Hoboken cityscape waterfront view of Hudson River on a sunny day in one of the best cities in New Jersey

17 Best Cities in New Jersey in 2023 (By a Local)

There is an incredible array of cities in New Jersey. In fact, the state is home to 565 municipalities, each unique in its own way. Several of these municipalities are cities, while others are city-like townships.  

Having lived in the Garden State for over 30 years, I’m going to introduce you to some of the best cities and city-like municipalities we have. Home to some of the best things to do in New Jersey, I’m sure you too will fall in love with these amazing locales.

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17 Best New Jersey Cities

Ocean City

A family-friendly seaside resort city.

People walking along the boardwalk of Ocean City Beach on a sunny day
Ocean City Beach and Boardwalk (photo: Daniel Dror / Shutterstock) 

🏠 Population: 11,190 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Ocean City on Booking

Welcome to Ocean City! Full of beautiful beaches and boardwalks, this city is particularly popular in the summer months when you can bask in and enjoy the beautiful weather. But it’s also a great place to live.

Ocean City is safe, clean, and family-friendly. It’s also home to some of the best beaches to visit in New Jersey. Come here to have a relaxing vacation or if you want to live by the shore.

Just keep in mind that Ocean City is a dry town, so no alcohol is served at restaurants here. It’s also banned on the beach, so it’s best to leave that Budweiser at home!

Seaside Park

Relaxing city by the sea.

Welcome sign of Seaside Park surrounded with colorful flowers and Halloween decor during autumn

🏠 Population: 1,463 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Seaside Park on Booking

A borough in Ocean County, Seaside Park is often confused with its more lively counterpart, Seaside Heights (one of the best weekend getaways in New Jersey). They are in close proximity to each other, connected via a small bridge, but cater to very different crowds. 

Right across Barnegat Bay, Seaside Park is where you come to get away from it all. It has a relaxing vibe and a friendly local community and is popular among families. The atmosphere here is great if you want to be close to Seaside Heights, but also enjoy a quieter day at the beach.  

Toms River

Featuring some of the most beautiful beaches on the Jersey Shore.

Cityscape view of Toms River from across the lake in New Jersey

🏠 Population: 97,304 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Toms River on Booking

Down the road from Seaside Park is Toms River. This is actually classified as a township rather than a city but has some city-like vibes if you venture downtown. As an avid beach lover, my favorite part of Toms River is Ortley Beach. But there’s more to Toms River than amazing beaches.

The downtown area has some nice eateries and offers a relaxed feel, and there are some cool activities to try. In particular, it features a planetarium, a bug museum, and a great boardwalk. It’s an ideal place to relax on a Spring or Summer day. Temps near the water can drop significantly during the Fall and Winter, so it may be best to choose warmer months for a visit. 

Perth Amboy

A diverse seaside city with a great downtown.

View of the lake in Perth Amboy during early winter

🏠 Population: 55,291 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Perth Amboy on Trip Advisor

Perth Amboy is a nice, diverse city. It has great restaurants and nightlife, yet has a little bit of something for everyone. It’s also generally regarded as an affordable place to live, so it’s worth checking out if you’re planning a move to Garden State.

Unfortunately, there are certain areas in Perth Amboy that have high levels of poverty. This has led to mixed reviews about the city in general. For the most part, however, Perth Amboy is a nice stop if you want to walk by the waterfront. You can also enjoy a variety of cuisines – especially Hispanic food.

New Brunswick

Upbeat college city.

People walking along downtown New Brunswick with USA flags on the side of the street
Downtown New Brunswick (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 55,708 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in New Brunswick on Booking

Home to one of three Rutgers University campuses in New Jersey, New Brunswick is a great place for young adults looking to have a good time. There are many shopping and dining areas geared toward the college crowd, and the city has a clean and pleasant atmosphere. It’s also fun if you want to take in a theater show or go to an art museum.

Fun fact: I went to Rutgers! At that time, I found that New Brunswick was the nicest of the Brunswicks.

Cherry Hill

Home to one of the most popular malls in New Jersey.

View of the Philadelphia skyline from Cherry Hill Park during autumn
Park in Cherry Hill, NJ (photo: Krtz07 / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 75,474 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Cherry Hill on Booking

Located in South Jersey, Cherry Hill is considered a Philadelphia suburb and is one of the best places to live in New Jersey. This is because of how close it is to Philadelphia – about 20 minutes to be exact.

Popular local activities include the Cherry Hill mall, which was one of the very first enclosed malls in America. It’s also a very interesting town, with historical societies and museums. It’s said that the East side is nicer than the West side – though you can visit either and still have a great time. 

