When people think about the best beaches to visit in the United States, they may start with Florida or California; places known for sunshine and sandy shores. You might not expect that one of the best states for a beach trip is the Garden State.
If you’re used to speeding along the 1-95 turnpike or Garden State Parkway, it may be a surprise to discover all that New Jersey has to offer. There are 141 miles of Jersey Shore beaches to enjoy, a diverse culture, a wide range of leisure activities, fantastic restaurants, historical sites, and incredible landscapes.
Plus, as the number of retirement communities in New Jersey can attest, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a family vacation – even if you aren’t a part of one!
Best Jersey Shore beaches
Winter or summer, the Jersey Shore easily ranks as one of the best vacation destinations in the Northeast. It’s so popular that there are entire travel guides dedicated to the area. Our favorite title is 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die.
The Shore is where it all started for Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. It’s perfect for those who are looking to kick back and relax or for those who want to get into some action. Visitors can enjoy everything from the family-friendly boardwalk to the more extreme sports like surfing in the Atlantic Ocean waves and skateboarding.
As a bonus, it’s also perfectly located between two of the best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in America.
In this article, we’re going to focus on 10 of the best beaches on the Jersey Shore, from Sandy Hook to Cape May. There are dozens more, but we think these are the best beaches to visit in the state.
1. Sandy Hook
If you’re looking for diversity, then Sandy Hook would be an excellent destination for your vacation. Sandy Hook is a 7-mile stretch of beach and a national park all in one.
The beaches here are family-friendly, and you will get to enjoy a vast range of activities like kayaking, swimming, biking, fishing, hiking, or lazing in the sun, all while enjoying a view of the New York City skyline.
Also, don’t forget to visit the historic Sandy Hook Lighthouse. It’s the oldest working lighthouse in the United States.
Visit from March to September, since the temperatures are much warmer.
2. Asbury Park
For a long time, Asbury Park was a quiet, secret getaway for to people familiar with the area. However, it has recently become a popular vacation destination. The town has undergone a number of exciting transformations, ranging from beachfront restaurants and shops to an improved boardwalk.
Covered by beautiful white sands, Asbury Park beach tempts everyone from families to solo adventurers to run, play, and dive into the waves. You can enjoy many other activities like swimming, fishing, kayaking, and you can get to enjoy music across the local venues. It’s also preferred by pet owners with dogs, so don’t leave your pet behind.
3. Ocean Grove
Some people avoid the beach due to fear of sharks in the deep blue ocean. If you’re a bit water-phobic and prefer shallow waters, then Ocean Grove is an ideal place for you and your family to visit.
The boardwalk is equally kid-friendly, so you won’t have to worry about them strolling around. You will also get to enjoy a variety of activities like surfing, beach tennis, paddle boarding, and swimming.
Visit from June to September.
Surf City is a year-round destination. While a summer trip to enjoy the beach is obviously fun, you can also enjoy the town during the winter when the temperatures are much cooler.
4. Bradley Beach
Bradley Beach is slowly rising in popularity, so it sure will be worth the visit. There’s a beautiful boardwalk that you can walk along as you enjoy the breeze by the beach with your friends and family. Also, if you love reading, you can pick a book from the free libraries and enjoy it along the boardwalk.
You also can enjoy bike riding along the trails, well-prepared food from top-notch restaurants, and local music from the many concerts around.
Visit from June to September.
For a very long time, Belmar has been known to be one of the best party destinations due to its wide range of festivals, fairs, and attractions. Beyond the party atmosphere, it also has clean, family-friendly beaches and an incredible boardwalk with games and activities for kids of all ages.
You can also enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, sunbathing, and surfing along the beach. Or else, you can also go shopping, arcades, and mini-golfing. You sure have a variety of activities to do in Belmar without getting bored.
If you’re here in summer, don’t miss the NJ Sandcastle Contest in Belmar. It takes place in early July.
Manasquan has been a summer spot for many years. This Jersey Shore beach is an ideal place to take your family, whether during the day or night. Plus, the beach is dog-friendly, so you can tag them along if you so wish.
Manasquan beach is clean, quiet, well-maintained, and safe. You’ll also get to enjoy a couple of activities such as biking, fishing, boardwalks, birdwatching, and you can also enjoy some quiet time comfortably with your book as you enjoy the sound of the waves.
Visit from May to September for warmer temperatures.
7. Island Beach State Park
If you find yourself in Seaside Park, please don’t leave before making your way to Island Beach State Park. It’s mostly known for its naturally-made look, with an outstanding variety of activities at reasonable prices.
Despite the fees, there are many other free activities to enjoy like swimming, bike riding, surfing, and canoeing. It also offers an excellent spot for bird watching and beach picnics since it’s large enough for many families.
The beach is mainly crowded during summer and holidays, so it would be ideal for planning your visit off these times.
8. Surf City
Most people haven’t heard of Surf City, but that’s why we like it. This is the place to go for a relaxing getaway. It’s one the best beaches to visit for peace and quiet.
Plus, due to its small size, almost everything is within walking distance. You can explore the city on foot, get intimately familiar with the area, and save on gas money. It also has beach houses, playgrounds to enjoy the seaside air, and you can walk to the grocery stores and local restaurants. You can also go for mini-golfing, shopping in the boutiques and recreational classes if you wish.
9. Atlantic City
Known for its fantastic casinos and hotels, a weekend away in Atlantic City may just be the glitzy and glamorous vacation you’ve been waiting for.
Established in the 1800s as a health resort, this Jersey Shore beach city has morphed into a family-, solo-, and couples-friendly destination. Along with swanky high-rise hotels and nightclubs, you can also enjoy sun and sand, an exciting boardwalk, and more concert venues and comedy clubs than you can shake a stick at.
You can even visit Lucy the Elephant, the oldest surviving roadside tourist attraction in the United States. (She is currently undergoing some repairs but is projected to reopen on Memorial Day 2022!)
10. Cape May
Visitors agree that Cape May deserves its reputation ais one of the best Jersey Shore beach towns. It has maintained its charm because of its cleanliness, quick access to accommodation, and most of all, because it’s both family- and solo-friendly.
Cape May is graced with beautiful old homes lining the streets, making it even more exciting to explore. It also has a variety of beaches to choose from, so you won’t be all overcrowded in one place.
There are also popular activities like:
- Relaxing in the spas
- Swimming and surfing along The Cove (though with a lifeguard!)
- Playing volleyball and bike riding along the beach
- Holding beachfront picnics
- Taking a boat tour to enjoy ocean life like whales and dolphins
- Enjoying parks like County May County Parks or Fireman’s Museum
ⓘ TIP: Cape May is also a favorite spot for dolphin watching!
When to visit the Jersey Shore
Summer is the most popular time to visit the Jersey Shore. If you are planning on visiting during tourist season, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The heat can be scorching so dress accordingly.
- Be prepared for crowds and high prices.
- And don’t forget your sunscreen, sunglasses, and plenty of water!
Ready to visit the Jersey Shore?
Well, as you can see, New Jersey is filled with splendor and beauty, and you can never get tired of it. Once you go, all you will want to do is visit more and more.
So why don’t you add this fantastic city to your travel bucket list? You certainly won’t regret it!