The Jersey Shore of NJ has some of the best beaches in the whole country. Enjoy as we take a deep dive into the best 15 beaches in the Garden State.
For New Yorkers looking to escape the city for a sandy retreat, they look no further than the Jersey Shore, home to some of the best beaches in New Jersey. You’ll find a great variety of scenic views and fun attractions along this 130-mile coastline of white sands, including scenic Victorian towns, lighthouses, barrier islands, and bays.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway, a week-long vacation, or a full season in paradise, the Jersey Shore has something for you.
Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage to most of the Jersey Shore back in 2012.
Since then, there’s been an enormous revitalization effort, including the restoration of beaches and landmark Victorian buildings.
So grab some beach gear, and let’s give you our top 15 best beaches in New Jersey!
Quick Tip: Use this table to find which exit to take on the Garden State Parkway for each beach town.
1. Cape May
Taking the #1 spot on our list, Cape May is one of the best public beaches in New Jersey. Garden State Parkway exit: 0 (south)
Nestled at the top of the Parkway, Cape May is the most popular summer destination near the city and arguably one of the best public beaches in New Jersey.
The town’s historic district is famous for its colorful Victorian architecture, 600 preserved 19th-century buildings, and several bed-and-breakfasts.
You’ll find boating, kayaking, and windsurfing in one of the region’s several beaches along its 2.5 miles of coastline, like Higbee Beach, Poverty Beach, and Steger Beach.
The Cove is a popular surfing spot in Cape May, and further afield are wineries and tours of historical sites.
Green Creek, located north of Cape May, is home to the Jersey Shore Alpacas, something a little out of the ordinary that your kids will enjoy.
Vacationers enjoy volleyball and picnics on the beach, bird watching, and eating at one of the many beachfront restaurants.
Cape May is open all year, but visitors must have an admission tag during the summer.
Fourth of July celebrations are significant in Cape May.
2. Asbury Park
A mile-long stretch of white sand beaches and boardwalks, Asbury Park is a summer paradise.Garden State Parkway exit: 102 (south); 100A (north)
Made legend by famous singer Bruce Springsteen in his homage to Asbury Park in his album Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J., there’s a lot to love about this little beach town.
Asbury Park Beach is a mile-long stretch of white sand with busy boardwalks and loads of activities.
Travelers come for fishing, swimming, and sunbathing, and the famous Asbury Park Boardwalk is rich with shopping and dining options (if you’re looking for local tees, check out Fun House).
The soul of this little town by the beach is a vibrant music scene.
Music enthusiasts can catch a show at the Stone Pony, one of New Jersey’s best-known music venues.
Check out Salvation, a rooftop bar at the Asbury Hotel sporting a fun late-night scene.
Are you vacationing with pets?
From October to May, the entire beach is pet-friendly.
And for the rest of the year, check out Eighth Avenue Dog Beach — it’s open for your pooch any day of the year.
3. Spring Lake
Spring Lake is home to one of the longest boardwalks in New Jersey, and is one of the quieter beaches on this list.(Credit: Nick Harris on Wikipedia)Garden State Parkway exit: 98 (south; north)
If you’re looking for something on the quieter side to rent a home for the summer months, Spring Lake Beach may be just right for you.
Come stroll along the two miles of pristine beach and one of the longest boardwalks in NJ, with its clear views of the beachfront and choice of benches to relax and enjoy the view.
Visit Washington Avenue Beach for the soft sands and warm water.
Parking is free, but we recommend you arrive early as parking spots are limited, and be ready to pay the $8 entrance fee to the beach.
Bringing food, alcohol, and coolers to the beach is forbidden, though the fees and regulations preserve the beauty of this quiet beachfront.
Afternoons are best spent in Spring Lake, a town with lasting beauty thanks to its historic popularity among wealthy Victorian New York vacationers.
Spring Lake is home to several fantastic restaurants, candy shops, and Jersey-owned ice cream parlors like Hoffman’s.
4. Ocean Grove
A charming Victorian town and LGBT-friendly beach, Ocean Grove is a truly amazing destination.(Credit: Jackie from Wikipedia)Garden State Parkway exit: 100B (south); 100 (north)
Ocean Grove takes the #4 spot on our list of best New Jersey beaches.
Another charming Victorian town along the Jersey Shore, Ocean Grove is a hit with the LGBT community and stands out for its smaller crowds.
Where the main strip lacks in dining and nightlife options, you’ll fall in love with the quiet, pet-friendly beachfront and white sands.
Remember that you’ll need to pay a small fee to enter the beach.
