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16 New Jersey Towns Perfect For a Summer Road Trip

by The Asbury Girl
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If waking up and catching an early morning flight isn’t your thing, traveling locally is an idea to consider. In New Jersey, there are many towns that offer many activities like dining, shopping, sightseeing, and more. There’s no need to travel far across the country because New Jersey has just what you need for a perfect summer getaway. Read more for our list of the 16 best New Jersey towns to add to your summer bucket list. 

Asbury Park

The first town on the list is naturally a beach town because, during the summer in Jersey, people sure do love to escape the concrete jungle to feel the sand between their toes. But Asbury is much more than just beaches. This Jersey Shore town is an equal blend of history and new, eclectic restaurants, bars, and more.

We recommend starting your day trip by strolling the boardwalk which, in Asbury Park, is unlike other boardwalks you may be used to. From end to end, you’ll come across a variety of sights from old, abandoned structures like the Asbury Park Casino, to brightly painted murals (that are admittedly quite gram-worthy).

As far as activities go, stop at one of the delicious Jersey Shore food stands, there’s mini-golf and games in the arcade, and there’s also the iconic Stone Pony just steps off of the boardwalk. Since Asbury Park is a beach town, lather up your sunscreen and hit the beach. Did you bring your four-legged friend along for the day? You can bring them to the beach with you at the Bradley Cove Dog Beach.

If all of this fun in the sun has you looking for some food and drink options, Asbury is chock full of them. The diversity in Asbury’s restaurant scene is unmatched, with everything from beer gardens and casual pizza spots to upbeat bars and fine dining establishments. Treat yourself to an artisanal pie from the famous Porta Pizza, grab a stein and a traditional German pretzel at Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten, or discover your inner child at Johnny Mac’s, a lively Irish bar where you can get free pizza and candy with every drink you purchase and play skeeball while you wait.

Read More: Jersey Shore Boutique Hotels to Stay When DTS

Atlantic City

Atlantic City is preceded by its reputation and there is much to do here. While there are certainly lots of clubs and pool parties, Atlantic City is also full of non-club opportunities for fun. Since AC is another beach town, be sure to pack your beach chair and towel if you’re planning a day trip. We suggest soaking up the sun for a few hours before enjoying all that the expansive six miles of boardwalk has to offer. And trust us, from exploring Ripley’s Believe It or Not! to taking a ride on the Steel Pier’s massive Ferris wheel or amusement park attractions, those six miles certainly have a lot to offer.

We could of course never forget the casinos, so head on over and have a drink at the roulette table!

Lest we not forget the incredible restaurants that Atlantic City has to offer. You might want to consider making a few reservations at restaurants before packing up the car to go. For the family, you might want to hit up a few of the more mainstream restaurants like The Hard Rock Cafe (1000 Boardwalk), The Rainforest Cafe (2201 Boardwalk), or splurge on a fine dining meal at Ruth’s Chris Steak House (2020 Atlantic Avenue).

Chatham

 

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The neighboring communities of Chatham Borough and Chatham Township are separate municipalities but both are referred to as “Chatham.” While they do operate as two distinct municipal governments, they share a common public library system, a paid police force, a volunteer fire department and emergency squad, and lots of fun spots to visit. A few favorites to check out: Scalini Fedeli — one of NJ’s highest-rated Italian restaurants, Sorriso’s Kitchen, Pascarella Brothers Deli, and Scoops for some ice cream. There are also some shops to peruse including Pour HoMMe, Purple Aardvark, and Quartet.

Ridgewood

 

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This northern New Jersey town has been a destination for years if you’re local to the area, and it’s no secret why. Eateries, shops, and an adorable downtown scene are just a few reasons that Ridgewood is an ideal day trip. Melissa Gorga also has her Envy by MG shop here.

Montclair

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If you’re not following our sister site The Montclair Girl, well, get to it. Montclair, New Jersey is one of our favorite North Jersey destinations — it has direct train access to the city, it’s got a super cute downtown, and there are many cultural events + happenings on the regular. Van Vleck Gardens, The George, Church + Park Streets — we won’t overwhelm you with details, but safe to say you need to hop over to The Montclair Girl stat for all the recs. Click here to get to it.

Westfield

Ahh, Westfield. This Union County town has experienced a big surge in growth, along with Summit, as a go-to day trip spot and place to live. Anyone who is familiar with the town of Westfield knows just how picturesque and quaint it is — full of fun things to do and delicious restaurants to dine in. The downtown is chic and bustling, with restaurants and shops, and there are some historical parts, too (random fact: the creator of the Addams Family is from here).

Summit

Summit is another Union County town that has a huge draw to its downtown district. Shops, eateries, and things to do line the streets, all in close proximity to the NJ Transit lines. This town is centered around the busy Springfield Avenue, which is where you’ll find most destinations are located. The Reeves-Reed Arboretum is also located here.

See More: Mini-Golfing Down the Shore: Where to Play

Lambertville

A quaint town that sits right along the Delaware River, Lambertville, New Jersey is home to stunning views, historic architecture, boutiques, antique shops, great food, and more. Lambertville is a charming town to spend a day in and is about 1-1.5 hours from North Jersey.

Maplewood

The charming town of Maplewood is a fun spot for a quick day’s excursion. The people are friendly and diverse, and the downtown area exudes a nostalgic vibe, with restaurants and shops interspersed along Maplewood Avenue. With all the lush green space, such as Memorial Park and the nearby South Mountain Reservation, Maplewood offers plenty of outdoor options for picnics, sports, or relaxation. Given the combination of nostalgia and greenery, it’s not surprising that Maplewood is also the birthplace of Ultimate Frisbee.

