Sand, Culture and Food on the North New Jersey Shore
North New Jersey Shore is Close to the NY Metro area
By Tab Hauser
The town of Red Bank in New Jersey makes a nice mini-cation that combines culture, shopping, food, and surf. Red Bank is located on the Navesink River which is an inlet from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a fun cultural hub for this eastern section of New Jersey.
What makes this beach-type getaway a little different is because I chose to stay in a hotel that was in a town 10 to 15 minutes away from two nice beaches. This is because Red Bank had many more dining and entertainment options.
The other reason for staying in Red Bank is because I did not like the hotel options on the beaches I was looking near here. They seemed either too high-end or low-end for what I was looking for on this trip.
Red Bank is So Close
What I like about Red Bank is that it is close to the New York metro area. This means less driving to get to the same sand and surf as the lower New Jersey shore towns.
Red Bank also ticks all the boxes for our needs and comes alive in the summer. The two main commerce streets are Broad and Monmouth. Here you will find boutiques, galleries, restaurants, theaters, pubs, cheese and chocolate shops, bakeries and a microbrew.
At the end of Broad is the very high-end department store Garmany and Tiffany & Co.
Broad Street was fun because a few blocks of it became a lively pedestrian-only way. Here restaurants spilled into the street with plenty of people watching going on. On Saturday nights, different music acts are stationed on the streets and by the Riverside Gardens Park giving the place a bit of a festive atmosphere.
Places we enjoyed around town included Teak for Asian Fusion, Catch 19th for meat and seafood, and the Dublin House for a pub grub. For music go to Jamain’s and Birravino.
Antoinette Boulangerie is a good stop for fine pastries and baguettes. Don’t miss the farmers’ market every Sunday from 9 AM to 2 PM.
Everything listed above is no more than a 15-minute walk from the Molly Pitcher Hotel. This is nice because you don’t have to worry about having that extra drink and then driving.
On the cultural side, there are two big venues for entertainment in Red Bank. This includes The Count Basie Center for the Arts (https://thebasie.org/). Their venue includes the Vogel, Concerts on the Green and the Basie Center Cinemas.
The Two Rivers Theater (https://tworivertheater.org/) is another place for different acts.
Red Bank’s Beaches
Two distinctly different New Jersey shore beaches near Red Bank are Sea Bright and Long Branch. Both are less than 15 minutes away and offer the same soft sand and pleasant surf. During our visit, both beaches were not crowded on the hot sticker summer days were there. We usually arrived at the beach by 10:30 AM and left at 3 PM to either lounge poolside at the hotel or stroll around Red Bank.
Sea Bright is the quintessential beach town. It is about seven blocks long with pubs, beach stores, restaurants, and a beach bar-restaurant.
This is near the Sea Bright Beach Pavilion where parking is $2 an hour and a beach badge is $8 per day. There is also public parking just north of the restaurants at Anchorage Beach.
Pier Village in Long Branch is a popular beachfront place. There is parking at Pier Village or just north of it. Beach badges run $5 Monday to Friday and $7 on weekends. Located here are several shops, a carousel, and restaurants.
Food selection goes from casual counter service to fine dining. In the mix are trendy or beach-type clothing stores and places for ice cream. We opted to be here Thursday afternoon so we can take advantage of their free Thursday night concert in the center of Pier Village (which does not sit on a pier). website
Red Bank Lodging
The Molly Pitcher Inn and Marina (https://themollypitcher.com ) is a 102 room boutique hotel on the water with a connected marina. It was established in 1928 and was built in red brick in colonial-era Federal-style architecture. It is within walking distance from the center of Red Bank and a 12-minute drive from the New Jersey Shore.
Legend has it that Molly Pitcher was a nickname given by the colonial soldiers to Mary Ludwig. This is because she is said to have carried water (amongst other duties) to them during the battle of Monmouth, near to Red Bank, on June 28th, 1778. There she helped work the cannon station when her husband was wounded.
The hotel has a nice pool in the back overlooking the boats and the Navesink River which is more like a harbor and is saltwater.
The hotel has a nice bar, full-service restaurant and gym. Pre-pandemic it had a spa. The marina by the pool rents kayaks to see some of the mansions and birds nearby.