Around April, Cherry Hill’s namesake, Cherry Blossoms, is in full bloom. This makes for a spectacular sight.


Diverse suburban meets city living.

View of the calm and clear Lake Riviera in Brick, New Jersey during early autumn

🏠 Population: 77,168 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Brick on Booking

Brick is a township that has a city atmosphere. It’s diverse, with a variety of great activities and restaurants to enjoy with family and friends. It also has three beaches, making it particularly popular during the summer months.

Due to its population and proximity to the beach, you’re likely to experience periods of bad traffic here. Congestion in more populated, downtown areas can also be a problem if you don’t like crowds. It may not be an ideal place to live if you don’t want to deal with crowds, but it’s a great place to visit over the summer. 


A city with cozy suburban vibes.

View of the historical buildings on Farnsworth Avenue in downtown Bordentown.
Downtown Bordentown (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 3,990 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Bordentown on Booking

Though classified as a city, Bordentown is certainly not what you’d expect of one. It’s very quiet, unassuming, and a great place in New Jersey to raise a family. It has a low crime rate and family-friendly activities available.

A local favorite is Bordentown Beach where you can relax by the water and even enjoy some water activities. They have boats and fishing areas available. There’s also a nice little downtown area where you can grab a bite to eat. Don’t forget to stop by a local favorite – Chickie and Pete’s!


A family-friendly city with a relaxed feel.

View of Downtown Vineland snowing in  winter
Downtown Vineland, NJ

🏠 Population: 61,156 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Vineland on Booking

If you’re looking for somewhere to settle with your family, then Vineland is one of the best cities in New Jersey. Located in Cumberland Country, towards south Jersey, this diverse city is thought of well by its residents. 

However, it really doesn’t have a lot going on. If you’re looking for more action, you’ll want to look elsewhere. But if you love a slow pace, then you’re in the right place.


Centrally-located commercial hub close to NYC.

View of a dam and Buttermilk Falls at Washington Valley Park in Bridgewater, New Jersey
Buttermilk Falls at Washington Valley Park in Bridgewater

🏠 Population: 44,646 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Bridgewater on Booking

Not too far from New York City, Bridgewater is home to friendly locals and a pleasant atmosphere. Areas of it can have a town feel, but places like Bridgewater Commons have more of a bustling city vibe.

It’s also very safe, as Bridgewater Police often patrol the streets. Bridgewater is also home to one of New Jersey’s beautiful waterfalls, Buttermilk Falls at Washington Valley Park. Stop by Bridgewater Commons for great shopping and dining, then finish off the day admiring Buttermilk Falls at the park.


A city adorned with classic architecture.

View of the historic buildings of Lambertville from the Delaware River
Historic Lambertville (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 4,149 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Lambertville on Booking

Though it’s classified as a city, Lambertville gives you more of a rural impression. The population of about 4,000 people lends to that, as it’s not overcrowded and has a very calm pace.

One of Lambertville’s key aspects is the beautiful, classic architecture that graces the city. Forbes has even dubbed it one of the ‘15 Prettiest Towns in America’. The whole city is relaxed, down to the restaurants and quaint cafes. This is where you come to get a break from busy city life. 


A diverse city with plenty to do.

View of the storefronts and other buildings on the main street of Hackensack, New Jersey
Hackensack storefronts downtown (photo: John Arehart / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 45,646 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Hackensack on Booking

Hackensack is home to a very popular hospital, Hackensack Meridian. In fact, it’s ranked as #2 among the best hospitals in New Jersey. This diverse city is also safe, having a lower crime rate than many other areas of the state.

One of the most popular areas is The Shops at Riverside. Here you can shop and eat to your heart’s content – if you’re a steak fan then I have to recommend Morton’s Steakhouse. The Hackensack River Pathway is also a great place to take a walk on a nice Spring day.

Jersey City

Home to beautiful views of the Hudson River.

View of the skyscrapers from the walkway at Exchange Place in Jersey City
Walkway at Exchange Place in Jersey City (photo: Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 283,927 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Jersey City on Booking

Jersey City is home to one of my favorite places in New Jersey, the beautiful Liberty State Park. Here you can find glorious views of the Hudson River. It’s also the true home of Ellis Island – just one of many fun facts about New Jersey

This bustling city is diverse and has many great restaurants and accommodations to choose from. If you like the nightlife scene or live music, visit Washington Boulevard, in the Newport section.

To get planning, check out my guide to the best attractions in Jersey City.


