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

9 Towns in New Jersey With Thriving Local Businesses

New Jersey is one of those Mid-Atlantic states you have to visit to appreciate. From the umbrella-speckled Jersey Shore beaches to the jaunty Delaware River shops, you will find countless varieties of activities and landscapes when you visit. Home of the nation's first boardwalk, the Garden State is more than just an inspiring place to vacation. With its plentiful transportation, diverse population, and close proximity to major metropolitan hubs, New Jersey is an ideal locale for starting and growing a small business.

Many small towns with fewer than 50,000 residents boast restaurants, shops, and art galleries with wares that could rival any swarming city. Discover the best small towns in New Jersey with thriving local businesses for your next visit to the Garden State.


The Collingswood Craft and Fine Art Festival, New Jersey.
The Collingswood Craft and Fine Art Festival, New Jersey. Image credit Alan Budman via Shutterstock

With a population of fewer than 15,000, Collingswood's oak-tree-and-art-lined streets convey a creative charm that appeals to both day-trippers and locals. Check out African art, classic LPs, and jewelry at spots like Ellis Antiques or Galerie Marie. Or enjoy a scrumptious meal at The Kitchen Consigliere or Sagami Japanese Restaurant.

Many cafes offer outdoor dining along the neighborhood's adorable brick sidewalks. Located only six miles from Philadelphia with an easy cab or subway ride, Collingswood is the perfect side trip while you are in the area. An increasing number of young professionals and retirees also make their homes here year-round.


Streetscape of Park Street in downtown Montclair, New Jersey.
Streetscape of Park Street in downtown Montclair, New Jersey. Image credit quiggyt4 via

With a downtown buzz that is easy to catch on a cool summer night, Montclair, New Jersey, has a population of less than 40,000 residents. Home to the second-largest university in the state, the small town has a culture and sports scene that attracts young adults and the young at heart. Stroll down the Upper Montclair Business District, and you will find delightful surprises like Jafajems, a local purveyor selling unique and colorful accessories, home decor, and furniture. Or check out the delectable gifts and treats at Dry Goods Refillery, including organic candy and vegan butter.

Hungry? Have a sit-down and enjoy spicy takes on breakfast and lunch classics at the Red Eye Cafe, or get into the Brazilian flavor at Samba. Every summer, the streets of Montclair come alive with live music and vendors at events like The Montclair Jazz Festival and The African American Heritage Parade and Festival. Moreover, the hub is an easy train or car ride from New York City, where many local retailers hope to expand their businesses.


East Main Street in the Moorestown Historic District in Moorestown Township, New Jersey.
East Main Street in the Moorestown Historic District in Moorestown Township, New Jersey. Image credit Apc106, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Among its Victorian homes and ample box store shopping lies Moorestown's quaint Main Street, a favorite place for locals and visitors to amble. Here, you will find Happy Hippo Toys, an old-fashioned toy store thriving for over 40 years. Toys, games, and candies make it a popular destination for kids on bikes as well as their parents. Shops like Moorestown Florals have served brides, prom-goers, and business folks for over half a century. And if you are looking for some eats, stop by Carollo's Little Italy or The Cubby Hole, where muffins, crepes, and paninis are all freshly made.


Historic Smithvile at 615 E Moss Mill Rd, Smithville, New Jersey.
Historic Smithvile, New Jersey. Image credit John Arehart via Shutterstock

Nestled in Atlantic County is the pleasant hamlet of Smithville, where a walkable shopping area skirting an idyllic pond offers quaint shops, eateries, paddle boats, a carousel, and even a bed and breakfast if you want to extend your visit. Highlights of the village include car shows, car cruises, and the "art walk," an annual event featuring signed artwork and live music outdoors on the Village Green.

Any time of year, you can explore hidden gems like Cook's Corner, a shop for foodies that offers gadgets, syrups, sauces, and spices. You will also find quirky gifts and decor at The Candle & Christmas Shopp or Little Egg Harbor Soap Shop. And if you are ready for a meal, there is plenty to choose from at spots like the Lakeside Grill and Fred and Ethel's Lantern Light Tavern.


