This article was last updated on May 27, 2022. It was originally published on June 23, 2020.
The Jersey Shore has more than 130 miles of beaches linking together more than 40 municipalities, plus oceanfront parks areas under federal, state and county jurisdiction.
You can also view this information (and more!) on our free Jersey Shore Beach Guide app (download here for iPhones and here for Androids).
Exit N105; S117
Vibe: National Recreation Area with wide sandy beaches, including Gunnison Beach, the state’s only legal nude beach (and one of NJM’s 20 best beaches). The Seastreak ferry brings visitors from New York City.
Don’t miss: The famed Sandy Hook Lighthouse can be viewed from the outside, but it is closed this season until further notice. Also check out Fort Hancock and the 7-mile multi-use pathway.
Exit N105; S117
Vibe: The wide beach strip includes beach clubs, numerous unprotected beach areas, beach playgrounds. The Municipal Beach, in the center of town, provides lifeguards and rescue personnel, plenty of parking, restrooms, and is nearby downtown with restaurants, shops and more.
Don’t miss: David Burke’s Drifthouse for chow and Lucky Dog Surf Co for surfing lessons.
Exit N105; S117
Vibe: Large vacation homes look across Route 36 at the rocky seawall that kept most of them relatively safe from Hurricane Sandy.
Don’t miss: Boyle’s Tavern; The Tiki Bar; Beach Tavern; Shrewsbury River.
Vibe: The trendy restaurants and shops of Pier Village have enlivened this historic oceanfront resort.
Don’t miss: Seven Presidents Park; Pier Village; the West End; New Jersey Repertory Company.
Exit N100A; S105
Vibe: Wealthy, insular suburb by the sea.
Don’t miss: Conover Pavilion; Axelrod Performing Arts Center.
Exit N100A; S102
Vibe: Music- and arts-centric beach town, with a love for good food, good drink and a good party. For our favorite restaurants in Asbury Park, click here.
Don’t miss: The boardwalk; Cookman Avenue shopping and cafes; the Stone Pony for live music; Wonder Bar (be sure to check out Yappy Hour if you have a dog!); getting your fortune read at Madam Marie’s, which Bruce Springsteen immortalized in song—and we put on our Jersey Shore bucket list; Sea Hear Now music festival in September featuring acts including Green Day and Stevie Nicks.
Exit N100A; S100B
Vibe: Founded as a religious retreat, this quiet, dry town still serves a large religious community in the summers, but also attracts artsy, year-round residents.
Don’t miss: The historic tent city; the Great Amphitheatre; Main Avenue shopping and restaurants.
Exit N98; S100B
Vibe: Throwback town with bench-lined stone boardwalk and ornate fountains.
Don’t miss: The Buttered Biscuit for breakfast and brunch (one of our favorite Shore breakfast spots); Del Ponte’s Bakery for fresh baked goods.
Exit N98; S100B
Vibe: Family-friendly Victorian community with ample beachfront.
Don’t miss: Avon Pavilion; the Columns seafood bar and restaurant for live music from favorite Jersey Shore bands and DJs, packed inside of a large Victorian-style home with a wrap-around balcony.
Vibe: A larger Shore town with long boardwalk and lots of dining and shopping on Main Street, six blocks from the beach. Families opt for the quiet north end, while the singles crowd heads for the livelier south-end beaches and nightlife.
Don’t miss: 9th Avenue Pier; Annual NJ Sandcastle Contest taking place this year on July 13; Belmar Parasail to get parasails and banana boats for rent.
Vibe: Unhurried small town that seamlessly melds resort amenities with charming, upscale residential areas.
Don’t miss: The Breakers on the Ocean; Spring Lake Community House and Theatre.
Vibe: Quiet, elegant hamlet that shuts down at midnight.
Don’t miss: Sea Girt Lighthouse (tours take place on Sundays); the historic Parker House for lunch, happy hour or dinner; downtown shopping district.
Exit N90; S98
Vibe: Quaint town with a bustling business district and quiet boardwalk.
Don’t miss: Algonquin Arts Theatre; Main Street shopping district.
POINT PLEASANT BEACH
Exit N90; S98
Vibe: Family-friendly destination with lively boardwalk amusement rides, arcades, mini-golf and ample ice cream joints. (For our full roundup of iconic ice cream spots at the Jersey Shore, click here.)
