Aerial view of the Asbury Park beach and town.

11 Small Town Getaways In New Jersey Perfect For Families

These New Jersey towns are the best escape from crowded cities even though they reside at a reasonable distance from major cities such as New York City and Philadelphia. During your visit, make sure you take part in the mentioned tours and recreational opportunities these towns organize, as they are suitable for all ages. While these destinations are great for recreation and amusement, they also incorporate several educational opportunities to make the most out of your family trip.


Aerial view of fall colors in Princeton, New Jersey.
Aerial view of fall colors in Princeton, New Jersey.

Built in 1746, Princeton University is a longstanding monument of American excellence and was the fourth university founded in the United States. Legends such as Einstein, John F Kennedy, and Michelle Obama have left their footprints in the Ivy League and its local stores. Its campus is accessible to all people, with Blair Arch and McCosh Hall being the most sought-after locations for their scenic views and architectural uniqueness. The Tiger Key tours will give you a taste of all that the University and Nassau Street have to offer as they guide interested applicants through the admission process. 

The Princeton Canoe and Kayak Rental have canoes in all sizes and age categories to make sure the entire family can enjoy their day at Lake Carnegie. But that is not all! Agriculture enthusiasts have a field day at Terhune Orchards, a public farm that showcases its vegetation at every farmer's market event. The farm is a great place for kids to learn about planting and develop hands-on experience in agriculture. Fall is a great time to visit the farm as pumpkin harvest is collected, and Fall Family Fun Weekends are organized throughout October. Lodging options include Nassau Inn on Nassau Street, and dining options are very diverse as there are fast food and quick dine-in restaurants for students, such as Lan Ramen and Mamoun's Falafel, as well as fine dining and foreign cuisine restaurants, such as Mediterra. Whether you're applying to the prestigious school or just strolling around the beautiful Lake Carnegie, Princeton has an array of activities and attractions that will make your family trip memorable. 


East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, New Jersey.
East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Editorial credit: quiggyt4 /

Bergen County's very own Ridgewood is home to breathtaking natural vistas and family activities. Although the town is a 15-minute drive from New York City, it is an excellent getaway from the bustling masses and busy streets. The town earned its name from the unnamed ridge north of the town. The Twinney Pond Park is a great spot to skip rocks on the "twin" ponds when the weather is warm. The rich forest surrounding the two ponds will make your hike rewarding and it is recommended to take the Twinney Pond Loop Trail for the best experience. Local tours will guide children through the different plants and animals inhabiting the wildlife. After completing the hike, you can fish at the ponds since the serene atmosphere and rich biodiversity have made it home to brass, trout, and catfish. 

From untouched wildlife to arts and crafts, Ridgewood is where you can have it all! The Bazaar Star Beadery is perfect for family bonding activities. The beadery provides step-by-step instructions and tutorials for kids and adults as they begin their creative beading journey. Known for its friendly faces and warm vibes, the beadery is also a great place to host birthday parties for kids. To enrich your educational trip at Ridgewood, make sure to tour the Historical Society and School House Museum on Glen Ave, which displays historical artifacts such as the Banta Sword and 18th China from Samuel Chase. Despite Ridgewood's proximity to the Big Apple, its secluded natural attractions and family activities have made it an ideal family retreat destination.

Glen Rock

Fourth of July Parade on Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey.
Fourth of July Parade on Rock Road in Glen Rock, New Jersey. Editorial credit: John Arehart /

As the name suggests, Glen Rock is home to a massive rock structure that has intrigued residents and visitors of the small town. The baffling structure of the Rock has sparked speculation amongst residents who believe that the Rock had been carried by a glacier 15,000 years ago and was left so tourists could marvel at it while driving by the town. The Rock is a longstanding monument that was used by native tribes to light fires. You can enjoy much more than baffling boulders at Glen Rock. The Thielke Arboretum conserves wildlife from the rich Glen Rock area and contrasts the neighboring suburban landscapes. The guided tours will brief visitors on the all-inclusive educational program which is tailored for people of all ages. The arboretum allows pets and has picnic-designated areas. It also has a secluded Gazebo covered in light vines, which is perfect for proposing or hosting events. 

Even when the weather is too cold or rainy, there are still great indoor places in Glen Rock where families can bond and have fun. My Gym hosts birthday parties and regular activities for children. Camps are organized during school breaks to make sure kids stay active during holidays, but it's always a good time to stop by My Gym since it has playground facilities that help kids interact with others. 

