If you’re looking for a state with some of the best beaches in the country, you’ve found it in New Jersey. Which beaches are the most-family friendly?
Here are the top family-friendly beaches in New Jersey:
- Seaside Heights
- Cape May
- Long Beach Island
- The Wildwoods
- Spring Lake
- Point Pleasant
- Long Branch
- Asbury Park Beach
As you can see from the list above, New Jersey has no shortage of wonderful beaches that are rife with family fun. Keep reading for more information so you can plan your most memorable beach vacation yet!
1. Seaside Heights
Seaside Heights is an Ocean City borough in central New Jersey that’s home to Seaside Heights Beach.
By day, you and the kids can spend the day making sandcastles in the firmly-packed sand, swimming in the blue ocean water, or searching for seashells along the shoreline as the tides change.
Once you’re done having a blast on the beach, treat your kids to an afternoon or evening on the Seaside Heights boardwalk known as Casino Pier.
This boardwalk is a kids’ dream come true, as it has rides, arcades aplenty, and games with oversized prizes begging to be won. The kids can also play at the waterpark if they feel like splashing around again.
Don’t leave without buying some authentic New Jersey saltwater taffy!
2. Cape May
On nearly the southernmost point of New Jersey is Cape May, a seaside resort city that has a slew of wonderful beaches to visit.
Here’s the full list:
- Poverty Beach on Wilmington Street
- Brooklyn Beach
- Baltimore Beach
- Pittsburgh Beach
- Reading Beach
- Philadelphia Beach
- Madison Beach
- Queen Street Beach
- Jefferson Street Beach
- Decatur Street Beach
- Steger Beach (on Jackson Street)
- Congress Street Beach
- Windsor Beach
- Grant Street Beach
- Broadway Beach
All the beaches are interconnected, so the coastal, pristine conditions of one are replicated right across the other beaches.
Once the kids tire of the surf and sand, you can treat them to a visit to the Cape May County Park and Zoo, which is free!
Other sights in the area include the Cape May Bird Observatory (open year-round), the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum, and the Cape May Whale Watch & Research Center.
Cape May has plenty of attractive shopping and dining options as well. Honestly, you’re best off planning a long weekend here rather than trying to squeeze everything into a day trip.
3. Long Beach Island
Down in the southern part of New Jersey as well, is Long Beach Island, a barrier island in Ocean County that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
Long Beach Island includes several beach towns, including Surf City, Ship Bottom, Long Beach Township, Harvey Cedars, Beach Haven, and Barnegat Light.
Each town has its own fair share of beaches, so no matter where your adventures take you in Long Beach Island, there’s almost always a beach within walking distance and certainly within driving distance.
On a hot New Jersey summer day, spending time with your family under a big beach umbrella on a Long Beach Island beach will be absolutely wonderful.
Once the kids tire of the heat, it’s time to do something else exciting!
Long Beach Island has plenty of kid-friendly entertainment, including the Hartland Golf & Arcade in Ship Bottom, Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven, Thundering Surf Water Park in Beach Haven, and Jen’s Links at Long Beach Island mini golf in Barnegat Light.
4. The Wildwoods
Adjacent to Cape May is the Wildwoods, which are five coastal communities in Cape May County.
The communities include North Wildwood, West Wildwood, Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and Diamond Beach.
The entire Wildwoods beach is among the most expansive in New Jersey, spanning five miles in all. Even better, the beaches are free to enter, which most Jersey beaches are not.
As much as you will enjoy your time on the pristine beach with your children, they will be begging you to go check out the boardwalk sooner than later.
I would recommend allocating plenty of time for that, as the boardwalk here is no ordinary boardwalk.
The Wildwoods’ boardwalk is comprised of 70,000 wooden planks that go on for well over two and a half miles.
The kids will want to stop every minute or two for funnel cakes, arcade games, or rides, so it can be tough to explore the entire boardwalk in one go.
This is another New Jersey beach town that’s worth exploring over a weekend.
In Atlantic County, Brigantine offers big family fun.
There are over a dozen beaches to select from, and all are smoke-free.
The swimming season begins on June 18th until Labor Day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. You could swim at other times, but there would be no lifeguards.
A few beaches are open for three more weekends after Labor Day, as summer can linger long into September in New Jersey.
In the vicinity are the historic and beautiful Absecon Lighthouse, the Atlantic City Aquarium for family entertainment, and the classic Steel Pier, a carnival with games and rides.
6. Spring Lake
Most of the destinations on this list are very popular and thus will be quite crowded in the summer.
If you’re looking for a hidden gem of a New Jersey beach, allow me to recommend Spring Lake.
This Monmouth County beach in central Jersey is a small borough with but one beach called Spring Lake Beach.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Spring Lake Beach will still get crowded, especially as the day goes on, but you can enjoy its shimmery sands and cool oceans with fewer people than in a more popular spot.
Spring Lake Beach does have a boardwalk, but it doesn’t have rides or games. That said, you’re close enough to both Seaside and Point Pleasant that if you wanted to explore a boardwalk with that kind of entertainment, you easily could!
7. Point Pleasant
Speaking of, Point Pleasant Beach is the next on my list of family-friendly New Jersey beaches.
This Ocean County borough has but one beach as well, the eponymous Point Pleasant Beach.
Public access points are available, especially along the southern part of the town. If you rent or own a home here, you gain private beach access.
Getting onto Point Pleasant Beach isn’t free, but that’s no different from most Jersey beaches. Lifeguards are usually on duty daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Once the lifeguards retire and you don’t want your kids near the waves anymore, take them to Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, which will put stars in their eyes.
This long stretch of boardwalk features shops, pizza stands, restaurants, ice cream parlors, and candy stores (several!), not to mention games, games, and more games.
Several arcades dot the boardwalk, and each offers a different assortment of prizes that are winnable by playing claw machines or earning tickets.
Oh, and don’t forget about rides, as Jenkinson’s has a mini carnival with rides for kids of all ages. There’s also an aquarium on the boardwalk, and mini golf.
Since you’ll probably stay until nightfall anyway, make sure you don’t miss the fireworks displays!
8. Long Branch
In Monmouth County, Long Branch has a beach that’s certainly worth it for families to visit.
The official beach season in Long Branch begins on June 18th and runs until Labor Day. For those several months, lifeguards will be on the beach from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
It also costs a fee to get onto the beach, but you can buy seasonal badges and save if you plan on returning often.
It’s free to visit the beach after Labor Day, but you’re doing so at your own risk!
The nearby Pier Village is full of upscale shops. The dining options run the gamut too, so you and the family can fill your hungry bellies.
Tony Boloney’s is a pizza place the kids should find agreeable.
You can also satisfy their sweet tooths at the Sundae Donuts Shack, Sugarpop Candy Bar, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Coney Waffle Shack, or Coney Waffles with their ginormous Side Show Shakes.
9. Asbury Park Beach
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without discussing Asbury Park Beach in Monmouth County.
A favorite of surfers, Asbury Park Beach is a mile long and full of gorgeous clear sand and even more appealing waves.
The beach season starts on Memorial Day and lasts until Labor Day. You will need paid badges to get onto the beach at any point between the two holidays.
Lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and until 6 p.m. on weekends.
The Asbury Park Boardwalk is worth some time after you and the kids wrap up your beach day.
You can see the classic carousel building, let your kids play at a different kind of arcade at the Silverball Retro Arcade, or cap off your day at the Asbury Splash Park.
New Jersey is most famed for its beaches, and rightfully so! Summers on the Jersey Shore are unlike anything else, and with so many beach towns throughout the state, you can vacation anywhere in south, central, or northern Jersey and get that authentic Jersey Shore experience.