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9 Most Charming River Towns In New Jersey To Visit In 2024

by Staff

As one of the original 13 colonies, New Jersey has a long and rich history stretching back to the 1600s. Known as the Garden State, it is a densely populated state with a beautiful shoreline on the Mid-Atlantic. Although well known for its position near the ocean, New Jersey also features many beautiful rivers, such as the Hudson, Delaware, Maurice, and others. And wherever there are rivers, scenic river towns also pop up. Discover nine river towns in New Jersey to visit in 2024.

Clinton

Historic Red Mill in Clinton, New Jersey.

With roots running back to the 1700s with the founding of Hunterdon County, named after Governor Robert Hunter, the town would be the birthplace of several patriots during the American War of Independence, such as Captain Adam Hope and Colonel Abraham Bonnell. Sitting on the bank of the Raritan River, there are many things to do in Clinton. Visit the Hunterdon Art Museum or go to a historic mill at the Red Mill Museum Village. Go fishing, canoeing, or duck-watching on the Raritan River, or visit one of the area’s many parks or the Lowthorp Truss Bridge. Grab a bite to eat at the Clinton Station Diner or Towne Restaurant. The town hosts a parade with 40 marching units for its Friendly Sons of St. Patrick Day parade on March 10, 2024. 

Frenchtown

Shops in a City Center in Lambertville, New Jersey.
Shops in a City Center in Lambertville, New Jersey. Editorial credit: christianthiel.net / Shutterstock.com.

This town on the banks of the Delaware River also has a rich history as it was founded by a man who fled from the French Revolution. Paul Henri Mallet-Prevost purchased the land in 1794 after fleeing from France to avoid a beheading by the guillotine. He brought several other French speakers with him, which gave the town its name. The small town, which has a population of only 1,377, is quaint but has a number of things to do. Visit the Delaware Canal State Park for a trek along the riverside, or visit the Tinicum Park or the Erwinna Covered Bridge. Finish the day with a drink at the Sand Castle Winery.

Lambertville

The Lambertville and New Hope towns on either side of the Delaware River.
The Lambertville and New Hope towns on either side of the Delaware River.

Founded in 1705 on the Delaware River, the historic New Jersey town of Lambertville is a great place to find hidden treasures as it is known as The Antiques Capital of New Jersey with its Golden Nugget Antique Flea Market, the People’s Store and Artists’ Gallery, which hosts many beautiful pieces of art. Visit the James Wilson Marshall House Museum or one of the town’s many Victorian-style houses. Take a trip to The Bucks County Children’s Museum in nearby Pennsylvania or enjoy a relaxing walk in the Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve. For fish lovers, Lambertville is a perfect place to visit in 2024, as it hosts the Shad Fest the last week of April 2024, with music, walks, and plenty of American Shad fish to eat. 

Stockton

Aerial view of Stockton, New Jersey.
Aerial view of Stockton, New Jersey.

If you take a quick trip up the road from Lambertville on the Delaware River, you will find another Victorian town: Stockton. It prides itself on its quaint, vintage atmosphere. It’s a great place to go for a hike at the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park, particularly the Bulls Island Recreation Area. These hikes on the river offer a more relaxing environment than crowded beaches on the Atlantic. Visit the 19th-century Prallsville Mills and the John Prall Jr. Historic Manor House to learn the history of the area.

Collingswood

Collingswood's Commercial Historic District. Collingswood’s Commercial Historic District. Image credit: Saucemaster via Wikimedia Commons.

Founded in the late 1600s by the Zane family on the Cooper River, Collingswood was a major center for Quakers, and a Quaker Meeting House served as one of the first buildings in the area. Today, Collingswood is a center for the arts as it hosts multiple theaters and ballrooms, such as the Scottish Rite Theatre and Grand Ballroom. It holds regular art festivals throughout the year, so there is always something to do. Take a hike on the nearly 350-acre Cooper River Park or Knight Park. Go out for dinner in the renovated Haddon Avenue for fine cuisine.

Milford

View of Bridge Street, by Railroad Avenue, in Milford, New Jersey.
View of Bridge Street by Railroad Avenue, in Milford, New Jersey. Image credit: Zeete via Wikimedia Commons.

Situated on the Delaware River, Milford is close to many gorgeous natural locales, such as the Delaware Canal State Park, Horseshoe Bend Park, Musconetcong Gorge, and Milford Bluffs. It prides itself on being an eco-tourism destination with friendly folks and many local businesses and restaurants. For meals, try out the Milford House, a historic building that has been converted into a family-friendly restaurant. The town is perfect for the holidays as it hosts a Halloween parade on October 27, 2024, and Christmas in Milford on December 13.

Greenwich

Futuro House in Greenwich, New Jersey.
Futuro House in Greenwich, New Jersey. Image credit: Heather Phillips via Flickr.com.

Founded in 1748 on the Cohansey River, this historic town is known for providing the best bird watching in the region. It was the first settlement of Cumberland County, with its Ye Greate Street first laid out in 1684. Visit the Bayside Tract to see the rich wildlife in this wetlands area. This place offers a rare to see a Bald Eagle for birdwatchers. Or, to see animals up close, visit the Cohanzick Zoo. There are also many historic buildings you can check out in the area, such as the Historic Gibbon House, the Cumberland County Prehistorical Museum, and the Teaburner Monument, celebrating Revolutionary War resistance to British taxes on tea.

Red Bank

Aerial of Red Bank Navesink New Jersey
Aerial view of Red Bank Navesink, New Jersey.

This town is known as the gateway to the Two River Peninsula and is positioned on the southern banks of the Navesink River. Red Bank prides itself on its arts, waterfront parks, theaters, and more. Visit the town’s many art galleries, such as the Art Alliance Studio and Gallery, Beacon Fine Arts Gallery, Count Basie Center for the Arts, and others. See the wonders of the Navesink River by hiking at Marine Park or the Bellhaven Nature Area. For historic sites, remember to pay a visit to the Charter House, which was built in the Second French Imperial Style in the 1860s. For runners, consider signing up for the Red Bank 5K Classic on June 15. 

Mahwah

Arch at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey.
Arch at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. Image credit: Daniellek0512 via Wikimedia Commons.

Mahwah is a natural beauty just outside of Manhattan on the Mahwah River. It takes its name from the word mawewi in the Lenape language, which means meeting place or place where paths meet. The name fits, as it borders the Ramapo Mountains and the Ramapo River, which offers a variety of outdoor activities with nearly 5,000 acres of parks providing archery, hiking, skiing, swimming, snowboarding, and more. It is one of the few towns in New Jersey that offers skiing, particularly at Campgaw Mountain, which offers 15 acres of skiing at 850 feet. For a waterfall hike, visit the Ramapo Valley County Reservation or learn about the town’s history at the Mahwah Museum. Grab a bite to eat at Rozanne’s Brick Oven Pizzeria or Mahwah Bar & Grill. If you want a trip to the big city, take the New Jersey Transit station to New York City.

While spending all your time on the New Jersey shore may be tempting, don’t forget these river towns when you visit the state. River towns are perfect for relaxing, walking and hiking, exploring historic landmarks and quaint restaurants, and having good conversations. Although New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the United States, there are many places to catch a breather and experience small-town hospitality. These small river towns are a great example. Consider adding them to your travel plans in 2024. 

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