Free Beaches in New Jersey: No-Cost Fun in the Sun
If your summer bucket list includes camp, vacation, and trips to our beloved Jersey Shore, summertime can be a season of major spending. Jersey Shore excursions are a must for summer fun, but the prices of beach badges and passes can really add up. Luckily, New Jersey is home to some amazing FREE beaches—that's right, no admission fees required (though some do have parking fees). While some of these free beaches are found in popular vacation hotspots, other quieter, unguarded ones are located by swimming lakes and bays. Read on for 12 of our favorite free Jersey Shore beaches.
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Explore the natural side of this popular vacation town at this quiet state park, which features freshwater meadows, the Cape May Lighthouse, and a free beach. Get fresh air and exercise beach walking, birding, and fishing. There are no lifeguards on duty.
This free beach on Sandy Hook Bay is less than an hour from New York City. The town has beautiful views of both the Atlantic Ocean and the city skyline and can be reached by car or ferry from Manhattan. Stay late to check out "Dock and Dine" options for dinner.
Bet your bottom dollar that AC offers excitement for both adults and kids. Take a stroll along the flashy, 4-mile boardwalk, lined with casinos, restaurants, Steel Pier rides, and outlet shops, then take a break from the action on AC’s spectacular, admission-free beaches. You’ll find plenty of other ways to spend that money while in town.
This quiet beach on the Manahawkin Bay is guarded from 10am-5pm during the summer.
Pack the sand toys and spend a peaceful day of play at Middletown’s low-key bay beaches. Without boardwalks and restaurants, these pet-friendly beaches great spots for chilling out, building sandcastles, and strolling with the dog. Restrooms are open during the summer months.
Gorgeous Keansburg Beach boasts a beautiful view of NYC. Photo courtesy of Keansburg, NJ
If you’re looking for beach and boardwalk fun without sitting in hours of traffic, check out Keansburg off the Parkway’s exit 117. Keansburg’s boardwalk has arcades, restaurants, snack bars, and plenty of children’s rides, along with the popular Runaway Rapids water park. Stopover for some playtime in the sand, and cool views of New York, at Keansburg’s free beach. Note that there is no lifeguard on duty.
Take a day trip to Lakewood’s Ocean County Park, where you can spend an active summer day without spending money. The sprawling park houses a playground, dog park, sports fields, and hiking trails. Best of all: The park’s sandy, lakefront beach is free and guarded from Father’s Day through Labor Day.
There's plenty to do at this Middlesex County freebie, which houses newer playgrounds at both the Laurence Harbor and Cliffwood Beach entrances, a scenic 1.3-mile boardwalk, a shady gazebo, and plenty of free parking. The sand and water are a bit rougher than other Jersey Shore destinations, but the waterfront park as a whole provides a few hours of sunny fun away from typical beach crowds and traffic.
When you're done at the free Wildwoods beaches, hit the bustling boardwalk. Photo courtesy of Wildwoods
My own family’s summer vacation spot, the Wildwoods consists of 5 miles of beautiful beaches, all with no entrance fee. Aside from the free admission, the beaches of Wildwood, North Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest host free events throughout the summer, such as concerts and fireworks. From the bustling boardwalk with rides and games to various hotels and restaurants, Wildwood is the ideal Jersey Shore getaway for spending time with the family without spending on beach fees.
Nestled between Ocean City and Sea Isle City in Cape May County's Upper Township lies this little-known free beach, away from the hustle and bustle of the busier resort areas. With no boardwalk, this quiet beach is a perfect spot to relax, play, and take in the scenic shoreline. There's a lifeguard station at Williams Avenue, and the beach is seasonally guarded between Seaview Avenue South and Nelson Avenue. The quaint beach town also features seaside restaurants and boat rentals.
11. Union Beach
This low, flat beach on the Raritan Bay has calm waters and a small boardwalk. Parking is a mere $1 an hour, but be prepared to use port-a-potties.
Located in Somers Point, the beach is open to the public on weekends from Memorial Day through mid-June, then open daily through Labor Day. The seaside experience includes lifeguards, restrooms, a playground, and free parking. Adding to the allure is the town's annual music festival (also free) each Friday night through September.