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

8 of the Most Charming Small Towns to Visit in New Jersey

Admitted to the Union in 1787, the “Garden State” of New Jersey is indeed one of America’s most historically fascinating places. Add in stunning natural beauty, and the state will truly become one of the best places to discover in the northeastern part of the country. While such major cities like Newark and Trenton remain the best known, New Jersey also has a number of smaller but equally captivating towns that are perfect ways to get to know the State better. From American Revolution towns to coastal communities, these charming and welcoming small New Jersey towns are always ready to welcome guests. So wait no longer and come see the “Garden State” through an exploration of these great towns!


The City Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey
The City Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Image credit via

Formally established in the 1860s, the community of Frenchtown is beautifully located along the banks of the Delaware River and was so named by its early French-speaking Swiss settlers. Now home to a modest population of just under 1,400 residents, Frenchtown was initially founded as a ferry center that eventually grew into an important rail town. Today, this charming place remains a great destination for discovering 19th-century American history and enjoying the quaint beauty of nature. Spend time at the Frenchtown Historic District, where an eclectic range of buildings and 19th-century architectural styles can be admired. These include the Oddfellows Building (1879) and the Frenchtown Inn (1832), amongst others listed on the National Register of Historic Places. And, of course, serene views of the Delaware River are always on hand, while a visit to the nearby Delaware Canal State Park is a nice way to keep active. Here, stunning hiking, jogging, and biking trails combine with unique views of local wildlife for a memorable outing for the entire family.


The charming historic town of Lambertville, New Jersey.
The charming historic town of Lambertville, New Jersey. Image credit EQRoy via

Also located along the Delaware River, Lambertville was formally founded in the 1840s, although European settlers had been in the area since the 1730s. Today, with a population of just over 4,000 inhabitants, Lambertville remains a charming snapshot of colonial America and a typical small town in the USA. Known locally for its nice assortment of antique stores and other boutiques, the town has been called the “Antiquing Capital” of New Jersey, and it is indeed the perfect place for arts and crafts lovers to discover. Visit stores like the Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market, which includes collectible items from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and the early 20th century amongst its collectibles. From there, why not head over to some of Lambertville’s fine art galleries, where a mix of local artists and renowned international creators are on display. And, of course, even just casually strolling through town is a most charming delight, where in addition to historic buildings (many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places), a welcoming smile, inviting hospitality, and stunning River views make visiting Lambertville a true pleasure all ages can enjoy.


Allenhurst residential historic district.
Allenhurst residential historic district. Image credit: Apc106 via Wikimedia Commons.

Located along the famed Jersey Shore, the town of Allenhurst was established in the 1890s, and today, a population of just under 500 people resides there. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Deal Lake, this quiet community with stunning water views is conveniently located just some 57 miles from New York City. Though it has some of the most expensive real estate properties in the entire United States, the beautiful neighborhoods of Allenhurst certainly make it a nice attraction, even for those just deciding to visit. Full of several historic homes and buildings, guests to town can admire a number of different architectural styles from the late 19th to mid-20th centuries, several of which have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. And with its small-town residential coziness, Allenhurst is definitely a most welcoming and charming place, where cute local businesses and scenic views make it a nice stopover for anyone driving the “Garden State.”


Allentown, New Jersey.
Allentown, New Jersey.

Allentown is situated in the Central Jersey region and is approximately halfway between Philadelphia and New York City. Formally established in the 1880s and with a modern population of just over 1,700 inhabitants, Allentown is a most charming place to discover some American history and relax all in the unique ambiance of small town USA. Explore the Allentown Historic District (listed entirely on the National Register of Historic Places), where one can appreciate up to 219 landmarks that transport visitors back to the days of the 1800s. These include the Allentown Presbyterian Church (1837), the Allentown Mill (1855), and the John Imlay House that dates to the 1790s! In addition the area surrounding Allentown has plenty of charming barns, farmland, and even wineries, and visitors can shop for some locally made agricultural products at any number of vendors. Add in peaceful residential streets and plenty of local businesses, shops, and restaurants, and being in Allentown is undoubtedly a nice excursion and a nice change of pace from the major urban centers.


