There’s nothing quite like zipping down the New Jersey Turnpike. From Fort Lee, all the way to Delaware, the Jersey Turnpike can get you through Jersey in a jiffy, but what about when you inevitably get hungry or have to pee? Helen Rosner, an editor for Eater magazine, made it her mission to visit every single NJ turnpike rest stop (or “service plazas” as they like to be called) and then rank them in a definitive guide from best to worst. She judged them on everything from variety of restaurants available, to namesakes, and even if there were cute dogs there when she made her stops.
Every New Jerseyian has a favorite turnpike stop, but which ones are actually the best? Here’s a look at the highlights of what she found.
Coming in at the very last number 12 spot, Rosner gave that title to the Alexander Hamilton service plaza (southbound, mile marker 112). Rosner didn’t get into too many specifics as to why she ranked Alexander Hamilton last (I mean it’s a rest stop, how good could it be?) other than it having an unfriendly salad bar at the Roy Rogers and the much nicer Vince Lombardi service area being not too much farther away. Essentially, if you’re nearby Alexander Hamilton, you might as well go with Vince.
Number 9 on the list was the Thomas Edison service stop (southbound, mile marker 93). Thomas Edison was hailed for its wider range of options (aside from the usual Nathans and Roy Rogers). The Thomas Edison service plaza features a Sbarro, a Burger King, and a Popeyes.
The number 6 spot goes to the Vince Lombardi service center (both directions, mile marker 116). It’s newly renovated, and the ONLY service plaza accessible to cars in both directions, which is huge, especially if you need to do a quick turnaround in northern New Jersey. It also has a full-service Starbucks, serving ALL of the hot Starbucks food (unlike some of the other stops which are pastry only).
Coming in at number 3 is the Grover Cleveland (northbound, mile marker 92) service plaza. It’s relatively new (thanks to Hurricane Sandy), and features an open air, glassy modern exterior. It’s super-duper clean inside and almost feels like you’re in some futuristic space-rest stop (except your next stop isn’t Mercury, it’s Trenton).
Finally, at number 1, is the Molly Pitcher service plaza (southbound, mile marker 72). Aside from all the usual turnpike service plaza staples (a Roy Rogers, Nathan’s, Cinnabon and Dippin’ Dots, and Starbucks) the Molly Pitcher Service Plaza also features not one, but three convenience stores, featuring an old-timey candy store in the back. The candy store contains wooden shelves stacked with glass jars full of dark chocolate, penny candy, and gummy worms galore. Rosner dubs it as the “perfect place to pee, to stretch your legs, to eat a fried chicken leg with a side of bootleg topping-bar salad — to refuel not only your car, but your soul.”
Here is Rosner’s complete list.
Top NJ Turnpike Service Plazas Ranked
12. Alexander Hamilton
11. Joyce Kilmer
10. John Fenwick
9. Thomas Edison
8. Richard Stockton - It’s Parisian themed! (but still has a Pizza Hut and Quiznos)
7. Clara Barton
6. Vince Lombardi
5. Walt Whitman
4. James Fenimore Cooper
3. Grover Cleveland
2. Woodrow Wilson
1. Molly Pitcher
You can read her entire article here:
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