Learn More About American History At This East Coast National Park

There are several reasons to visit New Jersey. For one, it has the fastest roller coaster in America. Likewise, there are countless seaside towns to discover, including Ocean City, which is perfect for your next beach vacation. If you're a history enthusiast, head to West Orange, a township less than 20 minutes from Newark. There, you'll find Thomas Edison National Historic Park. It goes without saying that Thomas Edison is an iconic American figure. He was a genius who invented the phonograph, among many other things.

Thomas Edison National Historic Park is different from your run-of-the-mill park. It's the site of Edison's laboratory and his Glenmont Estate home. Edison bought the Queen Anne Victorian-style property in 1886 and shared it with his second wife, Mina Miller Edison. In 1887, he built the laboratory to replace his old lab in nearby Menlo Park.

According to the National Park Service, Edison worked on inventions that ultimately garnered him 1,093 patents in this laboratory. Edison died in 1931, leading to his lab's closure. His wife Mina followed in 1947. The National Park Service acquired the land in 1962, but it did not officially become a national park until 2009. Today, the park offers visitors a peek into the past.

Know before you go to Thomas Edison National Historic Park

The Thomas Edison National Historic Park is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A $15 entrance fee is required and can be purchased online. This allows visitors entry into Thomas Edison's laboratory, which includes a visitor center, the main laboratory building, and the chemistry laboratory (seen above). The main lab is especially interesting as it features Edison's library, machine shop, and more. Reviewers on Trip Advisor note that the building is brimming with fascinating antiques that provide a snapshot of who Edison was and how his mind worked.

Although this is self-guided, a $5 audio tour is available. Other highlights include the courtyard, which has a reconstruction of Black Maria, Edison's famed movie studio. As for Glenmont Estate, guests must pay an additional $1 fee and make an online reservation in advance for a 30-minute tour of the home. That's right, a separate ticket from the park's entrance fee is required. 

Glenmont Estate is massive and has 29 rooms. However, the tour, available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, only takes guests to the first and second floors. Nevertheless, visitors will see original period-style furnishings, household items owned by Edison and his family, and photos. A garage with Edison's cars is also on site. Guests can also pay their respects to Edison and his wife, Mina — they both died at Glenmont Estate and are buried there.