I grew up going to the beaches of South Jersey. My grandparents had owned a home in Avalon since the 1980s. It was a small duplex house two blocks from the beach. Not the monstrosity houses you see down there now.

Then, after that house was sold in the 2010s my family still made a point to get down to either Avalon or Stone Harbor at least once a summer. They're two of the nicest and most picturesque beach towns in New Jersey.

Avalon and Stone Harbor are known for their pristine beaches, great atmospheres and some of the biggest houses you'll ever see at the Jersey Shore. My family used to reference the houses down there as people having "eff you" money. Some of the houses are truly insane.

Avalon is known for its upscale and luxurious beachfront properties. They have lots of high-end restaurants and one of my favorite mini golf places of all time, Pirate Island. They do have a shopping district, but it's mostly houses there.

Pirate Island Mini Golf via Google Maps
Pirate Island Mini Golf via Google Maps

Stone Harbor, directly below Avalon, is almost like its sister town. You'll see a similar amount of housing monstrosities, but Stone Harbor also has a downtown shopping district. Lots of shops, a movie theatre and plenty more on their main street.

Both Avalon and Stone Harbor give off small-town family vibes. Not that every Jersey Shore town doesn't, but these two give off a special sensation of that. Maybe because they're so far south that it feels like they're almost untouched (they're not).

96th Street in Stone Harbor via Google Maps
96th Street in Stone Harbor via Google Maps

The slogan for Avalon is "cooler by a mile" and if anyone has ever been there, you know that saying rings true.

They're truly two Jersey Shore beauties that don't generate the same traction as other shore towns in NJ.

LOOK: Here are the 50 best beach towns in America

Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.

CHECK OUT: All the free beaches in New Jersey

The Jersey Shore is notorious for charging for access to the beaches. But there are a few that let you get in for free.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5's Kyle Clark. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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