7 Must-See Historic Places to Visit This Summer

New Jersey is rife with history. Did you know that South Jersey was a part of the Underground Railroad and helped bring slaves to freedom? Or that New Jersey was the third state to ratify the Constitution? 

Check out these amazing, must-see historic locations throughout the South Jersey region that are not only informational and interesting, but also exciting and fun for the whole family to explore! 

Please note: When visiting any of these sites, you must follow the current CDC and government social distancing protocols. For the most recent information on site operations, visit their websites — some amenities may not be available due to COVID-19.

1. Batsto Village
31 Batsto Road, Hammonton, NJ 08037

Charles Read is credited with building the Batsto Iron Works along the Batsto River in 1776. The area had an abundance of bog ore which could be mined from the area’s streams, and rivers and wood from the area’s forests was harvested for charcoal for smelting the ore. During the Revolutionary War, Batsto manufactured supplies for the Continental Army. The last house was vacated in 1989. Today there are more than forty sites and structures in Batsto Village including the Batsto Mansion, a sawmill, a 19th-century ore boat, a charcoal kiln, ice and milk houses, a carriage house and stable, a blacksmith and wheelwright shop, a gristmill, and a general store. You can visit their Facebook page for up-to-date information. 

2. Battleship New Jersey
62 Battleship Place, Camden, NJ 08103

USS New Jersey is an Iowa-class battleship and was the second ship of the United States Navy to be named after a US state. Battleship New Jersey served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Reactivated once more in the 1980’s as part of the 600-ship Navy program, the Battleship New Jersey was modernized to carry missiles and recommissioned for service. In 1983, she participated in US operations during the Lebanese Civil War. USS New Jersey was decommissioned for the last time in 1991. The battleship is open daily from 10am to 3pm and you must wear a face covering. 

3. Dinosaur Discovery Park
Maple Avenue, Haddonfield, NJ

Haddonfield’s Dinosaur Discovery Park is the site where the world’s first near-complete dinosaur skeleton – the Hadrosaurus foulkii- was excavated! Hidden away at the end of a quiet suburban street and not well marked on connecting roads, two historical markers stand in the park. Directly behind the plaques and bench area, the ground drops away into a ravine where the clay-colored water of Hadrosaurus Run can be seen. A short distance downstream is the actual excavation site where the dinosaur bones were found in 1858. 

Update Aug 10: Fort Mott is closed indefinitely. Visitors are encouraged to visit Parvin State Park or Tall Pines State Preserve as an alternative.

4. Fort Mott State Park
454 Fort Mott Road, Pennsville, NJ 08070

Fort Mott was part of a coastal defense system designed for the Delaware River during the post Civil War modernization period in the late 1800’s. The fortifications seen today at Fort Mott were erected in 1896 in anticipation of the Spanish-American War. Troops were regularly stationed at Fort Mott from 1897 to 1922. The federal government maintained a caretaking detachment at the fort from 1922 to 1943. The park is open daily from 8am to 4pm. 

5. Paulsdale, the childhood home of Alice Paul
128 Hooten Road, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

Alice Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding political achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. Born on January 11, 1885 to Quaker parents in Mount Laurel, NJ, Alice Paul dedicated her life to the single cause of securing equal rights for all women. Founded in 1984 to preserve Alice Paul’s legacy and further her ideals, The Alice Paul Institute purchased her childhood home, Paulsdale, in 1990 and launched the organization’s headquarters. Less than 4% of National Historic Landmarks commemorate the work of a woman, placing Paulsdale in the small group of historic sites that honor the legacy of significant women in American history. The office is currently closed, but they are offering virtual events for kids, teens and adults. 

6. Red Bank Battlefield Park/Whitall House
100 Hessian Avenue, National Park, NJ 08063

In 1748, Quakers Ann and James Whitall established a 400-acre plantation at Red Bank along the Delaware River. This bustling plantation included fruit orchards, a lumberyard, a shad fishery, livestock, and a ferry. Together, Ann and James raised nine children who worked the plantation along with dozens of indentured servants from Ireland, the Netherlands, and Germany. In 1777, the American Revolution interrupted life at Red Bank when American forces constructed Fort Mercer just north of the house. On October 22, 1777 Colonel Christopher Green’s Rhode Island Regiment inflicted heavy losses on Hessian soldiers and the Whitall’s home served as a field hospital. Hundreds of Hessian soldiers lost their lives in the battle and were buried just north of the house.

7. Smithville Park & Mansion
803 Smithville Road, Eastampton, NJ 08060

Smithville Mansion was the home of industrialist, inventor, and entrepreneur Hezekiah B. Smith, a pioneer of the Industrial Revolution. In 1865, he purchased the village of Shreveville for $20,000 and renamed it Smithville. Within five years, H.B. had rebuilt the shops and established a foundry for the production of woodworking machinery. Smithville developed into a model industry town in the 1870’s with many opportunities for the workers and their families to improve themselves. Smithville Mansion is currently closed, however the park is open to visitors who follow strict social distancing guidelines. Masks and face coverings are highly recommended.

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