A popular summertime activity on the East Coast is to go “down the shore.” That is down the Jersey Shore.
New Jersey’s coastline consists of 130 miles of almost 50 beaches.
White sand, delightful towns, fun-filled boardwalks, and family-friendly parks dot the shoreline from Sandy Hook to Cape May.
Hurricane Sandy in 2012 destroyed swaths of beaches. Much rebuilding has been done and beaches such as Asbury Park and Sandy Hook are making comebacks.
But the Jersey Shore is known for much more than its beaches–and that MTV reality show stereotype. It has also become a destination for its culinary, music and art scenes.
Here are five things to love about the Jersey Shore.
Jersey Shore’s boardwalks have something for everyone, young and old. Wildwood has more than 100 rides and attractions. From Point Pleasant Beach’s boardwalk, you can watch fishing boats arrive. On Long Branch’s boardwalk, you can lounge in a private club, Avenue Le Club. On Asbury Park’s boardwalk, you can shop at vintage boutiques. Spring Lake’s 1.5-mile boardwalk has no commercial businesses on it, but it’s the perfect place for a peaceful stroll or jog along the white sand beach.
A great food scene
From funnel cakes to lobster spaghetti, food trucks to cafes, beach-goers can have any craving met. Asbury Park has food shacks such as the Crepe Shop and Mogo Korean Fusion Tacos on its boardwalk. It also has sit-down establishments like Pop’s Garage, a fun Mexican bar and restaurant, and Asbury Oyster Bar. Long Branch has the upscale Avenue restaurant, with dishes such as Boeuf Bourguignon and lobster spaghetti. The Shore is also known for its authentic Italian restaurants. Expect to find delicious pasta and pizza–as good as you would find in Italy–in any town.
Take the Bon Jovi tour of the Jersey Shore
Music and art
Asbury Park has some of the most famous musical venues on the Jersey Shore, including the Wonder Bar and the Stone Pony, which launched the careers of Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Atlantic City also draws top musical acts with its casino scene. Outpost, a new space by The Participation Agency, recently opened, also in Asbury Park. It is a “rest stop” for creatives,” featuring amenities that include a Gibson recording studio, a yoga and fitness center, an outdoor deck area, and laundry and showers. It is the second Outpost by the experiential marketing firm. (The first one is in El Paso.) Several towns have art galleries and artists’ organizations that kick into high gear during the summer with openings and other events. And of course, there’s plenty of street art, especially in Asbury Park.
You can go high-low when shopping on the Jersey Shore. In Long Branch, you can get athletic gear at the high-end Lulemon. Expect funkier shops in Asbury Park. Bettie’s Bombshells sells 1950s style outfits, bathing suits and accessories. A sign outside urges customers to “try on Marilyn Monroe’s favorite lipstick.” Spring Lake may have a non-commercial boardwalk, but there are about 20 clothing shops along Third Avenue. Red Bank has a booming downtown with ever-evolving boutiques.
No longer do beach-goers have to stay at seaside motels or rental homes. New boutique hotels with funky bars and design-driven guestrooms have opened in recent years. Long Branch has the Bungalow Hotel in Pier Village with its decorative rooms, a lounge with a pool table, and outdoor patio. Asbury Park has the Asbury Hotel, which has a rooftop bar, another rooftop venue where films are shown, a lobby where musical acts perform, and a swimming pool with a food truck. The Virginia Hotel in Cape May has the feel of a B&B with a front porch and only 24 rooms but the amenities of a boutique hotel.