12 Small Towns in New Jersey to Visit Now

These charming destinations make for a fun day trip or weekend getaway. 

Downtown Clinton
Downtown Clinton is picturesque and walkable. Photo: Laura Moss

There are 564 municipalities in New Jersey. That includes our largest cities (Newark and Jersey City), a long list of medium-sized towns, cities and boroughs, and dozens of small towns. How, you may ask, did the editors at New Jersey Monthly narrow down this list to just a dozen towns?

It was tough, but we considered a variety of factors. First, all of the towns are the kinds of places you just don’t want to leave. They have small-town beauty and charm, and interesting people running their businesses; unique places to shop; culture in the form of theaters, movie houses or galleries; and plenty of terrific restaurants (this is New Jersey, after all).

Our list of towns should satisfy both day-trippers and New Jerseyans looking for a weekend getaway. They are places where activities and fun are to be had. We provide hotel recommendations for each town, too, so that you know where to stay.

We also made a concerted effort to represent North, Central and South Jersey, so that New Jerseyans from all areas of the state would be able to enjoy our recommendations without traveling too far.

Read all about these 12 towns—and start planning your next trip—below.

September 2023 cover of New Jersey Monthly

Buy our September 2023 issue here. Cover photo: Laura Moss

BURLINGTON: A City With a Rich History and Culture

Visitors to Burlington, which was gloriously settled along the Delaware in 1677, can immerse themselves in Burlington’s vibrant culture and history, charming downtown shopping district, waterfront area, and exciting events and festivals. READ MORE

CHESTER: One of NJ’s Most Charming Small Towns

If you close your eyes and picture a quaint, historic town, that’s Chester. Explore the charming downtown, farms and hiking trails. READ MORE

CLINTON: Beautiful Scenery and So Much More

Even if you’ve never visited Clinton, you’ve certainly seen it. The town’s picturesque Red Mill, perched alongside the South Branch of the Raritan River, is one of New Jersey’s most photographed sites. Follow our guide for a great day trip or weekend getaway in Clinton. READ MORE

FORKED RIVER: A Waterfront Hamlet in Ocean County

You will give yourself away as an outsider if you fail to use two syllables when pronouncing the first word of this Ocean County hamlet—as in FORK-ed River. Here, the water is the main draw—enjoy a day on a chartered fishing boat, restaurants along the water and more. READ MORE

HIGHLANDS: An Historic Waterfront Community

You’ll find an eclectic mix of residential neighborhoods tucked into the cliffs that give the town its name, plus a plethora of restaurants and shops. READ MORE

HOPATCONG: Lake Life All Year Round

The lake, New Jersey’s biggest, is the center of activities all year, with skating and ice fishing in the winter and swimming and boating in the summer. No matter what month you visit, there’s always fun to be had. READ MORE

ISLAND HEIGHTS: An Enchanting Throwback in Time

If you are an artist or a sailor, or someone who loves Victorian architecture and beautiful water views, you will be enchanted by Island Heights. READ MORE

LAMBERTVILLE: Eclectic Shops and Riverfront Fun

Everyone from antique lovers to outdoorsy types to art enthusiasts will have a great time in Lambertville. READ MORE

MOUNTAINSIDE: A Borough of Picturesque Trails and Parks

Enjoy the beauty of nature in this Union County borough. READ MORE

OCEAN GROVE: A Resort Town Unlike Any Other

The best part of Ocean Grove is taking in the town itself, which boasts the country’s greatest conglomeration of Victorian architecture, from the summer tents that surround the Great Auditorium to tiny porched cottages to mansions. READ MORE

PITMAN: Where Tradition Meets Innovation

A walkable downtown, al fresco dining and a nearly century-old theater make Pitman a destination worth visiting. READ MORE

SPRING LAKE: One of the Shore’s Prettiest Towns

Spring Lake has pristine beaches, great downtowns shops and charming restaurants. READ MORE


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