In New Jersey we have no shortage of access to beautiful bodies of water. While we’re best known for our beaches, we have some truly charming riverfront towns located all throughout the state. There are dozens to enjoy, but I’ve chosen to highlight 20 exceptional locales which offer easy access to the water, amazing scenery and plenty to do.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Bordentown is located between the Delaware River and Crosswicks Creek. You'll find an eclectic downtown area surrounding Farnsworth Avenue with numerous restaurants and unique shops. Businesses to check out include The Old Bookshop of Bordentown which features an incredible collection of out-of-print books, Under the Moon and their magnificent menu, Firehouse Gallery, Randy Now's Man Cave (a must for men AND women), and Phoenix Rising discount boutique. Upcoming events include "Hats in Bloom" floral hat exhibit and competition, the Bordentown City Street Fair, and the Street of Dreams Car Show.
Located on the Hackensack River, this town has its own man-made island - Van Buskirk. The island is home to Van Buskirk County Park and the abandoned Hackensack Waterworks. This family-friendly town has a shopping area on Kinderkamack Road where you'll find Mr. Cupcakes (delish!) and the trendy coffeehouse, Cool Beans.
This town on the Raritan River hosts a portion of the Rutgers campus along with a fantastic waterfront park. An outdoor paradise in the middle of a larger city and just minutes from New Brunswick, the park offers a zoo, tennis courts, baseball fields, cricket pitches, picnic groves, playgrounds, ponds and the historic "East Jersey Old Town Village." This cultural attraction and archaeological site hosts several buildings including replicas and original structures dating back to the 18th century. Money Magazine has ranked this city among the best in America multiple times.
This Delaware River town is well-known for its art and antique scenes. You'll find portions of Holcombe Island and the scenic Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park here along with numerous shops and restaurants including Caffe Galleria, Lambertville House, Lambertville Station Inn (amazing views!), Brian's, The People's Store Antiques Center, Hamilton's Grill Room, Bons Reves decor, Smith & Scott boutique and Anton at the Swan.
Historic Haddonfield sits on the Cooper River and offers a thriving downtown area. You'll find over 200 shops and galleries along with a plethora of dining options. Head to Pennypacker Park on the waterfront, explore the Hadrosaurus dig site, or shop and dine at The Bread Board Plus, Apron, Posh Pop Bakeshop, Juniper Boutique, Jamaican Me Crazy gift shop and The British Chip Shop. If you're in a museum mood, head to Indian King Tavern, open for tours on Saturdays.
This Hudson River town is filled with history - the first recorded baseball game was held here, the steam locomotive was invented here and Frank Sinatra was born here. You'll find beautiful brownstone buildings, gorgeous waterfront parks and endless entertainment. Check out the Hoboken Historical Museum, Benny Tudino's (massive pizza slices!), Symposia bookstore, Maxwell's Tavern, Carlo's Bake Shop, 3rd Sunday Gallery Walks, the Fire Department Museum, Guitar Bar and so much more. Pier 13 is the place to be for amazing views, fantastic food trucks, a sailing school, stand up paddle boarding and a plethora of events.
This historic milling town is located on the Pequest River and offers some stunning Victorian architecture and a charming (though small) downtown area around Greenwich Street. Check out the waterfront park or businesses including Country Gate Players, Uncle Buck's Diner and George's Place. Be sure to check out the fun-filled Victorian Days Festival in September -it's a true Jersey gem.
Tuckahoe, on the Tuckahoe River, is an unincorporated community in Upper Township. It offers a beautiful wildlife area and wonderful businesses including Tuckahoe Cheesecake and Tuckahoe Family Diner.
9. Highland Park
This town features a lovely park on the Raritan River (Donaldson Park) which offers numerous courts and playing fields, a small lake and dog park. A "green community," they value eco-friendliness and personal well being. Head to Raritan Ave. for shopping and dining options including Ruthie's, Park Place, El Sol and Dish Cafe.
