The Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families

The 10 Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families

Some of my earliest memories happened at the Jersey Shore. As someone who grew up in northern New Jersey, it wasn’t uncommon for the school halls to be filled with people talking about their Shore plans for the summer every June.

As a child, my mother, sister, and I would spend a week out of every summer at Point Pleasant Beach with my mother’s parents, spending our days either at the beach or at the pool and our nights eating Kohr’s on the boardwalk. 

My first memory is of my sister winning me a stuffed pig at a wheel-spinning game on the boardwalk with the help of my grandma. Twenty-five years later, I have it sitting in my office next to me as I write this article.

To me, the Jersey Shore is a place where families can have a relatively inexpensive vacation and where they can make memories that last a lifetime. However, I know that, over the years, the Jersey Shore has developed a reputation as being a party hub. While there are many spots on the Shore where the nightlife is hopping, there are still great options for families.

Planning a family vacation to the Jersey Shore and wondering where to go? We’ve compiled a list of the best Jersey Shore beaches for families to help you make some amazing memories. Pick your favorite beach or beaches from this list, and you’ll have a vacation to remember!

10 Jersey Shore Beaches That Are Great for Families

1. Take in the Beauty of Avon-by-the-Sea

Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families: Avon-by-the-Sea

With beautiful Victorian homes and relatively low crowd levels for the Jersey Shore, Avon-by-the-Sea is one of the best places to visit on the Jersey Shore for families if you’re looking for a scenic spot to kick back and relax. 

The beach may be a bit on the smaller end of the Jersey Shore beaches, but it’s clean and peaceful. There aren’t rides or carnival games, but there are playgrounds for little ones.

2. Head to Jenkinson’s at Point Pleasant Beach

Family-Friendly Beaches in Jersey Shore: Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant Beach is where I spent my childhood, and I know many New Jersey children who say the same thing today. Point Pleasant is easily one of the best beaches on the Jersey Shore for families with kids. 

When the weather is nice, you can hit the beach or hang out on the boardwalk, riding the stomach-churning Super Himalaya or the only slightly tamer Tilt-A-Whirl. There are also tons of rides for young kids. Jenkinson’s Boardwalk is a perfect place for a child’s first amusement park ride!

When the weather is not so nice, head inside Jenkinson’s Aquarium, one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon.

3. Enjoy the Slow Pace of Spring Lake

Best Beaches on the Jersey Shore for Family Vacation: Spring Lake

You won’t find a boardwalk filled with rides and games at Spring Lake. Instead, Spring Lake offers a quiet, unhurried day at the beach, with crystal clear waters and pillowy sand. Here, you’ll also find charming Victorian inns, a park surrounding the lake itself, and a downtown filled with local businesses. From quaint boutiques to classic ice cream shops, Spring Lake offers a Jersey Shore vacation that lets you relax and take it all in.

4. Get the Best of Both Worlds at Belmar

Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families: Belmar Beach

Belmar’s beach is a great option if you’re looking to get away from the raucous nightlife of some of the Jersey Shore’s other beaches. The beach itself is clean and low-key, a perfect place to relax with the little ones. 

There are also several fun playgrounds for kids to burn off some excess energy. Though the beach isn’t fussy or flashy, without an amusement-park-style boardwalk you’ll find at other locations around the Jersey Shore, there are still ample amenities, with abundant dining options and casual hang-out spots. 

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5. Try Out Surfing at Lavallette

Family-Friendly Beaches in Jersey Shore: Lavallette

Lavallette is home to what are easily some of the most picturesque beaches along the Jersey Shore, with an oceanfront, non-commercial boardwalk with stunning views and white, powdery sand beneath your feet. 

Lavallette has long been considered one of the best family-friendly Jersey Shore beaches, so much so that you shouldn’t be surprised if you run into New Jersey families who tell you that their family has been staying there every summer for generations.

