New York City often overshadows the tiny state of New Jersey. Travelling south on the New Jersey Turnpike toll road from New York, visitors will be stuck with the picture of popular imagination that has been the brunt of jokes with many an onstage comedian.

The ugly highway, traversing an industrial landscape of grey, smoking chimneys and factories, and passing bleak cities such as Newark and the state capital of Trenton, does little to encourage visitors, while even the songs of Bruce Springsteen describe his birthplace in disparaging terms.

One of the state's most treasured prizes is its 127 miles (204km) of sandy beaches along the Atlantic coast, lined with many holiday resorts, bustling boardwalks and quaint seaside towns that draw thousands of tourists to enjoy the sun, surf, and excitement of the famous Jersey Shore.

The world's first boardwalk has its home in Atlantic City, famous for its 24-hour gambling entertainment and casino hotels reminiscent of Las Vegas, while the old-world charm of Cape May takes one back to the Victorian age.

Its beautifully restored 19th-century buildings are home to some of the best bed and breakfasts in New Jersey. Along with the surf and the sand, there are miles of fun and entertainment, from water parks, zoos, and Ferris wheels to roller coasters, shopping, and nightlife.

Even in the grey north of the state, cities such as Hoboken and Princeton offer their own attractions, as well as bustling nightlife with a busy selection of bars and clubs. Princeton is home to the famous university, as well as some interesting historical sites.

Nature lovers can enjoy wilderness-hiking trails in the scenic hills of the Skylands that also offers perfect conditions for skiing in winter. Historically, this region is known as the Military Capital of the Revolution and visitors can trace the movements of General George Washington and his troops during the winter of 1779 at the Morristown National Historical Park.

The state's rich history also includes some of America's greatest inventors and physicists such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein, and the Liberty State Park overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island that was one of the country's main immigration stations from 1892 to 1954.