11 Of The Best Beaches In NJ To Visit This Summer


When it comes to the best beaches in NJ, it’s hard to pick just one. With a coastline extending over 130 miles from Sandy Hook to the tip of Cape May, heading to the Jersey Shore is a summer ritual, and what’s great about the shore is we have it all—from eco-friendly spots to quiet patches of sand to a fun-packed family boardwalk with plenty of rides and attractions. Ask any shore regular, and they’ll give you a rundown of their favorites, but to make it easier for daytrippers and vacationers, we compiled our own list of 11 of the best Jersey Shore beaches (based on facilities, parking, entertainment, and easy access for families). Read on for what to know for a perfect day at the shore and for info on all NJ beaches, and check out our guides on how to get a beach badge this year and where to go for the best boardwalks. (featured photo credit: Istock/Diversity Studio)

11 of the best beaches in NJ

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You can’t go wrong with a sunset walk on Sandy Hook Bay in the Gateway National Recreation Area. Photo Credit: istock.com/andykazie

Sandy Hook
Known for its unique position between three ecosystems—salt marshes, wetlands, and holly forest—Sandy Hook is 6 miles long and sits near lower New York Harbor. Restrooms are throughout the six beach centers, and while there are no facilities, you can find food trucks for a snack or quick bite. If you’re up for a little exercise, a 5-mile multi-use pathway is available for bikers, rollerbladers, runners, and more. The Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764 and the oldest working lighthouse in the US, is located nearby and allows kids to see maritime history. Tours are offered from April through November.
Parking: Once parking spaces are filled, the park closes until more spaces are available. Tip: Arrive before 10 a.m. or after 2 p.m. on weekends, or use mass transit.
Hartshorne Drive, Highlands

Sea Bright

Looking for a beach club experience without being in a club? Sea Bright is your place. Photo Credit: @iloveredbank

Sea Bright
While this part of the Jersey Shore is known for its exclusive beach clubs, there’s a public Municipal Beach with lifeguards and facilities in the beach pavilion area (which also houses the town library). Once you have a badge, you’ll also have access to the public beach spots in front of the clubs, so if you’re hoping to get away from the crowds, this would be a good way to avoid them (although you’ll be far from restrooms). After a day on the sand, head to the nearby playground or take a leisurely stroll on the short boardwalk behind the popular Woody’s Ocean Grille.
Parking: There is a public lot with limited spaces and metered parking, but if you’re lucky enough to snag a spot on a residential street, it’s free. 
1099 Ocean Avenue, Sea Bright

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Get those beach umbrellas ready for a day at one of the best beaches in NJ. Photo taken at Long Branch Beach

Long Branch
This state park’s boardwalk stretches 8.2 miles long and boasts the entertainment pavilion, Pier Village, which is just steps off the sand. After a day on the beach, shower off and hit one of the chic restaurants like Avenue Le Club, offering live music with a St.Tropez vibe, take a spin around the Carousel, or take part in one of their many events throughout the season, like beachside yoga, family fun night, art exhibits, and a summer concert series.
Parking: There is metered parking and three public parking lots ($10 Monday–Thursday; $20 Friday–Sunday and holidays).
Ocean Avenue, Long Branch

Asbury Park

Asbury Park has history, a boardwalk, and lots of space, making it one of the best beaches in NJ. Photo taken at the Asbury Park Beach 

Asbury Park
Steeped in music history, Asbury Park is having a moment as a trendy spot on the Jersey Shore, with a lively downtown scene. The 13-mile-long beach has a boardwalk with places to grab a bite between beach visits (showers and public restrooms are available at the beach entrances) and a splash park with mini golf for kids. Surfing is available between the jetties on Deal Lake Drive and Eighth Avenue. And if you don’t want to leave your furry friend at home, check out the Eighth Avenue Dog Beach, where dogs are allowed during listed hours.
Parking: Metered parking is available in all municipal parking lots.
Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park


You may need a beach badge for the beach, but you don’t need a badge to play. Photo taken at Belmar Beach Playground

At a short 1.5 miles, Belmar Beach offers a great day trip for families. You’ll find beach playgrounds and several beach areas dedicated to surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, and volleyball. There is a boardwalk for walking and running, with restrooms every few blocks, and Mobi-Mats are available for easy wheelchair access. When you’ve had enough of the beach, head downtown to hit up the seafood restaurants and shopping.
Parking: Parking is free, except on the east side of Ocean Avenue, Silver Lake, North Boulevard, and in the parking lot at the Marina.
Ocean Avenue, Belmar