The nightlife is minimal, but there are plenty of family-friendly activities. While you can definitely take a dip in the water here, the waves can sometimes be a bit high. Surfing isn’t allowed everywhere, but Lavallette is still a great place to take your first surf lesson.

6. Play around Ortley Beach

Ortley Beach, sometimes also called Dover Beaches South, is one of the best Jersey Shore beaches to visit with family. It’s barely one square mile, so it’s easy to miss. Though it’s a smaller beach, it’s also one of the cleanest and boasts a tranquil atmosphere that gives you a break from the hustle and bustle of some other Jersey Shore vacation spots.

Although there’s not much in terms of amenities or nightlife at Ortley Beach, staying here puts you within easy access to Seaside Heights, where you can check out the bustling boardwalk after a relaxing day at Ortley Beach. Or you can head to Barnacle Bill’s for some arcade games and miniature golf. 

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7. Give Seaside Heights a Try

Best Beaches on the Jersey Shore for Family Vacation: Seaside Heights

I know what you’re thinking. “Isn’t Seaside Heights where they filmed ‘Jersey Shore’?” Well, you’re correct, but don’t go writing off Seaside Heights just yet.

Admittedly, I say that a bit begrudgingly. As someone who grew up in northern New Jersey, Seaside Heights was where you went after prom or formal or anytime when you wanted to celebrate with a party scene. But Seaside Heights has taken great strides in the past decade to make it a place that’s better for families.

Chill out on the beach, play around the nostalgia-inducing arcades on the boardwalk, and ride the classic rides. Not too far from the boardwalk, you’ll also find Breakwater Beach, Seaside Heights’ water park, which offers tons of fun rides, pools, and lazy rivers that are great for the whole family.

8. Check Out the Offerings at the Wildwoods

The Wildwoods consist of five communities in Cape May County and serves as one of the best family vacation locations on the Jersey Shore. You can go to the Wildwoods to just enjoy some large white-sand beaches, but this vacation destination has so much more to offer. 

The famous boardwalk stretches a massive 38 blocks, featuring more than 100 rides and attractions. There are also three waterfront water parks to check out here. While the kids can play all day on the boardwalk and at the water parks, the adults can play at night, thanks to the Wildwoods’ ample nightlife.

There’s always something to do at the Wildwoods, as the communities are home to more than 160 events during the year, many of which are free to attend. From car shows to food festivals to the beloved Wildwoods’ Baby Parade, you can guarantee that something is happening whenever you’re in town.

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9. Enjoy the History around Cape May

Best Jersey Shore Beaches for Families: Cape May

Cape May itself is another of the best places to visit along the Jersey Shore with family. Cape May may have beautiful beaches where you can get out on the water for swimming, surfing, kayaking, and more, but there’s so much more to explore in this beloved destination.

Cape May is famous for its historic homes, but some of those homes, like the Colonial House, have been turned into museums where you and your little ones can step back in time. There are also additional museums, like the Harriet Tubman Museum, and, of course, no visit to Cape May would be complete without a stop at the Cape May Lighthouse.

If history isn’t what you’re after, you can also check out other fun destinations outside the beaches, like the Cape May County Park & Zoo, which is free to visit.

10. Take in the Nature at Sandy Hook

Family-Friendly Beaches in Jersey Shore: Sandy Hook

If you’re a nature lover and looking to go beyond the beach, head to Sandy Hook. You can take a dip in the ocean here, but Sandy Hook also offers salt marshes and a beautiful holly forest, as well as biking and walking paths, opportunities for rare animal sightings, and campsites. 

Sandy Hook is one of the best Jersey Shore beaches for those looking to immerse themselves in nature and get active rather than a spot to simply spend a day on the sand. Of course, you can still do that, too, though!

There you have it! The 10 best beaches on the Jersey Shore for a family vacation. What’s your favorite Jersey Shore vacation spot? Let us know in the comments!

About the Author:

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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