SO MUCH AWAITS DOWN THE SHORE
By Karen Holly Berliner
A romantic walk hand in hand along the beach at sunrise.
A day spent doing little more than lazing on a lounge and basking in the warm sun; being lulled by the ocean waves lapping up the sand, followed by a fun stroll on the boardwalk at sunset.
Sublime dining spots and nightlife.
Electric casinos and boutique shopping.
Elegant bed & breakfasts, golf, tennis and sailing.
The “Jersey Shore” is the region in New Jersey bordering the Atlantic Ocean and stretching from Sandy Hook all the way down to Atlantic City. Here, beachy Seaside Heights shares the coastline with a revitalized Asbury Park; the elegant Spring Lake coexists happily with the vivacious Atlantic City. Add to this, Long Branch, Belmar, Brielle, Point Pleasant and beyond and you have it all, no matter your taste and while each stop along the water has its own unique personality, the one thing that they all share is their pristine sugary beaches, top restaurants, tasteful lodging spots and good old fashioned fun.
Simply The Best perused the region and sifted through the miles of sand, in order to bring you some of the best bet treasures of the region, so why not be impulsive?
Pack some sunscreen, a bathing suit, a pair of sunglasses and go! When you think of this region, its famous boardwalks (or the Boards) immediately come to mind making Point Pleasant a good starting point. With its bustling boardwalk complete with arcades, ice-cream parlors, taffy shacks, amusement rides and gift shops. Need an educational fix? The Jenkinson’s Aquarium is located on the north end of this walk. Later on, Martell’s Tiki Bar and Jenkinson’s Club bring night sizzle. For a down to earth seafood spot, try RED’S Lobster Pot restaurant, which opened in 1993 and offers a full service restaurant on the inside. Outside, there is a beautiful deck overlooking the Manasquan River and the mouth of the inland waterway, with a lighter fare menu and counter service. Ah, to watch fishing boats pass by as the sun sets, munching on steamed lobster and raw oysters. Nothing better.
Feel like hanging your beach hat for awhile? The upscale White Sands Oceanfront Resort & Spa offers the convenience of the beach directly across the street and on property dining. Their Lido Café has casual fare and Spano’s Ristorante Italiano has a high end Italian menu. For a quainter feel, Ye Olde Cottage House offers a villa-like setting complete with courtyard area for après beach lounging. Another option, the Blue Bay Inn, allows for quick access to the restaurants, movie theatre, playhouse, upscale boutiques and spas in town. Nearby, Doris & Ed’s restaurant has been honored with many prestigious dining awards including claimed reviews from the New York Times, Bon Appétit, Gourmet and the first James Beard Award in New Jersey, to name a few. Chef Donohoe creates seasonal delights with an exceptional wine list to match. Try the braised short ribs over creamy grits and petite arugula chimi churi — it is satisfying and special. The “Boylan” root beer float is a perfect ending.
David Burke’s Fromagerie in Rumson is a light and airy space with a spectacular menu. Start with a refreshing cocktail at their newly renovated white marble bar and enjoy a palate teaser such as their Japanese pretzels soaking in a mustard oil. Their “hot and angry” lobster cocktail is memorable and might have you return for seconds before departing. The Peking duck ravioli is unexpected and delicious. For a treat, try the signature “Bronx style” filet mignon of veal on the bone, served with horseradish parsnip puree and roasted beet sauce. Fabulous.
Asbury Park is another good choice locale, with its newest hot spot, The Berkeley Hotel. Designed in the early 1920s and restored to its original grandeur with a unique eclectic flair, guests here are invited to enjoy the serene ocean views or relax in their private poolside cabanas. The Langosta Lounge situated on the Asbury Park Boardwalk offers live music, tapas Tuesdays, sushi by the sea, and farm-to-table specials. South of Asbury Park in Belmar, Matisse is a dining spot that as its name suggests, conjures up culinary masterpieces. International Executive Chef Anthony Wall has cooked all over the world and in doing such, brings a wealth of creativity and finesse to the Matisse kitchen. Look out for their Monday night Lobster/Island Music events for some unexpected weeknight magic!
