outdoor dining in Westfield, New Jersey, via wdstock / iStock.com

9 Friendliest Towns to Visit in New Jersey in 2024

New Jersey is one of the liveliest and most fun states in the US, with one of the country’s largest populations. While it is home to several large cities, a closer look would reveal some pretty little towns with friendly environments that beckon tourists to come and enjoy their charms. It gets better with the Atlantic Ocean on the east and south end of the state, making some of its towns not just homely but enticing. A visit to these towns promises great satisfaction, especially with their lower crime rates, fewer populations, welcoming locals, and so many things to indulge in. With the year already half spent, now’s the best time to get on the next flight to visit these friendliest towns in Jersey.


Downtown sidewalk in Haddonfield, New Jersey
Downtown sidewalk in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.

Haddonfield in Camden County invites tourists and those seeking an escape from a busy world to come and relax in its parks and gardens. Hopkins Pond is one of the town’s main parks, occupying 33 acres of natural land, featuring a bird sanctuary, a natural history tree tail, and a trail loop along the pond. Mountwell Park is another point of interest perfect for families with children as it features picnic tables and playgrounds filled with loads of play equipment. Just outside the town, Cooper River Park is a great place to enjoy nature's beautiful scenery, watch the dazzling sunset, and hike around the river. Away from the outdoors, Haddonfield preserves the Indian Tavern Museum, where the great seal of the state was adopted and Revolutionary War Meetings were held. After exploring, head to the Bistro at Haddonfield to enjoy lunch and dinner.


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 is a cozy town in Warren County with a homely atmosphere that’s perfect for relaxation. Once here, Sycamore Park is a lovely destination to relax beneath Sycamore trees, hold picnics, and stroll along manicured paths with a loved one. Visitors are also invited to the Blair Lake Dam for a relaxing walk across the bridge and a closer look at the spectacular falls. For art lovers, Gallery 23 is a perfect stop to admire the stunning creativity of local artists and fall in love again with the arts. History buffs would love the Blairstown Museum, where over 2,000 artifacts and preserved items tell sweet stories of the past. Afterward, visitors can enjoy thrilling shows and concerts at Roy’s Hall, and when hunger inevitably comes, refill the stomach at Buck Hill Brewery & Restaurant.


The City Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey
The City Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Image credit christianthiel.net via Shutterstock.com

Step into Frenchtown and be overwhelmed by its lovely and friendly atmosphere along the banks of the Delaware River in Hunterdon County. Thanks to its small population of just above 1,000, visitors can have a less chaotic experience exploring its sights and sounds. Start with the great outdoors by walking and admiring the scenic Uhlerstown-Frenchtown Bridge over the Delaware River. Hikers and bikers can proceed to the nearby towpath, otherwise known as D&R Canal Trail which runs for more than 60 miles along the river, offering incredible natural scenery. For a taste of history, visitors are invited to the Frenchtown historic district to see historic buildings like Nathaniel Shurtz House (1865) and Frenchtown Inn (1832). When hungry, visit the Frenchtown Café or the Bridge Café, and admire artworks later at Merge Gallery or Artyard.

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 / Shutterstock.com

Spring Lake is a magically scenic town in the Jersey Shore region of the state, boasting a friendly atmosphere that welcomes all visitors. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side, two miles of gorgeous sugar-white beach lure tourists to sunbathe, hold picnics, catch the sunset, swim, and enjoy other water sports. The beach is also home to a two-mile boardwalk for promenading and sightseeing. After exploring the boardwalk, visit Divine Park and admire the charming Spring Lake and the birds. For entertainment lovers, visitors can catch a live show at the Spring Lake Theatre, while history buffs can spend time at the nearby Sea Girt Lighthouse exploring rare maritime artifacts. Meanwhile, art lovers can admire and shop for artworks at Design Domaine or Euphemia Galleries, before enjoying lunch later at Spring Lake Pizza and Bistro.


