The New Jersey shore resort community of Cape May is home to the colorful Washington Street Mall. Editorial credit: George Wirt /

7 Cutest Small Towns In New Jersey To Visit In 2024

Dubbed the "Garden State," New Jersey has many things to offer tourists, including 130 miles of sandy Atlantic Ocean shoreline, world-class attractions and restaurants, and bustling cities that pulse with excitement and opportunity. The heart of the state, however, lies in the cute small towns that welcome visitors to explore the region at a slower, more relaxing pace.

Cape May

Tourists walk through Washington Street Mall in Cape May, New Jersey
Tourists walk through Washington Street Mall in Cape May, New Jersey. Image credit JWCohen via Shutterstock

The cute beach town of Cape May is the southernmost point in New Jersey, and is known as a charming vacation destination. Cape May is a relaxing respite from everyday life, as it offers almost three miles of sandy coastline on which you can sunbathe, swim, play volleyball, and for the more adventurous, kayak, surf and skimboard. Fishing is permitted in specified areas.

If you're visiting town with your family, don't miss a trip to the Cape May County Park and Zoo, which features more than 500 animals representing over 250 different species. The Cape May Point Science Center is another must-see attraction, as is the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviatin Museum. The naval air station was commissioned in 1943, and served as a training center during WWII. The Colonial House was once the family home of Revolutionary War patriot Memucan Hughes, and is open for free tours during the summer months.


Shops in a City Center in Lambertville, New Jersey.
Shops in a City Center in Lambertville, New Jersey. Editorial credit: /

Named one of "America's 15 Prettiest Towns" by Forbes, the quaint town of Lambertville makes the ideal family vacation, girls trip, or weekend getaway destination. Lambertville's location on the Delaware River invites visitors to come and enjoy the scenic view and local wildlife, as well as go kayaking, canoeing, and fishing during the warmer months. There's also a towpath that runs along the river for walking and biking.

Lambertville's picturesque downtown is filled with historic buildings, boutiques, antique shops, cafes and Zagat-rated restaurants serving everything from local to international fare. If you love exploring the outdoors, spend a summer day at Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, a santuary for the conservation of native plants. Tyler State Park is another picture-perfect spot where you can go hiking, picnicking, and even kayaking on Neshaminy Creek.


Autumn in Allentown, New Jersey.
Autumn in Allentown, New Jersey. Image credit Andrew F. Kazmierski via

Not only is charming Allentown easy on the eyes, it has a rich history, too. The surrounding land was once inhabited by Delaware Tribe of Indians, and was also used as a strategic route during the Revolutionary War. Allentown is home to a burial ground featuring gravetones dating back to that time period, and is a must-see for tourists who love exploring historical sites. The Old Mill, which now houses galleries, shops and eateries, was built as a grist mill in 1713, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Horse lovers won't want to miss the Horse Park of New Jersey, an equestrian facility. The beautiful park encompasses more than 175 acres and accommodates everyone from casual riders to Olympic competitors. Mercer County Park offers over 2,500 acres of space for hiking, biking, viewing wildlife, fishing, kayaking, and picnicking. If you're visiting Allentown during the fall, you can pick your own apples at picture-perfect Terhune Orchards.

Spring Lake

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

Dubbed the "Jewel of the Jersey Shore" by locals and visitors alike, adorable Spring Lake is the quintessential small beach town. The historic downtown is the heart of the community and features both fine and casual dining options, quaint coffee shops, one-of-kind boutiques, and antique shops. The town's non-commmercial boardwalk is the ideal place for taking in the salty ocean air while listening to the waves lap against the sandy coastline.

If you love the arts, catch a live show at the Spring Lake Theatre, which is known for producing Broadway-quality performances. There are six live performances per year, and theater-goers are treated to everything from comedies to dramas, as well as children's theater. When you want a break from the beach, spend some time at pretty Divine Park. Located in the heart of town, the park surrounds spring-fed Spring Lake and is the perfect place to rent a kayak, view wildlife, and go on a relaxing walk.


A quiet street in Cranbury, New Jersey.
A quiet street in Cranbury, New Jersey.

Cute Cranbury is known for more than just its good looks, as it has a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War and was George Washington's headquarters during the Battle of Monmouth. Cranbury's downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is home to several buildings dating back to 18th and 19th Centuries. The structures feature a variety of eye-catching architectural styles, including Federal, Victorian and Greek Revival.

Visitors can step back in time during dinner at the notable Cranbury Inn, an establishment that began as a tavern for weary travelers in the mid-18th Century. In addtion to a restaurant, the inn also houses a full-service bar and a cozy lounge. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the Reinhardt Forest Preserve, a 61-acre open recreational space featuring woodlands, wetlands and an almost 2-mile-long hiking and biking trail.


Romine-Van Voorhis House in Maywood, New Jersey
Romine-Van Voorhis House in Maywood, New Jersey

Although quaint Maywood is surrounded by busy interstates in the center of thriving Bergen County, it feels like a relaxing respite. Its historic downtown is the heartbeat of the town and features manicured sidewalks and a mix of commercial and locally owned businesses. Maywood is also hosts several popular events each year, including a hometown Fourth of July parade, the Maywood Fall Festival, and a festive Christmas celebration.

Don't miss a trip to the Maywood Station Museum, a historic landmark featuring an introspective collection of both railroad and regional artifacts and relics. A restored historic locomotive and a caboose are also on display at the museum. City parks worth a visit include Maywood Memorial Park, which offers baseball fields, basketball courts, playgrounds, and a picnic area for an al fresco lunch on a summer day.

Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove, New Jersey: View of Ocean Grove
Ocean Grove, New Jersey: View of Ocean Grove. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Beautiful seaside Ocean Grove was founded in 1869 by Methodist clergymen, and was named the "Queen of Religious Resorts" during the early 20th Century. Today, Ocean Grove is a premier beach vacation destination that draws visitors in from all over. Not only is Ocean Grove known for its scenic coastline, the town has a rich history and was ented on the National Register of Historic Places, as well as the New Jersey State Register of Historic Places in the 1970s.

Ocean Grove plays host to a variety of annual special events, such as the Spring Fling arts and craft show, the Spring Flea Market, the British Car Show, and a winter holiday house tour. The charming town is also revered for its many shopping opportunities ranging from ocean-inspired gifts and home decor items, handcrafted such as jewelry and sweet treats, and antiques and vintage goods.

No matter where you're traveling in New Jersey, you'll find a cute small town that makes you and your family feel welcomed during your vacation or weekend getaway. From historic downtown districts filled with restored buildings and locally owned shops and eateries, to warm, sandy beaches with charming boardwalks, New Jersey has it all.

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