Jersey Shore, NJ Weekend Vacations Getaways

Jersey Shore, NJ

Jersey Shore, NJ Overview

It is unfortunate that the image many have of New Jersey is represented by the oil refineries surrounding Newark (Liberty) Airport and the New Jersey Turnpike. In truth, the State’s nickname, “The Garden State” more accurately reflects its true nature. While the state is one of the most densely populated in the country, large areas are devoted to vegetable and fruit farming and horse breeding. The northwestern part of the state is mountainous and sparsely populated and the eastern part of the state enjoys some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

Here are some things I bet you didn’t know about New Jersey:

  • New Jersey has the most diners in the world
  • There are more racehorses in New Jersey than in Kentucky
  • New Jersey is home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island
  • New Jersey is the world leader in blueberry and cranberry production
  • 80% of what the US imports comes through the Elizabeth Seaport
  • The light bulb, phonograph and motion picture were invented by Thomas Edison in New Jersey
  • The first Indian Reservation was in the Watchung Mountains
  • The first baseball game was played in Hoboken
  • The first college football game was played in New Brunswick

The “Jersey Shore” is the area bordering the Atlantic Ocean and stretches from Sandy Hook (about 45 minutes from NYC) down past Atlantic City. Honky Tonk towns like Seaside Heights share the coastline with a revived Asbury Park, sleepy summer towns like Bay Head and Stone Harbor and beautiful year round communities like Spring Lake and Brielle and the gambling mecca of Atlantic City. My favorite section is the area from Red Bank, south to Bay Head and including Long Branch, Belmar, Spring Lake, Manasquan, Brielle and Point Pleasant among others.

I love this area, grew up here in a kind of Mayberry existence, lived away for 10 years and then moved back to bring up my family. My closest friends, many of whom still live here, are from my high school days. The area has magnificent beaches, wonderful restaurants, great places to stay and a host of things to keep you busy. It is a great weekend retreat.


When To Go

While the summer months offer the most to do, there is something awfully romantic about a walk on a deserted beach and lunch in a cozy pub beside a roaring fire during the winter.

Like most resort areas, the population at the Jersey Shore swells dramatically during the summer months, but it is not unbearable. There is certainly more traffic and more people, but the roadways are not clogged like the Hamptons and the streets are not jammed with people like in Newport.

Getting There

Our “Jersey Shore” is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from New York and Philadelphia, an hour from Princeton and an hour from Newark Liberty Airport and 1 1/2 hours from Philadelphia airport. Private planes can fly into Monmouth  Airport in Wall and there are marina slips, like Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle, available for boaters.

Getting Around

The area is fairly spread out so you will need a car to get around, however Uber is readily available should you choose not to have a car.

Things To Do

There are miles of clean, well maintained beaches supported by the sale of daily and seasonal beach badges. Daily badges cost between $4-$8 depending on the beach. Monmouth County boasts 6 public golf courses, two of which are consistently rated in the Top 100 by Golf Digest Magazine. There are miles of bike and nature walks through parks and reservoirs and Brielle is the deep sea fishing capital of the East with some of the best tuna and shark fishing anywhere. You can enjoy a day at the races at the magnificent Monmouth Park racetrack or take an hour’s drive and try your luck at the tables in Atlantic City. There are open air concerts with big name entertainment, art shows in the little beach towns and the largest hot air balloon festival in the country is just a short drive away. You can rent boats and kayaks, play tennis or just relax in a hammock.

Beaches

All of the beaches at the Jersey Shore are clean and well maintained by the individual town’s beach departments. Beach maintenance is supported by the sale of daily and seasonal beach badges. Cost is $4-8 per day. Visitors can enjoy pristine beaches from Sandy Hook south to Island Beach State Park. Manasquan and Point Pleasant beaches are more family oriented with snack bars, arcades and rides. Spring Lake and Sea Girt are more adult friendly and are quieter, fewer children.

Golf

Monmouth County offers 6 public golf courses, two of which Howell and Hominy Hill, are consistently rated among the top public courses in the country. Our choice is Hominy Hill in Colts Neck, about a 15 minute drive from the Shore. Great layout, well maintained, well managed. Zagat called it, “. Augusta of New Jersey.” Colts Neck Golf Club is semi-private and offers a wonderful and challenging trek.