Asbury Park

Aerial view of the Asbury Park beach and town.
Aerial view of the Asbury Park beach and town.

Asbury Park's fascinating music history and boardwalk vistas have made it a place where all family members can explore their interests. The best time to visit the town is during summer when Asbury's pedal parks are operational. The colorful swan-shaped pedal boats float through Wesley Lake, and they seat two people. This exercise does not require a lot of physical strength and is open to children of all ages. The eco-friendly service is adjacent to History Ocean Grove, and even if participants are unable to participate, they can enjoy the view from the boardwalk as the colorful swans set off on their expedition. 

For the best theatrical and musical performances, Paramount Theater is the place to go. The town's hidden gem has hosted Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and The Rolling Stones! Even if rock music is too outdated for kids, there are plenty of live concerts that can satisfy different tastes and preferences. You can find New Jersey's favorite glassblowing spot in downtown Asbury. Hot Sand is a public glassblowing studio that is open to kids from the age of 4. For the ultimate retro gaming experience, visit the Silverball Retro Arcade which will relieve millennial's gaming memories and introduce kids to an array of 600 legendary games such as the 1950s pinball game. The Asbury Ocean Club Hotel is only 0.3 miles from Asbury's boardwalk and has several amenities such as pools, free bikes, and a fitness center.  

Seaside Heights 

Casino Pier, an amusement park on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey
Casino Pier, an amusement park on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Seaside Height lives up to its name, with its breathtaking sunsets and recreational opportunities attracting families from all around. The small beach town is home to Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach and its many facilities. Ideally visited in the summer, the resort's amusement, arcade, and surfing activities have made it an ideal destination for a beach vacation. Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach are located beside each other to give visitors full access to all that Seaside Heights beaches have to offer. Being New Jersey's very first amusement park, it is guaranteed that Casino Pier is the best place to make summer trips memorable. 

For more than 45 years, Coin Castle has been Seaside Heights' favorite arcade. Its location is ideal since it is near Spicy Mexican Cantina and opens all year long, so visitors don't have to worry about their options when the weather is not in their favor. The best places to stay are the Hershey Motel and Sunrise Motel, which are 0.6 and 0.5 miles away from the boardwalk, respectively. 


Historic mansion in Batsto Village, New Jersey.
A historic mansion in Batsto Village, New Jersey.

The small village is a blast from the past. Its untouched wildlife, folklore, and mansions. The town's fall foliage is like no other; the eerie vibes from the village's secluded atmosphere combined with historic Victorian mansions make "spooky season" particularly memorable. The village's tours begin at the 32-bedroom Batsto Mansion, which has housed ironmasters around the end of the 1900s. Visitors marvel at the well-preserved 14 rooms for display and then proceed to walk around the town for around 45 to 55 minutes. Special tours are given in Atsion Mansion on Memorial Day and Labor Day. In total, completing this tour should take less than 3 hours. 

Batsto has preserved relics of production machinery from more than 150 years ago. For example, the Batsto Glass Works is one of the discontinued glass-producing facilities that was discontinued in the 1860s and is not easily found outside this town. Another near-extinct building would be the Iron Furnace that was utilized by patriots during the Revolutionary War. The functionality of the Iron was facilitated by the proximity of the Batsto Lake, which was a rich ore resource. The local Nature Center offers canoeing tours to supplement the Batsto tours. Many events are hosted during October, with New Jersey Civil War Living History Encampment and The Haunting taking place in October. 

Cape May

The gorgeous Cape May, New Jersey.
The gorgeous Cape May, New Jersey.

Cape May is one of the United State's oldest resort towns. Ever since the 19th century, its pristine beaches and welcoming faces have made it a hidden gem on the Jersey shore. Congress Hall is living proof of Cape May's timeless allure. Initially named the "The Big House" in 1816, Congress Hall is America's very first seaside resort that has withstood time and preserved its antique features, which tell historical stories such as the owner's election to Congress in 1828. Truly, families never have a dull moment in Congress Hall, with events like the Exit Zero Jazz Festival and Murder Mystery Week keeping them busy during their retreat. As you stroll by the beachside of the resort, make sure you look out for Cape May diamonds and polish them at the nearby kiosks. 

