Can Sobriety Still Be Fun? Here’s What You Can Do In New Jersey Besides Drinking
- It might seem daunting to find new hobbies, but New Jersey has plenty of alternate activities for those who don’t drink alcohol. And they’re fun!
- We curated a list of 15 activities and events for your next evening or weekend adventure.
- If you need help getting or staying sober, Epiphany Wellness can help transform your life from addiction to recovery.
New Jersey has a lot of hidden treasures, so it’s not hard to find alternative activities to drinking in this amazing state.
Activities for contemplation, leisure, and pleasure are too numerous to count, but we certainly gave it our best effort. From the shore to the Delaware River, many events and activities will allow you to experience a dopamine rush greater than alcohol ever could.
We took 15 of the best activities and events we could find and presented them to you.
Sober Activities In New Jersey
Save The Horseshoe Crabs
Does flipping stranded horseshoe crabs sound like your idea of fun?
If so, volunteering with reTURN the Favor is just a volunteer opportunity. When the beaches close in May and June for shorebird migration and horseshoe spawning season, thousands of horseshoe crabs get stranded yearly. Under normal circumstances, they would die or get eaten by opportunistic predators.
Your job is walking up and down the beach, flipping these crabs right side up, and sending them on their way. In ten years of service, reTURN the Favor has already saved over 1 million crabs.
During your recovery, giving back to your community in some small way could be incredibly satisfying. Altruism is a hidden secret in recovery. It takes the focus off you and puts it on other people (or animals in this case), giving you some much-needed perspective if you’re having a particularly hard time.
Bonus Tip: Try to save over 100 horseshoe crabs in one day. Make a real impact!
Eat Breakfast at a Classic Diner
No Jersey experience is complete without a pit stop at one of their classic diners. New Jersey is the world capital of diners, boasting over 600 diners across its relatively small footprint.
An experience of pure nostalgia is a nice way to reward yourself during your recovery journey.
Bonus Tip: Go late at night, get a coffee at the counter, and wear a suit/fedora combo to reenact the scene from Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.”
Sing Along With Springsteen on Highway 9
While New Jerseyans will be the first to tell you about highways they despise, some aren’t so bad. And a precious few are even associated with Bruce Springsteen.
In case you didn’t know, Bruce Springsteen (aka the Boss) has achieved folk-hero status in New Jersey.
He played to boardwalk crowds in Asbury Park by day and played gigs at the Upstage by night. The Boss’s first three albums are time capsules of vintage New Jersey at its finest. You might have fun visiting several places he sings about, such as Madame Marie’s on the boardwalk, Greasy Lake, Highway 9, and Route 88.
Bonus Tip: Drive down Highway 9 in a CONVERTIBLE singing in your best Bruce impersonation. 10/10 would recommend.
Take a Stroll Down the Longest Boardwalk In The World
The Atlantic City boardwalk has that magical carnival-esque feel to it. For 5.7 miles, you can hear the wooden planks creaking under your feet as you smell the saltwater. Shops line the entire length. You can get souvenir trinkets, a meal, and dessert at any point along the boardwalk. Did you know saltwater taffy was invented here?
Atlantic City was also the inspiration for all the property names in the classic board game Monopoly. The facade of the storefronts hasn’t significantly changed since the 1870s, so as long as you’re up for the walk, this will be nothing short of a treat.
Bonus Tip: Ride a bike down the boardwalk to get the full experience.
Decide for Yourself: Is it a Taylor Ham or a Pork Roll?
In all seriousness, though, if it tastes good, does it even matter? One of the longest-running regional squabbles in New Jersey (besides the hotly debated existence of Central Jersey) is what name to call the pork, egg, and cheese sandwich you get at the corner deli.
The debate will likely never be settled, but agreeing that this sandwich is the most iconic piece of New Jersey culinary fare might be enough to patch things up with the locals.
Bonus Tip: Grab the pork, egg, and cheese sandwich at Beach Shack in Point Pleasant – voted first place in the 2023 Pork Roll Playoff Bracket.