Tennis

Virtually all towns offer municipal tennis courts like Manasquan (2nd Ave. Stockton Beach Park), Brielle (Union lane and South Street) and Spring Lake (Passaic Ave.)

Walking/Running/Biking

The “boards” as the boardwalks are called are ideal and scenic for walking or running along the ocean. Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, Avon, Spring Lake, Sea Girt, Manasquan, Point Pleasant and Seaside all have boardwalks. Bikes are only allowed on the boardwalks before 9am in season, anytime out of season. The Manasquan Reservoir, located about 20 minutes away is a natural preserve and has a beautiful 5 mile trail through the woods and along the reservoir. Wonderful place to walk, run or bike. There is a lengthy bike path through the woods, starting on North Main Street in Manasquan and stretching out all the way to Trenton. Bikes can be rented a Shore Riders Bike Rentals in Point Pleasant.

Kayaking

Kayaking in and around the Manasquan River is both great exercise and wonderful way to spend an hour or two. Glide past the beautiful riverfront homes of Brielle or marvel at the wildlife in the small tributaries of the river. Now there’s a place in Manasquan that rents kayaks by the hour or day. Paddle Out in Manasquan at 537 Main Street opens at 10am, but if you call the night before they’ll meet you as early as 8am and there are special early bird rates. regular hourly rates are $20 single and $30 double. They have car top holders and also offer guided tours.

Gambling

Gambling and top notch shows are about an hour and fifteen to an hour and thirty minutes away in Atlantic City. Drive yourself or contact Concorde Limousine (see “Good to Know”) for a car.

Theatre

We are fortunate to have three theater companies in the area. Spring Lake Theatre Company 3rd Ave, Spring Lake,  Algonquin Arts Theater in Manasquan and the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank. All produce Broadway type shows and the Algonquin and Basie also feature live music concerts.

Fishing

Surf fishing is very popular in the area with striped bass and blue fish the usual catch. Young guy recently caught a 52lb striper in the surf. You’ll have to bring your own pole, but you can get everything else you need at Bogan’s Basin in Brielle, on Higgins Ave. Brielle is the deep sea fishing capital of the East offering both charter boats and party boats. Charter boat fees run about $500 per half day and $1100 full day. The local’s choice for charter boats is the Captain Kel and the Barb Gail IV, the Jamaica II for fluke and the Paramount for sea bass.

Horseracing

Monmouth Park Rt. 36, Long Branch No better way to spend a cloudy day than the beautiful Monmouth Park. Clean, well managed facility with manicured grounds, top horses and jockeys. Season runs late May to late September. Watch the races in the Clubhouse, less crowded than the grandstand and it has dining facilities.

Concerts

The PNC Bank Arts Center Located in Holmdel about a 30 minute drive north on the Garden State Parkway. This outdoor amphitheatre is a beautiful venue and hosts some of the top acts touring each summer. Tailgate early in the parking lot on grassy meridians and enjoy great sounds under the summer sky. Count Basie Theater is on Monmouth Ave. in Red Bank This small indoor theater offers interesting concert and theater productions throughout the year. It’s intimate setting gets you up close to the performers.

Shopping

There are many quaint and interesting shops in the towns of Spring Lake, Manasquan and Point Pleasant. Two full size malls in Eatontown and Toms River are within a 20 minute drive and there are 2 factory outlet malls one in Tinton Falls and a very large one in Jackson about 20 minutes away on Rt. 195.

Dont Miss

  • Morning coffee at the Manasquan Inlet
  • Back porch at the Parker House after the beach
  • Cocktails outside at Waypoint 622
  • A rainy day at Harpoon Willys
  • Dinner at Shipwreck Grill
  • A day at Monmouth  Park

 

The Best Of...

News and Resources

Check out ShoreFoodie for restaurant deals and entertainment. Take a look at the weekend edition of the Asbury Park Press.