Known many years ago for its sandy beaches and of course, the Miss America Pageant, Atlantic City is one of America’s top destinations for world class entertainment, fine dining, shopping and yes — casinos. For a retro experience, The Chelsea Hotel offers 50s style interiors expressed through fun leopard print chaise lounges and a purple pool table, but not to worry — The Sea Spa on site has every bit of the luxe contemporary spa accoutrements that you’d expect.
Long Branch is another best bet shore spot with a gorgeous waterfront and plenty of activities. A small boardwalk and sand-filled beaches round it out perfectly. Pamper yourself at the Ocean Place Resort where you can spend a full day just enjoying the lavish amenities. In town, Pier Village encourages a day’s shopping spree with over 30 upscale restaurants and boutiques. The Avenue in Long Branch is a charming brasserie with high ceilings, lots of windows, a long stainless steel bar and a raw bar right on the floor. The menu is classic French brasserie with daily specials like bouillabaisse, charcuterie and cheese, classic onion soup and escargot.
Long Beach Island (LBI) is perhaps one of the best known areas down the shore. An 18-mile-long island with endless white, sandy beaches and the warm Atlantic Ocean, it offers appeal to all generations. The south end of the island is lined with Victorian guest houses and even features a small, off-Broadway, theatre. Just a half a block from the beach, Daddy O is a 22-room boutique hotel that boasts a modern, urban chic interior. Complete with a restaurant and bar, there is outdoor dining and a rooftop deck. Outside, the vintage seashore architecture is visible in the cedar shingles, red roof, white board and batten-like, old-time construction with a wrap around porch. There is a rooftop sun deck with ocean and bay views. The bisque marble floor in the public areas of the Daddy O are edged in chocolate brown, and walls are covered in glittering beige paper peppered with crushed Murano glass. Exquisite!
All the way at the shore’s southernmost tip, Cape May combines seaside charm with luxury, best seen in the Virginia Hotel. Tucked away in an historic district, this hotel offers 24 private rooms, each tastefully decorated with vibrant colors and featuring plush amenities like terry robes, Bulgari toiletries and hand-pressed Belgian linen sheets. Leopard rugs accent the chocolate and lipstick-red lobby, complete with crystal chandeliers. Enjoy The Ebbit, the hotel’s critically acclaimed dining room where you can indulge in entrees like roasted rack of lamb with caramelized fennel and aged balsamic vinegar with perfect wine pairings. Superb.
Red Bank is one of the hottest towns in the Jersey Shore. Great restaurants, a hopping night scene, high end boutiques and wonderful antique stores all lend to a delightful stay. In Red Bank, the Molly Pitcher Inn overlooks the scenic Navesink River and stands one of America’s most elegant waterfront luxury hotels. Built in 1928, this national landmark echoes the charm and elegance of the world’s grandest inns, with first-class amenities and the grandeur of an elegant 19th century small luxury hotel. Its sister property, the Oyster Point Hotel has a new modern vibe, with boutique décor in the lobby and lounge and the very chic in house restaurant Pearl.
Renowned for its unhurried atmosphere, Spring Lake boasts two miles of pristine beach and boardwalk, classic Victorian homes, fine shops, galleries, boutiques and so much more. For a special meal out, Whispers located in historic Hewitt-Wellington Hotel, offers a breathtaking setting and a menu to match such as their. BYOB and enjoy the night. While here, experience the charm of Spring Lake’s only oceanfront resort hotel, The Breakers Hotel, a landmark fixture and the perfect year-round get-away destination. The Château Inn offers a charming lodging with 37 guest rooms and suites with old world elements in a comfortable elegant décor and an expansive porch off the bedrooms overlooking the town’s scenic park. Just blocks from the beach and the downtown area alike, you’ll find special boutiques, galleries and antique stores, all rounding out a most beautiful stay.
The perfect mix of sand, surf, fine dining and fun in the sun, make your trip down the shore all that and more.