New Jersey Festival of Ballooning
Sometimes, it’s hard to think of experiencing delight as an adult. But something delightful happens every year at New Jersey’s Festival of Ballooning.
Imagine over 100 hot air balloons firing their burners in the early morning to fill the balloons with hot air, creating a kaleidoscope of blinking lights, shimmering through the colorful material like gigantic Chinese lanterns. Begun in 1983, this festival has been consistently rated as one of the top things to do in New Jersey by people and publications alike.
Bonus Tip: Look hard enough, and you might see penguins, bumblebees, pigs, birthday cakes (Bruce Springsteen’s favorite), Darth Vader, or even Yoda!
Take a Historical Walk Through Princeton University
If you’re an avid student of early American history, a walk through Princeton University’s campus will be like eating a 5-course meal in a black-tie restaurant.
Legend has it that artillery captain Alexander Hamilton shot a cannonball through the south wall of Nassau Hall during the American Revolution, taking off the head of a bust of King George on the other side. We can neither confirm nor deny this, but there is a faint scar on the south wall of Nassau Hall.
It’s the only college to claim the honor of serving as the nation’s capital since the Continental Congress occupied Nassau Hall in 1783.
Bonus Tip: Toni Morrison used to walk the Princeton grounds – a professor who was also one of the most beloved Black novelists in US history.
Attend the Newark Black Film Festival
Started in 1974, Newark holds the distinction of hosting the longest-running black film festival in the country. Unsurprisingly, black influence is strong in New Jersey.
The black population of New Jersey is slightly over-represented compared with the population of the US. 15.4% of people from New Jersey reported being black, versus 13.6% nationally. As such, there is a strong heritage of black culture, food, and traditions.
The Newark Black Film Festival (NBFF) celebrates blackness by hosting late-night parties, intriguing panel discussions, and films from inspiring independent black filmmakers that speak to the uniquely American experience of blackness.
Bonus Tip: Catch every film you can because directors like Spike Lee got their start at the NBFF.
Accept the Jersey Lighthouse Challenge
Accepting a formidable challenge beats having a few drinks. The “New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge” occurs every October. Successful completion involves visiting 10 land-based lighthouses, 3 lifesaving stations, 1 museum, and 1 virtual site throughout a 2-day weekend.
You’ll need to efficiently zig-zag from Sandy Hook to Paulsboro to be successful. Even if you come up short, you’ll get the chance to appreciate the rich tradition of New Jersey maritime history. There is a small registration fee, which helps maintain these beautiful historical treasures.
Bonus Tip: Don’t just go to the lighthouse–run all the steps, too!
Ride the Kingda Ka Roller Coaster
Great Adventure Six Flags in Jackson Township, NJ, is known for one spectacular ride. Though there is the local favorite “Jersey Devil” roller coaster, they also have the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster.
Sporting an appropriate moniker, the Kingda Ka roller coaster reaches 456 ft. to the sky at the highest point and boasts a 128 mph launch speed. It’s a blisteringly fast and perilously high ride that uses the same hydraulic technology to launch as fighter jets do from aircraft carriers.
Sometimes, the roller coaster doesn’t quite make it all the way to the top of the loop. This is normal, and it just means you’ll be launched again. The dopamine rush you’ll experience will be incredible.
Bonus Tip: Try to ride it without screaming like a toddler. Good luck.
Spark Curiosity at the Liberty Science Center
The Liberty Science Center (LSC) is considered STEM central in New Jersey. Here, massive exhibitions centering around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics draw up to 750,000 visitors annually to the LSC. There is programming for all ages: From the littles (under 41” in height) to adults and beyond.
There’s even a 1700-square-foot replica train set with 5 separate trains chugging along simultaneously. If that’s not your speed, then every Thursday night from 6-10 p.m., LSC presents “LSC After Dark,” when they beckon the adults to come out and play.
Bonus Tip: Catch a 3D show inside the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium, the largest and most advanced planetarium in the Western Hemisphere.
