Following a record-breaking year for tourism in 2019, multiple New Jersey cities have been identified in the top of the class in recent media surveys and major travel brand site surveys.

That's because the secret is out about New Jersey, said Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism. He said the state is more than just the Jersey Shore. People are starting to realize New Jersey has a lot to offer, including beaches, mountains, farms and cities.

Gov. Phil Murphy set a goal of 150 million visitors by 2023. But that does not get accomplished by getting more people on the beach on a Saturday in August, said Vasser.

"It's about getting them to different communities. It's about getting them to see that Jersey City has the best Indian food or that some of the best hotels in the Mid-Atlantic are in Stone Harbor, Princeton or Montclair," said Vasser.

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Jersey City received a lot of love on some of these surveys. WalletHub ranked it the most diverse city in the U.S. and Livability.com said the state was one of the Top 100 places to live.

Travel+Leisure ranked Asbury Park as the best beach in America and the entire Jersey Shore as the best beach weekend getaway destination.

Vasser said it's important that the state Division of Travel and Tourism keep New Jersey top of mind so when people can travel again after the pandemic, they are going to want to visit many of our cities. Getting the word out about these great destinations and attractions has been the main message.

When the pandemic is over, it's going to be the "drive market" that brings people back, said Vasser. People are going to get into their cars with their friends and family and drive to destinations before they get on a plane. This "drive market" plays to New Jersey's strength, he added.

Besides travel and tourism, U.S. News & World Report ranked Hunterdon and Morris counties as two of the healthiest communities, and Bergen and Hudson counties as two of the safest.

"We're telling the story about our great culinary scene and the great wines that are being recognized as comparable to what you're seeing out in California and Washington state. So there's a great story to tell," said Vasser.

Recent accolades include:

  • WalletHub: 2020’s Happiest States in America (No. 4)
  • Money.com: Best Places to Live in America
    • Mt. Laurel (No. 16), Bridgewater (No. 31)
  • U.S. News & World Report: Healthiest Communities in America
    • Hunterdon County (No. 15), Morris County (No. 22)
  • U.S. News & World Report: Safest Communities in America
    • Bergen County (No. 6), Hudson County (No. 18)
  • Travel + Leisure: Best Beaches in the USA: Asbury Park
  • Travel + Leisure: Best Beach Weekend Getaways in the U.S.: Jersey Shore
  • CNN: Best City for Indian Food in the United States: Jersey City (No. 1)
  • WalletHub: Most Diverse City in the United States: Jersey City (No. 1)
  • Livability.com: Top 100 Places to Live in the United States: Jersey City (No. 56)
  • USA Today: 10 Best Casinos that Aren't in Las Vegas
    • Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City (No. 2), Ocean Casino Resort (No. 4), Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City (No. 8)
  • Condé Nast Traveler: Top 10 Hotels in the Mid-Atlantic
    • The Reeds at Shelter Haven (No. 3), The MC Hotel, Autograph Collection (No. 4), Inn at Glencairn (No. 7)
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