Don’t miss: Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Amusement Park and Aquarium (find more top aquariums in the state here); Martell’s Tiki Bar; downtown antiques district; Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey (one of our must-visit NJ museums).
Exit N90; S98
Vibe: With no public restrooms on the beach, upscale Bay Head is predominantly a destination for homeowners and seasonal renters.
Don’t miss: East Avenue, a popular beachfront stretch for strolling and jogging; Bay Head Historical Society Museum, which offers walking tours highlighting the notable historic architecture of the town including Grenville, a bubblegum-pink Victorian hotel.
Exit N82; S98
Vibe: Wealthy residential community of large oceanfront homes.
Don’t miss: Mantoloking Bridge County Park; Mantoloking Bridge Fishing Pier.
Exit N82; S98
Vibe: Tiny residential community that is one of the Dover North Beaches.
Don’t miss: Surfing lessons through Coastline Adventures; Blue Sushi Restaurant.
Vibe: Family-friendly beach with boogie boarding and surfing. Packed on weekends and holidays. It’s a quintessential Shore town, with a yacht club, shops and restaurants.
Don’t miss: Crab’s Claw Inn for seafood; House of Lucky boutique.
Vibe: Summer retreat for families who bike to the beach and keep coming back.
Don’t miss: Barnacle Bill’s Amusements (arcade and mini-golf); Bayside Park (tennis courts, basketball court, handball courts and a playground); Cranberry Inlet Marina (Jet Ski, WaveRunner and boat rentals); Pedals N Paddles (kayaks, sailboats and more); Ortley Seafood Market.
Vibe: Family-friendly arcades meet singles-oriented nightlife scene. To read about the big steps the town is taking to shed its party-town image, click here.
Don’t miss: The boardwalk; Casino Pier; the Sky Ride; Breakwater Beach.
Vibe: A close neighbor to Seaside Heights with its own boardwalk.
Don’t miss: The boardwalk; the Sawmill.
ISLAND BEACH STATE PARK
Vibe: This narrow finger between the Atlantic and Barnegat Bay is one of Jersey’s last stretches of untouched oceanfront. The place to go for nature and solitude. Access will be free all summer. For an in-depth guide to exploring this natural wonder, click here.
Don’t miss: Surf fishing; bike trails; guided tours; Sedge Island Kayak EcoTour; Nature Center programs; clamming; crabbing; fishing.
BARNEGAT LIGHT (LBI)
Vibe: LBI fishing village meets quiet, unpretentious Shore town.
Don’t miss: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park (Lighthouse is closed for a restoration project through October); Viking Village; Boat Ramp open daily.
HARVEY CEDARS (LBI)
Vibe: Borough of LBI where many large homes have replaced the more modest originals.
Don’t miss: Craft Day by the Bay in Sunset Park; Harvey Cedars Arts Festival in Sunset Park; Blue Claw Crab Race & Craft Show in Sunset Park; Wednesday night free concerts.
SURF CITY (LBI)
Vibe: LBI’s artsy district, with lots of galleries and funky eateries along the main drag.
Don’t miss: Surf City Farmers Market; art galleries on Long Beach Boulevard including SwellColors Glass Studio and Gallery and M.T. Burton Gallery 19th Street Studio.
Vibe: The gateway to LBI, with ample hotels, restaurants and shops—especially surf shops.
Don’t miss: Hartland Golf and Arcade; Ron Jon Surf Shop; Farias Surf & Sport (seven LBI locations); Our Endless Summer Arcade; Sand Trap miniature golf; Flamingo Golf minature golf.
LONG BEACH TOWNSHIP (LBI)
Vibe: LBI’s largest municipality hopscotches from Loveladies to Holgate, encompassing 19 communities. That means it offers a little of everything—from dining to shopping to quiet beaches. To read our 2022 guide for LBI newcomers, click here.
Don’t miss: St. Francis Community Center; BayView Park; LBI Foundation of the Arts & Sciences.
BEACH HAVEN (LBI)
Vibe: The center of LBI tourism, with waterfront motels, a vibrant restaurant scene and downtown amusements.
Don’t miss: Fantasy Island Amusement Park; Thundering Surf Waterpark; Surflight Theatre; New Jersey Maritime Museum; downtown shopping area (Bay Village, Schooner’s Wharf); Long Beach Island Historical Association Museum.
Vibe: Family-friendly community just north of Atlantic City.
