New Jersey is a very popular summer destination, and for good reason. With 130 miles of shoreline, there’s always room for another towel on the beach. If you’ve grown a little tired of visiting the same beach year after year, try one or more of these top New Jersey beaches.
Cape May has a nice stretch of beach with restrooms and food options, but the beach isn't the only attraction in town. Beautiful Victorian mansions, many of them turned into inns and vacation rentals, line the leafy streets. The charming downtown area features a collection of casual and fine dining restaurants, antique stores, souvenir shops, art galleries, upscale clothing boutiques and ice cream parlors.
Popular Cape May summer events include the Promenade Art Show (July 12th – 14th), Cape May Baby Parade (August 2nd) and the Craft Beer, Music and Crab Festival (August 3rd).
One of the most popular surfing spots in New Jersey, the Manasquan beach isn’t just the best place to find the big waves. With no boardwalk bordering the sand, the beach is fairly quiet. It’s the ideal spot to relax, build sandcastles with the kids or enjoy a leisurely picnic. In fact, the whole family is welcome in Manasquan, including your dog. If you do bring your furry friend, you’ll need to visit the town’s Fisherman’s Cove Beach.
If you happen to be in town on a Thursday, be sure to catch the weekly concert on the beach. Other summer events include a surfboard festival, fireman’s fair, sidewalk sale and lifeguard competition.
Sandy Hook National Seashore
Sandy Hook may have made national headlines not all that long ago, but this seven-mile stretch of spectacular ocean and bay beaches on a beautiful, 1,665-acre barrier peninsula (with a view of the Manhattan skyline) remains an extremely popular beach destination. There’s plenty to do here, from surf casting to swimming to relaxing on the sand. And if you’re a birder, you’ll enjoy checking out the more than 300 species of migratory birds that come through. Just a word of warning: Because it’s so popular, the parking lots tend to fill up early on the weekends, so plan to arrive early enough to get a spot.
Island Beach State Park
The beach is the main attraction at Island Beach State Park, located just a few miles down the road from Snooki’s favorite hangout, Seaside Heights. In fact, there’s not a souvenir shop or pizzeria in sight, just miles and miles of pristine beaches. Island Beach offers two side-by-side beach areas with restroom and shower facilities, as well as food stands and a bar. If you plan to visit the park on a weekend or holiday, be sure to get there early. Once the parking lots are full, cars will be turned away.
Look for the governor’s summer house on your left as you drive in. If he’s spending the day at the house, the New Jersey flag will be flying high. In addition to swimming, you can also enjoy hiking, biking, surf fishing, kayaking, canoeing and horseback riding (with your own horse) at Island Beach State Park.
Some families want a little more action. That’s where Atlantic City shines. There’s casino gaming, spas, concerts, great restaurants, a seven-mile Boardwalk, golf, water sports and shopping. Oh yeah . . . the ocean is there, too! This five-mile long stretch of beach is free. Plus you’ll find restrooms, changing rooms, outdoor showers and even lifeguards on duty from 10am until 6pm. Like other New Jersey beaches, parking is something you’ll want to consider. The parking here is metered—with a three-hour limit—so you’ll need to be prepared to move your car if you plan to stay longer. And with so much to do in the area, that’s a really good possibility. It’s not a big problem as long as you plan ahead.
Long Beach Island Region
If you’re looking for a place where you can set your own pace and relax while exploring the area, the Long Beach Island Region could be the perfect match. Enjoy the beauty and serenity of the preserved Pine Barrens and the 18-mile stretch of Atlantic coastline. Of course the region offers more than just nature to enjoy. Take in the local arts and historic sights. Or try water sports, amusements and bustling shopping villages. If you want more information, you can check out the online Vacation Planner or watch videos of the region to whet your appetite.
Family-friendly Ocean City is alcohol free, which makes it a top vacation spot for families. As one of the most-visited summer destinations in the state, it offers plenty of motels, hotels and vacation rentals. Eight miles of beaches provide plenty of room for visitors to spread out even on busy days.
When you’re ready to take a break from playing in the water, the boardwalk is only a few hundred feet away. The 2.45-mile boardwalk is lined with candy shops, amusement piers, restaurants, souvenir stores and clothing shops.
Summer events include Broadway on the Boardwalk (June 26th), Boz Scaggs concert (July 1st) sand sculpting contest (August 1st), Boardwalk art show (August 2nd) and a Mummer’s night (August 2nd).
Bustling Beach Haven, located at the southern end of Long Beach Island, is the busiest of the island’s towns, although “busy” only means the town offers more nightlife and dining options than nearby areas. You won’t find any high-rises in the town. Instead, visitors stay in a variety of low-rise motels, hotels and inns or in rentals.
Whether you want to toss a Frisbee, jump the waves or try a little boogie boarding, the beach offers the perfect place to indulge in your favorite recreational activity. Kite flying and drone flights are also permitted before 10 a.m. or after 5 p.m.
Beach Haven’s thriving business district offers the best dining and shopping options on the island. Browsing the jewelry, clothing, surf, souvenir and antique shops will keep you busy for hours. Popular summer events include Shapefest surf festival (June 22nd), Flashdance at Surflight Theater (June 25th) and the LBI Paddle Classic (July 13th).
Do you need a little extra room to store your surfboard, boogie board, cooler and beach umbrella? The four-bedroom, 2.5 executive homes at Country Classics at Hillsborough offer plenty of space for your recreational equipment. Lots are selling fast during the final phase. Contact us soon if you’re interested in becoming a Country Classics homeowner.
NJ.com: All 44 Beaches in New Jersey, Ranked Worst to Best
NJ Monthly: The 20 Best Beaches in New Jersey