Cape May: Washington Street Mall bustles with visitors amid quaint boutiques and eateries. Editorial credit: JWCohen /

7 Of The Friendliest Towns In New Jersey

Most famous for its boardwalk beaches and Atlantic City casinos, New Jersey offers even more than the seaside coastline. Its friendly towns encourage exploration, whether the traveler is from down the road or halfway around the world. While the state boasts 130 miles of Atlantic Ocean coastline, it is also home to scenic parks, inland natural wonders, and deep currents of past and contemporary culture. A state that has welcomed outside guests for so long has friendliness in its nature. 


Queen Anne/Stick style house in the Blairstown Historic District in New Jersey
Queen Anne/Stick style house in the Blairstown Historic District in New Jersey, By Zeete - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Blairstown, population 5,700, sits in the state's northwest, just shy of the Pennsylvania border at the Delaware River. Formerly called Smith's Mill and incorporated in 1845, the town takes its name from John Insley Blair, a 19th-century American industrialist and one of that century's wealthiest men. The town's historic district joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and the Historic Blairstown Theater, built in 1913 for silent movies, saw a restoration completed in 2005. The Blairstown Museum presents a broad survey of local history and culture.

Visitors looking for greenery and fresh air will find both at Footbridge Park or Blair Lake, respectively, south and north of downtown. 


City Center of Frenchtown, New Jersey.
City Center of Frenchtown, New Jersey.

Frenchtown, population 1,400, down the Delaware River from Blairstown, also lies along New Jersey's western border. This enchanting place sits on the Hunterdon Plateau, some 30 miles northwest of the state capital, Trenton. Incorporated in 1867, the area saw European settlement much earlier, including, from about 1725, a group of French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution, who may have given the town its current name. 

Frenchtown Historic District houses several magnificent colonial structures, including the Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge and the Frenchtown Inn, with the whole area listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Downtown Frenchtown has an active retail zone, drawing window-shoppers as well as shoppers who mean business. The town hosts various annual festivals, many themed after the local French heritage, including a Wine & Art Festival each May, and a Bastille Day celebration every July 14th.

Colts Neck

Center of Colts Neck's business district at the intersection of Route 34 and CR 537
Center of Colts Neck's business district at the intersection of Route 34 and CR 537, By Mr. Matt - Wikimedia Commons

A town of 10,000 residents in central New Jersey, Colts Neck is known for its quiet charm, horse farming, and proximity to the state's Atlantic coast, also called the Jersey Shore. Colts Neck gives the visitor a balance of suburban pleasures at close distance from New York City. Celebrity property owners abound in this town, including musician Bruce Springsteen and comedian Jon Stewart. 

Colts Neck bears plenty of interest for the outdoorsy tourist. Thompson Park is a large green space with hiking trails, a lake with fishing, an off-leash dog area, and tennis courts, among other features. Dorbrook Park Recreation Area is another outdoor option. Colts Neck is home to the Naval Weapons Station Earle, a US Navy base operating there since World War II.


The charming historic town of Lambertville.
The charming historic town of Lambertville. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock

Lambertville, with 4,200 people, is one of the most scenic towns in New Jersey, and is also located along the Delaware River, just south of Frenchtown. Federal townhouses and historic homes paint the town's streets in history, featuring beautiful architecture like the 1816 James Wilson Marshall House Museum or the 19th-century train depot, which houses Lambertville Station. The Delaware and Raritan Canal, which runs through town, gave an economic boost to the area upon its completion in 1834. 

Lambertville brands itself “The Antiques Capital of New Jersey,” and is home to treasures such as the Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market. For some outdoor relaxation, the Howell Living History Farm is a choice destination for those curious about an old-fashioned, rural way of life. 

Cape May

Beach goers enjoy a beautiful day in Cape May, New Jersey
Beach goers enjoy a beautiful day in Cape May, New Jersey, via Racheal Grazias /

Known for its sublime beaches and Victorian architecture, the seaside town of Cape May — the southernmost point of the state of New Jersey — offers loads of old-world charm. With about 2,800 souls, the town welcomes many more in the summer months. It is also designated a National Historic Landmark. Points of interest include the Harriet Tubman Museum, built to honor the former slave and onetime Underground Railroad operative. Tubman lived in Cape May in the early 1850s, when the town was a center of anti-slavery activism.

For foodies, Cape May has seafood restaurants of various kinds and costs, like the beloved Lobster House overlooking Cape May Harbor. The town's outdoor options include whale and dolphin watching. The town is likewise a popular hub for sport and commercial fishing. 

Asbury Park

 View of the landmark Asbury Park Convention Hall, a historic building in Asbury Park on the New Jersey Shore.
 View of the landmark Asbury Park Convention Hall, a historic building in Asbury Park on the New Jersey Shore. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey! Most music fans will recognize that slogan via the famous album with the same title, recorded by rocker and New Jersey native son, Bruce Springsteen (see Colts Neck, above). The Jersey Shore town, which today has 15,100 inhabitants, makes a popular family holiday destination, and has a historic downtown as well. The Paramount Theatre — having hosted some of modern music's greats, like Springsteen, Elton John, and The Rolling Stones — is a great location to catch a show.

Popular annual events include the Asbury Park Restaurant Tour, Fourth of July Fireworks, AsburyFest, and the Asbury Park Zombie Walk each October around Halloween. Since 2005, Asbury Park is also home to the New Jersey Music Hall of Fame. 

Bay Head

Bay Head Beach, New Jersey
Bay Head Beach, New Jersey

Bay Head, population nearly 1,000, is one of New Jersey's prettiest towns. Its early commerce developed from its strategic position by the Atlantic and between the Manasquan and Metedeconk rivers. Some of its historic buildings date back to the late 1800's, including the Grenville Hotel and Restaurant, which stands out as a very Victorian, very pink accommodation option. Bay Head boasts a wide menu of museums: the Vintage Automobile Museum of New Jersey, the New Jersey Museum of Boating, and Loveland Homestead Museum, a local-history venue that is home to the Bay Head Historical Society. The town's historic district is one of New Jersey's largest. 

For some sea air and an unforgettable sunrise, head south of town to the Swan Point State Natural Area, a nature preserve. 

New friends await you in these New Jersey towns

These New Jersey towns have a diverse set of offerings to attract the visitor, but one trait is held in common: each place has been making friends of its guests for centuries. Frenchtown began as a haven for Huguenots from France, while Colts Neck protects celebrities and a short commute into New York City. Cape May, Asbury Park, and Bay Head deliver an abundance of seaside charm, creating the conditions for great music and other forms of local culture. No matter where a visitor may end up in New Jersey, the state's welcoming towns are sure to make for a great time and lasting memories. 

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