Ocean County Winner: POINT PLEASANT BEACH
This Ocean County shore town is one of the most popular in the state during the summer, but residents have year-round reasons to love their town. Charming homes and quaint neighborhoods paired with a school system packed with extra curriculars and a low teacher-student ratio makes it a prime spot to raise a family.
Boasting boating, biking, water sports, antiquing and more, Point Pleasant Beach hangouts include Kens Landing Marina, which hosts a fishing fleet and restaurant, and the beloved Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, which has everything from amusement rides and arcades to mini golf and an aquarium. There’s also an epic celebration every September called the NJ Festival of the Sea, a local tradition since 1975.
As for food, head to Shore Fresh Seafood Market and Restaurant for some delicious underwater treasures, like mussels marinara, crab cakes and scallops (locations in both Point Pleasant Boro and Point Pleasant Beach). Get the lobster mac and cheese; it comes in a huge skillet, and might last you two (or three!) heavenly meals. Try date night at The Shrimp Box on the water, or score fresh mutz and a sandwich at Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties and Catering.
Fun fact: Henry Hudson and his crew came across Point Pleasant Beach in 1609, when a crew member noted in his log, “This is a very good Land to fall with and a pleasant Land to see.”