Grab your beach chair, a few towels and your whole squad and head down the parkway to one of these family-friendly stretches of sand.
Ocean Ave., Asbury Park
If you haven’t visited in a while, now’s the time to hit this thriving city where kids can build sandcastles next to the legendary Stone Pony (of Bruce Springsteen fame) and stay late to hear summer stage tunes. There’s no shortage of top-notch restaurants and ice cream parlors the family will love. Make sure to visit the Silverball Museum, a fun arcade-filled option when thunderstorms roll in. The Details: $5 Monday to Friday, $7 on weekends. Metered parking available.
12th St. to Leonard Ave., Beach Haven
This quaint beach community has tons of water sport options. Kids will love boogie boarding and skim boarding at one of the 11 guarded beaches. If you’re looking for fun outside the water, you can rent bikes and take a ride by the water with your crew. The Details: Daily badges $5. Parking is $7 per day.
400 Ocean Ave., Belmar
This busy beach is a family favorite for its bustling boardwalk (great for strollers and jogging). There are playgrounds every few blocks (parents of toddlers: try the one off the beach on 8th Ave.) and kid-friendly movies on the sand. A great daytime spot for the kids, Belmar is also known for its bars and night life. The Details: Daily badges $8, children 15 and under free.
Ocean Ave., Bradley Beach
This borough might be off your radar if you’re not a frequent visitor to the shore; it’s small but sweet. There’s a gated playground on the boardwalk and summer weekend concerts under a gazebo. The Details: Daily badges $8.50, children 12 and under free. Parking free on West side of Ocean Ave.
9th-17th St., Brigantine
A quiet community, Brigantine is just a short drive from the rides and entertainment of the Atlantic City boardwalk. Kids love to boogie board, kayak and fly kites, while parents love the clean public bathrooms. The Details: Daily badges $8. Parking is $25 per day in municipal lots.
Beach Ave., Cape May
The nation’s oldest seashore resort has National Historic Landmark status thanks to its gorgeous Victorian homes. Cape May’s charming atmosphere and beautiful beaches attract families from all over. A bustling downtown area with tons of restaurants, fudge and souvenir shops is within walking distance of the beach. The Details: Daily badges $6.
Island Beach State Park
Shore Rd., Lanoka Harbor
This 10-mile stretch is pristine. It feels remote without being so and has basic amenities like bathrooms and showers. No boardwalk or rides here, but there are marked walking and horse trails, guarded beaches, picnic areas and fishing. The Details: NJ residents $10 on weekends, $6 per car during the week.
1306 Grand Central Ave., Lavallette
Nestled between the beach and Barnegat Bay, kids get to swim, surf, boogie board, snorkel, build sandcastles and fly kites. On the bay side, there are spots for fishing, crabbing, kayaking and swimming, plus four different playgrounds (yes, four!). The Details: Daily badges $10, children under 12 free. Metered parking available.
1st Ave., Manasquan
Manasquan’s Inlet Beach is one of the most popular surfing beaches on the East Coast. Get badges on Main Street and be sure to stop at the awesome jungle gym across the street. The Details: Daily wristband $9, children under 12 free.
South Hartshorne Dr., Highlands
Just over the Driscoll Bridge, Sandy Hook is a popular choice for North Jerseyans who want to spend a day at the shore without all the traffic. The seven-mile swath of this National Recreation Area crosses over into NY and has the Manhattan skyline in view. There’s also plenty of room to set up an umbrella and picnic. The Details: Free admission, parking $15 per car.
Ocean Ave., Sea Girt
Just a 10-minute drive from the crowds at Point Pleasant Beach, this borough is a breath of fresh air right off exit 98. The shoreline isn’t as packed as nearby beaches, so it’s easier to keep an eye on the kiddos. The Details: Daily badges $10, children under 12 free. Metered parking available.
Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park
221 Ocean Ave., North Long Branch
Located off exit 105, this quiet stretch is perfect for a day trip. Besides swimming and surfing, there’s tons more to do at the 38-acre oceanfront park. You and the kids will love the beach games, boat launch, fishing (for registered fishers 16 and up), a playground, beach volleyball and snack bar. The Details: $8 on weekend ages 13 and up; kids 12 and under free. Parking passes $8.
95th St., Stone Harbor
This seven-mile stretch of sand is as quiet and calm as they come. But if you want a night on the town without the kids, Wildwood’s bustling boardwalk is just 15 minutes away. There’s lots to do beyond sticking toes in the sand, like waterskiing and paddleboarding. The Details: Tags $6 daily, $12 weekly, $28 for the season. Metered parking available.
502 Sunset Blvd., Cape May Point
Play a round of mini golf on the boardwalk or scour the beach for “Cape May diamonds” (beautiful quartz rocks) after soaking up some sun. Surrounded by wild dunes and plant life, it’s a serene spot to bring the dog or walk on the beach at sunset. The Details: Daily passes $10, three-day tags $12, weekly passes $18. Free parking.