If you have known us for awhile, you may also know that in addition to always searching out the best of all things musical, we also like to pass along anything of interest that our friends might also enjoy.
Whether an age old favorite that we have known since our early days growing up along the Route 35 Coastline, or a new gem we have stumbled across in our recent travels, we always like to share what we consider to be the best places and services for others to discover and check out on their own.
This edition of OBMC Tips will focus on the Jersey Shore Corridor, in particular the areas of Asbury Park, Ocean Grove, Long Branch, and the surrounding areas.
So fill the tank, pack the car, turn up the radio, and enjoy the warm summer winds and create some new memories to last a lifetime…
If you are from the Old Bridge area or close by in Middlesex County, you may think that some of the best beaches, restaurants, music and culture, shopping, and diverse things to do found in Asbury Park and surrounding towns are a hectic bumper to bumper parkway traffic ride away, but think again! We make it from Old Bridge to the Asbury Park Boardwalk in 35 to 45 minutes most days, without any traffic, tolls, or red lights! How you ask?
Route 18 South!
Many of our friends are unaware of this jewel of a road that leads to the Jersey Shore.
There are two different ways to get to the Asbury area, both easy to navigate, and a nice trip.
From the OBMC, (or from Route 516), simply take the exit for Route 9 South, once on Route 9 South, stay in your left lane a mile or two until you see the exit ramp for Route 18 South. Stay on Route 18 South for approximately 25 miles or so until you see signs for Route 33 East/Ocean Grove, on the right. After exit, take Route 33 East pass Jersey Shore Medical Center, soon the road will end, make a left at the last light, and you will be on Main Street. From there make a right on Asbury Avenue, and it will bring you right to the beach and boardwalk.
The same directions as above, Route 9 South to Route 18 South, but this time take Route 18 South for 20 some odd miles until you see the exit ramp for Route 35/36 on the left. (This is the same exit that will take you to Monmouth Racetrack, or Monmouth Mall). Once off the ramp you can take either Route 35, or Route 36. We suggest Route 36, (stay to left after exit, which turns into Route 36, headed towards Long Branch). Eventually Route 36 turns into Joline Avenue, which after a few miles ends at Ocean Avenue. Turn Right onto Ocean Avenue. Almost there!
*Footnote- In Short, after getting off Route 18 South, or Exit 105 from the Parkway South, take Route 36 South until end, (road merges into Joline ave), then make a right onto Ocean Ave, which will lead you through Long Branch, Deal, and into Asbury Park)
Along the way, you may want to grab a bite to eat, and there are plenty of places to stop and shop.
One of the most popular destinations over the past few years is Pier Village in Long Branch, www.piervillage.com boasts some great restaurants, including Sirena- http://sirenaristorante.com/, Mcloone’s Pier House- http://www.mcloones.com/pierhouse/gallery.php and be sure to check out the other Oceanfront restaurants of Mcloone’s on their website, including the Rum Runner in Sea Bright, and the Asbury Grille across from Convention Hall on the Boardwalk). There a variety of other shops and restaurants in Pier Village, as well as some free Summer concerts.
If you prefer a more vegetarian cuisine, we suggest waiting around 10-15 minutes until you get into Asbury Park, but for those of you who like Hot Dogs, Burgers, Fries, Onion Rings and the like, a must stop along the way is at either of the Jersey Shore legends-
The Windmill, (http://windmillhotdogs.com/index.html) or, Max’s Famous Hot Dogs,
Max’s Link- http://www.greenetouch.com/max/
Both are excellent, and countless celebrities, superstars, and well known public figures have made both of these Jersey Shore Legends a must see for years. The staff at The Windmill will be happy to throw your dog on the grill for a little extra flavor, and cook your fries to order if you like them a little crispy- just ask! You can also take the stairs and walk up on the roof to eat your meal with some awesome views, and just a great way to take in the Jersey Shore vibe!
*Footnote- In our experience and opinion, not all Windmill’s are created equal- The Windmill on Ocean Avenue/Brighton Ave in West End/Long Branch is the best by far- Local belief is that is because the grill is the same one from the 60’s, and the flavor is basted in, making the flavor better.
A little down the road, on the opposite side North, walking into Max’s you will also sense the legacy and history of a local legend still delivering some of the best dogs around after 80 (!) years! You can’t go wrong with anything you order, so treat yourself to a Jersey legend.
*Footnote- next to the Windmill, there is also a good ice cream place- “Tasti D-Lite”, http://www.tastidlite.com/index.php/component/option,com_location/location,15
If you prefer a Jersey Shore Summer/Seafood thing, you might like Rooney’s Crab House, (an old favorite of Momma Z), which is another Waterfront restaurant on Ocean Avenue in Long Branch- check out the pics and menu’s here:
Once you are done visiting the local hot-spots of Long Branch, you can continue down Ocean Avenue South towards Asbury Park, (only 5 minutes away or so), but not before passing through one of the East Coast’s most affluent communities, Deal, whose palatial Oceanfront Mansions leave you in awe with their stunning architecture, like this Seaside Villa:
Continuing down Ocean Avenue, as you pass through Deal, you will pass through a small town called Allenhurst/Elberon/Loch Arbor for a minute or two, before coming to the end of the road in front of Deal Lake, which welcomes you to Asbury Park.
Make a left to loop around the lake, after a hundred yards or so, you will see Asbury Tower on your left, make a left after the Tower onto Kingsley Avenue. Congratulations you made it to Asbury via the scenic route!
