As many locals know, New Jersey is known for its diversity. Multicultural foods at day trip activities, it offers a wide variety of experiences. One of Garden State’s most rewarding attributes is its many unique, quirky, and even bizarre museums. Instead of learning history or art, crawl through spooky insect caves, or explore haunted remains and relics. For visitors of all ages, these 10 unique New Jersey museums are sure to pique your curiosity.
Paranormal Museum – Asbury Park, NJ
If you can’t wait until Halloween to enjoy spooky ghost stories, haunted relics, and Ouija board terrors, the Paranormal Museum is here to help. Take a self-guided tour through the disturbing exhibits or examine the objects yourself with their ‘hands-on’ approach. Or, for the more adventurous, take the lantern-led ghost tour through Asbury Park to visit a crime scene and learn about local legends like the Jersey Devil.
The museum has a variety of exhibits, including haunted objects, prison ghosts, cryptids, spooky remains, and occult libraries. Covering periods like the Salem Witch Trials and America’s Last Vampire, the Paranormal Museum is rich in history and hauntings.
While haunted dolls are a popular attraction, guests can also search their secluded occult library or investigate the Ouija Wall. As the spooky season quickly approaches, this museum is sure to set the stage for all things paranormal.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum – Atlantic City, NJ
Have you ever wondered what a spider made of scissors and knives looks like? Or have you ever thought about the smallest production car in the world? TO Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum in Atlantic City, feed your curiosity with fascinating and sometimes bizarre exhibits ranging from optical illusions to artifacts. This museum offers 14 thematic galleries, including the “Odditorium” – a collection of interactive exhibits, videos and exhibits.
The museum also offers a second popular feature called the Vault Laser Maze Challenge. For thrill seekers and spy enthusiasts, this facility is the perfect place to test your agility. The vault is equipped with laser beams spitting out from the walls. To complete the challenge, guests must make their way through the maze unscathed. With 400 exhibits and artifacts, the interactive laser maze and extreme curiosities, this museum takes the phrase “believe it when you see it” to a whole new level.
Insectropolis – Toms River, NJ
As the school year progresses, Bug University in Insectropolis is the perfect place to learn more about nature and arthropods. In this museum, inspect everything from bug basics to featured living creatures for a comprehensive study of everything bug related. Insectropolis offers many exhibits, including interactive activities. Crawl the Mud Tube to learn about termite underground subway systems or visit the Bugseum to spot creatures from around the world.
For the more daring guests, the Creepy Cavern awaits. See spiders, like the infamous tarantula, and learn about their molting ability. Even more sightings await at Insectropolis Zoo, where guests can learn how insects are kept in captivity. Here, the most poisonous creatures sit in cages waiting to welcome onlookers – just don’t poke the glass.
Franklin Mineral Museum – Franklin, NJ
New Jersey is not just the “Restaurant Capital of the World”. In 1968, the New Jersey State Legislature declared Franklin the “Mineral Capital of the World,” giving the state another remarkable attribute. At Franklin Minerals Museum, the local mining Franklin’s heritage is preserved through exhibits, replicas and mineral specimens. Explore over 4,000 local minerals and learn about the history of the Garden State mines.
The museum is packed with attractions, including the famous fluorescent hall – a 32-foot-long exhibit showcasing a beautiful array of brilliant local minerals. The Fossil Hall, another popular attraction, allows patrons to view displays made of perfectly petrified wood. Meanwhile, the Mine Replica and Artefacts exhibit merges history and science by showcasing life-size examples of mining methods, as well as artefacts from Thomas Edison’s iron mining on Mount Sparta. To end the day, put your skills to the test with the interactive lock and fossil dig to discover your own minerals.
Old Barracks Museum – Trenton, NJ
Museums generally house history. However, at the Old Barracks Museum, the building itself is historic. Established as a museum in 1902, it was first built in 1758 during the French and Indian War. Originally designed to house British soldiers in New Jersey, it is currently the only extant and restored military building from the Colonial Wars in the state. The restoration has kept the structure true to its 1758 form, with exhibits highlighting the history and importance of Trenton.
The museum houses over 2,000 objects from militia to fine art, showcasing New Jersey’s colonial history, from women’s suffrage to revolution. For more than a century, the iconic building has preserved the history of the former Garden State barracks. It is the ideal destination for historians and revolutionary fanatics.
Battleship New Jersey – Camden, NJ
Playing the board game “Battleship” can make a hectic afternoon. However, what if you could visit a ship in real life? TO Battleship New Jersey, explore a Iowa-Ultimate class battleship that fought in real naval battles during WWII. Run by experienced tour guides, this museum shows visitors everything from the living spaces of the ship to its command and control centers. However, her interior is only half the wonder of the ship.
Launched on the first anniversary of Pearl Harbor, this battleship, the USS New Jersey, was one of the largest and fastest ships. From 1943 to 1992, the USS New Jersey operated in key wars for the United States, including Vietnam. In fact, it was the only operational battleship in the world for several years. Book a personal tour or extend your experience to an overnight stay to really set sail.
Northlandz – Flemington, New Jersey
Exploring the world can be exciting. However, if the size of Earth seems overwhelming, reduce your trip to Northlandz Museum. The largest miniature wonderland in the world, Northlandz is a 16-acre world-class attraction listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Built more than 30 years ago by Mr. Bruce Williams, this museum was born from a passionate project. It later became a global sensation, expanding like a fictional and magical new world.
Northlandz includes a self-guided tour, plus plenty of exhibits and hands-on experiences. With over 400 rail tunnels, music, doll exhibits, and artwork, guests can tailor their experience to their own interests. After the tour is over, visitors can navigate the park aboard a miniature replica of a steam train.
Snowmobile Barn Museum – Newton, NJ
As cold weather approaches, snow gear can be scarce. However, at the Snowmobile Barn Museum in Newton, New Jersey, there is certainly not a small amount of snowmobiles. As the nation’s largest private collection of snowmobiles, motorcycles, and other unusual vintage vehicles, this museum attracts national attention and visitors from across the United States.
The collection includes 160 old vehicles, considered to be fully complete and including all makes and models. And, if vintage snowmobiles aren’t your thing, there’s also an array of typewriters, cameras, skates, skis, and other antique items on display. Visit the next show on November 8 to visit and enjoy a collector’s dream.
Laurence Hutton Death Mask Collection – Princeton, NJ
Regarding unique collections, the Laurence Hutton Death Mask Collection can take the cake. Located in the Princeton University Library, the museum is one of the largest collections of death masks in the world. The place includes three-dimensional casts captured to preserve the faces of the dead. Visitors can find masks depicting George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, and other famous historical figures.
While you can visit the museum in person, this requires permission from the library as well as strict supervision inside. To easily view the collection, each mask is photographed and searchable in line.
Doo Wop Experience – Wildwood, NJ
Wild forest has always been home to exciting rides, great restaurants and resort destinations. In fact, in the 1950s and 1960s, its reputation for entertainment earned it the nickname “Little Las Vegas”. Vintage Wildwood was an amazing experience. And, fortunately, the Doo Wop Experience retained its reputation.
With a mission to preserve the popular culture and imagery of Wildwood in the 1950s and 1960s, the Doo Wop Preservation League established this museum. The nonprofit has worked diligently to repair neon signs, save ancient Wildwood landmarks, and collect cool artifacts for locals and tourists alike. Stroll through the Neon Sign Garden to see the restored historic panels or visit the interior site for a full historical experience.
Feature image courtesy of @doowopusa
Have you ever visited these unique museums in New Jersey? Tell us in the comments!