10 Charming Small Towns In New Jersey


New Jersey is among the most historically rich states in the US and a haven for a plethora of natural beauty. But beyond the major cities, New Jersey’s small towns are also filled with all the great history and charm of the big metropolises in a more relaxed and quieter atmosphere. From towns founded during the American Revolution to bustling arts settlements, the small towns of America’s Garden State are a pleasant excursion for tourists and New Jersey locals alike. This article looks at the 10 Charming Small Towns in New Jersey.

Cape May

Beachgoers enjoy a beautiful day in Cape May, New Jersey. Editorial credit: Racheal Grazias / Shutterstock.com

Right on the southern tip of Cape May Peninsula, Cape May is one of the United State’s oldest resort destinations. The town of Cape May is also well known for its many Victorian-style buildings. Placed at the confluence of Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, this warm and sunny beachfront town sees up to 50,000 visitors in the summertime! 

Frenchtown

Small homes and backyards in Frenchtown, New Jersey. 

Built along the Delaware River in the late 18th and early 19th century, Frenchtown was named by its early French-speaking Swiss immigrant founders. A ferry town at its inception, over time, the settlement evolved from a boating transport hub to a rail town. But the growth of major urban centers stole populations from the town, and today it is the home of just under 1,300 inhabitants. Still, this small town has much for tourists to come and appreciate, including the nearby Delaware Canal State Park, for beautiful walking and hiking paths and great views of natural wildlife. Right in the town center, history lovers will not want to miss the Frenchtown Historic District, which is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. In a 40-hectare area, visitors can see a wide variety of architectural styles from the 18th to 20th centuries, with over 400 buildings to visit! These include the Frenchtown Inn, constructed in 1832, and the Oddfellows Building from 1879. And, of course, a journey across the Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge on the Delaware River is a charming highlight of any road trip.

Chester

View of the historic Cooper Grist Mill in Chester, New Jersey. 

Around 64 kilometers from New York City, Chester Township is a beautiful small town with a timeless feel to it. Filled with a patchwork of Victorian-era homes and estates, a visit to this town of just under 8,000 is indeed a scenic one. Specializing in “agritourism,” the township has preserved several farmland areas to promote locally grown foods and protect their historical significance. For visitors looking to enjoy some beautiful natural park reserves, Chester is full of them; among the parks of note include the 85-acre Chubb Park and the 890-acre Hacklebarney State Park, where fishing, hiking, biking, and skating in the winter are popular choices for recreation. With its combination of unique architecture and various natural parks and agricultural farms, Chester Township is a beautiful place for a weekend stay in the Garden State.

Lambertville

Winter view of the historic Lambertville Station in Lambertville, New Jersey. 

Known as New Jersey’s “Antiquing Capital,” Lambertville is a haven for arts and crafts. Situated on the banks of the Delaware River, Lambertville was founded in 1705 and is filled with plenty of shopping boutiques, antique stores, and charming restaurants that capture the essence of small-town colonial America. Visitors will not want to miss a stop at the Golden Nuggets Antique Market for some exceptional antique collectibles from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War and into the 20th century. Fine art lovers will enjoy the Gallery of Fine Art with its assorted collection of renowned American artists and local creators. And the perfect way to end anyone’s road trip in town, a stopover at the historic Lambertville Station, is sure to bring a smile. A former train depot, now converted to a popular restaurant and inn, it is a great way to cap off a treasure trove adventure.

Allentown

View of the landmark Old Mill Allentown Feed in Allentown, New Jersey. Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Located in New Jersey’s Monmouth County, the borough of Allentown is the ideal place to relax, unwind and get a firsthand experience of American history. On Country Road, 539 South, visitors can see an abundance of quaint and beautiful farms and wineries, perfect to taste some locally made products and support the State agricultural scene. Meanwhile, in the Allentown Historic District, tourists will be surrounded by classic 19th-century buildings and other amenities, recreating the feeling of 1800s life. For its significance to the town's cultural, educational, and economic history, the District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the 219 places of historical value to explore is the Allentown Mill, built in 1855, the Allentown Presbyterian Church, founded in 1837, and the John Imlay House Museum, built in the 1790s! Small restaurants, local boutiques, and plenty of hospitable charm make Allentown a great small town worthy of a weekend.

