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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.
About 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, -room boutique hotel owned by acclaimed makeup artist and Montclair resident Bobbi Brown.
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 . 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.
With a population under , the small but scenic West Cape May is less than two miles from downtown Cape May. This sleepy destination dates back to and pays homage to its roots with beautiful Victorian architecture. When you need a break from the beach, head to Wilbraham Park, which hosts a handful of events throughout the year, ranging from vibrant farmers markets to the famous Lima Bean Festival October.
This Bergen County village boasts a walkable downtown area that s well worth a stroll. Just be sure to come hungry: Dining options, including sushi at Sakura Bana, French cuisine at Latour, brunch at Felina, and juicy chops at Roots Steakhouse, abound. Budding artists, meanwhile, can take a class at the Ridgewood Art Institute or Creatively Yours. After exploring unique shops like Town & Country Apothecary, Apricot Lane, and Hot Jewelry Box, treat yourself to something sweet at Cupcakes by Carousel or Sook Pastry.
The charming town of Westfield is situated some miles southwest of Manhattan — though it feels much farther with its colorful downtown that beckons travelers and locals alike. Here, you ll find more than shops and businesses, including The French Martini, Evalyn Dunn Gallery, Janus Closet, and Madeline Moss. Following a shopping spree, get your caffeine fix at Boxwood Coffee Roasters, Ahrre s Coffee Roastery, or Rock n Joe before strolling through the Friends of Mindowaskin Park. Westfield also hosts a slew of special events throughout the year, from the annual Pizza Run to the Sweet Sounds music festival and beyond.