Exterior of Princeton campus building in Princeton, New Jersey. Image credit Jay Yuan via Shutterstock.

Best College Towns In New Jersey

New Jersey is one of the most naturally beautiful states, featuring top-quality education options and exciting attractions for both students and visitors. The state comprises many small towns, many of which are home to some of New Jersey’s best high education institutions, offering some of the best colleges in the country. New Jersey is also one of the best options for international students looking to settle in calm places with a moderate budget. Perfect for those looking to escape the big city bustle to a slower-paced envirionment while still being in proximity of  major cities. Most of these small towns are only a ride away from the big cities such as New York and Philadelphia, allowing visitors and students alike to enjoy the best of both worlds, a peaceful and quiet hometown without missing out on the excitement that big cities offer.  


Wall sculpture at Rowan University, New Jersey
Wall Sculpture at Rowan University, New Jersey. Image credit H. Dryad via Wikimedia Commons. 

Glassboro is a small college town with a rapidly changing community, offering new opportunities to residents and businesses. Glassboro, known for glass manufacturing, is in southern New Jersey, just 30 minutes south of Philadelphia. The town has multiple bus stops in town as well as on campus that transports residents to Philadelphia as well as Cape May. Glassboro, home of Rowan University, a university with a high reputation, offerrs different Academic programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, professional and doctoral degree programs. The institution also boasts the 3rd fastest-growing research university in the nation. Many students worldwide choose Glassboro as it is the perfect place for students seeking quality education while being able to experience the party scene. Rowan University offers on-campus housing. Glassboro has put a lot of effort into providing students and residents with many communal places and a variety of shops and entertainment, some of which are close distance to the campus. Some of these include an escape room, tequila bar, glass museum, art gallery, comic book store, and many coffee shops.


Princeton University, a private Ivy League research university in New Jersey, with beautiful gothic building and students around
Princeton, New Jersey. Image credit EQRoy via Shutterstock.

A list of the best New Jersey college towns could not be complete without Princeton, the globally-renowned home to the best state universities. Some of the best, most abundant college experiences go down in Princeton, with a wide range of major options and entertainment destinations. Princeton’s prime location with nearby metros makes it only a short ride to nearby cities, allowing students to quickly get to the bigger metropolises of New York and Philadelphia. The Ivy League college offers a 4-year business study program in charming gothic-themed buildings that are stunning to look at. Although most college students choose to live on campus, Princeton has way more to offer than just higher-class education. Princeton Library and its local historic downtown are key visitor destinations and chill-out spots, decorated with tree-lined streets in a rich, Historic Suburban manner. Every road leads to Palmar Square and its unique shopping options and live venues. Princeton is a top-notch option for students!


 A huge clock in the main street of Madison, New Jersey downtown on a sunny afternoon
Main Street, Madison. Image credit Wirestock Creators via Shutterstock.

Madison has a solid educational, cultural, and historical character. Rose City, as many call it due to once being the world’s #1 rose producer, is one of the safest, most family-friendly towns in the state. Downtown Madison is within the walkable area, with various coffee shops, such as Sunday Motor café that most locals advise, retail shops, and different cuisine restaurants. Madison has great highway access and good public transport linking Madison to bigger cities. Madison is the home of three higher education institutions; Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Drew University, known as the Forest University due to its 186 wooded acres. Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, located on the campus of Drew, and Great Swap National Wildlife are one of the many attractions in the area. 


Exterior view of the Montclair Art Museum
Exterior view of the Montclair Art Museum. Image credit Chris Lawrence Travel via Shutterstock.

This picturesque town is known for its tree-lined streets, theaters, lovely restaurants, art galleries, museums, yoga studios, electric boutiques, and parks. Montclair is home to Montclair State University, the second largest public university in New Jersey, where most of the students prefer off-campus housing, ranking in the 2022-2023 edition of Best Colleges #182 in National Universities. The town is located at an ideal, 20 mile distance from New York City, making it a popular option for those who still want to live near “The Big Apple.” Montclair is the place for college student "foodies", as going out to eat will be one of the highlights of any time spent here. Boasting a range of global cuisine, from fine French dishes to the spicy food of India. Furthermore, popular attractions in the town are: Montclair Art Museum, Montclair Farmers Market, Wellmont Theater, and parks such as Edgemont Pak. With an emphasis on natural beauty, Montclair is the ideal destination for people looking for a balance of city life and natural inspiration.


Aerial view of Morristown, New Jersey.
Aerial view of Morristown, New Jersey. Image credit FotosForTheFuture via Shutterstock.

Known for being the military capital of the world, Morristown is home to a charming downtown, historic buildings, and Saint Elizabeth University, an educational institution rooted in the Catholic liberal arts tradition. SEU was ranked 101 out of 181 regional universities according to the USA News and World Report. Morristown is a chill town to spend the last years of your educational endeavors, as it offers all of the essential hangout destinations without leaving out the nightlife scene! With an extensive range of club options and traditional American bars, Morristown does not disappoint. Located just 32 miles from New York, Morriston is a popular option for those trying to escape the big city bustle without being too far away from big city opportunities!


 A Caldwell University Cougars banner on display in downtown Caldwell
 A Caldwell University banner. Image credit quiggyt4 via Shutterstock.

Caldwell is in northwestern town Essex County, in the state of New Jersey, about 16 miles west of New York City. Caldwell, despite its small size, has a lot to offer in terms of educational pursuits. Set in a quiet community, Caldwell allows for the best of both worlds: peaceful environment while still being near all the emenities the big cities nearby have to offer. Caldwell is ranked as one of the best places to live on many online blogs and is home to Caldwell University, a private Catholic university, ranked #93 out of 181 regional Universities. The town’s welcoming suburban setting makes students feel right at home, as well as offering diverse programs at the university. With its small-town charm and the added bonus and convenience of the big city close by, Cadwell is the ideal place to call home for a few years! 

Woodland Park

Aerial view of Interstate 80 from Garret Mountain Reservation in Woodland Park, NJ
Aerial view of Woodland Park, NJ. Image credit quiggyt4 via Shutterstock.

Woodland Park is a borough in Passaic County that was formally known as West Paterson, with a population of about 13,484 censuses. Popular attractions are Garret Mountain Reservation, a large park with 568 acres which also houses Lambert Castle which can be found within the park. Another park nature enthusiasts students will want to check out is Riffle Mountain Park. This park contains many recreational activities such as camping and hiking as well as features an amphitheater, and much more to do. Woodland also boasts many good restaurants and perfect shopping centers for locals. In terms of educational institutions, Woodland is home to Berkeley College which features several programs and a well-equipped campus.


It is no secret that America has some of the world’s best Universities, and a handful of them are surprisingly found in the humble state of New Jersey. Each of these towns offers a wide range of education opportunities for students from across the globe. New Jersey provides the best college experiences through its beautiful nature, diverse climates, and proximity to major cities. Considering the momentum these New Jersey college towns are developing, students and visitors may even want to call these charming small towns their new permanent home!

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