Princeton, New Jersey: People eating on outdoor patios along Witherspoon Street in downtown Princeton. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

9 Small Towns in New Jersey With Big Charm

Embark on an exciting trip through New Jersey and discover the memorable tales and gems of its nine charming small towns. In Cape May, enjoy the old Victorian buildings and beautiful beaches. Lambertville gives a place for art lovers to relax by the Delaware River. The Red Mill Museum Village shows the critical past of Clinton, while Spring Lake's peaceful beaches and old-style walkways offer calm by the coast. Each town's unique nature and landmarks are essential to New Jersey's diverse history, presenting a compelling reason to visit and appreciate the beautiful mix of The Garden State.

Cape May

Cape May, New Jersey: Tourists walking through Washington Street Mall, lined with specialty boutiques, eateries, and shops.
Cape May, New Jersey: Tourists walking through Washington Street Mall, lined with specialty boutiques, eateries, and shops. Editorial credit: JWCohen /

Cape May, at the end of New Jersey, shows what old-time Victorian beauty and seaside joy really are. This town is known all over the country for its many well-kept old Victorian buildings that bring back memories of a time long past.

The Cape May Lighthouse, built in 1859, symbolizes this town's maritime history. People who go up to its top can see the ocean in all directions, giving a tangible link to old stories about sailing on boats. The Emlen Physick Estate, another old gem, lets you fully experience life in the 1800s. This old house from the time of Queen Victoria has real furniture and is covered in well-kept gardens. It offers a clear picture of how people lived at home back then.

Cape May's clean beaches make a natural beauty, mixing the town's old-fashioned magic with the calm loveliness of its sea view. These sandy shores, famous for their smooth sand, are liked by many to chill out and take in the beauty of the sea.

Making Cape May even more attractive is the Washington Street Mall. In front of historic architecture, this busy outdoor shopping area combines a mix of different stores, places to eat, and art displays. It gives you a today's shopping feeling in a Victorian setting.

In Cape May, a mix of old sights, nature's beauty, and lively business makes this place where history and modern allure come together. 


Lambertville, New Jersey: Visitors walking the paths of the Delaware Canal Trail on a warm fall day with autumn foliage on the trees.

Lambertville, New Jersey: Visitors walking the paths of the Delaware Canal Trail on a warm fall day with autumn foliage on the trees. Editorial credit: JWCohen /

Sitting by the Delaware River in New Jersey, Lambertville is where history and art come together. The old buildings from the 1800s have been carefully kept, showing how much this place values its history and supports a lively art and culture vibe.

A big part of what makes Lambertville unique is the Delaware and Raritan Canal. This once-crucial transportation route has now been changed into a beautiful trail. It lets those who walk and ride bikes see the lovely sights of the Delaware River, with historic buildings in Lambertville behind them.

The change of the Lambertville Station from a busy train stop to a unique restaurant and inn shows how this town can use historic buildings in new ways. This landmark maintains its historical essence and contributes to Lambertville's traditional appeal.

In the art world, Lambertville has many galleries that show off local and regional talents—reinforcing the town's place as an arts hub. The annual Shad Festival perfectly exemplifies this, blending the town's artistic vibe with environmental consciousness as it honors and promotes the Delaware River's natural ecosystem.

Lambertville is a nice mix of old and new. All these work together to make it a must-go place in New Jersey for people who love history and art or want to see the stunning views of the Delaware River.


Clinton, New Jersey: Downtown historic Clinton, Hunterdon County.
Clinton, New Jersey: Downtown historic Clinton, Hunterdon County. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

In the beautiful scenery of New Jersey, the town of Clinton stands out with its mix of history and natural loveliness.

One of its most important historical spots is the Red Mill Museum Village. It's a unique, emblematic building with a distinctive red façade against the Raritan River. Dating back to the early 19th century, this former mill now operates as a museum, showing Clinton's industrial history and legacy.

The Clinton Historic District adds to the town's beauty, saving what was unique about America in the 1800s. Here, people can walk down roads with historic buildings in good shape. This gives an authentic look into the past and a perfect setting for photography enthusiasts.