For a more secluded beach that’s great for watersports, check out Avalon. Garden State Parkway exit: 13 (south; north)
Avalon Beach is located next to Stone Harbor (Seven Mile Island) and is one of the more secluded stretches of sand on this list. Avalon takes #5 on our list of best New Jersey beaches.
Avalon is home to many well-to-do residents and attracts travelers of a higher income group.
Visitors can find many coastal activities, such as paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing, surfing, and windsurfing.
You’ll also find several mini-golf courses and volleyball and tennis courts.
The nearby Stone Harbor Point offers some gorgeous views of the cape.
Avalon is popular among families with children, thanks to the area’s nine parks and playgrounds.
Entrance fees for Avalon and Stone Harbor beaches cost $6 for a daily ticket and $12 for a weekly ticket.
6. Sandy Hook
For surfing and the oldest operating lighthouse, Sandy Hook is a great beach.Garden State Parkway exit: 117 (south; north)
Venturing into the Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook is in the Jersey Shore’s northernmost tip, and takes the #6 spot on our list of best New Jersey beaches.
New York residents flock to Sandy Hook Beach for surfing, kitesurfing, cycling, or to get away from the bustle of the Big Apple.
Nearby, Skeleton Hill Island offers fun kayaking and paddle boarding activities.
A 35-minute ferry from Manhattan to Sandy Hook will set you back $5 round trip, with entrance to any of the four beaches included in the price.
Families will prefer the E and D beaches, while you’ll find the most crowds at North Beach.
If you dare, there’s the nudist Gunnison Beach.
Don’t miss the Summer Beach Concert, starting at 6 PM every Wednesday.
Check out the oldest operating lighthouse in America at Fort Hancock, and grab a bite to eat at any of the summer beachfront food trucks.
7. Point Pleasant
For those looking for a laid-back atmosphere, but still want some activities, Point Pleasant is a great choice.(Credit: Leifern on Wikipedia)Garden State Parkway exit: 98 (south); 90 (north)
Point Pleasant Beach is another top pick for those seeking a quieter, more laid-back side of the Jersey Shore but with plenty of activities to keep you entertained.
The Jenkinson’s Boardwalk is full of ice cream shops, food stalls, and arcades.
Point Pleasant Beach is famous for its clear waters and palm trees, and is a perfect beach for kayaking, swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
A neat attraction worth the visit is the Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey, featuring some of the earliest automobiles ever made.
The Jenkinson’s Aquarium is another fun attraction for the kids.
Recent visitors say the tide may be too intense for swimming, but several lifeguards are on duty to keep you safe.
For an awesome range of activities, check out the Wildwoods. Garden State Parkway Exit: 4B (south); 4 (north)
A popular resort area in southern NJ, the Wildwoods is unique for its boardwalk that winds over 500 yards away from the beachfront in some areas.
Included in the Wildwoods are five distinct communities: Diamond Beach, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood and West Wildwood.
Wildwoods hosts some of the rowdiest events along the Jersey Shore, including monster truck rallies, sprawling concerts, ultimate frisbee tournaments, and waterparks.
Among the over 100 rides and attractions along the boardwalk, you can’t miss Adventure Pier’s SpringShot.
This giant slingshot propels passengers up to 75 MPH into the air.
People come to the Wildwoods for adrenaline, free-access beaches, and the over 200 festivals that happen here every year.
Notable festivals include the Wildwoods International Kite Festival.
You can find loads of entertainment venues in the town itself, as well as plenty of shops, bars, restaurants, and retro accommodations.
9. Long Beach Island
Known as LBI by locals, Long Beach Island is one of the best shelling beaches in New Jersey. Garden State Parkway exit: 63 (south; north)
Known as LBI by Jersey Shore natives, Long Beach Island is a southern barrier island popular with summer vacationers.
It’s a vast island with 18 miles of beachfront and multiple beaches, such as Harvey Cedars and Surf City.
Ship Bottom Beach at the center of the island is famous for its tranquility and relatively uncrowded seaside.
Long Beach Island is also one of the best shelling beaches in New Jersey.
Brant Beach is a hit for surfing, fishing, and swimming.
NJ locals flock to Fantasy Island Amusement Park and Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.
The boardwalk at Beach Haven is home to several restaurants, bars, and shopping options.
Whether island attractions or family beaches are what you’re looking for, there’s something for you on Long Beach Island.
10. Ocean City
Nicknamed America’s Greatest Family Resort, Ocean City is an excellent family-friendly beach destination.Garden State Parkway exit: 30, 25 (south); 25, 29 (north)
A popular vacation spot since 1902, Ocean City gives itself the nickname “America’s Greatest Family Resort.”
