Toms River is the county seat of Ocean County, New Jersey. It is a few miles west of the beaches of the Jersey Shore Region, midway between New York and Philadelphia and a short distance from Atlantic City. Toms River is easy to get to by car as the Garden State Parkway bisects the town, and it is served by express bus service to and from New York City.
The body of water the town is named after is actually a tidal inlet from the Barnegat Bay.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
The first settlers of the area included many that were exiled from nearby colonies on basis on religion. Toms River was founded in 1767, then known as Dover Township.
The involvement of Toms River in the Revolutionary War has often been overlooked. The town had America's sole garrison, making it one of the key targets for the British Loyalists, who attacked the settlement at least thrice. The first attempt was unsuccessful, but the second and especially the third attacks breached the town's defenses. Captain Joshua Huddy, one of the defenders, was captured by a group of Loyalists while defending the Toms River Blockhouse and hanged without trial. The town was subsequently razed by arson, with the exception of two houses.
Despite this, the founders sought to rise back up from the rubble. New industries, such as the iron and then the charcoal industries, had come and gone. The first Mormon Branch in the state was established here in 1838. The 1850s saw an abrupt rise of cranberry farming in the vicinity. It was also when Dover Township, encompassing much more that it occupies today, became the county seat of the newly formed Ocean County. A new railroad through Toms River fueled further growth, although the population didn't rise above 10,000 for the first half of the 20th century.
The completion of the Garden State Parkway, which passes directly through the town, caused Toms River to sprawl beyond the downtown core, with droves of new residents raising the population to over 50,000 before 1980. In 1998, the Toms River Little League team was declared the victor of the World Series, which was celebrated by a parade on Route 37, now named to honor the victory.
The official name of Dover Township was changed to Toms River Township in 2006 following a referendum.
In 2021, it was home to 97,000 people.
This article also covers Beachwood, Island Heights, Ocean Gate, Pine Beach and South Toms River, but not the portion of Toms River Township on Pelican Island or the Barnegat Peninsula.
Toms River is 90 minutes from Newark Liberty International Airport and an hour from Atlantic City International Airport. Those wanting to travel to the nearby regions including Atlantic City can use the SJTA TransIT Link shuttle to travel between Atlantic City International Airport and the Pleasantville Bus Terminal. At the bus terminal you can catch another NJ Transit bus to Ocean County. Car rental services are available at both airports.
- 1 Ocean County Airport (MJX IATA), 101 Airport Rd, Bayville, ☏ +1 732-797-1077, firstname.lastname@example.org. A general-aviation airport served by Ocean Aire. The airport hosts the Ocean County Fair every July.
Amtrak does not have a station in Toms River, but at stations in Point Pleasant approximately 20 miles away and in Trenton, New Brunswick, and Princeton Junction, around 40 miles away. New Jersey Transit trains also serve Point Pleasant, which is about 16 miles away by car and is connected by Ocean Ride to Lakewood Terminal, which in turn is served by NJ Transit buses to Toms River.
New Jersey Transit buses arrive approximately four times an hour, twice en route from New York to Atlantic City and twice en route from Atlantic City to New York. The local New Jersey Transit bus service runs up and down the main north-south route (Route 9) between Lakewood and Atlantic City. Those from Philadelphia and points west can ride the bus to Atlantic City, which is directly connected to Toms River by bus.
The main bus station is on Highland Parkway South, within walking distance of downtown. Other stops include the Ocean County Mall and Ocean County College, served by NJ Transit Bus 67 from Newark. Buses 137 and 559 also stop at the station and come from New York and Atlantic City, respectively.
Ocean Ride provides transport from the mall to downtown every day except Sundays after Labor Day weekend before May 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day.
Toms River is located off the Garden State Parkway exit 82(A) which leads visitors to the main commercial corridor, NJ-37. Downtown is easily accessible from exit 81. NJ-70 passes through Toms River from the west.
There are marinas and docks for small craft to park, though most of them require a fee to rent.
A car is the best method for getting around Toms River and the surrounding area. There are free parking lots along West Water Street and metered streetside parking by the Ocean County Library and other downtown streets.
