Renaissance at Manalapan is one of many 55+ communities located of U.S. Route 9 in New Jersey.

The longest U.S. highway in New Jersey, U.S. Route 9 begins at the Cape May–Lewes Ferry Terminal in Cape May and runs north all the way to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee. For most of the way, it consists of a two-lane road that runs parallel to the Garden State Parkway.

However, upon entering Monmouth County, the road transitions into a multilane highway as it snakes its way through Freehold, Manalapan, Old Bridge, and Woodbridge before merging with U.S. Route 1. For much of this stretch through Monmouth and Middlesex counties, the roadway is lined with businesses, shopping centers, master-planned communities, and much more. Chances are if you live in Central New Jersey, you take Route 9 to where you’re going almost daily.

If you’re considering living in an active adult community in Central New Jersey, it makes good sense to live close to Route 9. You’ll have easy access to the main artery that connects you to everything you need and you’ll be able to reach the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway quickly and easily. Besides, Route 9 gets mentioned in Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run.” What’s more New Jersey than that?

Here are five active adult communities close to Route 9 worth considering.

The Villages - Howell

Not to be confused with the sprawling The Villages community in Florida, this one is a bit more intimate, checking in at 670 homes total. The Villages in Howell has a lot to offer within the community borders, including a clubhouse with fitness center, woodworking shop, and cards room. Outside, residents get to relax at the pool or play some bocce and tennis when the weather’s nice. Cross over Route 9 and you’ll find yourself in Manasquan River Linear Park. Or, head north and you’ll be at Freehold Raceway or Freehold Raceway Mall in just ten minutes.

Renaissance at Manalapan - Manalapan

We head north on Route 9 to Renaissance at Manalapan, an upscale 127-home community built between 2000 and 2001. You won’t ever have to go far for whatever you need as two large shopping centers, including Manalapan EpiCentre, are located just around the corner. This stretch of Route 9 is peppered with retailers and restaurants throughout, including Manalapan Diner (because what’s the point of living in NJ if you’re not close to a diner?). You’re also directly between Manalapan and Freehold to maximize your options. There are also plenty of good reasons not to leave the community too, including an extensive clubhouse and a heated pool.

Covered Bridge - Manalapan

Staying in Manalapan, we head to Covered Bridge. Longtime residents of the area have no-doubt driven past the community, seen the actual covered bridge out front, and wondered what’s going on inside the community. Turns out, a lot. Covered Bridge includes over 1,500 condos and townhomes, two clubhouses, two pools, lots of sports courts, and plenty more. It’s also right next door to Pine Brook Golf Course where residents receive a discount. A five-to-ten minute drive in either direction on Route 9 reveals a multitude of dining and shopping options, including Jerry & Harvey’s for all your deli favorites.

Madison Crossing at Birch Hill - Old Bridge

Just a few minutes up Route 9 will take us to Madison Crossing at Birch Hill, a 55+ community just off the highway that includes 228 residences, ranging between condos, townhomes, and villas. The community is directly across the road from a Costco and IHOP while The Shoppes at Old Bridge, featuring some of the top retailers, is a five-minute drive away. The community itself includes a stylish 7,500 square-foot clubhouse that offers a fitness center, arts and crafts studio, grand ballroom, and more. Outdoors, residents can lounge by the heated outdoor pool, play tennis or bocce, or dig around the community gardening plots.

The Plaza Grande at Old Bridge

We head just a little bit north on Route 9 and end up in The Plaza Grande at Old Bridge, an age-restricted community boasting 279 condo residences in three buildings that include elevators, tastefully designed lobbies, lounges, and club rooms. The community also includes a 7,000 square-foot Grande Club, outdoor pool, community pond, and putting green among its amenities. Pretty much all your retail and restaurant options are available via Route 9 and there is also a public bus stop just next to the community that heads north to New York City.