Beach Tent at Congress Hall; Photo by Charles Riter

Last-Minute Weekend Beach Getaways

Treat yourself to a spontaneous escape – as soon as this weekend – with our insider tips on seaside towns and accommodations that are closer than you think.

Traveling from the North/Northwest? Check out these coastal destinations:

Sandy Hook
Explore gorgeous beaches and historic sites when you spend the day (or weekend) at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook. Reserve a campsite in the park (season runs late May through early October) or enjoy boutique accommodations at SeaScape Manor Bed & Breakfast or BeachWalk at Sea Bright. If you don’t mind a short drive (under 30 minutes) to the beach, you could stay at The Oyster Point Hotel on the Navesink River in nearby Red Bank, where shopping, dining and nightlife provide plenty to do.

Long Branch
Escape to this oceanfront resort town, touting white-sand beaches and a boardwalk promenade lined with shops and eateries. When you stay at Wave Resort, you’ll have access to a private beach area with sun loungers and umbrellas, an outdoor pool with unobstructed views of the Atlantic as well as a sumptuous spa. Similarly appointed, the Ocean Place Resort & Spa is also steps from the beach and offers a glittering swimming pool overlooking the ocean, as well as a luxe spa.

Asbury Park
Explore the revitalized boardwalk at this historic beach town and get a first-hand experience of the trendy new wave of style at The Asbury Hotel, named one of the best new hotels in the world in 2017 by Travel + Leisure. Spend the day soaking up the sun on the beach, and then head up to the hotel’s trendy rooftop bar for a sunset cocktail. Or reserve a room at The Empress Hotel with oceanfront views, plus an oversized pool and tiki huts. (Bonus: The Empress is just steps from the iconic Stone Pony, so be sure to check the venue’s concert lineup.)

Pristine beaches await in this family-friendly Jersey Shore town, where you can stay in your choice of historic hotels and quaint bed-and-breakfasts housed in Victorian mansions. Find accommodations within walking distance of the beach at the Saltwater Inn, The Inn at the Shore or The Tandem Bike Inn.

Seaside Heights
For a bustling boardwalk experience, make your way to this beach town, touting an amusement pier, a waterpark, arcades and summer fireworks. Book a room in one of the many low-key motels, such as Colony Motel or Luna-Mar Motel, for nearby access to the beach. Larger motels include the Aztec Ocean Resort or Hershey Motel.

Coming from the South/Southwest? Consider these resort areas:

Long Beach Island (LBI)
This 18-mile-long island is dotted with quaint beach towns. On the northern end, stay at The North Shore Inn and explore Barnegat Lighthouse State Park during the day. Or stay further south at the family-friendly Engleside Inn or Mariner Inn in Beach Haven and have fun on amusement park rides or water slides.

Atlantic City
Nightlife, casino excitement, shopping, gourmet dining and a world-famous boardwalk are the draw at this city on the Shore. Stay where all the action is at Tropicana Casino & Resort or Caesars Atlantic City, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino or Ocean Casino Resort, then spend the day soaking in the sunshine on the free beaches.

Point Pleasant Beach
With its super-clean beaches and kid-approved attractions like Jenkinson’s Aquarium and Castaway Cove Mini-Golf, Point Pleasant Beach is an easy choice for a quick family trip. Stay within walking distance of the boardwalk at The Driftwood Motel, a family-friendly motel with its own private beach staffed with a lifeguard. Other nearby hotels include the Point Pleasant Manor and White Sands Oceanfront Resort & Spa.

The Wildwoods
If you love an action-packed beach scene, you’ll love The Wildwoods beaches. These free beaches stretch for five miles and offer plenty of fun activities, from jet-skiing to surfing. The nearby water slides and roller coasters at Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Waterparks offer even more adventure. Stay near the action—and get a first-hand look at the incredible mid-century Doo-Wop architecture of the area—when you stay at the Starlux Boutique Hotel. Other beachy-keen accommodations include Montego Bay Resort, Surf Song Beach Resort, Heart of Wildwood Resort and El Coronado Resort.

Cape May
Stroll past colorful Victorian mansions, browse the shops at Washington Street Mall and dine on one of the many outdoor patios in this charming town at the southernmost point of New Jersey. Book a room at a historic property such as the charming The Virginia Hotel or the grand Congress Hall (America’s oldest seaside resort, dating back to 1816) to get the full Cape May experience. Other accommodation options include La Mer Beachfront Resort, Marquis de Lafayette Hotel and The Grand Hotel.

Rather go your own way? Explore all of New Jersey’s beaches and places to stay all around the state. For more information on planning your someday getaway, get your hands on our free travel guide and sign-up for our e-newsletter.