View of people eating on outdoor patios on Witherspoon Street in downtown Princeton, New Jersey, United States, via EQRoy /

7 of the Most Welcoming Towns in New Jersey

Perhaps it’s because it’s the country’s fourth-smallest state (and the most densely populated!) that New Jersey just so happens to be one of the friendliest places to visit in the USA. Stretching along the East Coast from Delaware to Connecticut, this mid-Atlantic region state boasts numerous attractive small towns worth exploring, each offering an authentic New Jersey welcome to travelers.

From Cape May to Morristown and Madison and numerous stops in between, these picturesque towns not only capture that quintessential East Coast charm, they also boast vibrant cultural scenes that welcome tourists from far and wide. Find out more from this list of the seven most welcoming towns in New Jersey.

Cape May

Washington Street Mall at Cape May, New Jersey
Washington Street Mall at Cape May, New Jersey, via Jonathan W. Cohen /

As the most popular tourist destination on this list of New Jersey’s most welcoming small towns, Cape May residents know a thing or two about how to welcome their guests. The popularity has as much to do with its beautiful coastal setting overlooking Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean as it does its well-preserved Victorian architecture and stunning beaches, each of which offers no end of fun things to do for vacationers and day-trippers alike.

Aerial view of Cape May, New Jersey.
Aerial view of Cape May, New Jersey.

Now a National Historic Landmark, the streets of Cape May are not only fun to explore, but they’re also safe, with each step of the way being a little like stepping back in time. Some of the prettiest of these colorful gingerbread-trimmed homes are now cozy B&Bs, offering guests so pleasant a Cape May welcome that you’ll never want to leave.


Shoppers and pedestrians near a Tudor style building on Witherspoon Street in Princeton, New Jersey
Shoppers and pedestrians near a Tudor style building on Witherspoon Street in Princeton, New Jersey, via Benjamin Clapp /

While there are 29 communities in the USA named “Princeton,” New Jersey undoubtedly has one of the best. This historic town is, of course, famous for its university, founded in 1746 and one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious places of further education. Non-students can also expect a warm welcome when visiting Princeton University, whether you’re here to enjoy a tour of the campus or to take in an exhibit at the world-class University Art Museum.

Downtown Princeton also delights visitors. Here, you’ll find boutiques and bookstores, as well as cafés and restaurants that cater to every taste and budget. You can also learn more about the town’s history at Princeton Battlefield State Park, the site of a crucial battle in the American Revolutionary War. Nearby Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park is also worthy of a visit and features miles of scenic paths ideal for biking, jogging, or leisurely walks.


Overlooking Morristown, New Jersey.
Overlooking Morristown, New Jersey.

Just 30 miles west of downtown New York City, Morristown puts out the welcome mat for visitors on a daily basis. Founded in 1739, the town’s historical legacy is the big draw here, with Morristown having served as George Washington’s headquarters during the Revolutionary War. As a result of this important connection to the country’s first President, Morristown has been recognized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of only a Dozen Distinctive Destinations in the USA.

Pay a visit today, and you can explore sites such as Acorn Hall, Historic Speedwell, MacCulloch Hall Historical Museum, and Willow Hall, all of historic significance not just to the town but the state and the country as a whole. Topping our list of things to do in Morristown is visiting the Ford Mansion, which served as Washington’s headquarters and now houses a museum offering a glimpse into life during the 18th century. Another good excuse to visit the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), which regularly hosts performances of classical- and popular music.


A huge clock in the main street of Madison, New Jersey downtown on a sunny afternoon
A huge clock in the main street of Madison, New Jersey downtown on a sunny afternoon, via Wirestock Creators /

Head east five miles from Morristown and you’ll find yourself in Madison, an often-overlooked place that regularly rolls out the red carpet for theater fans. The big draw? Madison just so happens to be the home of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, the state's only professional theater company dedicated to Shakespeare's works and other classics. Located on the grounds of Drew University, this theater, along with The F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre, entertains audiences from New York and beyond with its dynamic interpretations of timeless plays.

Other good reasons to visit include a rich music and art scene, as well as its quaint downtown area with its well-preserved historic architecture, boutique shops, and first-rate local eateries.  


Park Street in downtown Montclair.
Park Street in downtown Montclair.

The town of Montclair is another cultural hotspot known to attract visitors interested in the arts. Considered one of the best places to live in New Jersey, here you’ll find the Montclair Art Museum, a world-class gallery boasting an excellent permanent collection and significant traveling exhibits. It’s also home to the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University, one of the state's most prestigious art institutions that entices visitors with its professional dance, music, and theatrical performances.

You’ll find the town and its residents especially welcoming during the prestigious Montclair Jazz Festival. Held in Nishuane Park and celebrated as the largest jazz festival in the NYC area, this must-attend event attracts world-renowned artists to its rich roster of concerts. Also, Montclair just so happens to be home to Stephen Colbert, quite possibly the world’s friendliest TV chat show host.


Outdoor dining in Westfield, New Jersey
Outdoor dining in Westfield, New Jersey

Westfield is another New Jersey destination that’s not only considered a great place to live but also offers day trippers and tourists a few great reasons to want to stop awhile and explore. Start your exploration in Downtown Westfield. Here, you can wander its picturesque streets lined with an eclectic mix of shops, boutiques, and restaurants, and even take in a show by the New Jersey Festival Orchestra, who call Westfield home.

Other popular attractions that offer visitors a warm welcome include the historic Rialto Theatre, which features a mix of contemporary and classic films, as well as special screenings and events. Mindowaskin Park is a local favorite place for a stroll and is home to a network of walking paths, a picturesque pond, and ample space for picnics.

East Brunswick

Aerial view of single family homes, a residential district East Brunswick New Jersey
Aerial view of single family homes, a residential district East Brunswick New Jersey

Despite being located only an hour south of New York City, the town of East Brunswick has done a great job of making itself a welcome place to live or visit for families. Topping the list of family-friendly activities here are Butterfly Park, a green space dedicated to the conservation of these fascinating creatures; Giamarese Farm & Orchards, a fun family-owned farm that offers kid-friendly experiences including pick-your-own fruits and vegetables, a corn maze, and even hayrides; and Crystal Springs Family Waterpark, an always welcoming place to hang out in the heat of summer.

There are plenty of opportunities for adults to let off some steam, too. Those who enjoy great entertainment should head to Playhouse 22, an award-winning community theater that hosts everything from classical music to plays, while sports enthusiasts will want to visit Bicentennial Park and the Tamarack Golf Course.

The Final Word

Each of these towns, with their diverse attractions and rich history, offers an authentic taste of New Jersey. From the well-known and extremely popular tourist destination of Cape May to lesser-known communities such as Madison and Morristown, these seven small towns have helped cement New Jersey’s reputation as one of the country’s most welcoming and friendliest states.

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