N.J.’s 25 best small towns, ranked, for the ultimate fall day trip

New Jersey is the nation’s most densely populated state.

And, somehow, a state teeming with small towns, New Jersey’s least-publicized asset.

The 25 towns on my best small towns list are not necessarily there because they are super shopping and eating destinations; they’re just great places to escape the rat race (or whatever it is you’re running away from). Perfect for day trips or weekend getaways, these towns are packed with history, tradition and congeniality.

Definitions of “small town” vary; all my towns have populations under 15,000. Which means why you won’t see such worthy places as Westfield, Cranford and Ridgewood on this list. Some of these towns, such as Ocean Grove and Pottersville, are sections of municipalities.

This is an expansion of a list I did in 2015, when I picked 10 towns. It was tough even picking 25 this time around. All the towns here have one thing in common: I could move into any of them tomorrow.