The busy shopping area on Main Street in Clinton has cute little stores. One of these is The Clinton Book Shop, a beloved local bookshop that has become a cornerstone of the community. It has a careful collection of good books and works as a meeting spot for events about writing and reading clubs.

Close by, the Spruce Run Recreation Area offers a natural hideout. Famous for its beautiful lake, this spot is perfect for outdoor activities like fishing, boating, and picnicking. It gives people a quiet rest stop with nature all around them.

Clinton's mix of historic architecture, a lively city center, and calm nature scenes make it a particular spot in New Jersey.

Spring Lake

Spring Lake, New Jersey: Beach view on a late summer afternoon.
Spring Lake, New Jersey: Beach view on a late summer afternoon. Editorial credit: Andrew F. Kazmierski /

Spring Lake, located on the pretty shores of New Jersey, smoothly mixes Victorian-style buildings with the peace of its beach setting.

The town's pride, the Spring Lake Boardwalk, shines out as one of the state's most extensive non-commercial boardwalks. It gives locals and visitors beautiful views of the ocean and a calm place to relax.

The town carries its old stories in the Spring Lake Historical Society Museum. This place is committed to keeping the story of Spring Lake alive, from its start as a lovely beach village to growing into a top-class vacation spot. It offers an understanding trip through what has happened in the past there.

Divine Park, named after the Spring Lake surrounding it, provides a calm and peaceful natural place. This park is loved for slow walks by the lake and enjoying nature's beautiful view.

Another beautiful spot in Spring Lake's past is Breakers on the Ocean. Dating back to the Victorian era, this oceanfront hotel showcases the town's history and status as a luxurious coastal retreat, maintaining its timeless charm and appeal.

Spring Lake is the best of New Jersey's beach charm, where old-time grace meets nature's loveliness.


Princeton, New Jersey: Shoppers and pedestrians near Tudor-style building on Witherspoon Street, including Hamilton Jewelers.
Princeton, New Jersey: Pedestrians near Tudor-style building on Witherspoon Street. Editorial credit: Benjamin Clapp /

Princeton, New Jersey, famous for having the prestigious Princeton University, is also full of history and culture.

The university campus has many historical landmarks, such as the Nassau Hall, the first building there, and the Princeton University Chapel. Both are celebrated not just for their architectural elegance but also for their significance in the University's history.

Princeton Battlefield State Park is another site of historical importance. It was the scene of the Battle of Princeton during the American Revolution, giving a clear connection to the country's past. With its walking trails and open spaces, the park invites people to look around and think about this critical time in US history.

Morven Museum and Garden, which used to be the home of New Jersey's governors, now runs as a museum. It shows the state's cultural heritage and is completed by carefully maintained British-style gardens, enhancing the historical experience.

In the central part of Princeton, near Palmer Square, visitors can enjoy shopping, eating, and entertaining against a backdrop of historic Colonial Revival-style buildings. This place, where old times mix with today's life, is known for its symmetrical facades and brick walkways. 

Princeton, known for its top university, historic places, and lively town center, provides a rare feeling that blends the history of America and today's community life.

Ocean Grove

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

Ocean Grove in New Jersey is a testament to historical preservation and stands out as unique in culture. Built in 1869 as a place to meet for Methodists, this town by the sea is known for its many Victorian-style buildings and long-standing religious history.

At the heart of Ocean Grove is the Great Auditorium, constructed in 1894. This impressive structure is not only an architectural treasure but also acts as a critical place for religious events and cultural happenings. It represents the town's long story.

Another unique spot of Ocean Grove's historical heritage is the Tent City, adjacent to the Great Auditorium. Originating from the town's camp meeting tradition, these canvas homes have become lovely and memorable neighborhoods.

Unlike other busy paths, the Ocean Grove boardwalk gives a peaceful place with wide scenes of the Atlantic Ocean. This path near the sea is loved by people who enjoy calm walks and a chance to enjoy the beautiful views of waves and sand.

Designated as the Ocean Grove Historic District, this town is known nationwide for keeping its Victorian buildings in perfect shape. This distinction makes Ocean Grove a magnet for those who like old building styles and the beauty of Victorian times.

