10 Best Jersey Shore Beaches to Visit

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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, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a family vacation. The Jersey Shore is a paradise for beach lovers and there are many fantastic accommodation options to choose from.

If you want a lively atmosphere, Seaside Heights and Wildwood offer plenty of resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals close to the action. Or if you prefer a more relaxed and upscale experience, there are charming bed and breakfasts and elegant boutique hotels overlooking the ocean in quaint towns like Cape May.

10 Best Jersey Shore Beaches to Visit

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 more extreme sports like surfing in the Atlantic Ocean waves and skateboarding.

As a bonus, it’s also perfectly located between two of America’s best World Heritage Sites.

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 beach 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.

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

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 some 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, and kayaking, and you can get to enjoy music across the local venues. It’s also a favorite with dog owners, so don’t leave your pup behind.

Asbury Park boardwalk

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 fun, you can also enjoy the town during the winter, when the temperatures are much cooler.

Statue and building in Ocean Grove NJ

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 in the area.

Visit from June to September.

Sandy walkway leading down to Jersey Shore beach

5. Belmar

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, go to arcades, or go 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.

People on Belmar Beach, one of the best Jersey Shore beaches

6. Manasquan

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, and 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.

Sunset over the ocean in Manasquan

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 natural 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 to plan your visit during the off times.

gate leading to the beach in Island Beach State Park

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 of 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.

sandy beach in Surf City on the Jersey Shore

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!)

Whether you’re coming as a family to enjoy the Steel Pier amusement park or adults looking for a fun happy hour experience, Atlantic City is an incredible place to spend your summer vacation.

Atlantic City beach and pier with amusement park. Silhouetted by sunset over the water.

10. Cape May

Visitors agree that Cape May deserves its reputation as 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!

Cape May Lighthouse 

When to visit the Jersey Shore

Summer is the most popular time to visit the Jersey Shore. If you are planning to visit during the 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 visit one of these fantastic beaches for your next getaway? We promise that you’ll have a great time!

Cape May lighthouse with beach in foreground. Text overlay says "10 best jersey shore beaches"

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Written by Linda

Linda is multilingual and has been to over 50 countries. Her insatiable love of travel, cuisine, and foreign languages inspired her to create As We Saw It, where she documents her trips, shares practical itineraries, and offers insider tips. She’s passionate about helping fellow travelers save time, money, and hassle, and loves to discover new places to explore.

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