Visitors agree — The New Jersey Sea Grant Consortium (NJSGC) released a report in 2016 that listed Ocean City as one of the best New Jersey beaches.
Ocean City regularly comes out on top in publications such as Coastal Magazine.
The area sports a historic wooden boardwalk and several family friendly beaches with almost 8 miles of shoreline.
Check out the historic Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, constructed circa 1929, where you’ll find Ocean City’s best amusement park rides.
Ocean City has several vacation rentals and hotels available, with plenty of shops and restaurants along the boardwalk.
Ocean City is a “dry” island, a no-alcohol rule that goes back to its early Christian origins.
11. Belmar Beach
For stunning views and great accommodations, Belmar Beach takes the #11 spot on our list.(Credit: Lhcollins on Wikipedia)Garden State Parkway exit: 98 (south; north)
If you’re visiting in the warmer months, Belmar Beach is a hit for swimming, fishing, and surfing.
Cooler months are ideal for walking along the mile-long boardwalk and taking in stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Belmar has the most playgrounds out of all the shorelines in NJ, making it a great vacation spot for families with kids.
People go to Bradley Beach for surfing lessons, and Seventh Avenue has some of the cleanest beachfront in all of New Jersey.
The region is highly accommodating to all travelers, with water bottle refilling stations on the playgrounds and cell phone chargers on every block.
12. Lavallette Beach
For white sand beaches and great fishing spots, Lavallette Beach takes the #12 spot.Garden State Parkway exit: 98, 91 (south); 82 (north)
Lavallette is home to two white sand beaches and a mile-long boardwalk.
The beaches are open to the public seasonally. During the summer season (late June to early September), guests can swim and boogie board (and even surf!) in designated areas.
Like many NJ beaches, Lavallette operates on a badge system where guests must purchase daily, weekly, or seasonal passes to access the beaches.
Dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, but you can take your four-legged friend along the boardwalk.
The town features several shops, restaurants, and a yacht club.
You can find good crabbing and fishing spots at one of Lavallette’s two bayfront docks.
13. Seaside Heights
For free concerts and movies, and great public beach access, Seaside Heights is an excellent choice.(Credit: Dough4872 on Wikipedia) Garden State Parkway exit: 82 (south; north)
Visitors enjoy free concerts along the beach and free movies on the boardwalk for kids and adults.
At Seaside Heights, there are several carnival rides, arcades, and dining spots.
Stop by Kohr’s Frozen Custard, which has been in operation for more than a century.
Try your luck at the Casino Pier, or visit the Breakwater Beach Waterpark.
Access to the public beaches of Seaside Heights costs $8 per day.
14. Ventnor City
Garden State Parkway exit: 38A
Ventnor City’s tranquil boardwalk is ideal for biking and running, and makes #14 on our list of the best New Jersey beaches.
There’s also easy access to the energetic boardwalk of Atlantic City.
Ventnor City is an excellent option for those who want to stay in a quieter town while still being in walking distance of all the Atlantic City action.
Locals and visitors alike agree that the beach in Ventnor City is one of the best-kept secrets of the Jersey Shore.
Even long-term residents of this beach town continue to praise its clean, golden sands, warm summer waters, and notable lack of crowds and distractions.
Ventnor City is a top pick for those who want a relaxing spot to read a book or catch a tan.
In the off-season, you may have a whole stretch of the beach to yourself, a rare perk for any Jersey Shore beach.
15. Brigantine Beach
For less crowds and a great surf spot, check out Brigantine Beach.Garden State Parkway exit: 40 (south); 36, 38 (north)
Yet another secret gem of the Jersey Shore, Brigantine is located about 5 miles northeast of Atlantic City, and takes the #15 spot on our list of best New Jersey beaches.
You’ll find designated spots for fishing, swimming, and surfing.
Horseback riding is available between October and March, and free movie nights happen along the beach throughout the summer.
Brigantine Beach several awards in 2020 for its beautiful beaches, great restaurants, and proximity to bustling attractions like Atlantic City and Cape May.
Described by many tourists as uncrowded, clean, and family friendly, Brigantine Beach may be the top spot for your next family seaside barbecue.
No matter what you’re looking for, the Jersey Shore beaches have something for you!
This stretch of coastline offers anything a summer Beachgoer would want – from family-friendly beaches to boardwalks and attractions.
So get out there and explore the Garden State.
You’ll likely find your next favorite destination!
The Jersey Shore of NJ has some of the best beaches in the whole country. Enjoy as we take a deep dive into the best 15 beaches in the Garden State.