Downtown Somerville, New Jersey.
Downtown Somerville, New Jersey. Image credit EQRoy via

With a modest population of less than 13,000, this small business hot spot is home to the Central Jersey Jazzfest, Holiday Spirit celebrations, and more. With over 35 events per year, hundreds of new apartments, and retail space renovated regularly, it's the ideal locale for a growing new business.

Guests can check out favorites like The Blue Marble Studio, an art gallery that also offers supplies and hands-on workshops. Clothes horses will love the selection at a wide array of consignment shops or customizing their shirts at Gimmee Gimmee Tees. The food scene includes highlights like the hummus at Kyma Greek Cuisine or sushi at Yutaka. This village is a must-visit if you are in the region and want to support small enterprises.

Stone Harbor

Charming row of shops from the sidewalk along 3rd Avenue in Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
Charming row of shops along 3rd Avenue in Stone Harbor, New Jersey. Image credit ThreeRivers11 via Shutterstock

An enchanting hamlet in Cape May County and the former summer home of pop music icon Taylor Swift, Stone Harbor boasts a tiny population of fewer than 1,000. However, you will find plenty to keep you busy while you soak up the salt air and small-town charm. Enjoy the heavenly scents at Blue Eden/Seafoam Soap Company, or find groovy accessories at Coco Blu Boutique.

Kids will love the old-school saltwater taffy and homemade fudge at Douglass Candies, while adults can look for unique finds at Barrier Island Books & Art. If you are staying for the weekend, you can rent bikes, check out the Stone Harbor Museum, or just enjoy a lazy day on the beach.


Aerial of Burlington, New Jersey
Overlooking Burlington, New Jersey.

In keeping with the spirit of New Jersey small towns, Burlington City offers a loveable downtown with one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. Check out Lo Fi Books, Records, & Coffee or Olde City Quilts if you want neat gifts. On a balmy day, Burlington City's brick sidewalks are dotted with table umbrellas from its must-try eateries.

These include Taste of Soul by Ms. Nancy, where you can sample seafood cakes, homemade cornbread, shrimp, and even healthy soul food. Or stop by UMMM Ice Cream Parlor for ice cream sodas, banana splits, and irresistible Belgian waffles.

Beach Haven

The Pearl Street Pavilion in Beach Haven, NJ at sunrise in late November
The Pearl Street Pavilion in Beach Haven, New Jersey at sunrise.

If you are in the Long Beach Island area, check out Beach Haven, known for its fishing, playgrounds, and pristine seaside sand. Younger visitors will appreciate the small but safe Thundering Surf Waterpark, while grown-ups can enjoy the quaint shops just across the parking lot. Browse the sweatshirts and crocs at Coconuts of Long Beach Island or the gourmet treats at Buddy's Pet Stop.

Enjoy a tasty beachside meal at The Marlin or Buckalew's Tavern. If you plan on staying overnight, pack your bags and head to the beachfront Sea Shell Resort and Beach Club or the pleasant Williams Cottage Inn.


The City Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey The City Center in Frenchtown, New Jersey.
fiona's in Frenchtown, New Jersey. Image credit Gene R Samit via

Located on the sparkling banks of the Delaware River, Frenchtown boasts green rolling hills, sweet bicycle paths, and historic waterfront B&Bs. It is also home to a flourishing small business scene and hosts a Wine and Art festival and Riverfest every year. Art collectors will love the exhibits at ArtYard and schmidtberger fine art gallery.

You can also hunt for rustic home accents at Dalla Terra. If you are hungry, enjoy a fine spaghetti dinner at Canal House Station or create your own omelet at the Frenchtown Cafe. Staying overnight in Frenchtown may be worth your while, as it is located only minutes from nearby New Hope, Pennsylvania, and Lambertville, New Jersey, which also offer a plethora of shops and restaurants.

While big cities have their appeal, small towns offer a delightful way to escape the hurry of office building life while enjoying abundant shops, restaurants, and food markets. They are also the perfect opportunity to support small businesses, which are always looking for innovative ways to make the world a better place. Moreover, many small towns in New Jersey are an easy ride from larger metropolitan areas, so it is the ideal state for a weekend getaway.

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