The northern part of Ocean County is home to Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights, two of the most well-known beaches at the Jersey Shore. But New Jersey Family survey-takers told us there are several quieter spots in this region that are perfect for families looking for a more low-key vibe. Take a cruise on paddle boat, picnic at Island Beach State Park, or just let the kids pass out under an umbrella on the sand in Mantoloking. There’s something for everyone along this stretch of coastline.
If you’re looking for a cozy New England feel, try the beaches near one of these towns. Moms said these were kid-friendly ocean beaches, good for surfing and collecting shells and sea glass. Just be aware that there are no changing rooms or public rest rooms at either of these beaches.
This beach is known for its busy boardwalk, great arcades, and two piers of wild rides. It’s the place to go if you like action. Moms also like the boardwalk for walking, jogging, and pushing baby strollers, while the beach itself is great for swimming and boogie boarding. Get there early for a good spot. Seaside Heights also has an ocean fishing pier, movies on the beach, and weekly fireworks.
Just south of Seaside Heights, get away from the crowds at this undeveloped boardwalk and beautiful ocean beach, where you can swim, play volleyball, and surf.
Illustration by Bridgette Blanton.
Nearly 100 moms picked this as their favorite beach on the Jersey Shore. It boasts a kid-friendly beach, plus all the amenities you could ask for, including a mile-long boardwalk with food, games, arcades, an aquarium, and rides. The beach is great for swimming and shell collecting, has clean public rest rooms, and kids will love the pirate mini-golf, movies on the beach at dark, and fireworks in the summer.
For families who want to escape the crowds of Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant, try Ortley Beach. The Surf Club beach has snack bars, showers, and on-the-beach waitress service. There is a great playground on the bay side.
While you’ll find a low-key ocean beach great for boogie boarding, and a boardwalk perfect for pushing strollers, what’s great about Lavallette is the two calmer bayside beaches—ideal for families with young children. There’s also a small waterfront park and crabbing off the West Point Island Bridge.
Here’s a 10-mile stretch of beach that is clean and pristine. It feels remote without being so, and you’ll find basic amenities like bathrooms and showers. No boardwalk or rides here, but there are marked walking and horse trails, guarded beaches, picnic areas, and it’s a popular spot for fishing.
Tips on Trips
Kids will love a ride on the River Queen or River Belle, replicas of Mississippi River paddle wheel boats. Routes vary through the Manasquan inlet, Barnegat Bay, and the Metedeconk River. Sign up for lunch and dinner cruises, or a pizza and fireworks cruise; no credit cards.
Just a few miles from the beach, Insectropolis (aka The Bugseum of NJ) is a must-see for critter lovers. There are thousands of beautiful and bizarre insects from all over the world. Kids can touch live tarantulas and buy edible bugs in the gift shop.
Music Man Ice Cream (shown right)2305 Grand Central Ave., Lavallette
Enjoy a family cabaret show with your ice cream at The Music Man Singing Ice Cream Shoppe. Waiters dance and sing as they serve ice cream, often bringing kids into the show. Children’s story time occurs every Wednesday at 4 pm, but any show is great for kids.
Take a break from the sun to learn about the sun, the stars, and the planets, at the Ocean County College planetarium. Check out children’s programs for the younger set, as well as laser shows that fill the dome with color and music.
As a great alternative to a busy water park, a rental at Pedals N Paddles gives you an exercise workout and the chance to have fun on the water. Rent one- or two-person sit-on-top kayaks, aqua trikes, water bikes, pedal boats, and stand-up paddle boards. Life jackets are provided and required.
Travel writer Carrie Calzaretta, from Brielle, is founding editor of Family Vacation Critic. She and her husband love raising their two beach bums, Tyler, 10, and Tess, 5, at the Jersey Shore.
Music Man Ice Cream photo by Donna Rizzo. Jenkinsons Boardwalk photo courtesy of Jenkinsons Boardwalk.