- 2 Municipal Garage (Public Parking), Main St and W Water St. M-F after 5PM, Sa-Su. A three-level parking garage. Free on Saturdays.
- 3 Ocean County Garage, Madison Ave (Next to Hooper Ave). A multi-level parking garage. Free.
There are a number of taxi services around and within Toms River as well as services like Uber and Lyft. Fares vary.
- 1 Ocean Taxi, 1350 U.S. 9, ☏ +1 848 448-1231. 4AM-2AM. Email via online contact form.
By bike and on footEdit
Downtown is more walkable than other sections of the town. The bus terminal is about 15 minutes by foot from the heart of downtown Toms River. There are places to rent bikes to get around for the day.
The Hidden History trail passes by local historical sites as well as museums and halls-of-fame dedicated to them. There are QR codes to learn about each site. Also, look out for statues on Washington Street and murals near Main Street.
- 1 Cattus Island Park, 1170 Cattus Island Blvd, ☏ +1 732-270-6960. 7AM-dusk. Includes many miles of trails with unspoiled views of Silver Bay. There is a small environmental center to learn about local flora and fauna of this bayside environment. In the park, there are places to go fishing, crabbing, cycling, and picnicking. Free.
- 2 Huddy Park. This park in downtown Toms River hosts a replica constructed in 1931 of the Revolutionary War fort that was once standing near the site. The park is named after Joshua Huddy. Nearby is one of the anchors of the USS Randolph, an aircraft carrier which played a role in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II.
- 3 Insectropolis (The Bugseum of New Jersey), 1761 Route 9 (Route 9 northbound), ☏ +1 732-349-7090. F-Su 10AM-3PM, school summer vacation M-F 10AM-3PM. The museum that has everything about insects! Here you can not only learn about bugs, but also see them live. There is a praying mantis statue on the road to the museum. $10, free for children 2 and under.
- 4 John F. Peto Studio Museum, 102 Cedar Ave, Island Heights, ☏ +1 732-929-4949, email@example.com. Apr-Dec Sa Su 1-3PM, by appointment otherwise. A showcase of John Frederick Peto, known for trompe l’oeil-style paintings. Fully accessible. $10 adults, $8 seniors and students.
- 5 Ocean County Artists’ Guild, 22 Chestnut Ave, Island Heights, ☏ +1 732-270-3111, firstname.lastname@example.org. M W 10AM–3PM; Tu Th noon–5PM; F 10AM–4PM; Sa Su 1-4PM. Artists from all over the county exhibit their works here.
- 6 Ocean County Historical Museum, 26 Hadley Ave, ☏ +1 732-341-1880, email@example.com. 1st and 3rd Sa of month, 1–3PM by appointment. The museum building was named after Elizabeth Sculthorp Force, a local social reformer. On the lower level, the Birdsall Room showcases the county's past, while the Pauline S. Miller Exhibit holds temporary exhibits. Historical clothing can be found on the upper level in the Pierson Emporium. The online bookstore sells vintage maps and local history books. Free.
- 7 Toms River Seaport Society & Maritime Museum, 78 East Water St, ☏ +1 732-349-9209. Tu Th Sa 10AM-2PM. A small museum featuring historic boats from around the Jersey Shore, with a library and gift shop.
- 1 Winding River Skating Center, 1211 Whitesville Rd, ☏ +1 732-244-0720. Public skating, indoors: M W F 10AM-noon, Tu Th 10AM-2PM, Sa Su 2-4PM; Public skating, outdoors: W 4-6PM, Sa Su 10AM-noon. There is an outdoor rink and an indoor rink, which has vending machines and an upper seating area. There is a DJ every Friday 8:30-10:30PM and Saturday 8-10PM. General admission: $7-10/adult, $6-8/child or senior; $4-5 skate rental; Freestyle $15-20; DJ Skate $15; Open Hockey $15.
- 2 Bey Lea Golf Course, 1536 North Bay Ave, ☏ +1 732-349-0566. Mar, Dec 9AM-dusk, Apr, Sep-Nov 8AM-dusk, May-Aug 7AM-dusk. This golf course is on the easier side, with larger greens than usual. Golf attire required. $34 weekdays, $41 weekends.
