View of shops in Stone Harbor, one of the best beach towns in New Jersey

21 Best New Jersey Beach Towns in 2023 (By a Local)

New Jersey beach towns are some of the most enjoyable summer destinations. Most are in Southern New Jersey, where a majority of the Jersey Shore is, and feature beautiful beaches, activities, and unique atmospheres.

As a resident of New Jersey for over 30 years, I’m here to introduce you to some of the greatest beach towns that the Garden State has to offer. They pair up nicely with my guides to the top New Jersey beaches and the best New Jersey towns as well!  

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21 Best Beach Towns in New Jersey

Cape May

Relaxing beach vibes meet Victorian charm.

View of people roaming around at Washington Street Mall in Cape May
Washington Street Mall in Cape May (photo: George Wirt / Shutterstock)

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No list of New Jersey’s beautiful beach towns would be complete without Cape May! This popular vacation destination is a must-see if you want to enjoy some of the best beaches in New Jersey. 

There are plenty of things to do in Cape May, but I recommend a stroll through the Washington Street Mall on a summer afternoon or a walk along the lovely Sunset Beach – at sunset! You’ll love taking in the stunning views that Cape May has to offer.

One appeal of Cape May is its historic nature complete with Victorian architecture. There’s a relaxed pace here, making it well-suited for families, as well as more mature visitors. Personally, I love a beach town that offers relaxation without all the extra bells and whistles. 

Atlantic Highlands

Discover scenic views in The Highlands.

View from the Henry Hudson Trail during a morning walk
Scenic Views along the Henry Hudson in The Atlantic Highlands

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Atlantic Highlands is a quaint town that’s perfect to visit over the summer and is one of the best weekend getaways in New Jersey. It’s peaceful, and there are a few beaches to enjoy, including nearby Sandy Hook Beach – a personal favorite of mine! 

This beach town offers some of the most beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean and is close to the Gateway National Recreation Area. There you can enjoy such activities as fishing and boating at the marina. 

Beautiful homes line the marina, giving you great scenic views. My daughter and I really enjoy coming here when I just want to get away from it all for a bit. It’s one of the best places to come before beach season starts too – no crowds!

Ocean Grove

Charming beach town with historic flair.

Cars parked on the side of the road in Ocean Grove town
The town of Ocean Grove (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

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Like Cape May, Ocean Grove is known for its historic, Victorian-style homes. The charm this small town encompasses makes it a great place for a family beach day. 

Ocean Grove is a dry town, so you won’t find any liquor here. Being a dry town has given it popularity with families looking for a wholesome place to not only visit but live as well. The town has a strong religious history, and has even been unofficially dubbed, “God’s Square Mile”. It has several bed and breakfast inns, perfect for a weekend stay by the shore.

Spring Lake

A classy town with a pristine beach.

View of a footbridge under the clear blue sky in Spring Lake
Footbridge in Spring Lake

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Home to Spring Lake Beach, this quiet town of the same name boasts one of the cleanest beaches on the Jersey Shore. This town is also quite affluent, with million-dollar homes being in the average price range. Even the Third Avenue downtown area is upscale, complete with exclusive boutiques. 

The town is quite elegant and classy – and residents expect visitors to respect that as well. You won’t find flashy boardwalk fare here. Come to Spring Lake for an elegant brunch, then head home with some unique boutique finds.


Unassuming, yet comfortable town close to Atlantic City.

A bird-watching tower under the blue sky in the Brigantine
Bird-watching Tower in Brigantine

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Home to Brigantine Beach, Brigantine is a great place to have a nice time at the beach. It’s quiet, but still close enough to Atlantic City activities if you want more action. Because of this, and the lower cost of lodging, many AC visitors choose to stay here.

There isn’t a whole lot in Brigantine, except for a small museum and various shops featuring unique finds. Visitors who like the glitz of Atlantic City, but don’t want to stay in the midst of it, come to Brigantine for a break.  

Bradley Beach 

Cozy town perfect to relax in.

Water fountains at the Bradley Beach in New Jersey
Fountains at Bradley Beach (photo: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock)

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Bradley Beach is an unassuming beach town that I happened upon while on my way to more popular beaches. This little treasure is sandwiched between Asbury Park and Avon-By-The-Sea. 

The beach itself is nice, clean, and relatively quiet. The boardwalk is nice, for a stroll or to ride your bike, although it’s way more unassuming than some other New Jersey boardwalks.

The town of Bradley Beach itself is quite pleasant. The residents are friendly, and you can find some nice restaurants and bakeries. Activities such as mini-golf and fishing are available as well. 

Stone Harbor

A hidden treasure on the Jersey Shore.

View of shops at the Stone Harbor, New Jersey
Small shops in Stone Harbor (photo: ThreeRivers11 / Shutterstock)

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When mentioning a trip to the Jersey Shore, few talk about Stone Harbor. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting!

To start with, the beach is superb. I don’t know about everyone, but I go to the beach for the water. So when the water is easy to access without a long trek, I love it – and that’s what you find here! The only other beach that I’ve been to where the shoreline isn’t a trek is Sandy Hook. 

