Best Beach Day Trips for Family Fun in The Sun

There’s nothing that feels more summer-y than a great day at the beach. Of course, this summer isn’t like any we have experienced before, but If the sun, sand and surf are calling your name, we’ve gathered a great list of beaches within a 2-hour drive from the Philly suburbs.   

Each New Jersey shore town has its own personality and fans. Where you tend to go is probably where you vacationed as a kid with family or friends, but day trips are a fun way to try a new spot, too. 

Weekdays are certainly less crowded than weekends but in either case, the earlier you head out, the better to help with parking and securing a perfect, distanced beach spot. Plan ahead and look into beach tags or badges which are required in advance. Many towns also utilize an app for beach tags and also have the ParkMobile app at meters. You may want to bring quarters and cash just in case! 

Our list includes links for the most current info on beach tags, closures, and updated rules around Covid-19. Always be sure to check your destination’s site before you go. Don’t see your favorite below? Tell us about it at info@elementaryconections.com

Belmar: With a fairly straight drive from the Philly suburbs, Belmar is a day trip favorite. You will need beach tags (under $10 for the day, cash only). Park near 17th and Ocean to be close to restrooms as well as places for lunch. Bonus: the longer mats on the sand make hauling your stuff to your beach spot easier, which is great with the kids in tow. Certain beach blocks are designated for boogie boards, so check before you go. 

Brigantine: Brigantine is a quiet beach town known for beautiful sunsets, great restaurants and of course, beaches. Nestled north of Atlantic City, there’s no boardwalk and is typically a less crowded option for beach goers. Beach tags are required and fans we know like to park on the higher numbered streets, around 16th or 17th which are also close to the restrooms.  

Long Beach Island (LBI): Home to five boroughs and 17 beach towns, LBI is great for beach day trips. You’ll first arrive in Ship Bottom once you cross over the Barnegat Bay Causeway/Route 72 (traffic can be heavy on weekends). You can drive further north Surf City. Harvey Cedars (Sunset Park has restrooms and outdoor showers) or Barnegat Light with the iconic lighthouse. Head south to Beach Haven, where the amusement park Fantasy Island Amusement Park with arcade, rides and food. Centre Street has restrooms, too. Beach tags must be purchased in advance. 

Margate/Ventnor: If you want to say hi to Lucy the Elephant and enjoy some large, clean beaches, Margate and Ventnor are other close options, just south of Atlantic City. You will need beach tags for both, and you can stroll or ride bikes on the boardwalk in Ventnor and check the awesome views from the fishing pier. For a day trip to Margate, a great spot for parking and restrooms is at Huntington Ave, near the Margate library and the Martin Bloom Community Pavilion

Ocean City: It’s not called America’s Greatest Family Resort for nothing. In addition to 8 miles of beaches, the boardwalk attractions, rides and food are a major draw for families. Beach tags are required for anyone 12 and up, and you will find metered parking on the nearby streets or in paid lots. Restrooms can be found interspersed from 1st street to 59th street, but note that the beaches are more crowded in the middle blocks of the boardwalk from 2nd to 13th street. Head south for fewer crowds – 34th street has restrooms and also nearby restaurants and the Sandcastle playground.

Point Pleasant: Point Pleasant features a mile of white sand beaches and a family-friendly atmosphere. Park near Ocean Ave. near Broadway or in the lot at Arnold Avenue. You’ll find your favorite boardwalk food, games, rides, an arcade, mini golf and even an aquarium at Jenkinson’s boardwalk. The bath houses are closed currently but the restrooms are open. Wristbands are required for beach access.

Stone Harbor/Avalon: Known as “7 Mile Beach,” charming shops, restaurants and gorgeous beaches make these towns family favorites. In Stone Harbor, 95th street (also where you get beach tags) or 122nd is probably your best bet to find parking and restrooms. Before you leave, don’t miss the homemade ice cream from Springer’s! Avalon offers free parking. You can get your beach tags, park and have access to restrooms at Community Hall (30th and the beach).