The eastern coast of New Jersey is known for its mixture of upscale destinations and mellow seaside getaways. Miles of clean and spacious beaches dot the coastline and they make a relaxing day trip from NYC. Each NJ city, town and hamlet along the seaside boasts its own unique culture and attractions. There is an abundance of family-friendly options for travelers who come with kids. Here are some of the best New Jersey beaches. Photo: jonbilous-

» Atlantic City Beach

Atlantic City Beach

Famous for its high-rises, casinos, upscale retail stores and fine-dining, Atlantic City draws crowds from around the world. The beach surrounding the city is most famous for its boardwalk. Built in 1870, the boardwalk offers a myriad of shops and boutiques along with some of the best views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic City Beach is a wide coastal area that boasts excellent conditions for surfing, kayaking, windsurfing, fishing and other sports. Atlantic City is also home to Absecon Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and the third-tallest lighthouse in the United States. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Gary/Fotolia

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»Asbury Park Beach

Asbury Park Beach

Asbury Park Beach is a mile-long stretch of sand that is flanked by a popular boardwalk. Surfers, sunbathers, swimmers, fishers and families routinely flock to the beach for its temperate weather, nice waters and lively atmosphere.

On the Asbury Park Beach boardwalk, visitors can enjoy shopping, dining, mini-golf and other fun activities. Dog owners can bring their four-legged friends to Asbury Park from October 1 through May 15. At other times of the year, guests with dogs can check out the nearby Eighth Avenue Dog Beach. Asbury Park Beach is open to the public year-round except on certain holidays. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Ritu Jethani/Fotolia

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»Best Beaches in NJ: Seven Mile Beach

Best Beaches in NJ: Seven Mile Beach

Avalon Beach (Seven Mile Beach) spans the distance between the towns of Avalon and Stone Harbor. Known for its small-town feel, the area is an ideal getaway for travelers who want to have a relaxing beach vacation. Seven Mile Beach offers a bit of something for everyone.

Watersports enthusiasts will find ample opportunities for surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing, while land lovers can enjoy a game of volleyball or tennis at the beach. Families can entertain little ones at one of the beach's nine parks and playgrounds. Seven Mile Beach, with its tranquil atmosphere and unobstructed coastline, also offers plenty of space for beach combers and joggers. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Wide Awake/Fotolia

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»Best New Jersey Beaches: Avon by the Sea

Best New Jersey Beaches: Avon by the Sea

Avon by the Sea is a popular beachside area near Asbury Park. It is home to a beautiful beach that is open year-round. In the summer months, guests need to present a pre-purchased beach badge in order to gain access to the beach between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM.

The badges are available at three different locations throughout Avon. The beach has a boardwalk with shops and restaurants, restrooms for visitors, and plenty of free parking. Trained lifeguards patrol the beach daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Mariya/Fotolia

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»NJ Beaches: Belmar

NJ Beaches: Belmar

Belmar Beach is a small but beautiful destination in the central part of the state. The 1.3-mile-long beach is popular among visitors of all ages, but it is especially appealing to families thanks to its tranquil waters and beach playgrounds.

Belmar prides itself on being one of the most accessible beaches in New Jersey, so it's easy to navigate for people with wheelchairs or strollers. The Belmar Boardwalk is a popular spot for walking, jogging and people-watching, and the beach itself offers plenty of amenities, including cell phone charging stations, clean bathrooms, water fountains and beach chair/umbrella rentals. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Belmar

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» Cape May

Cape May

Hailed as one of the nation's most beautiful seaside areas, Cape May is home to several unique beaches. Higbee Beach, Steger Beach and Poverty Beach are some of the main attractions in the area. Guests will find a wealth of things to do on land and in the ocean. There is ample space for surfing, windsurfing, kayaking and boating.

On shore, visitors can play a game of beach volleyball, grab a delicious meal at a restaurant or watch for interesting birds and wildlife. Fishing and dog walking are also permitted in some areas. Cape May beaches are open year-round, but visitors are required to have an admission tag during the summer months. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Roshan/Fotolia

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»Best Beaches in NJ: Fisherman's Cove

Best Beaches in NJ: Fisherman's Cove

This 55-acre beach area is a haven for all sorts of birds and wildlife. Formally part of the Monmouth County Park System, Fisherman's Cove is a favorite among fishers, recreational boaters, birdwatchers, walkers and joggers.