Of course, Stone Harbor has more to offer than the beach. The shopping district showcases small businesses offering one-of-a-kind souvenirs. There’s also a little ice cream shop and some boutiques with handmade goodies for all to enjoy. 

Asbury Park

Popular beach town with something for everyone.

Outdoor dining area on  restaurants in downtown Asbury Park
Outdoor seating in downtown Asbury Park (photo: Joe Benning / Shutterstock)

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Asbury Park has a quintessential New Jersey atmosphere and a great, welcoming, vibe – it’s like my home away from home during the late spring and summer. There’s a nice, albeit small, downtown area that features some great restaurants. 

One of these is the highly-acclaimed Mutiny BBQ, featured among the best things to do in the USA this summer.

Asbury Park has a lot to offer for everyone. There’s the popular Stone Pony where live events are often held and the boardwalk features a lot of great places to eat. 

The town also has little shops where you can pick up knick-knacks and last-minute items like sand toys – you know, in case you forgot them at home!

Sea Bright 

Where the beach is always right there.

View from a waterfront home in Sea Bright
Waterfront home in Sea Bright

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Sea Bright is a small township on the Jersey shore. It’s also considered a barrier island and separates the Atlantic Ocean from rivers like the Navesink River. This town is only about 1.29 square miles, so there isn’t a lot to it. Still, it’s a relaxing place to visit.

The nice thing about this beach town is that no matter where you stay, the beach is only a short walk away. This makes it a great place to rent a vacation home for the summer. You can soak in the ocean views without sacrificing a lot of travel time. The town is also very diverse and family-oriented, giving it a rather homey feel. 

Seaside Park

The calmer side of Seaside.

View of the ocean during a morning walk in Seaside Park
View of the Ocean in Seaside Park

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Seaside Park is often used interchangeably with Seaside Heights, however, the two are very different. Seaside Heights is where all the action is and is catered to a livelier crowd, whereas Seaside Park is more relaxed and a better place if you want to enjoy a slower-paced beach vibe. 

Seaside Park also isn’t far from Island Beach State Park. There are no accommodations there, so people who want to visit Island Beach often seek lodging in Seaside Park.

Seaside Park is ideal if you want access to lively Seaside Heights, but don’t want to deal with the fanfare all the time. 

North Wildwood

The free beaches of Wildwood.

Blue water from the beach in North Wildwood
Beach in North Wildwood

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When people think of Wildwood, they think of lively activities with family and friends and one of the best places to visit in New Jersey. While North Wildwood does have a lot of activities, it is a bit calmer than its neighboring town of Wildwood. 

In North Wildwood, you can go fishing and spend time at the free beaches. That’s right, even in beach season, the beaches here are free! When the sun goes down, you can take in the varied nightlife that North Wildwood has to offer.

Ocean City

“America’s greatest family resort”.

Blue sky over the Ocean City Boardwalk during a sunny morning
Ocean City Boardwalk (photo: Yonil / Shutterstock)

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Ocean City is nicknamed America’s greatest family resort – and for good reason! Every summer visitors flock to this popular spot on the Jersey Shore. It features a wide range of entertainment for all ages. In addition to the pristine beaches, Ocean City offers fun boardwalk activities, including an amusement park.

Like Ocean Grove, Ocean City is a dry town, so there’s no alcohol sold or served here. Don’t bring it either. Alcohol, even if purchased elsewhere, is strictly prohibited. You can only consume it privately in your own home or hotel room. Still, you can enjoy an amazing meal with the family at one of Ocean City’s many fantastic restaurants.


Luxurious resort community on the Jersey Shore.

People at the Avon Pavilion in Avon-By-The-Sea
Outdoor dining in Avon-By-The-Sea (photo: Joe Benning / Shutterstock)

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Avon-By-The-Sea may not be the most well-known beach town in New Jersey, but it has a lot to offer both visitors and residents alike. It’s nestled between Bradley Beach and Belmar, both of which tend to be a bit more popular.

The 2.6-mile boardwalk has fun activities for all ages, as well as shopping and dining. They also have a fantastic lineup of concerts and events during beach season.

Point Pleasant  

Lively beach town with boardwalk flair.

People roaming around the Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk
Point Pleasant Beach Boardwalk (photo: Bruce Alan Bennett / Shutterstock)

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Point Pleasant is home to the Point Pleasant Beach and boardwalk. Like its beach, this town is more suited for a lively, younger crowd. Families can also find fun things to do here, as there’s an arcade and even some amusement park rides.

This is one of the most often-visited beaches and beach towns I came to as a child and well into my teenage hood. The town has a comfortable atmosphere and is the perfect place to explore after a day at the beach. If you want more activities though, you’ll want to stick closer to the Boardwalk. There you’ll find abundant nightlife and restaurants, such as Jenk’s.


A small town with big fun.

View at the Belmar Marina during sunset
Belmar Marina at Sunset (photo: Backstage Bettie / Shutterstock)

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Growing up, it was always either Point Pleasant Beach or Belmar Beach that we went to. As I got older, I learned to appreciate Belmar’s somewhat calmer pace to Point Pleasant’s more robust atmosphere. You’ll find lots of playgrounds for the young ones, which makes it an ideal beach town to enjoy with young children.

