Greetings From Asbury Park!
The Jersey shore has a beautiful coastline. We have 125 miles of sandy beaches to wiggle your toes in. From Cape May to Sandy Hook. Each beach town has a different type of architecture and a flavor of its own.
There is Wildwood, that hasn't changed its motel architecture style since the 50's. There is Atlantic City, which is very upscale these days, with great new hotels & casinos and good shopping & celebrity chef restaurants. Long Beach Island has a beautiful lighthouse and great bird watching.
Ocean Grove has a neat mix of gay residents and Mennonites (strange combo) & some interesting tent living.
Yesterday, we did our last beach day for the season. In September, the shore is a great place, though a lot of places close after Labor Day. We went to Spring Lake, the "Irish Riviera", which is our day beach spot. Big mansions that look out onto the ocean. Today, it was cool and quiet, we had the beach all to ourselves. I packed some great grilled chicken sandwiches w/ fresh mozzarella, arugula, my roasted peppers and pesto. Delish!
After the beach, I finally agreed to go to the boardwalk in Point Pleasant. My husband asks me to go every time we are at the beach, and I always find an excuse not to go. I hate the place. It is dirty, tons of arcades and freaks walking around half naked with tattoos all over their faces and bodies. I guess it's fun for kids, but the prizes have gone down hill since I was a teenager. What happened to winning a carton of cigarettes? (the good old days! HA!). I guess I am a big, dull, dud.
At least Joey Tomatoes was still there, but their pizza ain't what it used to be.
On to Asbury Park. This is an interesting place these days. It's been dead for about 20 years. Once magnificent buildings became rundown vacant eyesores due to corrupt politicians and the race riots in the 70's. Asbury was once a mecca for family summer vacations at the turn of the century, up till the 60's. Bruce Springsteen & John Bon Jovi got their start at The Stone Pony, a still famous nightclub for rock band venues.
Bruce & his friends have had some fundraisers to help support Asbury Park and help to gentrify the area and it is working. Developers came in and invested & they have some great community activists that really care. They have a large gay community that has really turned the town around. They bought up vacant stores and old buildings and have made them into chic, happening restaurants, antique stores and decorator shops. New luxury residences are going up and the once sad looking buildings are being restored back to their original beauty. It was a pleasant surprise today.
The restaurants and open air stores were very inviting.
Along the new boardwalk there was a Mexican outdoor cafe serving tostadas, tacos, quesadillas, and other bites. A place selling Cuban pork sandwiches that looked amazing, called Cuban Food.
A cute little store called Cookie Pie, next to a cool juice bar called Sea Greens. Everything had a bohemian feel.
The Beach Bar in Convention Hall was beautiful and chic. Outdoor chairs w/ pillows looking out onto the ocean, very inviting and a great looking, hip, indoor bar, as well.
We met some nice guys at a glass blowing studio called Hot Sand that offer classes and workshops on blowing glass. We also found a great bakery.
I will definitely be going back when high season kicks in again.
We finished our last day at the shore in Long Branch, at Pier Village.
Here is another town that desperately needed a face lift. A developer built a luxury residence/boutique shopping/fine dining 5 block area that is now a destination. We love it. It's like South Beach in Miami, on a smaller scale. Great people watching, concerts on the boardwalk & some excellent restaurants with ocean views. It's a great place for families with small children or singles. We love the half price Stoli martinis at SAWA sushi bar during happy hour, which we enjoyed tonight.
We had dinner at SIRENA on the boardwalk, and I had the homemade tagliatelle w/ pesto, potatoes and green beans (Genovese style), and the husband had a delicious pappardelle bolognese w/ a dollop of ricotta on top. We were craving pasta and it was more than satisfying!
A long and fun day at the Jersey shore.
Now it's time to put our beach chairs away and get ready for fall!