an awesomely bizarre guide to the garden state.
We're not quite sure why Jersey ever got a bad rap in the first place. According to Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff (who happens to be one third of the most popular band in the world right now), it sounds pretty awesome—or maybe we just have the same idea of what awesome is: theme parks, and mini golf, and restaurants that are equal parts trashy and fancy. I guess what we're saying is when it comes to states, we'd pick the garden over sunshine, and we couldn't have gotten a better guide of it from Zach Braff himself. Antonoff's first tip is is pick up a copy of Weird NJ. "It's a 'zine that writes about the craziest places in New Jersey, like an abandoned mental hospital, villages where albino people live, and there's a village of all little people who used to be in the circus live." No really, we fact checked that and he's right. Here are his picks.
The Best Place To Be Yourself: Red Oak Diner-Restaurant (2191 Fletcher Ave)
"You've never seen a bigger group of freaks and weirdos in your entire life. It's "the freaks at table 9." [Memorable Adam Sandler quote: Love Stinks in The Wedding Singer] For some reason all of the freaks have made their way to this one diner between 5 and 7 PM. They're all regulars, so it's like this freak social club."
The Best Place To Listen To Music: The Jersey Turnpike
"Driving up and down the Jersey turnpike—there's something about the turnpike that inspires you to put on the songs that feel like they'd be at the end of a John Hughes movie. There's this vibe that you're escaping your fate or blowing out of your shithole town. You create something inspiring while you're going 80 mph listening to something great, and feeling really connected with a song."
The Best Place To Get Classy But Stay Trashy: Bensi (387 Washington Avenue)
"If you walk in there and sit down, you might think, 'Oh this is just a crappy Italian restaurant and the food kind of tastes like garbage.' I grew up going into the city and going to nice restaurants. But when you're in Jersey, and my mom says, 'Should we go out to Bensi tonight?'” The whole family will be like,'Ooh! What's the occasion?' It's kind of a shitbag place, but you get that vibe from everyone that's there. I think that's a pretty quintessentially Jersey-type thing. There's something about Jersey where D food gets a C-. The shitty stuff can appear really exciting."
Best Theme Park In Jersey/On Earth: Fantasy Island (320 Seventh Street)
"It's in Long Beach Island, which is a pretty magical place because it's this weird little strip that's three blocks wide and 19 middles long—and only accessible through a bridge. I guess when you enter the island your perspective kind of changes. Even though you may have been to Six Flags or Disney World, once you get on the island everything is so much smaller. When you pull up to Fantasy Island and see the towering ferris wheel, mini casino, and mini teacup ride—which is pretty much the only thing there—it just seems like the most elaborate, magical theme park on earth. It's a scale thing."
Best Miniature Golfing: Cape May Golf Club (315 Jackson St)
"Jersey is the mini golf capitol of the world. There's an endless amount of mini golf places and they all boast bizarre structures. You putt into a giant guy's mouth and it comes out of his ear—I find that kind of thing really thrilling."
The Best Make Out and Risk Your Life Spot: The Edge Of The Palisades
"The best place to make out and risk your life at the same time is right at the edge of The Palisades. It's incredibly picturesque and New York City is right on the other side. It's quintessential New Jersey because you're right there, next to the greatest city in the world, but you're so far away at the same time—like it'd be impossible to get to. I don't know what else to do there, but I'd make out. That's pretty much all I've done there. It's extremely dangerous. I used to go there when I was 16 with my girlfriend and looking back on it, it was wildly treacherous. And once a year someone falls off and dies—literally. It was probably a big turn on."