September 2023: Small Towns

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 our list of “12 Small Towns to Visit Now” to just a dozen?

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.

Happy exploring!

View more back issues

GARDEN VARIETY

How Danny Clinch Captures the Soul of Music in His Photography and Festival

Clinch and his Transparent staff have been preparing for this year’s Sea Hear Now Festival, which takes place September 16-17.

Read more

Frankie Montecalvo Talks Racing, Training and His Favorite Jersey Drive

“I love it here,” Montecalvo says of his native NJ.

Read more

‘Patron Saint of Springsteen Fans’ Connects Grateful Recipients With Concert Tickets

Helping people get to Springsteen shows gives Donna Gray, founder of Bruce Funds, an unmatched sense of “energetic rejuvenation.”

Read more

Author Martha McPhee on Returning to Her NJ Childhood Home

McPhee’s first memoir, Omega Farm, arose amid her homecoming to Hunterdon County, where she cared for her ailing mother and confronted her chaotic youth.

Read more

He Fell in Love With Screen Printing at Kean University. 17 Years Later, He’s Returning

Fine artist Ricardo Roig is coming back to his alma mater as an artist in residence.

Read more

NJ Nonprofit Devoted to Supporting Domestic-Violence Survivors

S.O.F.I.A. offers practical services and necessities—while also working to erase stigma and shame.

Read more

Meet the NJ School Principals Who Love Surfing as Much as Their Students Do

These wave-riding administrators know firsthand that surfing runs parallel, not perpendicular, to academics.

Read more

NJ Colleges, Universities Offer Increasingly Inclusive Campus Cultures

A growing number of schools provide expanded opportunities to students with developmental disabilities.

Read more

This Garwood Shop Is a Haven for All Things Antique, Peculiar and Beautiful

Cheech & Roo offers repurposed furniture, curious finds and a feel-good experience.

Read more

NJ Influencers Share Their Top Style Tips for Fall

What to wear and treat yourself to this season.

Read more

Saying a Heartfelt Goodbye to Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver

New Jersey and the nation will miss Sheila Oliver. We are in need of more leaders like her.

Read more

FEATURES

How NJ Downtowns Are Reinventing Themselves in the Face of Change

As New Jersey’s retail landscape changes, so does the idea of the once-typical shopping district.

Read more

Jersey Towns Battle It Out Over Book Bans

Residents clash about what reading material should be available to children.

Read more

NJ Author Is One of the Most Banned in the Country

George M. Johnson wrote All Boys Aren’t Blue and grew up in Plainfield.

Read more

Laura Benanti’s Jersey Roots Inspired Her Confidence and Passion

The Tony-winning actress grew up in Kinnelon and now lives in Montclair with her family.

Read more

12 Small Towns in New Jersey to Visit Now

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

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Burlington: A City With a Rich History and Culture

Enjoy strolling through this extremely walkable small town and exploring the restaurants, unique shops and events.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Forked River: A Waterfront Hamlet in Ocean County

Insider’s tip: It’s pronounced FORK-ed River, with two syllables.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in 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 restaurants and shops.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Hopatcong: Lake Life All Year Round

The lake is the center of activities year-round, with skating and ice fishing in the winter and swimming and boating in the summer.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Lambertville: Eclectic Shops and Riverfront Fun

Antique lovers, art enthusiasts and outdoorsy types will all find something enjoyable in Lambertville.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Mountainside: A Borough of Picturesque Trails and Parks

Mountainside is home to some of the best parts of the extensive Watchung Reservation.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Ocean Grove: A Resort Town Unlike Any Other

The real pleasure of Ocean Grove is taking in the town itself.

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Pitman: Where Tradition Meets Innovation

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

Read more

What to Do, See and Eat in Spring Lake: One of the Shore’s Prettiest Towns

It has gorgeous beaches, great downtowns shops and charming restaurants.

Read more

This Isn’t a Rock Concert—This Is Church! Inside the Rise of NJ’s Megachurches

Are New Jersey’s megachurches the answer to the crisis of Christianity?

Read more

Everything You Need to Know About Rowing in New Jersey

Rowing has an enthusiastic following statewide and offers the chance to compete, get in shape, find community or just enjoy the water.

Read more

HOME & GARDEN

Step Inside George Oliphant’s Historic Family Home in Montclair

George Oliphant of George to the Rescue fame lives with his wife and kids in a beautiful 1912 home formerly owned by his grandparents.

Read more

New ‘George to the Rescue’ Season Stars NJ

George Oliphant’s home-renovation show filmed five recent episodes in the Garden State, from East Orange to Point Pleasant.

Read more

EAT & DRINK

At Agricola in Morristown, Farm-Fresh Fare Shines

“My main inspiration is New Jersey,” chef Bruce Johnson says of his wide-ranging menu.

Read more

How a Former Electrician Pivoted to Full-Time Pizza Making

Rafael Ruiz told his parents they were “nuts” when they first suggested he turn his pizza truck into what is now the successful Emilio’s Wood Fire Pizza in Nutley. 

Read more

A Hidden Gem of a Sushi Spot in Parsippany

Sit at the bar and watch the chef expertly prepare your meal—or take it to the nearby lake and enjoy lunch with a view.

Read more

Try a BBQ Sundae at This Jersey Shore Spot

The folks behind this family-run eatery worked on perfecting their barbecue recipes for years before launching.

Read more

Savvy NJ Forager Harvests Eclectic Cocktail Ingredients From a Surprising Spot

And with his new book, Slow Drinks, Danny Childs hopes to open people’s eyes to the edible, tasty plants all around them.

Read more

EXIT RAMP

Finally Getting Into a Jersey State of Mind

For the globe-trotting daughter of a New Yorker, appreciating the Garden State’s charms took some time.

Read more