One of the fastest ways to tell if a fellow beach-goer is from New Jersey is how they say they’re going. “We’re going down the shore this weekend,” is the New Jersey vernacular meaning I’m going to the beach town I grew up going to. Not down to the shore, not to the beach.
And if you’ve ever seen those bumper stickers with exit numbers or heard someone say without any context, “What exit?” — this is how New Jerseyans communicate to one another which shore town is theirs: by its exit off the Garden State Parkway. The higher the number, the further north.
There are Jersey Shore towns of every flavor all the way down the state’s east coast. If you’ve never been, the first thing to come to mind might be MTV’s critically world-renowned show, Jersey Shore. If you’re looking for all the fixings to Gym/Tan/Laundry and dance the night away — Seaside Heights won’t let you down. But if not, you can tailor your experience to your ideal beach vacation, because there’s something for everyone down the shore.
Jersey Shore Towns Index
This handy index includes a comprehensive list of the most popular Jersey Shore towns in descending order down the coast along with a few claims to fame.
- Long Branch
- Monmouth Beach
- *Claim to Fame: Home of the historic and upscale Monmouth Beach Club bringing the whole area an upscale vibe.
- Asbury Park
- *Claim to Fame: “Brooklyn of the Beach” with a rising art scene and instagrammable street art
- Bradley Beach
- Ocean Grove
- *Claim to Fame: Home to a 150-year-old tent colony
- Spring Lake
- Point Pleasant
- *Claim to Fame: Great live music at the beachside bars on the famous Jenkinson’s Boardwalk.
- Bay Head
- Seaside Heights
- *Claim to Fame: Aside from bringing the shenanigans of the show ‘Jersey Shore’ to life, Seaside Heights has some of the best boardwalk rides in NJ.
- Seaside Park
- Island Beach State Park
- LBI (Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Surf City)
- *Claim to Fame: Deep community ties for families who have been going to LBI for generations.
- Beach Haven
- Atlantic City
- *Claim to Fame: You know this one. Casinos and glitz and glam galore, Vegas-like fun. You can always stay in Brigantine and make your way over to AC for your big nights out.
- Ocean City
- Claim to Fame: Gorgeous beaches and a calm atmosphere. To note: it’s a dry town (no liquor is sold, so restaurants are all BYO. You can stop just before the bridge to stock up)
- Sea Isle City
- Stone Harbor
- Claim to Fame: Some of the best rides are on the Wildwood boardwalks.
- Cape May
- *Claim to Fame: A lovely center of town makes it fun to walk around, shop, and eat.
A guide to choosing between Jersey Shore towns
Here we’ll break down the Jersey Shore towns and some key highlights based on the kind of trip you’re looking to take.
Many of these towns would serve a variety of trip types well, and we’ve only listed each town once, so skim through the whole list. They’re in descending order, meaning the top of the list has Jersey Shore towns closer to New York City, and the bottom (lower exits) are further away.
Use Troupe’s group trip planner to plan the rest of the details and let your friends vote on which destination is their favorite.
Friend group getaway at the Jersey Shore
Asbury Park: Exit 102
Known as “Brooklyn of the beach,” (and one of our favorite Jersey Shore towns,) Asbury Park has evolved in recent years to be a beacon of art, music, and style. Relatively north on the coast, it’s a great destination for a short trip from New York City, but there’s plenty to do if you want to stay a while.
Highlights: WoodenWalls Public Art Project facilitates beautiful (and instagrammable) murals by a variety of artists. Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten is a classic Biergarten with communal tables and rooftop seating, often with live music. Check out Pascal & Sabine for a fancier night out with a great wine and cocktail selection. Pop down to Avon-By-the-Sea (8 minutes by car) for a fun, beachside night out at The Columns.
Couples’ beach vacation
Point Pleasant: Exit 98
Home to the famous Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Point Pleasant is a great place to post up if you love live music and chill, beachy restaurants and bars. While the boardwalk is the place to be, there’s also a nice, walkable center of town with great shopping and restaurants.
Highlights: Jenk’s Club and Martelle’s Tiki Bar are two great spots on the boardwalk for live music, classic beach food, drinks, and often, a party. The Poached Pear is ideal for a nicer dinner out—be sure to BYOB and make a reservation ahead of time (it fills up about two weeks in advance). B2 Bistro in the center of town (Arnold Avenue) has great happy hour deals, eclectic cross-cultural cuisine, and an enjoyable ambiance.
Friends’ summer party house share
Manasquan: Exit 98
Manasquan is home to The Osprey Night Club and a stone’s throw from the famous Parker House in Sea Girt, as well as a whole spectrum of pubs and restaurants. It’s within a 15-minute drive of Point Pleasant, Bay Head, Brielle, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, and Belmar, making it a great home base for a longer-term house rental so you can easily hit beaches, bars, and restaurants with their own flavors.
Highlights: The Osprey Night Club, just off the water, is a staple for partying NJ shore goers, boasting solid bands and DJs throughout the summer. Parker House is just a few blocks over in Sea Girt, and is an ideal way to kick off the weekend, assuming you have Summer Friday hours—the line starts early afternoon. For classic NJ Italian food, you can’t miss the classic Squan Tavern, there since ‘64. (See also: Friend Getaway and Couple ideas above, all within 20 minutes by car).
Bachelorette & bachelor parties
Brigantine & Atlantic City: Exits 40 & 38
To celebrate big, Atlantic City is the classic choice for a bachelor or bachelorette party. But what we might suggest is to stay in the nearby Brigantine (7 minutes driving), a classic and chill beach town dotted with ice cream parlors and surf shops. Instead of splurging on multiple hotel rooms, rent a house in Brigantine so you can enjoy your time together by day, and split Ubers to head out in AC by night. (You also might check out Ventnor City and Margate City as possible home bases, both within 25 minutes of AC.)
Highlights: The Steel Pier has great rides on the AC boardwalk. Brigantine Golf Links is a Scottish Links golf course right on the water.
LBI: Exit 63
Long Beach Island (LBI) is a beloved shore spot where New Jersey families have been going for generations. Though it doesn’t have the same flashy boardwalk rides (for that, we recommend Seaside Heights and Wildwood – best rides on the coast), there is a relaxing, community feel in LBI and plenty to do and eat. LBI consists of Barnegat Light, Harvey Cedars, Surf City, Long Beach, and Beach Haven, all along Long Beach Boulevard.
Highlights: Rent bikes at Surf Buggy for the length of your stay so you can explore the whole island and change up your usual mode of transportation. Check out Black Eyed Susans for a lovely family dinner. And don’t miss Flamingo Mini Golf, a classic and superior mini golf course in Surf City.
Cape May: Exit 0
Cape May is known for its lovely old inns, great restaurants, and calm, upscale ambiance. At the very bottom of New Jersey, its beaches continue for a little over 2 miles. The town center is great for wandering and shopping, or just taking in the beautiful, occasionally eccentric architecture.
No matter what you’re looking for in your getaway, there are Jersey Shore towns perfect for your crew. Organize your trip with Troupe, and your group will be ready to enjoy the beach, boardwalk rides, mini golf, seafood, biergartens, wineries, and great food. You probably knew the Jersey Shore wasn’t just Gym/Tan/Laundry, but when you get there you’ll be excited to discover so much more.