Spring Lake

People enjoy a beautiful beach day in Spring Lake, New Jersey. Editorial credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

Self-proclaimed as the “Jewel of Jersey Shore,” Spring Lake first became a prominent vacation spot for New Yorkers and Philadelphians in the 19th century, and today it still has many attractions for any beachgoer. Many historic inns and buildings from the turn of the century still exist in this town of just under 3,000, and its boardwalk remains a popular destination for tourists and residents alike; less crowded but just as scenic as its counterparts in places like Atlantic City. With moderately hot temperatures, Spring Lake is ideal for taking in the summer sun without the worry of oppressively hot forecasts; tourists can enjoy swimming, sunbathing, and boating in the Atlantic waters, while back on land, an eclectic range of boutiques, restaurants, and souvenir shops dot the landscape.

Deal

Aerial view of Deal, New Jersey. 

Home to a significant population of Sephardi Jews, more than 80% of Deal’s population can be traced to this ethnic group. With a population of only 750 inhabitants, it makes the demographics even more striking! Visitors to this borough will find a small town with a strong sense of cultural identity and a beautiful beachfront area perfect for leisurely strolls. For visitors looking to experience unique Jewish-American cuisine, an assortment of kosher restaurants populates Deal, while six synagogues operate within the community. For a quiet stopover from the major sights and sounds of New Jersey, Deal is the ideal place to experience the richness of the cultural diaspora in America. Culturally diverse and with great beachfront views, Deal is a charming community always ready to welcome visitors.

Allenhurst

A borough of Monmouth County, Allenhurst’s permanent population, is just a tad under 500 inhabitants. Bordered by both Deal Lake and the Atlantic Ocean, its proximity to New York City (93 kilometers away) has made it a popular residential area for decades. The center of several wealthy neighborhoods, many historic homes populate the town, with different architectural styles ranging from the end 19th century to the mid 20th century. This area, too, has been added to the register of National Historic Places, and with 412 buildings considered to be of historical worth, visitors will have quite the view of beautiful and unique homes. Indeed, the business magazine Forbes named Allenhurst one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the United States in 2006.

Princeton

Aerial view of Princeton, New Jersey. 

Well known for its renowned university established in 1746, Princeton is a beautiful college town popular not just with students and staff but for anyone who wants to enjoy the charms of campus life. A stroll along the stunning stone buildings and other University facilities will not disappoint, no matter the season. But beyond its central economic hub, visitors to Princeton can enjoy great art galleries, restaurants, and shopping, all while still maintaining a small-town feel. The Princeton University Art Museum houses work from Renaissance Italy to Latin American Folk Art to contemporary American canvasses, while restaurants like the Blue Point Grill and The Bent Spoon are sure to satisfy the appetite. Offering classic American favorites and local New Jersey specialties, these eateries are the perfect way to start or end a day in this most pristine college locale.

Collingswood

Only 8 kilometers away from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Collingswood is amongst the oldest towns in New Jersey. First settled by European Quakers in 1682, tourists in this small town can visit many historic buildings and places associated with Colonial America. Stop by the Stokes Lee Mansion built in the 1700s or the Collings Knight Homestead for a sample of Collingswood’s past and the growth of the United States as a modern nation. Today plenty of small shops, restaurants, and public parks can be found in town, inviting any visitor who wants a respite from the big cities. Of note is Haddon Avenue and its wide selection of restaurants and specialty cuisines that include Italian, French, Indian, Hawaiian, Mexican, Chinese, and even Thai.

Like any American State, New Jersey is a place filled with diverse geography, history, and people. Outside its significant cities like Trenton, Atlantic City, and Newark, the small towns of the Garden State offer charming oceanside views, intimate encounters with history, and a variety of local art and food establishments. For a great road trip and vacation with small-town America, look no further than New Jersey!

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