The town of Belmar is actually quite similar to Point Pleasant but on a quieter level. They host an annual seafood festival, usually around May – June, on the beach. Don’t miss it – the food in New Jersey and at this festival is amazing! It can get crowded though, which is to be expected.

Beach Haven

The livelier side of Long Beach Island.

View of shops at the Beach Haven, New Jersey
Shops in Beach Haven (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

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Beach Haven is a borough on Long Beach Island and the home of the famous Fantasy Island Amusement Park. It’s where visitors to the island come for a little more action and entertainment.

In addition to the amusement park, you’ll find such sites as the NJ Maritime Museum. There’s also a theater as well as a downtown shopping area. Beach Haven has some great nightlife options such as the highly-rated Hudson House Bar and the Shell Nightclub. Come here for more action at the shore.

Loch Arbour

Hidden gem by the sea.

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Yet another hidden gem on the Jersey Shore! This small village isn’t readily mentioned – but it definitely belongs among the best quaint beach towns. 

The size makes it perfect for those who really want to get away from it all. There isn’t a whole lot going on here, so don’t expect to be entertained. But it’s the perfect place if all you want are quiet beaches and a serene town to stroll through.


A fun town with the slogan, “Cooler by a mile”.

View ay the waterfront homes in Avalon, New Jersey
Luxury waterfront homes in Avalon

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Avalon boasts a comfortable feel with a nice beach. Part of Cape May County, you’ll find similar vibes to nearby Cape May. It’s also part of Seven-Mile Island. The town’s slogan is ‘Cooler by a mile, which comes from the fact that it sits about a mile further into the Atlantic than other barrier islands.

In Avalon, you won’t find thrilling boardwalk entertainment. You can, however, enjoy a nice boardwalk where you can take a midday stroll. The shopping area boasts some nice restaurants, bakeries, and little shops to pop into. This wealthy community has an overall relaxing vibe for all.

Long Branch

Experience the renaissance of a beach town.

Cars parked outside the Pier Village in Long Branch
Pier Village in Long Branch (photo: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock)

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Long Branch is another popular beach town in New Jersey. It’s decently diverse and has some nice beaches. While attending a seminar at the Ocean Place Resort & Spa, I enjoyed taking a stroll on the beach behind it. Many hotels offer lovely private beaches that you can enjoy without crowds. 

It receives both a lot of love and hate, as some areas aren’t the best. Staying close to the areas by the beach is your best bet for staying safe. This city has been through a lot over the years and has been making a comeback. 

Pier Village is a hot spot for great shopping, and you’ll find a lot of amazing New Jersey restaurants as well. 


A little town with a luxurious flair.

Waves crashing at the shoreline in Deal, New Jersey
Deal, NJ Shore (photo: Erin Cadigan / Shutterstock)

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Deal is a small town that’s also known as one of the richest towns on the Jersey Shore. Its population is a little over 500 residents, but here you can see magnificent mansions and luxurious life at its finest.

There isn’t a lot going on here in terms of entertainment, except for the Deal Casino Beach Club. You’ll find some nice restaurants in this quaint town as well. It’s a great stop if you want to see the beautiful homes and just relax on the beach.

Bay Head

A beach town with everything just steps away.

A signage at the Bay Head Historic District
Sign for the Bay Head Historic District (photo:  Rosemarie Mosteller / Shutterstock)

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Bay Head is yet another of the small beach towns on the Jersey Shore. But what makes this small town charming is that it’s so small that most things are within walking distance. In addition, the classically-designed homes give this small town a lot of appeal.

Of course, the beach is a main attraction, and it’s very well kept. Summers in Bay Head can get crowded, however, it’s an overall beautiful small town perfect for taking in refreshing shore breezes.

FAQs about New Jersey Beach Towns

What is the nicest beach town in NJ?

The nicest beach town in New Jersey is Cape May.

What are the most affordable beach towns in New Jersey?

Affordable beach towns are often hard to come by in New Jersey as beach living is prime real estate. However, Atlantic City tops the list of one of the most affordable beach towns in New Jersey.

What’s the nicest part of the Jersey Shore?

There are several beautiful parts of the Jersey Shore, but one of the nicest parts is in Cape May.

What is the cheapest beach in New Jersey?

The cheapest beach in New Jersey is Atlantic City Beach since it’s free to access. Wildwoods Beach also has free access. 

What is the cleanest beach in NJ?

The cleanest beach in New Jersey is Diamond Beach in Cape May. Sea Girt and Spring Lake are other close contenders.


Thanks for reading through my list of the most wonderful beach towns in the Garden State. Of course, these are just a few of the wonderful beach towns that you can find here. While you’re here, don’t forget to check out some of the best things to do in New Jersey!

(Featured Image Credit: Amy Lutz / Shutterstock)

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  1. Great article….really depicts each beach town features. Thanks for the help in deciding which beach to go to.

  2. Great article. I’m happy I stumbled into this well illustrated article.
    Jersey has a lot to offer.
    I will surely start exploring some of these beaches.
    Thank you.

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