Everyone from the northeast or who has been there in the summer months knows the feeling. The temperature climbs as you approach noon and with each degree, the air gets thicker and thicker until you arrive at the point where the only activity that sounds appealing is sitting in a tub of ice with a fan in your face or going to get ice cream. It’s not so much the high temperature, but the humidity that makes you feel like doing just about nothing. Luckily, there’s a solution. A trip to the beach to escape the northeast humidity is a staple of summer. To skip it would be like skipping fireworks on the 4th of July. For many northeasterners, New Jersey beaches are some of the best getaways, whether the mission is a family reunion or just a quick day trip to trade the stuffy city for the ocean breeze and some waves. So let’s head “down the shore” from Asbury Park all the way down to Cape May for the very best of Jersey’s beaches.
Let’s start at the very base of the shore with what is one of Jersey’s true classic beach destinations. Cape May checks all the boxes: soft sand, jetties, great kayaking etc. But it’s the old town and the classic Victorian houses that make it such a standout along the shore. From the larger resorts to the individual homes that line the beach, the area has a throwback feel that never gets old. Be sure to check out the famous lighthouse while you’re there.
Long Beach Island
LBI has a reputation as a destination for Jersey Shore natives. So if the people who live on The Shore choose this spot for a vacation, then it must be a cut above the rest. The island itself is 18 miles long and is dotted with small communities with their own beaches. One of the best parts about LBI is its excellent surfing beaches, particularly those on the south end of the island. Whether you’re a beginner looking for some smaller swells or a more experienced surfer looking to get some good work in, you’ll find what you need.
Sure, Wildwood isn’t for everyone. The amusement park rides and the fair-like atmosphere aren’t what everyone wants to mix with their beach volleyball and waves. But we like it for the sensory overload. Besides, there’s something classic about the ferris wheel’s silhouette against the sunset. And if that isn’t enough the lights of the Wildwood boardwalk at night are something out of a movie. It’s another throwback experience that will always have a place among the best.
And for a swing in the opposite direction of Wildwood, we bring you Spring Lake. More along the lines of low-key family vacations, bed and breakfasts and plenty of space on the beach or the scenic boardwalk, this North Jersey beach is much more on the tranquil side. Morning and lunch at the beach, some mini golf and ice cream in the afternoon and a stroll along the boardwalk at sunset is the formula here.
Another one from the laid-back playbook, Avalon dodges much of the partying and chaos of some of the other spots, but compensates with a refined and elegant vibe. The style is more on the preppy side and you’re more likely to see Range Rovers rather than family minivans or party jeeps in the beach parking lots. Some of the best luxury beach houses in the state are in Avalon so consider them as an option for the family reunion if your wallet can handle it.
Point Pleasant is one of the most well-rounded “has something for everyone” beaches on the list. Of course, the beach itself is nearly spotless and the classic sand castles, beach lunch and playing in the waves will never steer you wrong. However, there’s also a boardwalk with amusement park rides and mini golf for the kids, and an antique center in the town just in case you need to dip away and have some personal time exploring.
Sandy Hook is an excellent option for those looking to escape New York City when the heat and humidity begin to crush any desire to leave your air-conditioned apartment. Here you’ll find surfing areas, great swimming spots and even a cycling path that runs along the beach. You can spend the day cooling down in the waves or enjoying the breeze on a bike and still make it back into the city for dinner.
Along with its place in Bruce Springsteen lore, Asbury Park has quite a lot to offer. Food trucks, dog-friendly beaches, and excellent live music are some of the major draws. Also, be sure to check out Wonder Bar’s “Yappy Hour” where your well-behaved four-legged friend can run around off-leash while you sip a drink.
Not to be confused with the Maryland beach city that shares the same name, New Jersey’s Ocean City is another excellent family destination. The amusement park rides are perfect entertainment for the kids, the beach is wide and welcoming and sunset walks on the boardwalk is what summer is supposed to look like. The long list of resorts makes getting great accommodations easy work as well.
After a stroll through Stone Harbor‘s upscale shopping section, grab an ice cream cone and take a seat on the sand dunes as the shore makes its beautiful transition from day to night. Maybe the kids can catch the view from one of the town’s three rooftop mini golf courses. The town is full of great lunch and dinner spots and we would strongly suggest that you grab a seat along the water and kick back in the evening.
For more fun things to do in New Jersey, Check New Jersey Leisure Guide