Part historical site, part outdoor shopping mall, and part theme park, the village of Smithville in South Jersey is an awesome opportunity for a day trip or weekend trip.

There are so many "hidden gem" attractions and destinations across New Jersey. Every region and every corner of the state has something new to explore. It's probably impossible to "do it all," but trying is part of the fun! This is part of a special series brought to you by the New Jersey Division of Travel and Tourism.

This month, we are headed to Exit 48 on the Garden State Parkway — a long-time favorite in South Jersey that is part historical site, part outdoor shopping mall, and part theme park.

Technically, Smithville is not a town; it's a part of Galloway Township, in Atlantic County. But the community's original settlement dates back to the time of the American Revolution. Since the 1960s, it has been transformed into an awesome day trip or weekend trip opportunity. And they are open 364 days a year, closed only on Christmas Day.

Smithville has been dubbed "a village that takes you back in time." It really is a Jersey gem that echoes the magic of a bygone era, just minutes away from Atlantic City.

This is an especially picturesque time of year to stroll cobblestone paths, shop in a variety of eclectic stores, dine in quaint cafes and restaurants, find unexpected fun for all ages, and take in beautiful views of the lake and vibrant fall foliage. Let's dig in and talk about what you'll find in Historic Smithville.

Two Country Ducks. Photo credit: Historic Smithville, NJ - The Village Greene via Facebook
Two Country Ducks. Photo credit: Historic Smithville, NJ - The Village Greene via Facebook


It is hard to describe the establishments at Smithville as "stores". Over 40 shops and boutiques line the paths. Some big, some small. All of them have an independent, old-timey market feel offering very personal shopping experiences.

Check the map for a full list of what's where. Here are a few highlights, just a small sampling of the available shops that caught my eye with particularly unique offerings:

  • Celebrity Collectibles: This one is fun to just browse around, reveling in nostalgia from classic characters such as "Betty Boop, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, I Love Lucy, Wizard of Oz, The Beatles, Abbott & Costello, The Three Stooges, and all your favorite classic rock bands like Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, and Lynyrd Skynyrd".
  • The Christmas Shoppe: Celebrate every day of the year, with themed Christmas decorations and personalized ornaments.
  • The Honey Pot: Not only does this boutique offer raw and natural honey, for your own use or as a gift, but also beeswax candles, soaps, creams, and lip gloss.
  • The Man Shoppe: No girls allowed. (Just kidding.) They stock quirky apparel, grooming kits, cigars, and more.
  • Olive-n-Grape: The proprietors boast they offer some of the best olive oils and balsamic vinegars in the entire world. You can stop by and taste for yourself.
  • Say Cheese Please: Not only do they have a large selection of hand-cut cheeses, but also an entire wall of hot sauce selections, dressings, sauces, dips, and serving trays too.
  • Tomasello Winery: This popular New Jersey winery has two locations at opposite ends of the Smithville complex. Offering their spread of wine by the bottle, along with wine accessories and gifts.
  • The Toy Market: Celebrating the art play, offering a huge variety of "toys, puzzles, games, books, novelties, classic wooden toys, LEGO, puppets, Thinking Putty, stuffed animals, dolls, cars, trucks, airplanes, science kits, outdoor toys, and so much more." They also offer special events and workshops.
  • Two Country Ducks: Housed in a building that looks like an old barn. Think rustic home decor, with some seasonal and "surprise" offerings along the way. Among their specialties: Garden flags for all seasons and occasions.
  • Underground: All things punk rock, from apparel to music. They host several special events throughout the year.
  • Woof Woof Bakery: It's just what it sounds like. Organic treats just for pups!
Photo credit:
Photo credit:


When you are ready for a bite to eat during your Smithville excursion, there are two main options.

The Historic Smithville Inn dates back to 1787. Open daily for lunch and dinner, their menu includes rustic but sophisticated takes on beef, chicken and fish, along with a full slate of appetizers, soup, salads, and desserts. You get "nice restaurant" vibes, without it being too fancy or expensive. And some dining areas feature a scenic view of Lake Meone.

Fred & Ethel's Lantern Light Tavern offers a lively, family-friendly bar and grill atmosphere. Grab a burger and a beer. Or come by for Happy Hour, Sunday to Thursday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. - their beer, wine, and cocktails list offers outstanding variety. (By the way, the tavern is named for Fred and Ethel Noyes, founders of the Historic Town of Smithville — not the fictional landlord and landlady of I Love Lucy fame!)

Of course, there are a handful of other great eateries where you can grab a quick meal (Lakeside Grill), a slice of pizza (Costello's Pizzeria), a fresh baked treat (Smithville Bakery), or an ice cream cone (Scoop's Place).

Photo credit: Historic Smithville, NJ - The Village Greene via Facebook
Photo credit: Historic Smithville, NJ - The Village Greene via Facebook


Visitors of all ages and all sizes to Smithville can find fantastic fun, nestled among The Village Greene. Including:

  • Antique Arcade: Forget the usual hustle-and-bustle of a Jersey Shore boardwalk arcade. This low-key, cozy family arcade features both classic and modern cabinets, crane machines, skee-ball games, and even ride-on machines.
  • Paddle Boats: Open seasonally Easter to Halloween, including daily operations in the summer season. Just $15 will get you a half-hour paddle on Lake Meone for up to four people, lifejacket included.
  • Train: My kids would ride this one all day long, if I let them. A quick trip along the Smithville Railroad Company line costs only $3 per person.
  • Carousel: A carousel has long been part of the Smithville experience. The current version was erected in 2000. Kids and kids-at-heart can take a ride for just $3 per person.
Photo credit: Historic Smithville, NJ - The Village Greene via Facebook
Photo credit: Historic Smithville, NJ - The Village Greene via Facebook


As you might imagine, such a quaint destination maintains a full calendar of seasonal and holiday offerings too.

October is a very exciting time of year. Unfortunately, you just missed Smithville's huge Oktoberfest celebration and festival. Coming up through the rest of October: an Irish Festival, Costume Pet Parade, Corvette Show, Monster Bash (costume contest with live music), and Witches Day Out (featuring prizes and discounts for shopping with a witch's hat on).

The Christmas season goes even further, with a nightly holiday light show. Weekends feature special attractions like a talking tree, Christmas train ride, and bonfire. Of special note is Holiday Dickens Fest over Thanksgiving weekend only, headlined by performances of an original, musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Photo credit: Colonial Inn via Facebook
Photo credit: Colonial Inn via Facebook


Yes, you can turn this delightful day trip into a wonderful weekend getaway. And you don't even have to leave the scenic grounds of Smithville.

The Colonial Inn welcomes the weary traveler with 32 style rooms, in a bed-and-breakfast setup. Ranging from romantic, adults-only rooms in The Inn to larger family-friendly rooms in The Barn. I love their motto: "There Are No Strangers Here."