10. Mays Landing
This community on the Great Egg Harbor River offers Lenape Park on the waterfront and charming businesses including Abbott House Bed & Breakfast, Ye Olde Mill Street Pub and Best Food In Town (Chinese). If you're looking to play in the water, head to The Cove Beach on Lake Lenape.
One of our more famous river towns, Clinton is home to the Red Mill Museum, Hunterdon County Art Museum, Spruce Run Recreation Area, multiple waterfront parks and a plethora of shopping and dining options including Jerzee's Pizza, Clinton Fudge Company, Heartstrings, Clinton Book Shop and Dora's.
You'll find a fantastic shopping area in this Delaware River town which includes businesses like The Bridge Cafe, Frenchtown Inn, Alchemy Creative Clothing, Early Bird Espresso, Pulp Vegetarian Cafe, Book Garden and The National Hotel. Don't miss Riverfest or the River Moon Film Festival, both in September.
Located on the Maurice River, you'll find numerous wildlife preserves, parks, and boat ramps on the water. After heading back to shore, check out the downtown area, Glass Arts District, Airfield Museum, Motorsports Park, Levoy Theater, Jim's Lunch or Wildfare Vegan.
14. Red Bank
This thriving community on the Navesink River offers a variety of fairs and festivals along with fantastic shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities. Check out the famous Jay & Silent Bob's Secret Stash, Two River Theater, Jr's Burgers, Chill Bubble Tea Bar, Gotham, Teak, Earth Pizza, The Belmont and much more.
15. Toms River
Toms River offers access to both the Toms River and Silver Bay. It hosts one of the largest Halloween Parades in the world and has been featured several times on television, including hit show Boardwalk Empire. Attractions include Winding River Park, the Ocean County Mall, Cattus Island County Park, Rinn Duin Brewing Company and Insectropolis Bug Museum. Choose from a variety of dining options including Shut Up And Eat! (You'll want to, the food is fantastic.), Serenity Cafe, Il Giardinello Ristorante, Villa Amalfi and Tom's Fusion Buffet.
Greenwich in Cumberland County is a small town on the Cohansey and Delaware Rivers which followed the Boston Tea Party with their own protest, the Greenwich Tea Party; a monument to the event is pictured. Choose your views at several picturesque waterfront parks. Greenwich in Gloucester County is located on the Delaware near Paulsboro. Dine at quirky causal spots like Uncle Pig's Barbecue Pit, Babe's Bar and Grill and A Little Pizza Heaven.
17. Point Pleasant Beach
While we tend to think of this as a shore town, it also offers access to the Manasquan River. Enjoy a day of fun at Jenkinson's Boardwalk & Aquarium or charter the Queen Mary for a fishing excursion. For riverfront dining, check out Jack Baker's Wharfside, Red's Lobster Pot or The Shrimp Box.
On the Cooper River, Collingswood was recently noted for having one of the best downtowns in America. Well-known for fantastic restaurants like Kitchen Consigliere Cafe, II Fiore, The Pop Shop, Nunzio's and Zeppoli, you can also find a fresh farmer's market from May - November. Enjoy a bike share program, greenhouse, Second Saturdays (celebrating arts and culture), free concerts throughout the summer and the marvelous May Fair Festival on May 28th.
Located on the Ramapo River, Mahwah is home to Darlington Park and Golf Course and the Campgaw Mountain Ski Area. Restaurants abound including Mahwah Pizza Master, Mason Jar, Sangria, State Line Diner and Nagoya. If you're up for a hike, head to the Ramapo Valley County Reservation.
20. Ridgefield Park
On the Hackensack River, the town itself isn't known for its charm, but it hosts a portion of the fantastic Overpeck County Park. Ridgefield Park is also home to one of the oldest Fourth of July Parades in the country, held continuously since 1894. Enjoy shopping and dining on Main Street at The Cosmic Wheel, Sparta Taverna, Thai Palace and MK Valencia.
Have you been to any of these charming towns? What other New Jersey river towns would you add to this list?