Small Town NJ: Red Bank
It's back! After a brief hiatus in the summer months, I'm back exploring the best small towns around my home state. Today I'm sharing an old favorite: Red Bank. This adorable town is just minutes from the beach but a train station and access to the turnpike make it a NYC commuter's dream. I stumbled upon Red Bank years ago when I was in high school and is the perfect hidden gems in New Jersey.
Red Bank is situated about ten minutes or so from the beach and about 30 minutes by train to New York City. To me, it's typical New Jersey: a sweet suburban community of tree-lined streets with urban vibes. You can walk the brick sidewalks and window shop stores that sell both indie and cutting edge brands. The restaurant scene is also one of the best in the area. The only eatery I would consider a "chain" in the downtown area is Carlo's Bake Shop, one of the many new outposts the Cake Boss is opening outside of the original Hoboken location. So if you're craving a pretty delicious cannoli from a New Jersey "franchise", you can get it there. My personal favorites in this small town are Rook Coffee (which has other locations down the shore but this is a pretty adorable little storefront) and 10th Avenue Burrito, the second location from the Belmar Cali-Mex joint. This burrito shop has one of the most amazing views in the whole town overlooking the marina and the margaritas are spot on. Okay, so my Red Bank favorites happen to be "chains" but they're local chains so yay for local business!
Red Bank has fantastic views of boats coming in and out of the inlets at a gorgeous downtown park. Besides the beautiful water views (you need to be there for a sunset!), I love the classic brick buildings. That's New Jersey at its finest: classic architecture housing modern businesses. While you're here you must pop into the Urban Outfitters location. I remember several years ago when they were gutting the building and now it's a beautiful glass-fronted corner location. If you're looking for a semi-famous shop, visit Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. This store right on Broad Street is owned by Kevin Smith and is the filming location of AMC's Comic Book Men but of course is also a place where you can get high quality comic books and memorabilia. There are also a handful of well-curated and funky vintage clothing stores. Fun fact: I wore a 1960s canary yellow mini dress with rhinestone brooch that I purchased in Red Bank to a high school semi-formal. My Red Bank shopping love runs deep.
When I say I love New Jersey, this is one of the places I'm thinking of. It's got everything: beach, city, trees, stores, and lots of local love. Take the train, come by highway, paddle up in your kayak; just come on over to Red Bank!