Ocean Grove, combining unique cultural traditions and a beautiful beachfront, presents a distinctive experience on the Jersey Shore.


Haddonfield, New Jersey: Historic town in Camden County, originally occupied by Lenni Lenape Native Americans and known as a major paleontology site.

Haddonfield, New Jersey: A historic town in Camden County, initially occupied by Lenni Lenape Native Americans, is known as a significant paleontology site.

Located in New Jersey, Haddonfield is a town where history resonates through its streets and landmarks. Renowned for its colonial charm, the town is filled with buildings kept in good shape from the 18th century.

One of its most significant historical sites is the Indian King Tavern Museum. This landmark is where New Jersey's statehood was declared during the Revolutionary War, showing Haddonfield's great history.

In science, Haddonfield became world-known with the Hadrosaurus Foulkii Leidy Site. It was there, in 1858, that a near-complete dinosaur skeleton was found. This fantastic discovery made the town a big spot for finding old bones, catching the attention of scientists and people who love history worldwide.

The feeling of unity and town life is shown perfectly by the Haddonfield Farmers Market. It's a central point for community gatherings, where residents and visitors come together to enjoy the best regional agriculture products and craftsmanship.

Haddonfield is a remarkable town with a unique blend of historical and scientific significance and lively community markets. 


Montclair, New Jersey: Streetscape of Park Street in downtown Montclair.
Montclair, New Jersey: Streetscape of Park Street in downtown Montclair. Editorial credit: quiggyt4 /

Montclair is a beautiful town in New Jersey known for its lively art community and lush green setting.

The center of the town's art life is the Montclair Art Museum. It's known for having an extensive assortment of American and Native American artwork. This shows the variety of art styles and traditions in this place.

A vital part of Montclair's history is the Wellmont Theater. First made as a prominent cinema place in the early 1900s, it has been given new life over time and now serves as a lively spot for music shows and live acts. It has wonderfully blended its past style with today's art forms.

One of Montclair's beautiful gifts from nature is the Presby Memorial Iris Gardens. This plant garden, famous for its many iris flowers, is a safe place for plants and a quiet escape in the middle of town.

The town's link to the earth is strengthened by its proximity to the Eagle Rock Reservation. This expansive park, with its hiking trails and incredible views of the New York City skyline, offers a unique kind of escape into nature, balancing urban charm with the tranquility of the outdoors. 

Montclair's mix of places like the art museum and theater and nature spots such as the beautiful Iris Garden and the Eagle Rock lookout make an exciting combination. 


Smithville, New Jersey: Small shops in Smithville on a winter day.
Smithville, New Jersey: Small shops in Smithville on a winter day. Editorial credit: Andrew Pilecki /

Smithville in New Jersey is where old times, tradition, and nature's charm blend.

The place is where you can find the Old Smithville Inn, dating back to 1787. It's a significant part of this town's unique past. This lovely old place, now a well-known food spot, lets visitors see how life was in the time of the colonies, and people love it for its classic American food and picturesque setting.

Next to the hotel is the Town Square, a group of more than 60 stores set up like a charming old village from the 1700s. This place is a great spot to shop and a joyful stroll through time. Cobblestone paths and period-style buildings will make it feel like you're in history.

Smithville's charm is enhanced by its proximity to the beautiful Lake Meone. This calm lake gives a quiet view of the town and lets you stroll or sit for peace in nature.

The annual Smithville Fife & Drum event further celebrates the town's heritage. This cultural festival brings the community together for music, crafts, and historical reenactments, celebrating Smithville's enduring legacy.

Smithville's blend of historical landmarks, charming commercial areas, and natural beauty is a testament to New Jersey's ability to preserve its past while creating an inviting atmosphere for visitors.

Discovering New Jersey's Unique Towns

Each town has its own unique story and charm. From Cape May's notable historic buildings to Lambertville's love for art, from Spring Lake's pristine beaches and elegance to Princeton's respected college and places of history. Every town in New Jersey, with its unique places and way of life, adds something different to the state's history and culture. They invite guests to look and feel the real story and loveliness of this great state.

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