The Jersey Shore has so much more to offer than fist-bumping and late-night clubbing. Off of the Garden State Parkway lies beautiful beaches filled with family-friendly activities, wonderful restaurants, and cozy stays. Here is a list of the top 5 best family beaches in NJ.
Sandy Hook Beach, NJ
Sandy Hook Beach of the Gateway National Recreation Area is known for its family friendliness and attracts more than 2 million visitors annually for its natural beauty, historic landmarks, and recreational facilities. The Sandy Hook coastline offers a variety of fun water activities including swimming, fishing, scuba diving, surfing, and windsurfing, perfect for a day with family. For those families with furry friends, Sandy Hook allows dogs on their beaches at Plum Island and Horseshoe Cove throughout the year between certain dates. For nature lovers, the area is covered in protected natural hiking trails, bike paths, and a holly forest with over 300 species of birds. The area also is rich in historical significance with the presence of the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in America perfect for the history buffs of the family to explore. Sandy Hook has something for everyone- whether you’re looking to lay on the beach, take a scenic bike ride, or learn about New Jersey history, there really is something for everyone to do making it one of the best family beaches in NJ. Be sure to check out the mobile food vendors this summer!
Point Pleasant Beach is perfect for families with the renowned Jenkinson’s boardwalk, filled with activities that children will love. The mile-long boardwalk is filled with delicious treats, fun carnival games, amusement park rides, miniature golf, and even an aquarium. The beach itself is extremely clean and well-kept, with popular water sports such as surfing, kayaking, scuba diving, and jet skiing. Along Arnold Avenue, Point Pleasant’s downtown is filled with wonderful family-friendly restaurants within walking distance from the beach, offering fresh local seafood, and a variety of casual eateries sure to have something for everyone. There is more to do off the boardwalk besides eating, such as comedy clubs, and antique shops that are sure to provide the perfect weekend at one of the best family beaches in NJ.
Beach Haven, located on Long Beach Island is a perfect place for a family getaway this summer on the Jersey Shore boasting some of the best beaches in the state. Its landscape is covered with scrubby pines, bayberry plants, and beach plum, and is known for its peaceful vibe, perfect for an intimate family trip. Beach Haven is filled with delicious kid-friendly food spots such as Lucille’s Fudge and the famous Chicken or the Egg, as well as a ton of taverns and seafood restaurants. There are multiple mini-golf courses as well as Fantasy Island Amusement Park boasting 18 amusement park rides, tons of boardwalk games, an arcade, a boardwalk grille, a carousel, and so much more. Fantasy Island is the only amusement park on Long Beach Island, and all of its amenities make it the perfect place for a day with the whole family. Beach Haven is also family-friendly for its Thundering Surf Water Park- with a lazy river, eight waterslides, and even a beach designed specifically for toddlers making it a great place for parents to relax while the kids are having fun. Beach Haven in LBI is an amazing place for families with children, as the beaches are more intimate and there are tons of family-friendly restaurants and activities.
Cape May, which is at the southernmost tip of the Jersey Shore is known as the country’s oldest seaside resort town and as a National Historic Landmark. The beach is home to the Washington Street Mall, an outdoor walking mall spanning three miles with scenic fountains, brick paths, and wooden benches surrounding gardens. Shopping in Cape May is abundant, with stores ranging from fine jewelry, art & collectibles, clothing, souvenirs, and more. There are a ton of restaurants ranging from walk-up to world-class dining, of all different cuisines, so there will be something for everyone. For children, there is Cape May County Park and Zoo, which is free and open every day of the year, featuring over 550 different types of animals, and is notable for its snow leopards. Cape May is also filled with nature activities with bike paths, nature centers, sculpture gardens, and the Garrett Family Preserve, a 180-acre preserve for walking, picnicking, biking, and observing nature. There is also the famous Cape May Lighthouse attraction, where visitors can climb up its 199 steps and see a jaw-dropping view of the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
If you are looking for a quieter summer getaway, then Spring Lake Beach is the perfect spot for you and your loved ones. The town offers a dozen highly-rated bed & breakfasts, inns, and hotels to choose from all with family-style accommodations and over 60 shops and boutiques. The Spring Lake Theatre Company hosts the very happening performing arts scene of the area and produces 6 broadway-level shows per season, ranging from comedy, dramas, children’s theatre, and more. There is Divine Park as well, an outdoor recreation park surrounding the famous Spring Lake in the center of downtown that is perfect for bird watching, kayaking, taking walks, and has two playgrounds for both younger and older children. Spring Lake is the ideal town for a family beach trip because it is a quieter setting with a great downtown, an arts scene as well as a massive park with an abundance of activities for children.
Interested in other summer activities? Be sure to check out this list of sunflower farms in NJ.