From breathtaking views to beautiful beaches, we really do have it all here in New Jersey – and that includes an abundance of charming small towns. To make the most of what the Garden State has to offer, taken in several small towns over the course of a fun-filled road trip. I feature some of our most popular, mixing in a few hidden gems.
This trip traverses 315 miles of the Garden State and is best enjoyed over the course of 2-3 days. It starts along our southern shores, hits several spots on the western side of South Jersey, and heads north into Warren County and beyond.
No picturesque small towns road trip would be complete without one of the most charming locales in all of America - Cape May. The tiny town (population 3,700) and its equally quaint neighbors offer beachfront bliss in the summer and an abundance of activities year-round. Be sure to take a trolley tour or hop aboard a whale watching cruise, stop at Cape May Winery or Zoo and dine at The Blue Rose, Peter Shields or Union Park. For cheap eats, try Hot Dog Tommy's, Westside Market or Empanada Mama's after browsing the shops at Washington Street Mall. Climb to the top of Cape May Light if you're up for the challenge - you'll be rewarded with spectacular views.
Buena (population 4,600) is a small town with a big tourist destination. St. Padre Pio Shrine was completed in 2002 and draws Catholics from around the world. Several visitors have even reported experiencing miracles after praying at the shrine. Buena is also home to the beautiful Bellview Winery which offers tours, tastings and events like a seafood festival, Italian festival, car show and summer concert series. While in town, visit Villa Fazzolari for exceptional Italian cuisine.
With a population around 10,000, much of this town is parkland. It is home to Parvin State Park, Parvin Lake, Green Branch Park, Palatine Lake, Centerton Pond, several golf clubs and part of the Union Lake Wildlife Management Area. Though natural beauty abounds, head back to civilization after a hike and stop at Anderson's Country Store or the historic Ye Olde Centerton Inn for a bite.
Haddonfield (population 11,500) consistently wins awards for its charming downtown area. Shopping and dining opportunities abound here and in neighboring Collingswood. Check out the Hadrosaurus fossil discovery site, spectacular architecture and Indian King Tavern Museum. For authentic British fare like bangers and mash, head to the British Chip Shop - you'll love it!
This Philadelphia suburb with a population of 3,800 offers a walkable downtown and regular community events including Halloween-themed celebrations like Monsterville Farmers Market and Haunts of Merchantville. There are a variety of delectable dining options including Vincent's Pizza, famous for their deep-fried cheese pastries called panzarottis. I can almost taste the flaky, melty goodness.
Allentown's 1,800 residents enjoy historic homes, shopping, dining and antiquing. Be sure to stop at the quaint Old Mill, Heavenly Havens Creamery, Earth Goddess, Necessities For The Heart and the BerryRich Bakery & Cafe.
You'll find a fantastic historic district here, along with 2,800 proud residents. There's a strong sense of community, thrilling whitewater rafting, the Warren County Museum and Four Sisters Winery. Take in a show at Country Gate Players, dine at Uncle Buck's or relax in the park along the Pequest River.
Who wouldn't want to visit Hope? The name alone beckons you, but it has plenty more to offer. Immerse yourself in nature at Jenny Jump State Forest or stop at the Land of Make Believe for endless opportunities for family fun. Take in the architecture of buildings like the First Hope Bank, housed in a former Moravian Church dating back to the 1700s.
This unincorporated community is home to about 9,000 residents and the beautiful Budd Lake, a popular ice sailing destination and the largest natural lake in New Jersey. You'll also find several scenic parks including Turkey Brook Park and the Budd Lake State Wildlife Management Area. While here, you won't want to miss a show at the charming Pax Amicus Castle Theatre. Locals love the Budd Lake Diner and Kennedy's Bar & Grille.