Yoga with Your Neighbors
New Jersey has plenty of parks (even the nation’s first county park), and it makes sense that there are many grassroots outdoor community yoga sessions on the weekends.
Addiction disrupts the connection between your mind and body, so during your transition to sober living, it’s great to reactivate the connection between your mind and body. Yogic practices include mindfulness, which means cultivating awareness of what is going on inside you and around you at the same time.
Two Saturday classes are Meraki Yogini, which takes place near Jersey City, and Bridget Briant, which takes place near Cranford.
Bonus Tip: Bring your own mat, towel, and blanket!
Claim the Reward for Capturing a Live Jersey Devil
One of New Jersey’s earliest authentic folk legends revolves around a dragon-like creature called the Jersey Devil that roams the Pine Barrows in southern New Jersey. It has terrified, inspired, and amused Jersey inhabitants for centuries.
At one point, the superintendent of the Philadelphia Zoo offered a $10,000 reward for the Jersey Devil’s capture, believing it was a prehistoric animal from the Jurassic age.
Regardless of whether or not you can locate it, at least you can say you’ve tried, and it gives you a great excuse to explore the largest remaining temperate coniferous forest ecosystem on the Atlantic coast. The Pine Barrows is part of a national reserve and best explored soberly.
Bonus Tip: Be sure to confirm with the current superintendent of the Philadelphia Zoo that the reward is still valid and, if so, whether or not it’s been adjusted for inflation.
Fly High at the Wildwood Aviation Museum
This naval air station hangar has the bona fide characteristics of a real WWII aviation hangar. At its peak in October 1943, there were 17,000 takeoffs and landings in a single month.
Inside are vintage planes, cars, helicopters, and even a complete engine from a Boeing 777 jet that dates back to the early decades of the 20th century. Hangar #1 has been restored to its original glory following extensive restoration. If the roar of propellers and the furious punch of jet engines are your thing, then this museum is your oyster.
While you can purchase tickets online to visit, make sure to check its schedule of operations.
Bonus Tip: You can actually climb into some of the aircraft, but taking off is discouraged.
Visit Lucy the Elephant
Her benefactors claim she’s the world’s greatest elephant–and they might not be wrong! Who else would save a 150-year-old, six-story wooden elephant from being turned into reclaimed lumber? Who else but the citizenry of New Jersey?
Lucy the Elephant was originally designed as a Victorian hotel in 1881 but operated as a tavern in the early 1900s and a speakeasy during the prohibition of the 1930s. While Lucy now enjoys the same “National Historic Landmark” status as American icons like Independence Hall and the Alamo, her future wasn’t always so certain. She survived a fire and over a hundred years of disrepair, only to be saved at the final hour.
Bonus Tip: If you climb all the way to the top, you can mount the “howdah.”
Alcohol Addiction Programs and Treatment
Alcohol is a toxin classified as a known human carcinogen by the WHO and CDC. Even moderate drinking can harm your liver and other bodily systems. Sometimes, people abuse alcohol without realizing they are only feeling so sick because they are drinking too much alcohol or mixing alcohol with other substances.
If you’re trapped in a vicious cycle of alcohol use, withdrawal, and relapse, Epiphany Wellness will aid you.
We combine an expert team of addiction professionals with cutting-edge treatments to produce an unrivaled program to fight addiction and get you on a sustainable trajectory for recovery. You’ll feel understood, supported, heard, challenged, free, and above all–hopeful.
We offer both residential and outpatient care options for our clients as well as positive support groups like AA or NA. No matter which program you choose, you can rest assured knowing we are doing everything possible to help you achieve lasting sobriety.
Choose Sobriety in New Jersey
Many people are addicted to alcohol in New Jersey. But you have chosen to write a new chapter that doesn’t involve alcohol.
This new chapter is where you regain control and start appreciating every moment. There will still be twists and turns. Sometimes, it will seem hopeless, but there is always light at the end of the tunnel. You can be the hero of your own story.
Go. Fight. Recover!