Under the Boardwalk: Long Branch and Asbury Park, NJ
The boardwalk is the enduring symbol of New Jersey summer. The beach on one side and restaurants, shops, and arcades on the other, the boardwalk is the heartbeat of the Jersey Shore. Every shore has a boardwalk but some are just plain boards good for a simple stroll while others have great restaurants and family friendly fun. Last weekend Nick and I took a trip to two different boardwalks, one in Long Branch and the other, our old favorite, Asbury Park.
Sunday was my first trip to Long Branch in a really long time. Long Branch has built up their boardwalk from a walkway into a whole shopping/dining/social experience called Pier Village. Boy, was it crowded. It was a beautiful day but Long Branch is definitely the beach of choice for out of state day trippers (read: New Yorkers) and North Jersey residents.
While Seaside might have been the location for the Jersey Shore reality show, you are going to get quite a show if you head to Long Branch. One of the restaurants along the boardwalk called Avenue has an area on the sand beside the boardwalk called le Club. This was pure Jersey Shore material: tans, muscles, and lots of glitter. It is actually a spectacular space with white couches and cute bungalows around the perimeter and I'm guessing the club beats and tanned thirty-somethings in heels and skimpy bikinis might be a Sunday thing. Either way it was fun to join the crowds watching the people "beat the beat" from a safe distance.
The restaurants look spectacular, if a bit on the pricey side, and you can't beat the view. We walked around Pier Village to a few of the shops but it just wasn't my style. I think I'm little more "eclectic" and less clubby. I wasn't sure what to expect from Long Branch. I think it might be more of a place to see and be seen. So I urged Nick back to our comfort zone: Asbury Park.
Asbury Park will always have a piece of my heart. I've posted about the boardwalk before during the winter but in the summer months there's a whole lot more to do and see. It's hard to believe that Asbury Park used to be desolate and dangerous. The old casino skeleton still stands as a monument to the shore town's heyday before drugs and poverty overtook it. Many, many people have come together to rebuild it as a shore destination with lots of unique experiences. A cool thing that's so Asbury Park is the shipping containers converted into food stands. Perfect to grab a bite to eat right off the sand. The shopping along the boardwalk is not of the t-shirt variety; these spots are crammed full of goods from local artists and handmade products from around the globe. The restaurants are also a step above, with many offering roof deck dining. Asbury Park boardwalk has truly become something special on the Jersey shore.
Ready for a boardwalk vacation?
Places to go in Long Branch:
*FYI: I didn't try these places personally because it was just too crowded but when I go back on a quieter day this is where I'll be going!
Avenue - restaurant attached to le Club that has an impressive French inspired menu and gorgeous views of the surf. Le Club itself appears to be members-only except for select days.
McLoone's Pier House - I've heard great things about this restaurant and, with spectacular ocean views, it's the place for private events and weddings.
Bungalow Hotel - modern looking hotel on Ocean Avenue. Looked cool from the outside and, after visiting the website, it will probably look cool on the inside.
Places to go on the Asbury Park boardwalk:
(my tried and true picks!)
Stella Marina - stellar Italian food. Sit upstairs and be treated to wall-to-wall views of the ocean and the Asbury Park casino structure.
Cubacan - Cuban American food in a hip atmosphere. I will admit that I have not eaten here but many other people I know have and I'm kind of upset that they didn't take me.
Langosta Lounge - funky old school tiki lounge restaurant with an eclectic menu. Personally speaking, their bar area is the perfect post-sun tanning spot.
Tim McLoone's Supper Club - traditional menu with an un-traditional half circle building. It's pricier than some of the other options on the boards but it is a special spot.
Wonder Bar - one of the only Asbury bars I have not visited and I am super upset by that. There's often a band performing plus they host "yappy hour" when you can bring your dog!
United by Blue - an outpost of my favorite Philadelphia shop! I'm tempted to buy one of their signature Asbury Park tees for everyone.
Coastal Lines - this shop doesn't have a website so you're just going to have to see the awesomeness in person. Surfboards, sunglasses, mid-century modern furniture, prints, they have it all in a carefully curated space. I may or may not be returning for a dress I've been lusting after all week.
The Market at Fifth Avenue - a brand-new storefront on the boardwalk that is made up of local artists each with their own space in a large warehouse area. Just recently they opened Talula's Outpost to offer sandwiches and such.
* There's more to Asbury Park than the boardwalk! I am looking forward to putting together a post about the town of Asbury Park which is just as awesome as the boardwalk. Stay tuned! *