View of beach goers enjoying the beach of Cape May, one of the best towns in New Jersey.

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

There are so many beautiful towns in New Jersey. From gorgeous seaside escapes to historical gems, if you’re looking for where to visit or live in New Jersey, then you’ve come to the right place.

As a New Jersey resident for over 30 years, I have the inside scoop on all things New Jersey. In this article, I’m going to introduce you to some of our most beautiful towns around the Garden State.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful getaway or a more active vibe, these New Jersey towns have got you covered. Let’s get into it: 

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. Thank you!

17 Best Towns in New Jersey

Cape May

Peaceful seaside town with classic Victorian flair 

A pedestrian shopping area in Washington Street Mall of Cape May Peninsula.
Washington Street Mall (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock) 

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A popular seaside resort town, there are some great things to do in Cape May, especially in the spring and summer months. The town is located at the bottommost tip of New Jersey, and is like taking a trip back in time to the Victorian era. 

Beach Avenue (so named because it overlooks the beach) is one of the most popular sites and one of the best places to stay in Cape May. Colorful, Victorian-style homes line Beach Avenue, enhancing its beauty. There are some activities for young ones here, but Cape May is often more appealing to mature visitors and older residents. 

The peaceful demeanor of the town is particularly relaxing. Enjoy great views of the Atlantic Ocean as you sit on the beach. You may even spot a whale breaching!

Princeton

A college town bursting with historical charm

Exterior view of the historical buildings of Nassau Street in downtown Princeton.
Downtown Princeton (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock) 

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Princeton is a great, family-friendly college town. It’s home to its namesake Ivy League learning institution, Princeton University. This town offers beautiful gothic architecture and great art museums. 

Good news for the golfers out there, Princeton has a variety of great golf courses. Golf is actually one of the most popular forms of recreation in Princeton.

Princeton has activities for all ages and a comfortable atmosphere. This, coupled with great schools, makes this a great place to live in New Jersey or visit. The police presence is strong, lending to a safe environment.

Sparta

A historical town named the safest in New Jersey 

Exterior view of the restaurants in the historical town of downtown Sparta, New Jersey.
Downtown Sparta (photo: solepsizm / Shutterstock)

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Concerned about safety in New Jersey? Then you’ll be happy to know that Sparta proudly sports the title of being the safest town in New Jersey.

This picturesque town is in New Jersey’s Sussex County. It features beautiful parks, farms, and lakes. It’s also an affluent town with a median income of over $100,000. The most popular communities are those with lakefront views. 

It’s an ideal place to visit and live in for mature visitors. Those with younger children who love running in wide open spaces will love it here too. I’m a sucker for lake views, and Sparta has plenty of them. The family-oriented atmosphere and safety make it an excellent place to settle down and raise a family.

Bordentown

A quiet and unassuming location with small-town vibes

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

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Bordentown, located in Burlington County, is unassuming for the most part. Small shops and a slow pace give it the intimate feel that the residents have come to love.

The main street isn’t anything fancy, but it has a few boutiques and restaurants. The boutiques are great for unique finds. I found the residents to be friendly and they say hi or give you a nod as they pass. You see a lot of families and get to enjoy a generally serene vibe. 

Red Bank 

A diverse town with an eclectic flair

View of sailing boats in Navesink River at the Red Bank Marina.
Red Bank Marina (photo: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

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Red Bank is a town I had the pleasure of passing through on the way to check out the beach. One of the things I appreciate most about Red Bank is that it’s diverse.

You feel safe there too as there’s a good police presence. Red Bank is a nice mix of cozy suburbs, with an urban feel. The nightlife is enough to draw in a younger crowd, but you have family-friendly activities too. It’s a little crowded passing through during beach season, but that’s to be expected in this area.

Toms River

A New Jersey town featuring the clearest water in the state

Clouds roll past behind the lighthouse in Toms River, New Jersey
Lighthouse in Toms River, NJ 

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If you want some of the nicest beaches in New Jersey, go to Toms River. It isn’t far from Seaside Heights, but I promise you the vibe is far different.

Ortley Beach has the clearest water I’ve seen in over 30 years of living in NJ. The sand is soft – hot, but soft. When I visited, as the evening approached, my daughter and I even had the privilege of seeing Sting Rays swimming.

The downtown area is nice too. There isn’t a lot to it, but enough to keep residents and visitors entertained and fed. I’ll definitely be back here again.

Spring Lake

A safe and beautiful town known for its gorgeous beaches

Few beachgoers enjoy the beautiful sunny day on Spring Lake's white sand beach.
Spring Lake Beach (photo: Kathy Nolan / Shutterstock)

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Like Toms River, Spring Lake also boasts some beautiful beaches. It’s even featured as one of the best beaches in New Jersey.

