Suggest a New Jersey beach town for us!

We’ve never been there before and we’d like to get away for a few days in August.

I love the beach. My DH loves nature parks. We’re thinking Cape May but we’re open to other options.

Thanks. :slight_smile:

Cape May could be what you’re looking for. Most of the NJ beach towns I know are attraction-intensive, exactly the opposite of what you describe.

I will point out that Seaside Park (next to Seaside Heights) has Ocean Beach State Park, which is a miles-long unspoiled beach (except for one small section for swimming that has a structure where you can buy snacks, etc.) It has a tiny museum, the “Aeolium”, that tells you the natural history of the beach. And there are nature walks.

And if you get tired of all that nature you can go to the Boardwalk at Seaside Heights and get slices of pizza, play arcade games, and get a tattoo.

If you’re thinking about Cape May, you might want to hop on the ferry and head for Delaware, just a pleasant boat ride away.

Just below Lewes, where the ferry docks, is Cape Henlopen State Park, which is very nice. South of there is Rehoboth Beach, with a mile-long boardwalk - more activity, but not really honky-tonk. Just another mile south is Dewey Beach, which is very laid back. And just south of there is another long stretch of undeveloped, protected seashore.

All of these places have the added advantage of being cheaper than Cape May (though Cape May is certainly a charming little town).

The trick, of course, is finding a place to stay. Between now and late September, places tend to fill up. Not impossible, but it might take some hunting. Mid-week will, of course, be easier.

Cape May is great – I’m leaving first thing Saturday for a week there – but I also love Ocean Beach State Park.

So – a big fat “ditto” to CalMeacham’s recommendations.

…and you missed the best part! Bethany Beach, my hometown, is just south of the aforementioned stretch of undeveloped shoreline. Rehoboth is hustling and bustling compared to Bethany Beach, which bills itself as one of the “quiet resorts”. Bethany is about a three hour drive from Philly, has a half-mile boardwalk. Where Rehoboth’s boardwalk has almost a quarter mile of shopping along its length, Bethany has one street that is the “commercial district.” Where that street meets the boardwalk, you can buy popcorn and ice cream. Everywhere else, the boardwalk is just an elevated wooden sidewalk. Peaceful town, reasonable rents, and friendly locals are the major highlights. We’re ten minutes from Assowoman State Park (I am not making that name up) and nestled between two long stretches of state-owned beach that are basically pristine.

And hang on a moment: Dewey Beach is not “laid back”. Dewey Beach has become Delaware’s own little Panama City Beach. Bars, college kids, drunken revelry, and loud music. Oh, and wet t-shirt contests. Not a quiet nature lover’s beach, by any stretch.

I gotta go with Avalon, NJ. It’s a very laid-back town in Cape May County, near Stone Harbor. Not nearly so commercial as most of the beach towns in Jersey or Delaware (and nowhere near as bad as Ocean City, MD).

Town Website.

Beachcomber Listings for Avalon.

You can you the Beachcomber listings to check out pretty much any NJ/DE beach town, too.


There’s always the collective area of Long Beach Island, NJ, which is comprised of several little towns among which are Beach Haven, Surf City, Ship Bottom, and Loveladies. There’s no boardwalk per se, but the area around Surf City and Ship Bottom is where all the major shops/attractions/restaurants are.

Stay in Cape May. Rent a car and follow “Ocean Drive” up the coast and you can pick you favorite town in Cape May county.

New Jersey doesn’t have any beach towns. Plenty of shore towns. :wink:

I grew up going to Long Beach Island during the summer and its still my favorite. If you go to the south of the island there is a nature preserve at the southern tip. I prefer Beach Haven to the towns farther north. No boardwalk on LBI. Shoping and such is all well off the shoreline. Cape May is very nice, it has a very Victorian feel. Island Beach State Park is very nice and unspoiled. I’m not sure where the best place to stay would be if you were going to the park. Its south of Seaside and north of LBI. If you would like to try a little boardwalk for a day, I prefer Wildwood to Seaside. The beach is much nicer.

I know the towns above have “beach” in the names. Its still the shore :smiley:

After posting, I realized that I’ve always hit Dewey during the shoulder seasons, when things are apparently very different. I haven’t been there during the high season in about 25 years, and as I think back on it, that drunken weekend certainly was much as you describe it!

I really must check out Bethany - I’ve been to Rehoboth/Dewey many times, and Ocean City, MD, once (that was enough, thank you very much), but have never hit the stretch between them. Sounds delightful!

Another little bit of advice to anyone heading for the Delaware beaches: if you have to drive along Route 1 between Lewes and Rehoboth, just do your best to ignore it - the beaches at either end are worth the trip. That road is an outlet mall shopper’s paradise, but if that’s not your thing, it may well be one of the most depressing stretches of highway in the mid-Atlantic!

Right on! Around here you don’t go “to the beach,” you go “down the shore.”

Anyway, I’ll go along with suggestion of Cal Meacham and Twickster, but I’ll use the correct name (as Loach did): Island Beach State Park. If you’re going there on a weekend day, get there early (they open at 8am) or you won’t get in - they close the gates when it reaches capacity. It’s $10 a carload for the day, but well worth it.

Spending half the day there and the rest on a boardwalk somewhere sounds like a nice time to me.

I almost forgot - if you choose Cape May and you have time, check out the Cape May County Zoo. It’s nice and it’s free!


Coulda sworn I wrote Island Beach…

It’s all Cal’s fault – I can never remember what it’s called, so I just copied what he called it. :wink:

I’d say that if you’re looking to stay a few days, Cape May is a good choice. It’s just a very pleasant town to hang around in, and there are some very nice walks to take. I love going to the really bustling boardwalk towns, but not for much more than an afternoon.

(n.b. I’ve never been to LBI. Yeah, I know.)

I’d say go for Cape May too, but why should you listen to me – I’m all the way on the other side of the country?

I have a painting of The Colonial Hotel right next to my monitor, if that adds any weight to my vote.

Thank you, thank you, thank you all! I knew I could count on the Dope for some good advice.


If you do rent a car, take a side trip to Margate to see Lucy the Elephant!

I think a lot of us have inferred what you’ll like based on your first choice of Cape May. If you give more description of what you’re looking for, you’ll get better answers. Travelling with kids?

As already mentioned and seconded, Seaside Park and the adjacent IBSP are a good choice. If you’re a Cape May kind of person, do not get confused and get something in Seaside Heights, which is the town north of Seaside Park. I think it’s cleaned up some, but used to be known as Sleaze-side. It’s fun for a night on the boardwalk, but maybe not where you want your lodgings.

North of Seaside Heights are Ortley Beach and Lavalette. I have fond memories of both. Lavalette is primarily house rentals and is relatively less crowded than most of the towns with “attractions.” On the other side of the bay from them is a nice little nature park called Cattus Island Park (

Going further north, there’s the patrician Spring Lake, which has a number of fine B&B’s. It’s somewhat like Cape May, but much less well known.

NJ has several boardwalk towns, which are nice to visit, but maybe not so nice to stay in. (By boardwalks, I mean places with piers out over the ocean with rides and games on them. Most towns have a boardwalk along the beach to stroll on.) The ones I remember off the top of my head: Wildwood (farthest south), Seaside Heights, and Point Pleasant Beach. I am sure I’m missing some. They’re great for a few rides, a sausage and onion sandwich, cheesy games, and ice cream on waffles.

I am getting homesick now…

What else can I say but to nominate my own hometown of Somers Point!


Minuites away from all shore points (20 min to Atlantic City, 45 to Cape May),
major shopping malls in nearby Pleasantville and Hamilton, and me! :cool: