New Jersey has so many beautiful beach towns, many well suited for a day trip. Of course, our shore gems aren’t the only waterfront towns in the state. We have gorgeous lakes and rivers which would be lovely to live on. Waterfront real estate doesn’t come cheap, but these towns are all perfect for a day-long escape. They’re listed in no particular order – each is worth a visit.
Sparta Township is home to the beautiful Lake Mohawk. Exquisite public and private beaches surround the lake, which hosts several islands. You'll also find a country club and golf course, but the restaurants are my favorite. Krogh's Restaurant and Brewpub is a lively eatery near the lake (just across the road) while Mohawk House (blocks away) is a gourmet getaway with a romantic atmosphere. You'll also find the Friar Mountain Model Railroad Museum here.
Located along the western shores of Lake Hopatcong, this town offers plenty of waterfront fun. You can take a relaxing cruise or have a flyboarding adventure - that's basically a water-propelled jet pack. Sunbathe on the beach, dine at the Windlass or enjoy mini-golf just minutes from the lake at Castle Cove.
Hoboken is a bustling mile-square city, but it has loads of charm. Much of the housing is in historic brownstones and there are still cobblestone alleyways. The birthplace of both baseball and Frank Sinatra, Hoboken has an unbeatable dining scene (check out gems like Makai Poke Co. and The Cuban Restaurant & Bar). It also has a fantastic historic museum, firehouse museum and waterfront parks.
This picture-perfect town on the south branch of the Raritan River is home to the iconic Red Mill Museum and Hunterdon County Art Museum. While in town, be sure to visit The Clean Plate Kitchen, Ye Olde Sub Base, J. J. Scoops and the Clinton Book Shop.
This Delaware River town is known for its antiquing and art galleries. Life is a bit more laid back here though there's so much to do. Go for a very level hike (it's wheelchair friendly) at the D&R Canal State Park, indulge in the most mouthwatering chocolates at La Chocolate Box or dine at one (or more) fantastic restaurants. Check out Lambertville Station, Anton's at the Swan, Caffe Galleria or El Tule.
6. Long Branch
Long Branch has long been a shore resort town. Many of America's elite have spent summers here including seven U.S. presidents. President Grant declared Long Branch the nation's "summer capital" in 1869. Enjoy that rich history, coupled with beautiful beaches and fantastic shops and restaurants. Pier Village is a waterfront gem which hosts the epic "Oceanfest," pictured. In addition to the yearly festival, you'll find fantastic restaurants in Pier Village including The Turning Point and McLoone's Pier House. You'll find more to do along Broadway and on Brighton. On game night, check out Jack's Goal Line Stand.
Located on the Delaware River, Blacks Creek and Crosswicks Creek, this historic town was once home to Spanish royalty. Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, dug escape tunnels under his estate. Head to Farnsworth Avenue for shopping and dining including the Argentinean-inspired Under the Moon Cafe and Randy Now's Man Cave. This record shop also offers unique gifts and an impressive international soda collection. They also host live music events.
The Tacony-Palmyra Bridge connects New Jersey to Pennsylvania, just north of Philadelphia. While the town itself may not be filled with quaint shops or an abundance of charming restaurants, it is definitely worth a day trip. Don't miss the Palmyra Cove Nature Park. Enjoy trails right on the water, wetlands, woodlands and an environmental discovery center.
This town is sandwiched between Cooper River Lake and Newton Lake. If you'd like to spend your day enjoying the water, head to Cooper River Park. The park has plenty to offer including a yacht club, boathouse and fishing. Don't miss the sculpture garden or biofilter wetland. Off the water, enjoy shopping and dining downtown. Grab a meal at The Pop Shop or paint your own pottery at All Fired Up!
10. Cape May
No list of waterfront day trip destinations in New Jersey could be complete without mentioning Cape May. Besides enjoying the beach, take a historic trolley tour, shop local at the Washington Street Mall or visit a haunted estate. Search for "diamonds" along the shore, peruse the galleries or indulge at a fantastic restaurant like the Mad Batter or Peter Shields Restaurant.
This list is only just the start, New Jersey isn’t short on charming waterfront towns. Which is your favorite? For more
waterfront fun in New Jersey, check out this free festival.