As a mixture of a beach and a forest and a popular rest point for all kinds of migrating birds, Fisherman's Cove offers plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and relaxation. Dogs are allowed in certain parts of Fisherman's Cove, as long as they are kept on a leash. The recreational area is open for tourism year-round. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: /Fotoliabrianw_45

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»NJ Beaches: Keansburg

NJ Beaches: Keansburg

Keansburg, an isolated beach near Middletown, is known for its incredible view of the New York City skyline. Unlike most New Jersey beaches, visitors don't need to purchase a tag in order to visit Keansburg.

The beach is open daily from sunrise to sunset throughout the year. There is a fishing pier at the beach that is also freely available to all visitors. Guests can park in the metered parking lot near Bay Walks, and there are restrooms and showers nearby for public use. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: shuttergn/Fotolia

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»Free beaches near me: Lavallette Beach

Free beaches near me: Lavallette Beach

Lavallette Beach boasts a mile-long boardwalk as well as two white-sand beaches that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing and beach combing. The beach is patrolled by trained lifeguards all throughout the week.

Like most beaches in the area, Lavallette Beach operates on a badge system, where guests over the age of 12 purchase daily, weekly or seasonal passes in advance for beach access. Dogs are not allowed at the beach, but they can be brought on the boardwalk during the off-season if they are on a leash. Ample parking is available on the streets surrounding Lavallette. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: wjbruzek/Fotolia

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»Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island

Long Beach Island, known locally as LBI, attracts crowds of beach lovers each day. Less than a mile across,.the 18-mile long island is dotted with cute little seaside towns. Long Beach Island is home to Barnegat Lighthouse State Park and a commercial fishing port known as Viking Village.

The liveliest parts of the island are Ship Bottom, Holgate, Brant Beach and Beach Haven, while the quieter parts of LBI include Surf City, Loveladies, North Beach and Harvey Cedar. Aside from its tranquil beaches, LBI's main attractions are Fantasy Island Amusement Park and Thundering Surf Water Park & Adventure Golf. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Andrew Kazmierski/Fotolia

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»Best New Jersey Beaches: Ocean City

Best New Jersey Beaches: Ocean City

Ranked among the top family beaches in the world, Ocean City is home to numerous resorts, restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment venues. The beach at Ocean City spans eight miles from end to end. As one of the top destinations among vacationers in the area, Ocean City Beach and the nearby boardwalk get plenty of visitors all throughout the year.

Lifeguards patrol the beach on a regular basis, and the entire waterfront has been designated an alcohol-free area. Young visitors will find plenty of things to see and do on the beach as well as in the city. There are amusement parks, libraries and museums all throughout the downtown area. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: jnovack7/Fotolia

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»NJ Beaches: Ocean Grove

NJ Beaches: Ocean Grove

Celebrated for its clean and spacious beaches, Ocean Grove is a prime destination for visitors in search of relaxation and peace. The dog-friendly beach offers plenty of room for sunbathing, walking and jogging. During the summer months, Ocean Grove holds sandcastle building contests, kite flying events, inner tube races and other types of fun competitions.

The beach operates using the badge system, so visitors need to pay a small fee for daily, weekly or seasonal access. Two blocks away from the beach in the downtown area visitors will find restaurants, stores, cafes, and accommodation options. The beach is a short distance away from other fun attractions in Monmouth County. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Gary/Fotolia

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»Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant Beach

Point Pleasant has a mixture of private and public beaches. On the southern end of the town near Ocean Avenue, visitors can access a pristine and peaceful public beach for a small fee. Popular activities here include sunbathing, beach combing and swimming. Point Pleasant Beach is also a main haunt for surfers, who tend to stick close to an area known as “The Pocket”.

Nearby Bradshaw Beach is also open to the public, but the beach boardwalk is private land. Visitors need to present daily, weekly or seasonal badges at each access station near Point Pleasant. The entire area is monitored by trained lifeguards. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: mlemos 89/Fotolia

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»Best Beaches in NJ: Sea Girt

Best Beaches in NJ: Sea Girt

The borough of Sea Girt is home to several white-sand beaches. Perfect for swimming, sunbathing and fishing, Sea Girt's beaches are open to the public year-round. The nearby Sea Girt Lighthouse and the landscaped boardwalk make for some nice sightseeing in the Sea Girt area.

