12 Best Small Towns in New Jersey

Over the past few years, travelers have sought out charming small towns in favor of larger, heavily populated cities. And although America is chock-full of these quaint destinations, some of the best can be found along the East Coast.

Many opt to visit small towns in New York and Massachusetts (and New England as a whole), but you’d be remiss not to consider New Jersey. What’s more, the Garden State is teeming with charming locales, many of which tend to fly under the radar. So, whether you’re searching for a serene summer beach retreat or a mother-daughter getaway filled with plenty of shopping, we’ve rounded up the best small towns in New Jersey.


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About 40 minutes from New York City lies the charming suburb of Montclair, a town best known for its eclectic boutiques, including Culture Couture, White Rabbit Black Heart, Giftbar, and Oasis. After indulging in some retail therapy, grab a bite at Halycon Brasserie (don’t miss the raw bar), Palazzo Pasta Company (come on Friday or Saturday evenings for live music), Koreander (fresh kimchi, anyone?), or Marcel Bakery and Kitchen (for breakfast, light bites, and coffee). Extend your trip with an overnight stay at The George, a chic, 31-room boutique hotel owned by acclaimed makeup artist and Montclair resident Bobbi Brown.

Red Bank

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This quaint Monmouth County town is ideally situated along the Navesink River. Today, it’s chock-full of shops, including the nostalgia-inducing Yestercades (a retro-inspired arcade), Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash (a comic book store owned by filmmaker and Red Bank resident Kevin Smith), and Jack’s Record Shoppe (an independent music store dating back to 1970). Meanwhile, craft beer enthusiasts can spend an afternoon at Red Tank Brewing Company. Cap off your trip with a picnic lunch at the two-acre Riverside Gardens Park, where prime people-watching and pristine water views await.

West Cape May

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With a population under 1,100 the small but scenic West Cape May is less than two miles from downtown Cape May. This sleepy destination dates back to 1884

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How New Jersey has become an epicenter of food culture

New Jersey boasts a population with roots from all over the world and also can stake claim to one of the broadest assortments of foods representing those countries and cultures. Photo courtesy of Gail Schoenberg

If one is truly open to all the possibilities, wondering what to have for dinner tonight may lead to a more difficult decision here in New Jersey than most anywhere else in this country. That is because a state that boasts a population with roots from all over the world also can stake claim to one of the broadest assortments of foods representing those countries and cultures.  

Almost one in four New Jersey residents are foreign-born, the third-largest immigrant population in the country. One in six residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent. Our food culture is an immigration story, or millions of immigration stories, beginning today, going back hundreds of years and surely continuing well into the future. Successive waves of people have settled here and created a patchwork quilt that continues to grow larger, more colorful and more delicious to this day. With people from almost as many countries as are represented at the United Nations, it goes to follow New Jersey has as many significant representations of cuisines, if not more. 

One of the many stories that exemplifies this diversity and how it all comes together can be seen in one display case where the proof is in the … sausage.  

Any given week, Union Pork Store customers will find options made from recipes from various countries or selections that incorporate flavors and ingredients from any and every continent. Photo courtesy of NJ Advance Media

The Union Pork Store in Union says “German Butcher Shop” on the sign, and it served a then-large German population in the area when it opened in 1946. In 2006, Polish immigrant Leszek “Jabi” Jablonski and his wife, Bozena, took ownership, continuing to sell German, Polish and other Eastern European meats. In a short time, though, Jablonski showed himself to be as much a food cultural enthusiast, creating sausages inspired by his love

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