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The Pinelands (www.state.nj.us/pinelands), or Pine Barrens as it is also called, is a 1.1-million-acre National Reserve full of gently rolling hills, sandy soil, streams, swamps, and a vital underlying aquifer, as well as the namesake dense pine forests. Check the calendar of events on the website for special hikes, festivals, and activities, or for the history of the Jersey Devil (no, not just a sports team's name), a mythical, scary creature said to roam the forests of the Pine Barrens.

For a long time, Atlantic City seemed a little bit broken down, sort of a poor man's Vegas, assuming the poor man had at least some money to spend on a hotel and a night of gambling. But lately, it seems to be catching the "Viva Las Vegas!" spirit. After the opening of the swanky Borgata with its high-end rooms, shops, and entertainment in 2003, and then Food Network star Bobby Flay's restaurant in 2006, as well as dozens of other pricey shops and eateries, it seems Atlantic City is gambling on its new image and is certainly worth a visit.

A fantastic spot for kids (of all ages), Jersey City's Liberty Science Center, 251 Phillip St. (tel. 201/200-1000; www.lsc.org), is a fun, engaging learning facility dedicated to the promotion of science, nature, technology, and the creativity that spurs invention. The construction of a $104-million wing caused the facility to temporarily relocate, but it will be back with lots of new space and exhibits in 2007.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.