New York may have the glitzy Hamptons and Massachusetts boasts Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. New Jersey has hundreds of miles of beach towns known collectively as the Jersey Shore, which offers a little something for everybody, from the bustle of Seaside Heights (the backdrop of MTV's "Jersey Shore" reality show, which gave us Snooki and JWoww) to the upscale Victorian splendor of Cape May.
Drumroll, please. For the third year running, the winner of the online vote for New Jersey's Top 10 Beaches Contest is Ocean City. The Sea Grant Consortium has conducted online poll since 2008 but took a year off in 2013 while the Jersey Shore recovered from Hurricane Sandy.
Best Beach in New Jersey: Ocean City
Billing itself as "America's Greatest Family Resort," the southern New Jersey seaside town of Ocean City is famous for its boardwalk, amusement rides, and mini golf courses. Ocean City cleaned up this year, taking the titles for best beach, best day-trip beach, best family vacation beach, and top beach for ecotourism.
In its list of 20 best beaches, NJ Monthly gave Ocean City the nod for "best boardwalk" and recommended these don't-miss attractions:
- Ocean City Bicycle Center. Rent an adult trike, kid’s bike, cruiser or surrey
- Brown’s Restaurant. Come and get fresh doughnuts, right on the boardwalk. The long line on summer mornings is a tell-tale sign of its popularity.
- Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. The draw is 28 rides and fun attractions.
- Playland’s Castaway Cove. This old-timey amusement park offers 10 thrill rides and plenty of family favorites like the Ferris wheel.
- Manco & Manco Pizza. This popular chain has three boardwalk locations in Ocean City.
- Clancy’s by the Sea. Head here for dinner. There is patio seating and great views of the beach.
- Shriver’s. Come to this candy store for saltwater taffy, creamy fudge and more.
Runner-Up Beach in New Jersey: Wildwood Crest
Second place in the Sea Grant Consortium poll went to Wildwood Crest, which is part of the greater Wildwoods, a string of retro family destinations known for boardwalk amusement parks. NJ Monthly named Wildwood the "best amusement park" on the Jersey Shore and recommended these attractions:
- Morey’s Piers. Don't even try to resist this family-fun magnet, which consists of three amusements parks clustered in a six-block span of the Wildwood boardwalk and offers more than 100 rides.
- Mariner’s Pier. Families with young kids may prefer this traditional amusement park, with classic rides such as the teacups and Giant Wheel.
- Surfside Pier. This is more of a seaside carnival, with its scores of games and neon lights.
- Adventure Pier. Older kids will gravitate to this park's thrill rides, which include SkyCoaster and the Slingshot.
More Best Beaches in New Jersey
Favorite Beaches in Monmouth County
1. Sandy Hook
2. Asbury Park
3. Spring Lake
5. Long Branch
Favorite Beaches in Ocean County
1. Seaside Heights
Point Pleasant Beach
3. Beach Haven
4. Island Beach State Park
5. Surf City
Favorite Beaches in Atlantic County
2. Atlantic City
Favorite Beaches in Cape May County
1. Ocean City
2. Wildwood Crest
3. North Wildwood
5. Sea Isle City
Best Family Beaches in New Jersey
When it comes to great family beaches, NJ Monthly picked Point Pleasant Beach as a standout, noting the boardwalk, world-class aquarium, amusement rides, adventure attractions (such as a ropes course), wide beaches and array of dining options.
Looking for somewhere that is both kid-friendly and quiet? NJ Monthly recommends Stone Harbor for its small-town charm, laid-back shopping district, varied restaurants, and slower pace.