Camden

 

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Camden is a town mostly known for epic concerts at the BB&T Pavilion but it is much more than that. Perhaps what comes to mind after the concerts is the iconic Adventure Aquarium (1 Riverside Drive). A short hour-and-a-half drive is all you need to take to experience firsthand the 15,000+ aquatic species and the largest collection of sharks on the East Coast. This aquarium is also the only one to boast an exhibit of hippos, a hammerhead shark, and the longest shark bridge in the world (a suspension bridge just inches over the sharks) so needless to say, you could spend all day here with the sea animals.

For those history buffs, tour the Battleship New Jersey, a United States Navy ship (100 Clinton Street). There are a variety of events happening at all times so be sure to check their website for further information. Not to mention, it’s a mere few minutes away from downtown Philadelphia so if you wanted to cross state lines, it’s easily done from Camden.

Cape May

cape may new jersey shore

While we know this is a farther destination and probably worth an overnight — it’s worth a mention. Cape May is an iconic, quaint Jersey Shore town. Strolling the streets preserved with history would be enough to do for a day trip but Cape May boasts a variety of sights to see. First of all, the Cape May Lighthouse is certainly a staple of this town with breathtaking views of both the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay. After walking the perimeter of the lighthouse, relax on Cape May’s pristine beach.

For any nature-buffs, take a trip to see some farm animals at Jersey Shore Alpacas (521 NJ-47), or visit the Nature Center of Cape May (1600 Delaware Avenue) to learn about the local wildlife and environment. Adding to the variety of offerings, Cape May also boasts a ton of local antique shops like TreeHouse Antiques Center (742 Seashore Road) and Antiques Emporia (405 West Perry Street), to name a few.

Delaware Water Gap

 

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Toe the line between NJ and PA with an adventure-filled day on the Delaware Water Gap. Get your hike on with over 100 miles of trails with pretty incredible views. Take advantage of the sweeping river with a variety of activities including fishing, kayaking, rafting, and more. Whether you’re exploring this area on foot, by car, on a raft, or on a bike, you can certainly spend all day having fun here.

Long Branch

With summer in full swing, it is time to grab friends and family to drive down to the beach. Stop at Rook Coffee (700 Joline Avenue #5833) if you are getting an early start.

Head down to Long Branch to not only have beach fun but to experience Pier Village, which has stores and restaurants located right on the beach. Grab lunch at Turning Point (92 Ocean Ave North) or Simply Greek (44 Centennial Drive), and also stop by the boutique Molly & Zoey Undercover (12-16 Centennial Drive) to get some summer shopping done. After a long, (but fun) day get ice cream or a HUGE shake at Coney Waffle (24 Centennial Drive).

Morristown

This NJ town is rich with history, activity, and noteworthy restaurants. For those of you who don’t know, Morristown is considered the military capital of the American Revolution, and its role in the war for independence from Great Britain is evident in the historical sites sprinkled around town. Brush up on your knowledge by visiting sites like the Ford Mansion, Washington’s Headquarters Museum, Fort Nonsense (all located at 30 Washington Place), Jockey Hollow, and more.

Morristown is a great day trip for those NJ views we know and love. Pay a visit to The Frelinghuysen Arboretum (353 East Hanover Avenue) and Loantaka Brook Reservation (468 South Street) for self-guided nature trails, the Lewis Morris Park (270 Mendham Road), or even Wightman Farms (1111 Mount Kemble Avenue) for some sweet summer Jersey corn and peaches.

Conclude your day trip by stopping at one of Morristown’s well-known eateries such as The Famished Frog (18 Washington Street), South + Pine (90 South Street), The Committed Pig (28 West Park Place), and so many more delicious options. Of course, we could never forget the adult beverages. Visit popular spots for a drink outdoors like Grasshopper Off the Green (41-43 Morris Street), the Laundromat’s outdoor beer garden at Tashmoo (8 Dehart Street), or for a variety of 40+ beers on tap, stop by Revolution, A Social Brew House (9 South Street).

Princeton

 

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For all of the history buffs out there, Princeton is a town that is full of that old-time charm and plenty of historical landmarks. We suggest planning your own walking tour and visiting Princeton Battlefield State Park (500 Mercer Road), Drumthwacket Foundation (the Governor’s Mansion — 354 Stockton Street), the Albert Einstein House (108 Mercer Street), and Morven Museum & Garden (55 Stockton Street). For those who are more active and looking for a day full of on-your-feet activity, visit the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, Carnegie Lake, or simply walk around Princeton University’s divine campus.

After that history-rich day, you may want to wind down with Princeton’s dining scene. Make a reservation at an upscale eatery like Agricola Eatery (11 Witherspoon Street) or go to a more divey, local faves such as The Alchemist and Barrister (AKA the “Cheers” of Princeton) for a beer and some bar fare (28 Witherspoon Street).

Red Bank

 

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This quaint little town is located right on the Navesink River with many hidden gems. You may want to start your day with a stroll through Riverside Gardens Park with a great view of the river and all of the boats as they go by. In the summer, this park plays host to jazz in the park, movies, and yoga.

Red Bank is also known for its top-notch restaurant scene so make an outdoor dining reservation at an iconic spot like the Molly Pitcher Inn (88 Riverside Avenue) or Catch 19 (19 Broad Street) if you’re in the mood for food from the sea. After dinner, find a drink at one of the local breweries like Red Tank Brewing Company (77 Monmouth Street) or Birravino (183 Riverside Avenue). End your evening with a walk along the water before heading back home to HC and that makes for a pretty great summer day trip.

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