Somerset may be one of the richest counties in the United States, but according to Travel + Leisure, it’s also one of the cheapest places to visit with the most to offer.
The travel magazine recently named its top 10 destinations with the most affordable average daily rates at top hotels, and Somerset County was ranked 10th.
“Somerset County boasts hotel rates of just $102.60 per night, a far cry from the typically steep prices found in the city,” wrote Travel + Leisure. “The surroundings couldn’t be more different, either: Somerset County has an abundance of parks, preserves, and gardens to enjoy.”
Other destinations on the list, in ascending order, were Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; El Paso, Texas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Greenville, South Carolina; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Columbia, South Carolina; and Baltimore, Maryland.
Melissa DeFreest, vice president of tourism and communication at the Somerset County Business Partnership, was thrilled by the ranking.
“We were absolutely blown away because a lot of these places on the list are known worldwide,” she said. “To see Somerset there was truly humbling, although we 100% feel like we deserve to be there.”
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According to DeFreest, some of the county’s top affordable activities include exploring Duke Farms, a 1,000-acre estate in Hillsborough with trails and a robust events calendar; Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, which has a 70-mile trail; and Colonial Park in Franklin, which includes a nationally known rose garden, miniature golf, paddleboats and spray park.
“There are a lot of things to see here, particularly in the next couple of months when our gardens are in full bloom,” DeFreest said. “I always like to tell people that spring and summer are our time to shine.”
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The county also has historical sites dating to the Revolutionary War, and it recently became an even bigger draw for baseball fans. Last season the Somerset Patriots played their first season as the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
“We are expecting that new affiliation to bring in big numbers this year,” DeFreest said. “Yankees players will rehab at the Somerset Patriots ballpark, so you could very well see some of your favorite Yankees players at these games.
The county also has its share of interesting accommodations, said DeFreest, such as the Old Mill and Bernards inns, as well as the new, modern AC Hotel by Marriott in Bridgewater.
Although the county is wealthy, not all the area accommodations are expensive, which helped Somerset garner the ranking.
“A lot of hotels have catered to large business groups in the past,” said DeFreest. “But their focus has shifted to leisure travelers looking for a weekend getaway or a staycation, so it’s a little more family oriented at this point.”
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member at the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Contact: [email protected] or @JIntersimone.