The boardwalk is great for a nice afternoon stroll. The downtown area is reminiscent of a quieter Asbury Park, in my opinion. Spring Lake is safe, and the schools are highly rated. Homes can be expensive, but this is common in areas closer to the shore. All in all, Spring Lake is a great community that residents are proud to call home.

Phillipsburg

Phillipsburg is perfect if you’re looking for relaxed living by the Delaware River

Railroad tracks and the main street of Phillipsburg, New Jersey.
Rail Station and Main Street in Phillipsburg, NJ

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Located in Warren County, Philipsburg is quickly gaining popularity as a great place to live. One of its most attractive points is the fact that it sits along the Delaware River. If you’re anything like me, waterfront views are beyond fascinating. Living where you can get a glimpse of a beautiful waterfront whenever you want is definitely a plus.

Phillipsburg is also a safe, friendly community. Suburbia at its best.

Monroe

Located in Middlesex County, Monroe is one of the safest places in New Jersey

Aerial view of the beautiful trees in autumn of Thompson Park located in Monroe, New Jersey
Thompson Park in Monroe, NJ

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Monroe, located in Middlesex County, is another one of the nicest areas in New Jersey. It’s a friendly town that doesn’t have much of a downtown. In fact, while visiting, the closest I came to a downtown area was the Concordia Shopping Center. It was really nice with some shops and a few dining options.

You feel safe here, and it’s actually one of the top-rated safest places in New Jersey, right up there with Sparta.

Hoboken

A bustling suburb close to New York City 

A classic interior view of the historic Hoboken Terminal in New Jersey
Classic Hoboken Terminal (photo: Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock)

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Hoboken is one of the most popular cities in New Jersey. It’s most desired because of its proximity to New York and is a popular place to live and visit in New Jersey. It’s also close to Jersey City, which is also popular with commuters. This busy suburb tends to attract young professionals in particular.

It’s filled with great restaurants and a wide variety of lively nightlife. Go any Friday or Saturday night, particularly in the summer, and you’ll see what I mean. Lines can get long, so go early if you plan to take them in. Because of its proximity to New York, however, housing is rather expensive.

👉 Pro Tip: Finding parking in Hoboken is particularly difficult If you can walk to your destination, that’s your best bet. Rideshare services are also a good option. If you must drive, be prepared to circle the block several times or have to walk a distance from your parking spot.

Secaucus

A suburbia that’s great for NYC commuters

A modern interior view of the main hall of the Frank R. Lautenberg Rail Station at Secaucus Junction.
Secaucus Junction (photo: Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock)

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You’ll find Secaucus in Hudson County. It’s best known for its popular rail station, Secaucus Junction, which is the main hub where all NJ Transit Rail Lines pass through. 

While it may not be as big as New York Penn Station, I can personally attest that Secaucus Junction is massive. It’s great for commuters as there are even some spots to grab a bite before getting on the train.

The suburbs of Secaucus are also impressive. They’re well-kept with beautiful parks. It’s a great place to visit for younger as well as more mature visitors.

Weehawken

An urban community with spectacular waterfront views

View of Hamilton park overlooking the city and river in Weehawken, New Jersey
Hamilton Park in Weehawken, NJ

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Weehawken is well-known for its diversity and proximity to New York City. Residents here often opt for the ferry as opposed to the train to commute to NYC. This small town is quite diverse. 

It’s a large urban community, but with some suburban aspects. Rent and home prices here can be high, mainly due to how close it is to NYC. Still, it’s a nice place to live, and since it can be very busy, tends to be popular with younger crowds. I come here for the great views of the Hudson from atop some beautiful hills.

Upper Montclair

A high-class suburb with beautiful homes

View of the front façade of the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey.
Montclair Art Museum (photo: Chris Lawrence Travel / Shutterstock)

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Upper Montclair is easily one of the nicest places to stay in New Jersey. It’s essentially the more upscale section of Montclair and has a quieter, more suburban feel than the rest of Montclair. 

A few friends and I loved driving around the hills of Upper Montclair. We would admire all the many beautiful and uniquely-designed mansions. Living in Upper Montclair can be quite expensive, but most people agree that the peaceful atmosphere and level of safety is well worth it.

Millburn

A charming town with something for everyone

View of people dining outside the table service of restaurants in downtown Millburn, New Jersey
Outdoor Dining Downtown Millburn (photo: DW labs Incorporated / Shutterstock)

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My town and Millburn are actually neighbors, so I’m here very often. My daughter even studies digital art at One River Art School in Millburn.

My favorite part of this place is downtown Millburn. They have a wide variety of great restaurants such as the popular lunch spot, Millburn Deli. Locals and visitors alike love visiting the Papermill Playhouse where you can catch a variety of great shows. 

Millburn has something for everyone, young or more mature. The train station ensures a quick ride to NYC for those who have to commute.