- 3 Exit 82 Theatre, 73 Main St (2nd floor), firstname.lastname@example.org. A nonprofit performing arts organization with theatrical programming featuring its own performing arts academy of secondary school students, as well as adults. A BYOB venue for those over 21. $30.
- 4 Jakes Branch County Park, 1100 Double Trouble Rd, Beachwood, ☏ +1 732-281-2750. 7AM-dusk. Tucked in the Pine Barrens, this park provides several miles of trails, sports fields, and an educational nature center with an observation deck. Free.
- 5 Toms River Skate Park, 1545 N Bay Ave (next to the Castle Park playground). The skating facility, with a bowl and structures for street-style skating, is illuminated after dusk. Free (waiver required, available at 1555 N Bay Ave).
On the riverEdit
There are several companies that provide kayak and sailboat rentals for exploring by boat.
- 6 River Lady, 1 Robbins Pkwy, ☏ +1 732-349-8664, email@example.com. May-Oct. Cruise along the only genuine paddleboat in New Jersey. There are several options available, including a sightseeing cruise. Tickets must be paid in advance. $15-60/person depending on cruise type and age.
- 7 Route 37 Watersports, 3430 Rte 37 E, ☏ +1 732-270-0075, firstname.lastname@example.org. Jet Ski, waverunner and boat rentals, no boating license required, however age restrictions are in force; bring valid photo ID. Carolina skiff from $160 for a half day.
Toms River has some beaches on the mainland, though not as popular as those on the Barnegat Peninsula.
A beach badge is required to access the main beaches of Toms River Township. They can be purchased for a single day, an entire week, or a full season. Beach badges can only be purchased in-person using cash or check, and are only valid for a specific municipality. They are sold at discounted prices starting in April before the season at the Recreation Administration Office on 1810 Warren Pointe Road, or at full price during the season there or on the beach. Prices shown are for daily badges purchased during the season.
- 8 Shelter Cove. Beach with free showers, playgrounds, softball fields, tennis and basketball courts. $10-11.
- Toms River Pride Festival, Washington St. Every June, on a weekend. This downtown gathering of the regional LGBT community is one of the largest on the Jersey Shore. Pop-op food vendors and live performances. Family-friendly.
- Comfort Food Festival, Washington St. Every September, food trucks from all over the Jersey Shore provide opportunities to sample the local cuisine for the afternoon. Live music, crafts, kids activities and beer + winegarden. Free.
- Toms River Halloween Parade, Main St. Every October 31 since 1919, one of the largest Halloween parades in the region features decorated vehicles and floats by people of all ages.
There are many local shops downtown. There are several large grocery stores that serve the area as well as a number of smaller specialty stores.
- 1 Ocean County Mall, 1201 Hooper Ave, ☏ +1 732-244-8200. 10AM-9:30PM. Mostly a single-story mall with typical mall fare, but also with more local chains such as Turning Point (serving breakfast) and Rare Pairs (selling sneakers). Ocean Ride has its hub here, and there's a place to get brochures about Ocean County. There is also a lifestyle center at the site of the former Sears.
- 2 Main Street Antique Center, 251 Main St, ☏ +1 732-349-5764. M-F 10AM-3:30PM, Sa 10AM-4:30PM, Su noon-4:30PM. Beyond the seemingly small facade, there is a wide selection of items, including glassware, furniture, and decor. The staff there are friendly and knowledgeable.
Eat and drinkEdit
Toms River is home to many family-owned Italian restaurants.
- 1 Enzo's Caffe Italia, 2414 NJ-37 East (Westbound side), ☏ +1 732-929-0808. Su noon-9:30PM, M 11AM-9:30PM, W Th 11AM-9:30PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM. Traditional Italian dishes, including pizza. $40.
- 2 Capone's, 17 Washington St, ☏ +1 732-473-1777, email@example.com. M-Th 10AM-10PM, F 10AM-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM. Family-owned Italian restaurant with a wood-fired oven. $25.