A taste of NYC in New Jersey.

View of Pier C Park shaped like an island connected by a curving walkway in Hoboken
Hoboken’s Pier C Park (photo: John Penney / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 58,690 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Hoboken on Booking

Part of the New York Metropolitan area, Hoboken is a popular place for young professionals. It has quick access to NYC via train, ferry, or car, and the city itself is very walkable. Its overall vibe gives you a taste of city life without having to cross the Hudson.

Personally, I love visiting Hoboken. The city has some amazing restaurants and spectacular waterfront views. The architecture also draws you in, with beautiful brownstones aplenty. This busy city is definitely for you if you love bustling city life.

For more, check out my guide to the best things to do in Hoboken.

 📚 Tip: Parking in Hoboken is pretty bad. If you want to get around the city without walking, definitely go for a Lyft or Uber.


A small city offering great dining and suburban living.

View of the shops on the street of Springfield Avenue in downtown Summit
Downtown Summit (photo: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 22,526 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Summit on Booking

Summit is a small city in New Jersey that has a quiet, yet suburban, feel. Residents and visitors alike love the safety of Summit, as well as all the restaurant choices. Summit also has a fantastic seasonal farmer’s market (that I look forward to visiting every weekend), and a beautiful arboretum.


Beautiful city with lush parks and natural sites.

View of ice forming over a river in Watchung Reservation in New Jersey during winter

🏠 Population: 6,486 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Watchung on Expedia

If you love parks, then you’ll love Watchung, New Jersey.

While here, I recommend spending the day at Watchung Lake and Watchung Rock State Park. Take a walk after a long week at work, and marvel at the natural beauty. Nearby Watchung Reservation is also home to great hiking trails – some even feature waterfalls.


A town with city vibes.

Streetscape view of Park Street in downtown Montclair
Downtown Montclair (photo: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock)

🏠 Population: 40,935 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Montclair on Booking

Located in the foothills of the First Watchung Mountain, Montclair is located just an hour from New York City and is a great budget-friendly New Jersey city. 

There is a bustling art scene here (with many galleries), as well as some superb dining options. Lining Bloomfield Avenue, you’ll find a host of amazing restaurants with cuisine from all over the world. Whether you’re looking for a cute cafe or an upscale restaurant, there is a place in Montclair for you.


A major commuter area with one of the biggest train stations.

View of the snow covered walkway with lined trees during winter at Metuchen Memorial Park in Metuchen

🏠 Population: 14,949 | 📍 Google Maps | Website | 👉 Browse Hotels in Metuchen on Booking

Metuchen is a big NYC commuter town with a plethora of activities. Here, I recommend visiting Roosevelt Park, checking out the Thomas Edison Center, and taking a walk through the Middlesex Greenway.

If you’re considering moving to New Jersey, then Metuchen should be on your consideration list. The schools are top-rated and the community is one of the safest in New Jersey. Those who are commuting to New York can ride along with many other Metuchen residents on the NJ Transit train.

FAQs About Cities In New Jersey 

What is the best part to live in New Jersey?

The best and safest place to live in New Jersey is Sparta, NJ, which is located in North Jersey’s Sussex County.

How many cities are in NJ?

New Jersey has 565 cities/municipalities.

What are the top 5 major cities in NJ?

Newark, Jersey City, Trenton, Atlantic City, and Princeton are five of the major cities in New Jersey.

What city in New Jersey is the safest?

The safest city in New Jersey is Ocean City. The safest municipality, however, is Sparta, NJ.


Thanks for reading my guide to cities in New Jersey! Each of New Jersey’s cities has its own unique flair that I’ve come to know and love. Looking to see what great towns we have too? Then make sure to check out the best towns in New Jersey!

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    1. I agree, it’s a pretty quick drive to get into the City, depending on where in the City you’re going. I say about an hour to factor in any traffic and finding parking – which can definitely be a hassle! But from point A to point B, definitely a good half hour.

  1. You have a very interesting way of viewing and judging cities. If you are going to compare cities, you might want to compare apples to apples. Vineland is no apple. High crume, high unemployment, poor walkability. As for Cherry Hill, a city in name only. No walkability. Just a big mall and tons of strip malls. Great school district. Maybe you should rank cities by what they have in common with one another.

  2. Hello All! I’m considering relocating to NJ from Charlotte, NC. My best friend lives in Jersey City; she thinks I’ll do well NJ and/or NY. My background is in Real Estate; I love the art world and fashion industry. What areas in NJ should I consider?! Thank you!

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