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Northern New Jersey: Finds and Fun without the Shore

- Brianna Nema

Of course, when you think of New Jersey what pops into your head are the crashing waves at the Jersey Shore or the excitements of its  amusement parks. However, these attractions  are mainly located in Southern and Central  New Jersey. The entire state has more to offer than just the popular vacation spots highlighted on TV shows – aka “Jersey Shore” or commercials – aka Six Flags.

In northern New Jersey, for example, New Jersey’s Meadowlands is an area fit for kids, teens, and adults; there is no age limit! And, before you ask if the entire area is a meadow, the answer is no. The Meadowlands is a given name for an area in northern New Jersey because at one point, the whole area was a marshland filled with brackish waters. However it has since been developed and modernized into a place that all  family members will enjoy.

Of all the places to visit in the Meadowlands you would not have thought that the Statue of Liberty could be one of them. Most Americans associate the Statue of Liberty with New York City yet the statue is actually in New Jersey waters! In the 1980s, the issue of ownership between New Jersey and New York City had gone to court and the result was that both states will hold ownership to Ellis Island and the statue. This national landmark can be visited by ferry from Jersey City, a city located within the Meadowlands. There are two islands that must be seen: Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Liberty Island is where the Statue of Liberty is located and can be seen up close. The tall dynamic view looking upwards will make even the tallest of your friends feel small. Ellis Island is home to the immigrant inspection station, which is an immigration museum today. If your grandparents or great grandparents came to America through Ellis Island, then you can look up their records at the museum with their first and last name and age when they entered. The greatest part is that from both of these Islands, you have a clear  view of both New Jersey and New York.

In another area of the Meadowlands,  you will learn that history can’t be forgotten, especially when you relive it! Medieval Times  allows you to experience, through sight, sound, touch, and taste, what life was like during the Middle Ages. You are seated in an arena with a panoramic view of the playing field. A story ensues on the arena’s sandy grounds and the answer to the tale’s dilemma is a jousting competition. Live horses march to and fro as you and the royal court watch to see who will be the victor. The sound of clashing metal feels endless until the trumpets sing and the winner is revealed. All the while, as this battle takes place, you are fed finger food (that’s right, no forks or knives!) of the Middle Ages. Medieval Times is an impossible building to miss, because it’s shaped like a castle. The Middle Ages are calling out to you!

Another unique aspect of the Meadowlands is that it is home to countless of wildlife. The Meadowlands Environmental Center welcomes anyone who is interested in birdwatching, hiking, canoeing/kayaking, butterfly searching, fishing, learning about the local ecosystem, or just ambling about. There are guided tours for some events so check their website and find out when the activity that most interests you  is being offered. This Environmental Center is perfect if you are into wildlife. Bring your camera and  binoculars because the fauna and vegetation is worth capturing. Each time you visit you will not see the exact same scenery as  before. The tide will be different and the waters will have a new look. Just make sure you leave before it closes at sunset.

For for something completely different: try electric go-kart racing at Pole Position Raceway! Go karting has become a sport over the years. The Pole Position Raceway allows you to experience indoor karting like the professionals and it gets you pumped with speeds up to 45 MPH. Whomever you decide to race against, whether it will  be with your friends, family, or strangers, your speed and amount of laps will be given in a result sheet to you after the race. Just  as the score is calculated electronically, each go kart is electric, thus there is  no need to rely on fuel. This gives  the go kart  a greater torque and a more powerful engine. There are three categories where you can be placed. Children who are 4’0 to 4’7 can race one another and teens/adults are split between those who possess a drivers license and those who do not. Once you are categorized, you are given your helmet and are set to begin the ten minute race: on your mark, get set, go!

There would be no such thing as electronic go karting without science. Learning hands-one about the way our world works  opens your mind while you are simultaneously having fun. The Liberty Science Center will show anyone  how cool science can be. Among the favorite activities to engage in here is the Touch Tunnel, where you enter into a pitch black maze and must use your sense of touch to configure a plan to the exit. There is also the Skyscraper, where you have to simulate the job of an iron worker balancing  along  steel beans (18 feet high) ,while resisting the wind  blowing in your face. You will also find out what preparation was used to form the skyscrapers of today and yesterday.  Finally, there is, Sub Zero: The States of Matter, where you will learn about each state of matter through experiments with liquid nitrogen, such as smashing solid balloons and flexible plastics made solid with the liquid nitrogen. Without a doubt you can’t say that you need to be a nerd to enjoy science.

These are only some of the highlights of the Meadowlands. Other places and events can enjoyed  all year round. To find out more information, including location, visit : http://www.mlcvb.com/.

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