Witherspoon Street in Princeton, New Jersey.
Witherspoon Street in Princeton, New Jersey. Image credit Benjamin Clapp via

With a modern history dating to the mid-18th century, the beautiful college town of Princeton is indeed a delightful place to visit, work, and study. Home to the famed Princeton University (1746) and with a population of just over 30,000 residents, guests will find the most culturally diverse and welcoming ambiance in town, which is also a short drive from both New York City and Philadelphia. Admire the beautiful campus and its special stone façade buildings while in the town proper; a great array of galleries, museums, shopping centers, and restaurants fill the landscape, ensuring there is never a dull moment. Amongst the businesses and other points of interest include the Bent Spoon Ice Cream Shop, the Blue Point Grill, and the Princeton University Art Museum (set to re-open in 2025). With a number of fascinating historical sites to explore, including the Albert Einstein House and several Historic Districts, Princeton is never short on things to discover in a most pleasing mid-sized town environment.


An Aerial View of Deal, New Jersey
An Aerial View of Deal, New Jersey

Though it has a population of just under 900 permanent residents, 80% of Deal’s populace identify as Sephardi Jews, making it one of the most ethnically unique places in America. Located along the Jersey Shore, the beautiful beachfront of Deal has made it a popular destination for vacationers for decades, while its cultural identity has framed its special character. With its hot summers and mild winters, Deal is a great place to enjoy the outdoors, while its Jewish-American heritage can be appreciated in everything from restaurants, stores, and art galleries. Enjoy an authentic kosher meal, discover special clothing and items at a specialty store, or marvel at any of the town’s six beautifully designed synagogues. In addition, several Victorian-style homes can be admired in the residential neighborhoods that are truly postcard-perfect. Indeed, as a quiet beach location, Deal is a most welcoming destination, and its strong ethnic character makes it stand out as one of the best examples of the wide cultural diaspora in America.

Spring Lake

Aerial view of Spring Lake, New Jersey
Aerial view of Spring Lake, New Jersey

Another beautiful Jersey Shore locale, the town of Spring Lake, has been attracting vacationers to its beaches for over 120 years. Established in the 1890s and home to a modest population of just over 2,700, thousands more descend on town annually for comfortable weather and scenic beach areas that are perfect for the whole family. Equally beautiful but less crowded than similar places like Atlantic City (some 75 miles south), Spring Lake also features a number of pleasing historic structures from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which make for nice photo opportunities. These include the Martin Maloney Cottage and the Sea Girt Lighthouse (1896). Meanwhile, the always inviting and panoramic boardwalk never ceases to charm all who visit. And, of course, as a beach town, tourists can expect to find plenty of fun opportunities to go swimming, sailing, and naturally sunbathing in a laid-back atmosphere. Add in welcoming local businesses and other restaurants, and it is not difficult to see why Spring Lake is such an inviting place to be in.

Chester Township

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

Chester Township was officially established in 1799, and today, this most inviting and historically beautiful place of nearly 8,000 inhabitants continues to charm all who visit. Conveniently located just some 39 miles from New York City, tourists will find an alluring array of Victorian-era homes and buildings here, many of which are also included on the National Register of Historic Places. Beyond its historical attraction is also Chester’s scenic farmland, and the town is known for specializing in “agritourism,” where locally grown foods and green spaces are promoted as key components of the local economy. Meanwhile, outdoor lovers will not want to miss out on such beautiful park areas as Chubb Park and the 890-acre Hacklebarney State Park. At the latter awesome opportunities for hiking, cycling, fishing, and ice skating can be enjoyed in a serene and stunning natural setting. Indeed, whether it's taking in the sights of America’s past or enjoying the calming natural splendor all around, Chester Township is one New Jersey community that is definitely worth a weekend stopover.

Historically rich, naturally beautiful, and culturally alluring, New Jersey, or the “Garden State,” is undoubtedly one of the Northeastern United States’ most special places. Though, like any locale, majors continue to dominate discussion and attention, New Jersey also has plenty of smaller towns that are equally fun and fascinating. From the college ambience of Princeton, the beach splendor of Spring Lake, and the historic streets of Frenchtown, these wonderful smaller New Jersey communities are great ways to experience the State outside of cities like Newark or Trenton. Come and visit New Jersey and choose to spend some time in these awesome and inviting towns, where great memories will surely follow the young, old, and those looking for genuine American charm.

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