Another historic venue that is great for celebrations and family occasions is in The Southern Mansion. The 19th-century building displays its antiques to tell the story of the different eras the mansion withstood. To supplement your stay, you can visit the Willow Creek Winery nearby and participate in private activities such as planting, pruning, and grape harvesting. Cape May's historic district displays preserved and renovated Victorian-style buildings. Some of the historic landmarks accessible to the public include The Inn of Cape May, The Chalfonte, and Cook's Villa, which is currently named The King's Cottage. 


Hamburg, New Jersey, in fall.
Hamburg, New Jersey, in fall.

Towering over tourists and drive, Hamburg's Gingerbread Castle has turned heads since 1928. Inspired by the tale Hansel and Gretel, the amusement park features several iconic characters such as Humpty Dumpty. Its design is straight out of a fairytale, but time has had its toll on the castle, which was under maintenance and restoration in 2019. Currently, visitors are not allowed inside as some areas are flooded and under maintenance, but you can marvel at the castle from outside as you explore Hamburg.

The Grand Cascades Lodge is one of New Jersey's best getaways. To fit all ages and tastes, the resort has activities and relaxation opportunities like no other. Pony rides, ax throwing competitions, and wooden hiking trails are only one way to spend quality family time in Hamburg. Adults can enjoy wine-tasting activities, stroll the scenic golf course, and delve into the resort's spa experience. Other amenities, such as the Biospheric pool and The Chef's Garden, will make your trip to the resort unforgettable. Make sure to visit during the fall when the town's colors are most vibrant. 


Downtown Somerville, New Jersey.
Downtown Somerville, New Jersey. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

With its lively downtown and small crowds, Somerville is a lively town that contrasts nearby massive cities with its homely feel and unique architecture. Tours are organized downtown so you can take a look at historic sites such as The Wallace House and Old Dutch Parsonage Association. Built in 1776 by a merchant named John Wallace, the mansion has endured the battles of the Sullivan Campaign targeting the reign of the Iroquois Confederacy. The renovated attraction is a great way to begin your trip, where you will tour other places, such as the Marble Fountain on Grove Main Street. To understand the full timeline of events in the town, make sure you visit the United Reformed Church for a briefing about its architecture and religious significance.  

The Blue Marble Studio is the best place to create arts and crafts to remind you of your trip. The studio offers classes for all ages and lets you create your unique color blends to apply on shirts, pillows, and canvas. To conclude your trip, make sure you take a look at the studio's gallery and memorabilia. 


Phillipsburg, New Jersey, seen across the Delaware River from Easton, Pennsylvania.
Phillipsburg, New Jersey, seen across the Delaware River from Easton, Pennsylvania.

Phillipsburg overlooks the Delaware town and is one river crossing away from Easton, Pennsylvania. The rich Delaware River passes by the town and has made it a strategic location for trade and transportation, as shown by the avid presence of mines and railways in the town. To dive into the town's history, add the Delaware River Train Excursions to your plan. The River Train crosses the Delaware River to the Pennsylvania side and resurrects the town's history as you ride the century-old Roebling wire rope bridge. 

The adventure does not stop there. There are special seasonal events such as The Great Pumpkin Train celebrating Halloween during October. The two-hour tour walks you through the corn maze and picnic area. For a different taste of Philipsburg, the Harkers Hollow Golf Club is a scenic golf course that has a pool and fine dining options. October is the best time to visit the small town and its lowkey attractions. 


The historic Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey.
The historic Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey.

Clinton is located in Hunterdon County and is home to several vintage museums that make family trips beneficial. The Hunterdon Art Museum has an intricate educational program that provides hands-on experience in arts and crafts for kids. Other advanced classes teach oil painting, sculpting, and papermaking. In addition to being transformed from a century-old grist mill to an art hub, the museum's recreational and educational opportunities are unparalleled. 

With its bright red color standing out in the rich forest, the Red Mill Museum Village stands out and attracts tourists from all around. Ideally, planning family visits during the fall will help you engage in fall festivities such as the Haunted Red Mill, which takes place on weekends in October and November. 

Plan Your Family Trip To New Jersey

Whether you're planning a birthday party or organizing a family trip to the biggest arcade in the state, New Jersey has you covered. To make the most out of your trip, these towns have incorporated educational activities with recreation to highlight the historical significance of these towns as well as their natural allure. From arts and crafts opportunities to laid-back golf retreats, the variety of activities each town presents will make your visit memorable for each family member. 

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