Don’t miss: Brigantine Farmers Market on Saturdays starting in June; Brigantine Historical Museum; Marine Mammal Stranding Center; gift shops (Brigantine Beach Gift Shop, Donna Elias Studios and more).
Vibe: New Jersey’s casino-gambling resort town offers big-name entertainment, top-quality restaurants, family-friendly attractions and the original Boardwalk. What happens in AC stays in AC.
Don’t miss: The Boardwalk; casinos; Steel Pier; Absecon Lighthouse; Atlantic City Airshow taking place August 24 this year; top restaurants including Angeline, Café 2825, Chef Vola’s, Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, Dock’s Oyster House, Girasole, Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill, Izakaya, Knife & Fork Inn, Makai, Martorano’s, Pancho’s Taqueria, and Sandpiper Coastal Bar & Grill. See our full list of the best restaurants in Atlantic City here.
Vibe: Resort community at the southern end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk.
Don’t miss: Ventnor City Farmers Market on Fridays from 8:30 am-noon from Memorial Day to September 24; Wednesday sunset movies and concerts starting June 30; Summer Beach Jam Concerts (Saturdays on the beach).
Vibe: The year-round home of Lucy the Elephant, the Shore’s most hallowed hollow pachyderm.
Don’t miss: Lucy the Elephant (who is in the midst of a $2 million makeover); Beachstock taking place June 25 this year (music, food, children’s events, games and more).
Vibe: Upscale community at the southern tip of Atlantic City’s Absecon Island.
Don’t miss: Longport Dog Beach; Longport Historical Society Musuem.
Cape May County
Exit N25; S30
Vibe: Surf’s up in this dry town that’s hopping during the summer months—especially on the busy boardwalk.
Don’t miss: The boardwalk; Gillian’s Wonderland Pier; OC Waterpark; Playland’s Castaway Cove; Corson’s Inlet State Park.
Exit N13; S25
Vibe: Sssshhh. This secluded beach is the Shore’s best-kept secret. (For a list of all our favorite hidden beaches, click here.)
Don’t miss: Whale Beach; Twisties Tavern on the Bay; the Deauville Inn; Whale Creek Marina Boat Rentals
SEA ISLE CITY
Exit N13; S17
Vibe: Tight-knit town with lots of bars, a seafood village and a youngish crowd.
Don’t miss: Family-friendly summer movie series Wednesday nights at Excursion Park from July 6-August 31; Chamber of Commerce Farmers Markets on Tuesday mornings; Beachcomber’s Environmental Tours; Townsends Inlet Waterfront Park; themed family fun nights on Mondays from June 27-August 29; Free Saturday night concerts at 7:30 pm from June 25-September 3; acoustic open mic nights every Thursday beginning July 7; Skimmer Festival running from June 18-19.
Vibe: Sophisticated seaside enclave with large, secluded oceanfront homes.
Don’t miss: Beachside Science at Surfside Park; Tuesday beach movies; Surfside Live Fridays at Surfside Park; Sunday concert series at Surfside Park.
Vibe: Lively downtown shopping and dining scene accents the summer fun.
Don’t miss: BeachFit Expo on June 18; Wetlands Institute; Salt Marsh Safari; downtown shopping district; Harbor Square Theatre (multiscreen cinema); Farmers Market every Sunday from 8am-12:30pm, Memorial Day to Labor Day; Free concerts every Tuesday from 7pm-9pm, July 5- Labor Day; Food Truck Festival on July 30 from 7pm-10pm.
Exit N4; S6
Vibe: Retro fun and lots of amusements for the whole family.
Don’t miss: NJ BBQ Championship and Anglesea Blues Festival running July 8-10 (one of our favorite festivals in the state); Morey’s Piers for amusements, rides and water parks; Splash Zone Water Park; Doo Wop Experience Museum; neon motel district; Hereford Inlet Lighthouse.
Vibe: Historic resort town with something for everyone—especially if you love the Victorian ambience. (To explore more of our favorite historic towns in New Jersey, click here.)
Don’t miss: Washington Street Mall; downtown Victorian district and the Emlen Physick Estate; Cape May Stage; East Lynne Theater Company; Cape May Lighthouse; Cape May Bird Observatory; Cape May County Zoo; Beach Plum Farm; Sunset Beach (for sunsets, of course, as well as ceremonies honoring veterans; hunting for “Cape May diamonds” on the beach.) For a list of our favorite Cape May restaurants, click here.Click here to leave a comment