Food & Drink

Breakfast/Brunch

Committed Pig, Main Street in downtown Manasquan. Creative and delicious breakfasts. John & Elaine’s, Rt. 35 Point Pleasant. The local’s favorite place. Love the cozy booths in the main room. Pancakes to die for, try the pumpkin pancakes in the Fall.  Buttered Biscuit, Bradley Beach. Worth the trip no matter where you are staying. Best corned beef hash around. Fresh squeezed OJ, grilled crumb cake. Great home fries. Turning Point, the Jersey Shore’s own “chain” serves breakfast, brunch and lunch in a stylish setting with great food. Locations in Sea Girt, Brick, Long Branch, Little Silver, Holmdel and Manalapan. The River Cafe, Brielle, a local’s favorite where you are more than likely to see someone you know. Toast City Diner is also a local’s favorite with locations in Asbury Park and Red Bank. Enjoy brunch on the water at Rooney’s Oceanfront in Long Branch, Salt Creek Grille in Rumson and Drifthouse by David Burke in Sea Bright.

Lunch

In the warmer weather the Porch at the Parker House in Sea Girt is delightful, as is the outside bar at Waypoint 622 in Brielle. In cooler weather, head to Rod’s or Harrigan’s in Sea Girt, St. Stephen’s in Spring Lake Heights or Harpoon Willy’s on the river in Manasquan for excellent pub food.  Half Moon Point in Point Pleasant has a delightful covered outside terrace.

If you are looking for a leisurely lunch with wonderful ocean views, we love the French bistro Avenue in Long Branch. Excellent food and wonderful wine list. raw bar. Deck overlooking the ocean.

After the Beach

Parker House Back Porch 1st Avenue, Sea Girt. Mini burgers ($1.50), shrimp and clams, 1 lb lobsters ($8), lots of cold beer and reggae music make this outdoor porch behind the Parker House a favorite of the locals. Tough to get a table after 3:30pm. (Seasonal) Martell’s Tiki Bar Ocean Avenue, Point Pleasant. If you are looking for something a little more wild after the beach, this is the place. Right on the ocean, tons of people, 4 bars, live music and dancing. Frozen drinks, decent appetizers, very cold beer. (Seasonal) Waypoint 622 Green Ave, Brielle. Sit outside overlooking the Manasquan  River. Raw bar, outside grill. Good appetizers and drinks. Cold beer. Weekend entertainment. Outside the Box (Shrimp Box) Point Pleasant. On the river, great people. Fresh squeezed OJ. Good apps. Bar Anticipation, Lake Como. Great outdoor bars. Excellent apps, fresh squeezed juices. Live entertainment.

Pub

Harpoon Willy’s, Manasquan, on the river. Great view, a roaring fire in winter, music many nights and delicious food. Rod’s Olde Irish Tavern. Washington Blvd., Sea Girt. Cozy booths, lots of TV’s, great food, fun bartenders, well trained wait staff. Perfect place for lunch, after the beach or Sunday brunch. Everyone feels welcome here. Make their own croutons, salad dressings, chicken fingers (the buffalo are the best), roast their own turkeys and they offer the best prime rib anywhere but usually only on Friday nights. Best place for St. Patrick’s Day or any televised sporting event. Lots of fresh daily specials including fish. Decent wine list, the hottest beers, very good Sunday brunch, very reasonable prices.

Steak Sandwich

Harrigan’s Pub. Rt. 71 Sea Girt. Top sirloin comes out sizzling in its own garlic butter with fries. $14.95. Also HUGE shrimp, great chili and burgers. Favorite of the locals.

Steak

Lots of good steak at the Jersey Shore, but these are our favorites: Brandl, Belmar, Prime 13, Point Pleasant, Drifthouse by David Burke, Sea Bright

Lobster

Red’s Lobster Pot Channel Drive in Point Pleasant. No frills, BYOB spot on the water. All kinds of seafood, but people come for the lobster. Get there around sunset for a glorious display from Mother Nature. No reservations.

Raw Bar

Opened in 2020, Point Lobster Bar & Grill in Point Pleasant has a fantastic raw bar and delicious wines to wash down your favorite shellfish. Rooney’s Oceanfront in Long Branch has a great raw bar and ocean views.