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Tropical vibes at Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach. Photo taken at Jenkinson’s in Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant Beach
Starting at the Manasquan Inlet and heading south a mile, Point Pleasant Beach is a mile long and has a family-friendly boardwalk with rides for all ages and the popular Jenkinson’s Aquarium (home to Wally, the two-toed sloth). It’s been long considered one of the best beaches in NJ because of the kid-friendly atmosphere for littles and bigs. What’s more, if you come for the day and want to stay the night on the boardwalk, you can rent chairs and umbrellas and use the bathhouses with changing lockers and hot showers for a fee. Some smaller beach areas include Martell’s (a tiki and beach bar on Jenkinson’s boardwalk), Bradshaw Beach, and Maryland Avenue Beach.
Parking: There are metered spots, pay-to-park lots, and a bit of a walking distance away from free parking.
Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant Beach

Seaside Heights

There is so much to do at the Seaside Heights Boardwalk and beaches. Photo Credit: Istock.com/jfbenning

Seaside Heights
The Seaside Heights beach stretches between two piers 2 miles apart and is popular with day trippers looking to have sandy action by day and plenty of thrills at Casino Pier at night. The boardwalk was recently rebuilt and now has new games, attractions, renovated restaurants, and more. This beach area can get crowded, so if you want something lower key, follow down the beach to Seaside Park for a quiet stretch of sand without the bustle of the boardwalk. For a truly natural experience, Island Beach State Park has swimming within the central area and can be reserved (though months in advance) for camping. Pack the car with the entire family. The cost of going to the beach is by car, not by person. 
Parking: Public parking in numbered spaces is available, paid through nearby kiosks or a parking app, as well as private parking lots for a fee.
Boardwalk, Seaside Heights

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A mermaid in the making at Long Beach Island. Photo Credit: @kateystanley

Long Beach Island
At 18 miles long, this barrier island known as LBI consists of six beach towns and has long stretches of sand that make it easy to find a quiet space away from the crowds. Heading to beaches in Ship Bottom, Surf City, and Beach Haven is the best for families looking to make a day trip or even rent a house. While you won’t find a boardwalk offering a ton of concessions, you are allowed to bring food onto the beach, so pack a picnic for the day. After, you can find lots of family fun on the island, including Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven, mini-golf, and a few arcades—check out our guide to LBI for things to do on the sand and off.
Parking: Varies depending on the town. There are public lots and free street parking; make sure to read any parking street signs carefully.
Long Beach Boulevard, Long Beach Township

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Over 8 miles of beaches cover Ocean City. Photo Credit: istock.com/Vladone

Ocean City
The most popular area of this beach town is around the 2.5-mile strip that borders the boardwalk (although the entire beach is more than 8 miles long). The boardwalk has plenty of eateries and shops, along with two amusement areas and a waterpark. South of the boardwalk, the beach is quieter and usually packed with summer residents. And good to know if you’re looking to imbibe—Ocean City is a “dry” town, so there’s no alcohol sold anywhere within town limits.
Parking: There are metered spots and pay-to-park lots closest to the beach. Further away are free spots. 
Boardwalk, Ocean City


Follow the beachballs to one of the best beaches in NJ. Photo taken at Wildwoods Beach

Driving through the Wildwoods is like a blast from the past—you’ll see a bunch of retro-style motels and cool neon signs, some originally from the 50s. Besides the nostalgia, this is one of the few New Jersey beaches without a beach badge requirement, making it a popular spot. Wildwood runs 4.5 miles long and offers a jam-packed boardwalk with games, shops, dining, and Morey’s Piers, an amusement park and waterpark. Along the beach are places to boogie board, toss a volleyball, and even dedicated spots for dogs. Be prepared for a walk, though, since the boardwalk is far from the ocean.
Parking: There are metered spots and pay-to-park lots near the boardwalk and the beach. 
Ocean Avenue, Wildwood

Cape May

Cape May Beach has long been considered one of the best beaches in NJ. Photo Credit: Istock/Diversity Studio

Cape May
Located at the southern tip of New Jersey, the Cape May beach is approximately 2.5 miles long, with places for surfing, playing volleyball, fishing, kayaking, and more. It’s good for a day trip since you can easily spot the restrooms and outdoor showers along the promenade. If you don’t want to haul your gear, rent a cabana or beach umbrella. Admire Victorian architecture as you head to the pedestrian Washington Street Mall, spanning three blocks with shops and dining options steps from the beach. And don’t forget Cape May Point State Park (home of the Cape May Lighthouse), the area’s wineries, and the charming Cape May Zoo (it’s free!).
Parking: Metered and flat-rate parking are available at some businesses. Free parking is available on many side streets and in the Cape May Elementary School lot on Lafayette Street. All parking is free in West Cape May, a short walk away.
Beach Avenue, Cape May

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About Author

Laura, born and raised in New Jersey, is a mom to a 4-year-old daughter, with a baby boy on the way in July. She has been a writer and editor for 18 years and currently works for The Elisabeth Morrow School, an independent day school in Englewood. She and her family enjoy spending summers in Ocean City, attending sporting events at MetLife Stadium and the Prudential Center, and visiting the amazing wineries in our wonderful Garden State. Laura also loves dancing around her house with her daughter and binging TV shows. Need a suggestion of something to watch? Just ask her.