2. Long Beach Island
Exit number: 63
Long Beach Island, aka LBI, isn’t actually a town, but rather a colony of small shore towns with thematic names like Surf City, Barnegat Light, Loveladies, Ship Bottom, and Beach Haven. The 18-mile island is truly seasonal -- traffic lights are only turned on for the summer season (the rest of the year they’re in constant blinking-yellow mode). Each little town has its own distinct personality, but they’re all quaint and undisturbed by crazy night-life scenes, commercial boardwalks, and resort hotels. LBI also has some pretty good surfing (for New Jersey), and plenty of surf shops to match. The population skyrockets from 10,000 to more than 100,000 in the summer, and the crowd is split between lifers who’ve spent every summer there or week-long vacationers. Thing is, since the best way to vacation in LBI is by renting a house, it requires a lot of planning. And, the barrier island, as picturesque and sand dune-laden as it is, is usually a traffic nightmare once you get off the Parkway.