Crabs

The Shore’s best crab shack is Bum Rogers in South Seaside Park. A bit south, but worth the trip. Spend the day at Island Beach State Park and then have some crab’s on your way home.

Pizza

I’ve enjoyed the pizza at Squan Tavern in Manasquan my whole life. It is still my go-to pizza place in the area. Pete & Elda’s. Rt. 35, Neptune. Super thin crust pizza that locals will drive miles to get. Eat an Extra Large by yourself and you get a t-shirt. DeLorenzo’s in Robbinsville. It is a 40 minute drive from the Shore, but if you are a pizza fanatic, this is like going to the Pizza Mecca. They will take a reservation, but you better be there on time. This is, however, the best pizza you will ever experience.

Cocktails

When you visit the Jersey Shore you want water views or fireplaces with your cocktails…oh and the cocktails should be good too! Waterfront restaurants, In no particular order. (*) denotes fireplace or also good for winter.

Jack Baker’s Wharfside – Point Pleasant
The Shrimp Box – Point Pleasant
Waypoint 622 – Brielle
Harpoon Willy’s – Manasquan (*)
La Terrazza – Belmar
The Columns – Avon
Robinson Ale House – Asbury Park (*)
Langosta Lounge – Asbury Park
Mister C’s – Allenhurst (*)
Rooney’s Oceanfront – Long Branch (*)
Avenue – Long Branch (*)
Drifthouse by David Burke – Sea Bright (*)
Salt Creek Grille – Rumson (*)

After Dinner Fun

The club scene is strong at Bar Anticipation, D’Jais, The Headliner and The Columns. More sedate entertainment is available at Harpoon Willy’s, Half Moon Point, Reef & Barrel, St Stephens Green and more.  Visit ShoreFoodie.com for entertainment schedules.

Special Things

Sunrise

If you are an early riser, stop at the 7-Eleven on Main Street in Manasquan for coffee (this is where the locals get their coffee, fresh all day) and a newspaper and then head on down Main Street to the beach. Turn right at the end onto 1st Ave and drive to the inlet. Park your car and walk up to the pavilion overlooking the beach and inlet. The sun will be splashing over the beach, fishing trawlers will be heading to sea and the surfers will be catching the first waves of the day. It’s peaceful, the air is fresh a great way to start the day.

Picnic

Head to Joe Leone’s in Sea Girt, Point Pleasant or Manasquan for your lunch and then the Bottle Shop in Spring Lake if you want some wine. Best choices for your picnic are; The Lake in Spring Lake, The Manasquan Reservoir, Howell. This 5 mile nature preserve around the reservoir takes you through the woods and beside the water. Plenty of private spots for an intimate picnic. Fisherman’s Cove, Manasquan. Throw down a blanket, watch the boats go by and enjoy this protected nature preserve

Greetings From Asbury Park

Immortalized by Bruce Springsteen in his debut album, Asbury Park, NJ has suffered from urban blight for many years. The once glamorous seaside community was beset by political corruption, fleeing merchants and declining property values.

I have fond memories of the town from growing up in the area. I saw the Rolling Stones there at Convention Hall in 1968 (how old am I?). I took dates to the Paramount Theater where they piped in clouds as you were watching a movie and my friends and I used to drive to Asbury for cardboard “containers” of beer after the bars closed.

 Thankfully there is a resurgence under way that makes Asbury, once again a great place for an evening. Great restaurants, bars and entertainment. Perfect for a pub crawl.

Water Taxi

Pleasant Water Taxi. Sample six restaurants on the Manasquan  River by water taxi. Cocktails and appetizers at one, dinner at another and dessert at a third. Taxi stops every hour. Beer and soda served on board. $16 for the night. $20 on Saturday. No reservations required. Pick up taxi at Waypoint 622 or River House in Brielle.

A Day at the Races

Late morning head to Pier Village on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch for lunch. Browse the wonderful little shops in the Village and have lunch at Avenue, a delightful and elegant brasserie right on the ocean. Inside is stylish with a sleek bar, high ceilings and a wonderful fireplace. Outside on the deck the view is gorgeous. Excellent food, wonderful wine list. After the track, head over to the Mix Lounge on Brighton Ave in Long Branch. Best martini selection around, great snacking food and a hip atmosphere.