Beach goers are required to present daily and/or seasonal badges, which can be purchased at various points along the beach front. There are discounts available for seniors and children. Parking at Sea Girt is free for all, and lifeguards patrol the beach from Father's Day through Labor Day. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Michael/Fotolia

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»Sea Isle City

Sea Isle City

A top beach destination among families, Sea Isle City is filled with all kinds of opportunities for entertainment and relaxation. Restaurants, nightlife and outdoor recreation are some of the main reasons that visitors flock to this city in historic Cape May County.

With miles of pristine beaches to explore, Sea Isle City routinely draws crowds of surfers, sunbathers, beach combers, fishers and birdwatchers. Outside of the beach, Sea Isle City is known for its wealth of family-friendly activities, which include movie nights under the stars, weekly concerts and local talent competitions. Guests also love checking out the quirky shops and cafes that line the city's 1.5-mile beach promenade. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Chad McDermott-

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»NJ Beaches: Spring Lake

NJ Beaches: Spring Lake

Famous for its small-town feel, Spring Lake once served as a prime beach destination for high-class socialites and business leaders during the 1800s. The quaint resort town has retained its elegant and charming atmosphere. Spring Lake's main attraction is a quiet two-mile stretch of sandy beach.

Visitors won't find the glitz and glam of other New Jersey seaside areas on this simple beach, but the bright lights of the Asbury Park boardwalk are just a five-minute drive away. In addition to its beautiful beach, Spring Lake is known for its selection of fine seafood restaurants and its cozy, romantic inns. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Andrew Kazmierski/Fotolia

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Known for its sand dunes and cute beach houses, Strathmere sits between Ocean City and Sea Isle City. The narrow but beautiful strip of beach is patrolled by life guards throughout the summer months. Strathmere does not use the badge system, so visitors can enter the beach at any time between sunrise and sunset without having to pay a fee. The beach is closed during the night.

Certain areas of Strathmere are suitable for surfing and fishing, while other areas of the beach have been deemed unsafe for these sports. Visitors will find plenty of free public parking close to the shoreline. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: jonbilous/Fotolia

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»Stone Harbor

Stone Harbor

Stone Harbor got its start as a quiet hunting and fishing town. In the late 1800s, a wealthy investor from Philadelphia saw the value of Stone Harbor as a potential tourist destination. He bought the land and set to work developing the area into an upscale destination for wealthy East Coast residents.

Stone Harbor has largely maintained its status as a getaway for the elite. The town is filled with upscale shops, restaurants and accommodation options. The beach at Stone Harbor is viewed as an ideal place for swimming and boogie boarding because of its location at the southern end of Seven Mile Beach Island. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Rick Snizik/Fotolia

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»Best NJ Beaches: Sunset Beach

Best NJ Beaches: Sunset Beach

As the name suggests, Sunset Beach is particularly famous for its beautiful evening views over the Atlantic Ocean. It is one of the few places on the heavily-populated East Coast that offers an unobstructed view of the sun setting over the water. The beach is also home to the remains of Atlantus, a concrete ship constructed in the early 1900s for use as a ferry slip.

While being towed out to sea, Atlantus got stuck on a sand bar and slowly sunk on its side. It has been mired in the same spot for well over 50 years. Sunset Beach also boasts some gems known as the Cape May Diamonds. These rock fragments are actually quartz crystals that visitors are allowed to take from the beach as souvenirs. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Andrew Kazmierski/Fotolia

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Wildwoods is a pristine 5-mile-long stretch of beach that is famous among families and East Coast vacationers. The beach is an ideal place for surfing, swimming, boogie boarding, jet skiing, kayaking and more. Best of all, access to Wildwoods is free all throughout the year.

Visitors will find more than 100 rides and attractions on the Wildwood Boardwalk, which boasts Morey's Piers and Beachfront Waterparks, Ocean Oasis Waterpark and Beach Club and Splash Zone Waterpark. Additionally, the boardwalk is packed with stores, restaurants and entertainment venues. Aside from the boardwalk and beach, Wildwoods hosts nearly 200 unique festivals, parties and events throughout the year. 20 Best New Jersey Beaches - Photo: Jin For The Win/Fotolia

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20 Best New Jersey Beaches