Welcome a slower pace this fall with a visit to one of New Jersey’s charming small towns. Many of the state’s oldest and smallest boroughs have retained their historic and residential landscape, inviting visitors to explore and experience remarkable treasures. The Garden State is blessed with small towns rich with green space for cultural gatherings and are committed to the maintenance and preservation of mature, tree-lined streetscapes and parklands.
Linger in environs where former wagon trails now serve as main streets that connect vibrant historic districts with the bountiful, agriculturally rich countryside. Many villages attract artists and craftsmen, celebrate Revolutionary-era taverns, colonial architecture and well-tended Victorian structures.
To sample some of the best, each of these small towns present its own savory slice of authentic New Jersey.
Nestled in Morris County, Chester is a unique country destination that is well known for its year-round events, including two of the top craft shows in the nation, classic car show, harvest celebration, and holiday festivities. Home to over 80 shops offering one-of-a-kind gifts, antiques, exceptional cafes and eateries, “pick your own” farms, and the historic Cooper Gristmill, Chester’s “home town charm”, preserved early American buildings, and the chic Streets of Chester Shopping Center continue to draw visitors each weekend and throughout the seasons. To Experience Historic Chester, visit http://www.ilovechester.com/.
Founded in 1865 on the banks of the Raritan River, Clinton is a historic and charming downtown, considered a cultural center and popular tourist destination. Anchored by the landmark Red Mill Museum Village, downtown offers a unique blend of more than 80 inviting small businesses, locally owned shops, restaurants, Hunterdon Art Museum, and more than 100 annual events – all surrounded by beautiful countryside. www.visitnj.org/city/clinton
The circa-1697 Village of Cranbury is one of New Jersey’s oldest towns. The designated National Historic District’s tree-lined Main Street entices visitors with shops, dining, and a stroll around the nearby Town Pond. Be sure to take a meal at Cranbury Inn, a Revolutionary-era tavern. http://www.cranburypubliclibrary.org/cbpamap07.pdf
Founded in 1705 on the banks of the Delaware ear are River, Lambertville, The Antiques Capital of New Jersey, attracts artists, craftsmen and visitors to its historic streets lined with appreciated federal townhouses, Victorian homes, restored 19th-century train depot, and 1816 James Wilson Marshall House Museum- headquarters of the Historical Society of Lambertville. http://www.visitnj.org/city/lambertville
Ranked among of the “10 best small towns in NJ” and one of the “25 best places to call home in the Garden State,” Hopewell, settled in the early 1700’s, remains a historic treasure. Broad Street claims specialty shops and antique finds, inviting restaurants and cared for, centuries-old residences. Situated at the foot of the Sourland Mountains, Hopewell Borough’s bustling downtown is rich with history and well-maintained Colonial and Victorian buildings. https://www.hopewellboro-nj.us/
With PATCO station and ten minute ride from both the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman bridges, historic Haddonfield has more than 200 shops and galleries, award-winning eateries, memorable architecture, and multiple streetscape sculptures. Kings Highway originally was a wagon trail named in honor of the British monarchs that once ruled the area, and the 270-year-old Indian King Tavern is New Jersey’s first state-owned historic site. http://www.downtownhaddonfield.com/discover-haddonfield/
Founded in 1706, Allentown’s charm is found in its historic buildings, distinctive shopping, lush open spaces and scenic lake, abundant wildlife, and palate-pleasing restaurants. Host to many special events such as October’s Witch’s Night Out and the Spring Stroll, family and nature activities abound and welcome visitors year round. https://allentownnj.com/
The picturesque seaside town provides an unhurried atmosphere along two miles of uncluttered Atlantic beach and the longest non-commercial boardwalk in New Jersey. For more than 100 years, the Jersey Shore resort town has welcomed visitors to its gracious ambience. Sixty-some shops and boutiques, gourmet restaurants, a dozen bed & breakfasts, inns and hotels, make Spring Lake ideal for family vacations and quick escapes. http://www.springlake.org/
Minutes from Atlantic City, the beach town of Brigantine is home to New Jersey’s only Marine Mammal Stranding Center that saves stranded dolphins, seals and sea turtles. Visitors may bike and drive through Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge that provides crucial habitat for many different endangered or threatened birds, including the American bald eagle. http://www.visitnj.org/nj-all-beaches/brigantine
West Cape May
Rural and residential, the sleepy hamlet of West Cape May claims Victorian charm with uniquely restored B&B inns, eateries and boutiques that lure visitors year round. Situated in a Garden State farming region, produce markets abound. Wilbraham Park hosts various annual events that include October’s Lima Bean Festival. The heart of town toasts Willow Creek Winery on former 200-year-old farm land. http://capemaycountynj.gov/418/West-Cape-May