Where To Stay

Chateau Inn & Suites, Spring Lake

OVERVIEW of The Chateau Inn & Suites Long the standard for accommodations and service in this part of the Jersey Shore, The Chateau Inn and Suites in Spring Lake remains the choice of many, including celebrities who visit the area. They raised the bar even higher a few years ago with their departure from the...…

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Inn on Main, Manasquan

OVERVIEW of The Inn on Main We were thrilled a few years back when Inn on Main opened in our little town. There had not been many properties if this caliber in the area, so this was a welcome addition. Ideally located in the center of town, within walking distance of the train station and...…

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Ocean Place Resort & Spa, Long Branch

OVERVIEW of The Ocean Place Resort & Spa Sitting right next to the lively Pier Village with its boutique shops and restaurants, Ocean Place is the only full service hotel directly on the ocean at the Jersey Shore. The views from the rooms are spectacular up and down the beach. THE ROOMS at The Ocean...…

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Oyster Point Hotel, Red Bank

OVERVIEW of the Oyster Point Hotel Red Bank is just about the hottest town in this part of the Jersey Shore. Great restaurants, a hopping night scene, delightful shops and boutiques and wonderful antique stores are all part of a revitalization project started about 10 years ago. It is working beyond anyone’s imagination. This is...…

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The Breakers on the Ocean

OVERVIEW of The Breakers on the Ocean Nestled in the heart of the “Irish Riviera” in Spring Lake, NJ, The Breakers on the Ocean is an elegant, full service hotel, just steps from the beach and the Atlantic. A delightful wrap-around porch offers the opportunity to soak in the ocean views while enjoying a book...…

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Where To Eat

Avenue

Towering ceilings and lots of windows make Avenue seem somewhat cavernous at first glance, but then you notice the warming fireplace, the long stainless bar, the booths in the bar area, a raw bar right out on the floor and of course, the amazing ocean views. The beige palette is soothing, the staff young and…

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Brandl

There's two reasons locals love Brandl. The first is that the food is awfully good and the second is that everybody likes chef-owner Chris Brandl himself. We'll talk about the food in a minute. Brandl is one of those guys who never stops giving of himself and his talent. He's involved in virtually every local event…

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Drifthouse By David Burke

Acclaimed celebrity chef David Burke is a Jersey Shore product (he worked at the original Fromagerie) and he came back two years ago to open Drifthouse by David Burke in Sea Bright on the second level of the Driftwood Cabana Club. Burke's 30+ year career began at the Culinary Institute of America and has included…

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Fratello’s

Everyone has their "go to" restaurant, that place where you feel so comfortable, it comes to mind every time you think about dining out. Fratello's is one of our "go-tos". The atmosphere is cozy, the staff is well-trained and fun, the owner is always there to greet you and the food is delicious You can…

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La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is a delightful oceanfront restaurant in Belmar serving lunch and dinner every day. Outside is a canopied patio with about 20 tables which can be closed in during inclement weather and is a delightful place to enjoy the beach beyond and people watchand there are sure some characters around! While the inside is…

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Nicholas Barrel & Roost

After 20 years as the best fine dining restaurant in New Jersey and one of the best in the country, Chef Nicholas Harary and his wife, Melissa have introduced a bold, new concept, Nicholas  Barrel & Roost, that has raised the bar for casual style restaurants. They continues to produce outstanding food, but in a…

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Pascal & Sabine

If Pascal & Sabine were in my neighborhood, I would probably eat there a couple times a week. Wonderful decor (who doesn't like booths?), excellent bistro food, a very good wine list, a fantastic Sunday brunch with live jazz and a really enjoyable staff makes this a favorite at the Jersey Shore. Pascal and Sabine are characters…

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Shipwreck Grill

When you go for dinner in the middle of the week and the parking lot is full, the bar crowded and all the tables occupied, it's a pretty good tip-off that the food is going to be good and the Shipwreck doesn't disappoint. It's become kind of the "go to" place for locals, a restaurant that delivers…

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