Chester

A cute town perfect for those wanting classic and quaint living

A small flowing river in the middle of the forest of Ayers Brook in Chester, New Jersey.
Ayer’s Brook, Chester, NJ

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New Jersey has a lot of small, safe, and homey towns, and Chester is definitely one of them. I first visited this cute town when getting one of my birds from their World of Birds. It was a pleasant town to visit, with friendly locals and a good police presence.

There are shopping centers and beautiful parks. The calm pace is great for families, as well as retirees. 

Paramus

Paramus is home to great schools and is an easy commuter town

Interior view of the Westfield Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus
Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus (photo: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock)

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There are many days I spent perusing the shops in the Garden State Plaza Mall when my daughter was a toddler. It’s a great family-friendly venue, as is the rest of Paramus. It actually has a little something for everyone.

Paramus is one of those areas that adhere to old ‘Blue Laws’. Meaning, on Sundays, you’ll find that most businesses are closed due to an old law that prohibits work. Houses are pretty expensive here, but that’s common in Bergen County. All in all, Paramus is a great place to visit and live.

Teaneck

A small suburban town near the George Washington Bridge

Exterior view of Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ (photo: Brian Ach / Shutterstock)

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This small town is in Bergen County, and close to the George Washington Bridge. This makes Teaneck an attractive place to live for those who have to commute to New York City.

Teaneck is also home to Fairleigh Dickinson University, a highly-rated private college. Most families that live here have proudly lived here almost all their lives. It’s one of those places where once people move here, they stay.

***

Thanks for reading my list of the best towns in New Jersey! Of course, this list isn’t all-inclusive, as there are many beautiful towns to visit and live in the Garden State.

For more, check out my guide to the top places to visit in New Jersey.

(Featured Image Credit: Racheal Grazias / Shutterstock)

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33 Comments

  1. I would delete Phillipsburg. If you want Delaware River views pick Frenchtown which is much more quaint, according to a person who grew up in Clinton.

  2. I would add Cranford for the restaurants, parks, friendly atmosphere, and events such as the scarecrow walk or Porchfest.

  3. The only two towns that have won the American downtown prize are Montclair and Westfield. Metuchen is in the running this year. Half credit for Upper Montclair.

    1. It appears author, looked the whole picture rather than downtown only. Although, Montclair is beautiful but the school system not up there. However, RIDGEWOOD is missing.

  4. Surprised not to see Westfield, Haddonfield, Lambertville, Collingswood, and Ocean City on the list. Great destinations for visitors.

    1. Im not. Unfortunately, South Jersey area is mostly overlooked. This article is the follows the other ines of its kind: when they mention “NJ” or”New Jersey”, they really mean North Jersey. to put the 1 token town in South Jersey, and shocked!- Its a shore town! It annoys me to no end to see a headline that says (for example), “15 Best Italian Restaurants in NJ”. And not 1 restaurant listed is south of Trenton. The population boom in SJ is trending restaurants of every kind are exploding into existence and the old hidden gems have new life in then. But, it’s ok NJ journalists, keep reporting as North Jersey being the whole of NJ. We in SJ are used to decades of being ignored. But you’re missing out on some amazing eateries south if Trenton and west of the shore

      1. YES! THANK YOU. And all are very expensive. Southern NJ (and for me that means south of Cherry Hill!!) has many nice, AFFORDABLE, small towns with great shops and restaurants etc. that these articles never pay attention to. In one respect that is ok, we don’t need/want any tourists here! However, it is unfair to our towns and businesses who never get any recognition in these articles. South Jersey isn’t even on the map for these writers, except as you say for Cape May, which always makes the list. The few articles that mention anything “south of Trenton” always say Cherry Hill and/or Collingwood. Which again are largely unaffordable for most of us. Take a look south of Collingswood for a change people and don’t stop until you’ve explored every southern county!

  5. Those places are beautiful but most people can’t afford to live there. Because it’s too much money. I am from south Plainfield and you can live here. But you can’t list them all. But great job.

  6. I loved your post! As you said, “It isn’t all inclusive.” Places to live will definitely depend on a person’s preferences. However, I appreciate the diversity. I like it when a writer writes so well, that I feel as if I’m there! Great job!✍🏽✅

  7. There’s nothing to do in Toms River, except going to the beach 2 month a year, because the water is too cold in June, I lived there for a few years. Now I live in Cherry Hill, it’s the way much better, this is the town with plenty of shopping and restaurants, great public schools and a lot of attractions, because it’s close to Philadelphia. Nearby Moorestown and Haddonfield are even better, because they have historical downtowns as well, making you feel like you are traveling somewhere in Europe.

  8. Cape May is South Jersey. The towns listed here is a preference of the writer of this article. A lot of these towns are too expensive to live. I been to most of the one mentions here. It is nice that our state is being promoted to the outsiders……

  9. Morristown is awesome….has ” the green” that hosts assorted events as well as many restaurants .. affordable housing. We are currently receiving a makeover …..

  10. Love Holland Township in Hunterdon county but a lot of tickborne illnesses caused by ticks there.
    Otherwise great place

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