Not all New Jersey exits have numbers – sometimes the old joke, “Oh, you’re from Jersey? What exit?” – might not have the punchline you’d expect. After exploring the Garden State Parkway and New Jersey Turnpike, 2019 finds “By the Exits” taking detours along east-west highways and looking “down south” to the Pinelands and beyond.
This month we double down and look at two south Jersey roads that are both worth a look for your next in-state road trip and are the same highway for part of their lengths. Route 47 and Route 55 both offer some fun, fascinating stops as you roam from Cape May County all the way to the Delaware River. Best way to start? Take the Parkway to Exit 4 for the Wildwoods, where Route 47 begins at the world-famous Boardwalk (as Rio Grande Avenue). Where it takes you next is up to you!
Route 47, Glade Road. Leaving the Wildwoods, Route 47 passes back under the Parkway and moves west into the greater Cape May area before turning north and moving out of the peninsula. You’ll pass through towns like Dennis Creek and Goshen and skirt the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. About half an hour later, you’ll reach Glade Road – the exit for the Heislerville Wildlife Area and East Point Lighthouse. This sprawling tract features superb views of Delaware Bay, popular with birders. Salt marshes at Moore’s Beach and a restored tidal marsh at Thompson’s Beach also make for serene afternoon getaways.
Route 55 at NJ-49. New Jersey has a “Down Jersey Folklife Center,” but up north, most of us probably don’t know it exists. Housed at Wheaton Village, the Center celebrates the region’s crafts and folk-art traditions. It’s everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about fur trappers, pine needle basket makers, glass blowing, and more!
Route 47, Cooper Street. Just a few miles from the Delaware Riveryou’ll find one of South Jersey’s oldest municipalities: Woodbury in Greenwich Township. This village is rumored to be the birthplace of the Jersey Devil and is also home to the Red Bank Battlefield Park, site of the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Red Bank.
Route 55, Almonesson Road. Did you know South Jersey holds the distinction of being the site of America’s first manned flight landing? Neither did I, but it does! The young nation’s first balloon flight was completed here in January of 1793. There’s a locally famous tree here – the Clement Oak, believed to date back to the late 1500s – behind the Deptford Wal-Mart near Big Timber Creek. This oak tree, which is believed to have been thought sacred by the region’s Lenape natives, more or less marks the site where the balloon touched down after traveling roughly 15 miles in an hour.
You never know what you’ll find when you get a little off the beaten path and explore our state’s lesser-known roadways. Grab an atlas (or your cell phone) and get hunting!