Atlantic City and Asbury Park are only 77 miles apart but at times the two
Jersey shore destinations seem light years away. The accents are as
different as the names of the sandwiches. You say hoagie, I say sub. When
you walk into a bar in Central Jersey, it's the Yankees and the Mets on
television. Points due south feature the Phillies.
For many Philadelphians the Jersey shore only means South Jersey. However,
most folks from the Delaware Valley are closer to Ocean Grove than Cape
May. Maybe it's time to reevaluate your Victorian destination and celebrate
the differences and revel in the similarities that Central Jersey beaches
Here's a list of reasons why beaches north of Atlantic City should be
The crispy, thin-crust pizza from Vic's in Bradley Beach has won
raves over the years.. The old Italian restaurant, which opened in 1946,
has a special sauce that's been passed down through the years in this
family owned restaurant, which has never changed hands.
Fried chicken and biscuits hardly sounds like a Jersey staple but its a
favorite at Asbury Park's Modine
. Shrimp and grits, brisket-wrapped
scallops and crab fried rice with creole crawfish sauce are some of the
Southern delicacies served above the Mason-Dixon line.
The duck confit ravioli is reason enough to venture to Point Pleasant
Beach's Poached Pear Bistro
. The dark-chocolate mousse crepe cake is a
unique treat but that's not surprising considering how inventive the chef
is at this under-heralded gem of a bistro.
You can also go raw: Atlantic City has a bunch of great raw bars but for the oyster loving crowd, there are a crazy amount of raw bars to frequent. You can't help but be drawn into the Bonney Read. The raw bar is visible from the street and those window shopping can't help but be tempted. The wild clams from Sandy Hook Bay are succulent. The oysters and clams are a steal during happy hour at Avenue in Long Branch. A great place to swill beers and down oysters is the Triton Craft Beer & Oyster Bar in Beach Haven.
There are a number of very comfortable hotels. The elegant Asbury
which opened last month, is a 5-star destination. The views are
stunning. The 54-room boutique hotel is swank but pricey. Rooms start at
about $425 a night with penthouses going for $1,100 for the evening.
The Daddy O Hotel
in Long Beach Island offers comfortable rooms at a
reasonable rate (starting at about $219). The hotel, which is open
year-round, has a rooftop bar and a vibrant restaurant (go with the
blackened shrimp tacos). Aside from a trip to the beach, you could easily
just stay and relax at the hotel.
Long Branch's Ocean Place Resort & Spa
is luxe. Majestic views and
large, comfortable rooms start at $399 for the summer. Not many hotels in
Central Jersey have a spa on the level of the Ocean Place.
Yes, everyone knows about the House That Springsteen Built aka
The Stone Pony. The iconic venue is cool but the under the radar gem in
Asbury Park is the Saint, which is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
Indie rockers Surfer Blood is slated for August 23 and Augie Meyers, who
founded the Sir Douglas Quintet with Doug Sahm, will perform September 18.
The Brighton Bar in Long Branch is a cool punk venue. The Asbury Lanes,
which was remodeled and christened by Springsteen last year, is a polished
bowling alley/concert venue.
The Best Jersey Shore Beach Town You Never Heard of:
The residents of Spring Lake keep it stealth and who can blame them? It's
quiet and comfortable on a beach that never seems crowded.The gorgeous city
with a pristine wide beaches and a two-mile boardwalk features a number of
fine restaurants, such as the Larimar
(aptly named for a town
on the down-low). There are a couple of boutiques but Spring Lake beckons
visitors to just relax.
The Beach Towns Never Shutter: With the exception of Atlantic City and to
an extent Cape May, much of South Jersey is a ghost town during the
offseason. However, Asbury Park, Bradley Beach, Long Branch, Belmar and
some other New York flavored beach towns are 24/7/365. Restaurants, gyms
and nightspots remain open well after Labor Day.