Everyone knows that the Jersey shore is the best place to spend the summer. But did you know that the Garden State’s seaside towns are also the perfect place to celebrate the holiday season? Come December, these great towns come alive with unique holiday festivities and Christmas celebrations, including house tours, holiday bazaars, Christmas parades and, of course, opportunities to meet (and in some cases, eat!) with Santa Claus.

So, this December, skip the crowded shopping malls and do some fa-la-la-ing at one of these fun New Jersey beach towns.

Asbury Park

Known for its eclectic vibe and fun atmosphere, Asbury Park is a great place to ring in the holiday season. The boardwalk is popular for its great shops and restaurants, most of which are open throughout the holiday season.

Asbury Park Bazaar
jersey shoreWhere: Grand Arcade and Convention Hall
When: November 25 from Noon to 10:00 pm (tree lighting at 7:00 pm), November 26 and December 2, 3, 9, 10, 17 & 23 from Noon to 5:00 pm
Details: For a festive day of holiday shopping, check out Asbury Park’s annual Holiday Bazaar. This popular shopping experience features artisan vendors selling unique gifts while live bands and DJ’s provide holiday tunes. While you shop, enjoy a hot chocolate, cider or mulled wine, or stop by the Asbury Oyster Bar or The Anchor’s Bend to enjoy holiday drinks and food specials. Santa will be on hand each day for pictures (pets are welcome, too). A variety of kid’s crafts and holiday workshops will also be offered.
More info: Visit www.asburyparkbazaar.com


Ocean Grove

Just a short stroll from Asbury Park, Ocean Grove is renowned for its old-world charm and Victorian beauty. This holiday season, take a step back in time and visit an adorable little town by the sea.

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Victorian Holiday Festival
Where: Chamber of Commerce, 45 Pilgrim Pathway
When: December 9 & 10 at various times
Details: Activities during this festival include holiday tours of local inns, homes and tents, an open house for the Ocean Grove Historical Society, a gift boutique, a Live Nativity Christmas pageant and the annual Christmas Tree Lighting with caroling in Auditorium Park.
More info: Visit www.oceangrovenj.com


Point Pleasant

Point Pleasant’s great family atmosphere isn’t just apparent in the summer months. Around the holidays, the town’s popular attractions come alive with festive family activities.

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Sea of Lights
Where: Jenkinson’s Aquarium
When: December 15, 16, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28 & 29 from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Details: Kids and grown-ups alike will enjoy this indoor holiday lights spectacular at Jenkinson’s Aquarium. Celebrate the season with all of your favorite sea creatures, including sharks, turtles and seahorses. Crafts, holiday treats, games and photos with Santa will be offered. In addition to the aquarium, the Sweet Shop and Pavilion Arcade will also be open.
More info: Visit www.jenkinsons.com


Ocean City

Families flock to Ocean City every summer for its pristine beaches and fun atmosphere. The fun continues even in December, when the town welcomes the holiday season with plenty of Christmas festivities. In fact, Ocean City has been named one of the best NJ towns to celebrate the holidays; with so many family-friendly events on the calendar, it’s easy to see why.

Christmas Parade
Where: Asbury Avenue from 6th to 11th Street
When: December 1 at 6:00 pm
Details: This annual parade features marching bands, dance groups, special guests and an appearance by Santa himself.
More info: Visit www.oceancityvacation.com

Free Horse & Carriage Rides
Where: City Hall, 9th & Asbury Avenue
When: Weekends from November 18 to December 23 from Noon to 3:00 pm
Details: Ocean City is offering free horse & carriage rides on Saturdays and Sundays through December 23. Snuggle up in a cozy horse-drawn carriage for a festive ride around town.
More info: Visit www.oceancityvacation.com

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Breakfast with Santa
Where: Various locations
When: Weekends from November 25 to December 23 at 8:00 am and 11:00 am
Details: Breakfast with Santa takes place every weekend at a different downtown restaurant. Participating locations include Arlene’s on Asbury, Jon & Patty’s Coffee Bar and Yianni’s Café.
More info: Visit www.oceancityvacation.com


Cape May

The seaside town of Cape May transforms into a Dickens village for the holidays. Enjoy shopping at the picturesque Washington Street Mall and strolling the beautifully decorated streets of the Victorian town. Cape May offers fun Christmas activities for the entire family all month long.

Annual West Cape May Christmas Parade
Where: Parade starts at the West Cape May Fire Hall and proceeds south on Broadway to the Washington Street Mall
When: December 2 at 5:00 pm
Details: Kick off your holiday season with this fun Christmas Parade that features three hours of family fun and entertainment. Now in its 52nd year, the parade features a variety of musicians, clowns, floats and more.
More info: Visit discovercapemaynj.com or call 609-884-1005.

Holiday Trolley Tours
Where: Washington Street Mall
When: Various dates & times
Details: Hop aboard a cheery red trolley for a holiday-themed ride throughout Cape May. The seasonal trolley rides offered include a Holiday Lights Trolley Ride, Ghosts of Christmas Past Trolley Ride and Santa’s Trolley Ride, all perfect for the little ones.
More info: Visit www.capemaymac.org

Breakfast with Santa
Where: Congress Hall’s Grand Ballroom
When: Weekends from November 25 to December 17 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm
Details: Enjoy a delicious breakfast and a visit with Jolly Old St. Nick. The breakfast buffet includes scrambled eggs with fresh herbs, fruit, bacon, pancakes, sweets and more. Kids will get a chance to share their wish list with Santa while parents snap a picture. Be sure to make a reservation ahead of time.
More info: Visit www.caperesorts.com or call 609-884-6542.

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Christmas Candlelight House Tours
Where: Various locations
When: December 2, 9 & 16 from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Details: Take a self-guided walking tour to many of Cape May’s finest inns, hotels and churches, all decked out for the Christmas season. Christmas Carolers and strolling musicians add to the good, old-fashioned cheer of this popular event. Purchase tickets in advance online.
More info: Visit www.capemaymac.org

Santa’s Family Workshop
Where: Cape May County Zoo
When: December 9 from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm
Details: Santa visits the Cape May Zoo for this fun, free Christmas event. Stop by for photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday crafts, music, a scavenger hunt and more.
More info: Visit www.cmczoo.com


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