey has more than 40 wineries, according to the Garden State Wine Growers Association (newjerseywines.com), where you’ll experience tasting events, tours and festivals. For upcoming brew events, go to njbeer.org.
5. A visit to the Cake Boss. Out-of-towners love visiting the famous Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop in Hoboken, even if there’s a long line; carlosbakery.com.
6. Guy Fieri-visited restaurants. There are bunches of them here in New Jersey, such as George’s Place on Beach Avenue in Cape May (try their amazing hummus!). The Food Network’s “On the Road” app will show you all of the restaurants in New Jersey where Guy taped his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
7. Golf Museum. The USGA museum in Bernards Township houses priceless items from the biggest names in golf, including Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, with autographed flags and trophies on display; usagamuseum.com.
8. Concerts, theater and dance performances. Take your pick of theaters for concerts, ballet, kids’ shows and more, and don’t forget to ask for group discounts.
9. Atlantic City’s casinos. Gamble, lounge poolside or hit the buffet in your group’s make-your-own-plan outing to the casino of your choice…or casino-hop to try your luck from place to place.
10. Outlet shopping. Take a group of bargain-shoppers with you to your favorite outlet shops. To map out a plan, go to outletbound.com.
11. New Jersey Devils game. The Prudential Center in Newark is home to the 2012 Eastern Conference champions (sorry, Rangers fans), so your group can take in a game and grab a bite. As we go to press, we’re still being optimistic that there will be hockey at some point this season; prucenter.com.
12. Minor-league baseball games. Tickets are inexpensive, the games are enormously fun and interactive (especially for kids) and there are games all over the state, featuring AA teams like the Somerset Patriots, Camden Riversharks, Trenton Thunder, Sussex Skyhawks and more.
13. Six Flags Great Adventure. Your group can split up to take on the terrifying rollercoasters or the kiddie rides, and even shows and band performances (famous groups sometimes appear). Six Flags in Jackson lets everyone get their thrills; sixflags.com.
14. Paintball. Fire off some fun with a day of paintball for those who love the sport. You can rent equipment at many of the paintball centers around the state, and keep an eye out for Groupon and Living Social deals for the top paintball locations.
15. Hot-air ballooning. Held annually in Whitehouse Station, the New Jersey Festival of Ballooning includes spectacular hot-air balloons, teen concerts and fireworks; balloonfestival.com.