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One of the best things about New Jersey is heading down to the shore to spend time along the coast. Lots of beaches have been revitalizing and reinventing themselves since Hurricane Sandy, making the Jersey Shore an amazing place to visit.
The beaches of New Jersey offer world-class entertainment, famous boardwalks, mini-golf courses, tasty pancake houses, and a little something for everyone. There are beaches well-suited for singles, families with kids, retirees, and locals too. With 130 miles of coastline to enjoy, here are some of the best beaches in New Jersey to relax, party, and soak up the sun.
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A popular weekend getaway, Cape May is a beautiful beach town that’s famous for its lovely Victorian district. Cove Beach here is a great place to swim and take a kayak out on the water. Higbee Beach and Poverty Beach are also worth checking out. This is a classic resort community that is just as popular as ever. In fact, it’s probably the most popular summer destination in New Jersey. Don’t miss the lighthouse and the historic homes listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Take a walk down Washington Street, a pedestrian-only street, to browse the local shops. If you can arrange your schedule to visit over the fourth of July, do so, because this town throws an excellent patriotic celebration.
The beach at Ocean City stretches for eight miles, and there’s a 2.5-mile boardwalk here that’s packed with fun things to see and do. This is a favorite beach among families. Gillian’s Wonderland Pier has a couple dozen rides and attractions, and Playland’s Castaway Cove has thrill rides and a Ferris wheel. One of the best ways to see this beach area is to rent a bike and take your time exploring the shops and sights.
Affectionately referred to as LBI, Long Beach Island is a southern barrier island that’s a favorite among Jersey locals. This is a great place to come to learn how to surf, although it does get crowded in the summer. The best place to go surfing is Beach Haven, which is on the southern end of Long Beach Island. There isn’t a boardwalk here, but you will find 18 miles of beachfront between Barnegat Bay and the ocean. Beach Haven is one of the very best beaches here, but others include Harvey Cedars, Surf City, and Ship Bottom.
For a low-key boardwalk and a lovely beach area, head to Point Pleasant. This is a family-friendly area that is famous for its saltwater taffy and skeeball games. But this is also a fun place for singles looking for a party scene and plenty of bars. You may be surprised to find palm trees here, and Martell’s, a tiki bar, is great for live music. First-time visitors should be aware that parking at Point Pleasant Beach can be difficult and expensive. But if a stray rainstorm comes your way, you can head into town to check out the antique center and the aquarium.
Wildwood Beach has a huge boardwalk that is packed with attractions and is lots of fun for families. It has plenty of natural scenery, but it’s also lined with hotels, neon signs, and amusement park-style rides. Morey Piers has three amusement parks along the Wildwood Boardwalk where you can find classic rides, thrilling roller coasters, carnival games, and bright neon lights. Another interesting place to check out here is artBox, which is an artist colony made up of shipping containers that serve as studios and works of art themselves. The Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and North Wildwood beaches are very wide, and there’s even a dog-friendly area to let your pup splash around.
This area of New Jersey has undergone an amazing transformation and has one of the best boardwalks you could ever hope to visit. Asbury Park has become trendy and chic with high-end food trucks and vendor stalls. This beach area is popular with LGBT travelers and has a great music scene. Music fans may remember that Asbury Park is where the legendary Bruce Springsteen’s career began, and the music venues here are still plentiful. This is also a great beach area to visit if you’re traveling with a four-legged friend because some beach areas are dog-friendly.
These two beach areas are right next to each other, but each has something different to offer visitors. Stone Harbor on the south end and Avalon on the north end are both parts of Seven Mile Island. It takes about two and a half hours to reach this beach area from New York City. Avalon is a more secluded beach than others on this list, and it is known for well-dressed crowds. Don’t forget your best designer swimwear! Avalon tends to be a more laid-back and less crowded beach than others on this list. Meanwhile, Stone Harbor is a great family-friendly beach that has mini-golf courses, ice cream shops, and affordable shopping. Head to the Wetlands Institute at Stone Harbor to learn more about the area with your kids. You can bring your dog to the northern end of Stone Harbor Beach between 80th and 83rd Streets in the mornings and evenings.
Sea Girt’s beaches and boardwalk are open year-round, and they offer incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and Sea Girt Lighthouse. Designated beaches here allow the general public to swim, sunbathe, and fish; however, you must purchase a daily or seasonal beach badge for admission. You can buy badges at the main pavilion or along the beachfront, and then parking is free. There’s a non-commercial boardwalk here, and lifeguards are on duty during the summer on weekends and holidays. You can’t bring food on the beach, but you can bring non-alcoholic beverages in non-disposable containers.
Head to the northernmost point of the Jersey Shore to the Gateway National Recreation Area to visit Sandy Hook’s beaches. This is an easy and accessible destination for weekend travelers from New York City. There’s even a ferry, the Seastreak ferry, that travels from Manhattan to this beach area in just 35 minutes. Shuttles are then available to take you to the family-friendly south beaches, the popular North Beach, and the clothing-optional Gunnison Beach. But there’s much more to do here than just lounge in the sand. There’s a long bike path for cyclists and some great places to surf and kitesurf too.
This is a narrow barrier island that has 10 miles of beach between the ocean and Barnegat Bay. Wildlife and the surrounding nature are protected by law here, and parking is easier here than at some other beaches on this list. There are lifeguards, so it’s a nice place to bring kids, and it has plenty of pristine nature to attract hikers and fishermen. There are undeveloped sections of the beach that feel refreshing after visiting some of the more built-up sections of the Jersey Shore. The Barnegat Lighthouse is worth a visit too. This beach is just two hours from New York City and there is a parking fee. You can bring your dog to this beach as long as you’re south of the swimming area and using a leash that’s six feet long or shorter.
If you’re looking for a quiet beach area to rent a house and relax with close family and friends, then Spring Lake is the place to be in the summer in New Jersey. Or stay in a 19th-century bed & breakfast to get the true Spring Lake Beach experience over a long weekend. This is an upscale, sophisticated, and clean beach area that forbids coolers on the beach. It’s not the best beach for families with young kids because there are no lifeguards on duty. However, it’s great for families with older kids and adults. This is more of a place for relaxation than for partying, and there’s plenty of space to spread out and relax. There’s a boardwalk here, but it’s a non-commercial one that makes for a peaceful stroll.