Hey... I grew up in NJ and moved out here after college. In terms of wheeling opportunities, there is no comparison
between here (Bay Area, Nor Cal, or the West / Southwest in general) and the rest of the country.
Something that the other folks haven't mentioned, there is a state-run "Off Highway Vehicle" park called Hollister Hills less than 2 hrs. from San Francisco (and less from the south bay). Although this park alone will put many east coast destinations to shame (Four Wheeler runs their Top Truck Challenge there every year, etc.) it wasn't even mentioned by the other posts in this thread, since frankly we Nor Cal folks see it as a last resort or off-season destination where we go to shake down new gear.
Yeah, you may have to drive just a bit, but like others have said, you will not
Here are some pics to whet your appetite:
One from a pick-up Nor Cal JK run at Hollister:
Place called Dumont Dunes in So Cal (think weekend trip):
Top of the Rubicon (4 hr. drive to the trailhead):
Another one of HH, area called the "jungle":
See you soon