- 3 Shogun Legacy, 1536 North Bay Ave (on Bey Lea golf course), ☏ +1 732-286-9888, firstname.lastname@example.org. Lunch: M–F noon–3PM; dinner: M–Th 5–10PM, F 5–11PM, Sa 4:30–11PM, Su 3–10PM. Serves fresh Japanese cuisine. They have hibachi tables which are great for birthdays and a group of people. Also has tables for sushi and other menu selections. $25.
- 4 Four Seasons, 823 Fischer Blvd, ☏ +1 732-270-8778. 7:30AM - 9PM. Serves breakfast, pizza baked in a brick oven, lunch and dinner. $27.
- 5 Aqua Blu, 3410 NJ-37 East, ☏ +1 732-270-1180. W-Sa 2-10PM, Su 4-10PM. An American restaurant serving Italian-inspired foods made from locally-sourced ingredients, as well as a wide selection of alcoholic beverages. The menus change every season, and there is live entertainment almost every day. $60.
- 6 The Office Lounge, 820 Main St, ☏ +1 732-349-0800. 11:30AM-2AM. This popular restaurant, serving sushi, pizza and other items, is busy all times of day, especially during lunch, when it is packed with workers from downtown. Also a popular bar on weekend nights. $40.
- 7 Water Street Bar & Grille, 4 Robbins Pkwy, ☏ +1 732-240-4800. Su-Th 11:30AM-midnight, F Sa 11:30AM-1AM. Good waterfront restaurant in the riverfront area to visit in the summer months to enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday, fresh seafood and watch as the boats pull into the docks at the end of the day. It is moderately priced with a full bar. $45.
- 8 Villa Amalfi, 1006 Lakewood Road (NJ-166), ☏ +1 732-286-6044. M-Th 11AM-9PM F-Su 11AM-10PM. An Italian restaurant with large windows overlooking a garden and a bar serving wine by the bottle. $36.
- 1 Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 815 Route 37 West, ☏ +1 732-341-2400. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Along with a conference center, this hotel also has an outdoor pool, business center with computers, restaurant and fitness center. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel. $150.
- 2 Days Hotel, ☏ +1 732-244-4000. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. The employees there can cater to those who speak a foreign language and those with disabilities. An indoor pool. The on-site Palms Restaurant serves breakfast and dinner. Two ballrooms, a business center, and a gym are also available on the premises. $160.
- 3 Howard Johnson Hotel, 955 Hooper Avenue, ☏ +1 732-244-1000, toll-free: +1 732-908-7694. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Two-storey, pet-friendly hotel with an indoor pool, restaurant, free Wi-Fi and breakfast. $130.
- 4 Mathis House, 600 Main St, ☏ +1 732-818-7580, email@example.com. A Victorian-style bed and breakfast with modern luxuries. Every suite has its own feel. $140.
- 5 Ocean View Inn & Suites, 2122 NJ-37 E (Westbound side), ☏ +1 732-929-3333, firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A budget hotel with balconies (albeit without an ocean view), basic amenities and a pool.
You'll be glad to hear that crime isn't as prevalent in Toms River compared to cities such as Atlantic City, Camden and Trenton.
- 2 Toms River Branch Library (Ocean County Library), 101 Washington St, ☏ +1 732 349-6200. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1-5PM. In addition to Wi-Fi access, the library also has publicly-available computers and a 3D printing service.
- Seaside Heights can be reached by crossing the Mathis Bridge carrying Route 37.
- Lakewood, north of Toms River, has a rapidly growing population with Jewish influence.
- Southern Ocean County has some petting zoos, along with the Albert Music Hall and Tuckerton Seaport.
- Long Beach Island, further south along the shore, is known for the Barnegat Lighthouse.
- Atlantic City, the state's gambling hub, is accessible by taking the GSP South to the Atlantic City Expressway.
|Routes through Toms River|
|Newark ← Lakewood ←||N S||→ Lacey → Cape May|
|New York City ← Lakewood ←||N S||→ Lacey → Cape May|
|Pennsauken ← Lakehurst–Manchester ←||W E||→ Brick → Wall|