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

Westfield is a much larger and bustling town in Union County that oozes small-town charms. Here, visitors will be met with the scenic Rahway River Parkway that sets the stage for recreational activities like hiking and sightseeing. The town also features several parks for more recreation like Tamaques Park (featuring play equipment and trails) and Mindowaskin Park (featuring gardens, a pond, and a playground). Art lovers can explore the Evalyn Dunn Gallery to shop and see art exhibitions from across the world. History lovers in town are also invited to Gallows Hill and Presbyterian Church and Cemetery to explore the intriguing world of the past. For exotic dining, Westfield offers great options like the Westfield Diner, 1958 Cuban Cuisine, and Addams Tavern.


Downtown Cranford, New Jersey
Downtown Cranford, New Jersey. Image credit Joseph Tarr via Shutterstock.com

Cranford is a bustling town in Union County, around 20 miles from Manhattan, offering the perfect getaway from the city's hustle and bustle. The town is incredibly scenic and regarded as the Venice of New Jersey, with the Rahway River running through its center and featuring many spots for recreation. The river is home to the Rahway River Parkway which hosts several recreational areas offering endless opportunities for hiking, biking, boating, fishing, and kayaking. To balance the experience, the town invites visitors to check out some historic structures such as the Pierson House (built around 1740) and Cranford Hall (built in the 1920s). For more history, check out the Cranford Canoe Club (founded in 1908) and the Nreeland House (built around 1770). Cranford also ensures visitors are well-fed with delicious food as it features establishments like - Pairings Palate + Palate and Café Paris. Hit these restaurants after the exploration for a more wholesome experience.

Bay Head

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

Bay Head is a lovely small town of just 968 residents, situated on the Barnegat Peninsula. This town is friendly, picture-perfect, and exciting, especially as it features a vibrant beach with plenty of space, and soft sand for relaxation and fun. For history buffs, this town is also a haven as it boasts museums like the Vintage Automobile Museum and the New Jersey Museum of Boating. The Loveland Museum is also nearby and is the best place to learn about the local history. Away from history, Bay Head offers a satisfying shopping experience at the Waterlily clothing store and culinary sensations at Dune Grass Café and Theresa’s South. Nearby, Point Pleasant Beach is also available to offer more adventures to Bay Head visitors. The area features more attractions like the Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Jekinson’s Boardwalk, and Las Wave Brewing CO.


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

Ridgewood is a friendly town in New Jersey, just 20 miles from Manhattan, and perfect perfect for a quiet gateway full of adventures. Visitors here can start an unforgettable experience with an immersion into the area’s history at the Schoolhouse Museum. Next, the town invites outdoor buffs to Saddle River County Park to explore its six-mile trail, ponds, picnic areas, and playground, or Twinney Pond Park, to hike and explore a beautiful pond. More adventure awaits at Graydon Park, home to the natural spring-fed Graydon Pool that’s great for swimming. Additionally, Ridgewood promises visitors delicious food and great services at some of its top restaurants including - Village Green Restaurant and Cravings Tapas Bistro.


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

Lambertville is a gorgeous town on the scenic banks of the Delaware River in the Central Jersey Region of the state. Regarded as the antique capital of New Jersey, the town hosts the Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market thrice a week, where people can shop for antiques in an outdoor and indoor market. The town also features the James Wilson Marshall Museum where visitors can immerse in the world of yesteryears. For some entertainment, Lambertville features the Acme Screening Room, where the latest movies and documentaries keep guests excited. For something unique, visitors are invited to enjoy lunch at the Lambertville Station Restaurant and Inn, housed in a restored train station depot by the river. If there’s still time, laidback visitors can stroll along the banks of the Delaware River, soaking in natural views and the breeze along the way.

The Takeaway

The Garden State is home to many friendly towns where people escaping from the chaos of big cities like New York and Newark are always welcome. In these towns, serenity reigns supreme so whether it’s for a summer vacation or just a weekend hideaway, visitors are assured of great experiences. All it takes is one visit and you might just become a lifelong fan or a permanent resident in these friendly towns in New Jersey.

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