*Footnote- there are other ways to get into Asbury Park, via the Parkway South, or Route 18 South to Route 33. Mapquest, and look for Asbury Avenue to bring you straight to the beachfront.
Now that you are in Asbury, you can enjoy the unique oceanfront panorama of things to do, whether a day at the beach, (amazing beaches!),boardwalk shops and restaurants, live bands and entertainment, pinball, and just an incredible time at our favorite Jersey Shore destination.
*Footnote- Asbury has paid parking meters until 9:00 pm, which are strictly enforced, so be sure to find a meter to pay, or we recommend going to one of the bigger lots, where an attendant will be waiting. There are several along Ocean avenue, (the road that runs along the boardwalk), as well as a bigger lot on the south end by Stella Marina, which usually charge around $5.00 for the day, which saves you the worry about having to run back to the meter, etc.
To find out what is going on in the boardwalk area, check out:
Many of our friends have recently discovered the Asbury Beach, in particular the one next to Convention Hall, as you can catch some rays, take a swim with the majesty of the historic Convention Hall next to you,
then walk up to the boardwalk to grab a bite to eat, shop, play pinball, or rent a bike for the day to cruise along the waterfront, then catch some live music at night at one of the city’s famous clubs.
Here are some places we found to be exceptional in their service-enjoy!
Located on the Boardwalk next to Convention Hall, the Beach Bar offers food, drink, and entertainment on certain days of the week- check out these amazing views…
When you step out of Convention Hall to the left, you can also stop for a bite to eat at Mcloone’s Asbury Grille, where you can eat outside right on the boardwalk, or go inside and listen to some great live entertainment. Located in the old Howard Johnson’s, you will really catch the spirit of Asbury watching the colorful sights of life, check it out:
Next to Mcloone’s, you can rent a bike next door at the Brielle Cyclery… www.briellecyclery.com/
There are a bunch of other great shops and places to eat inside Convention Hall, and along the boardwalk, like The Langosta Lounge,www.langostalounge.com/
If you are looking for a place to stay, The Berkeley Hotel, located right on the water across from Convention Hall, was completely remodeled this past year, and now boasts a top restaurant from the owner of Langosta Lounge. www.berkeleyhotelnj.com/
A little further south on the boardwalk is one of our favorite places on earth- The Silver Pinball Museum! www.silverballmuseum.com/
Fun for the whole family, they have the original KISS and ROLLING STONES Pinball machines from the 70’s! Stop by the OBMC for a special $2.00 off pass for up to 4 people for the hour. (You can buy an hours time of unlimited play on any machine you want, or an all day pass).
Be sure to check it out!
Wanna step back in time to an old-school super cool bowling alley? Check out Asbury Lanes on 4th and Kingsley:
For the younger Asbury visitors there is a nice little water sprinkler park also on the boardwalk:
And also a miniature golf course!
A little further down the boardwalk south, there are a number of great stores and places to eat, one of our favorites for a great meal is Stella Marina- check it out at: stellamarinarestaurant.com/
They also have outdoor patio seating and an upstairs deck with amazing views right on the ocean.
Heading back southeast on Main, turn left at the Gas Station onto Lake Avenue to find many people’s favorite restaurant for years, Moonstruck: www.moonstrucknj.com/
For those of who love live music, did you know that Asbury Park was named one of the Top 10 places for live music in the United States?
Many have heard of the legendary tales of inspiration from Bruce Springsteen and others who grew up on “The Circuit”, but also many legendary bands and artists have also played in Asbury over the years.
Check out who has played in this wonderful city over the years:
The Rolling Stones, Tickets starting at $3.00!
The Doors at Convention Hall! August 31st, 1968- $5.50!
Unbelievable, Led Zeppelin at Convention Hall, August 16th, 1969.
Read more about this legendary show here, where Zeppelin turned down Woodstock to play Asbury Park Convention Hall for two nights!
And from The Sunshine Inn, check this ad out! Blue Oyster Cult, Iggy, ZZ Top, Fleetwood Mac, Argent and others, with “Upcoming” Shows featuring Black Sabbath with Cactus and Bruce Springsteen in Steel Mill opening up, November 27th, 1970! Other favorite legends of ours also played there in the beginning of their careers, KISS in November of 1974, and Uriah Heep in June of 1972. All in a month in a small Asbury Park on the corner of Kingsley and First Avenue.
And where our own Jersey Rock and Roll Legends started out:
Bruce Springsteen at the legendary Upstage on Cookman Avenue, playing two sets, for $1.50!
Inside of the Upstage later when it was a shoe store, where legends were born- amazing!
And where a young Jon Bongiovi and the Wild Ones began opening up for bands on stage at the legendary Fast Lane in Asbury, (Next to Asbury Lanes, we played there quite a few times in the 90’s, great club to play!)
While we must confess that we believe that there will never be the same caliber of amazing bands or artist’s from the 70’s on the circuit again, you can still catch some great music from up and coming bands, legends, and everyone in between at one of the most legendary clubs in the world (!) in our own back yard at Asbury’s famed music landmark, The Stone Pony.
Right up the road from the Pony on Ocean Ave is another legendary Asbury club, The Wonder Bar, where it is said that Bruce Springsteen met sax player Clarence Clemons. Check it out at:
Heading more into the heart of town, we come across another legendary smaller club that has hosted some of the biggest names in music over the years, The Saint. Check it out at:
There are many other great places to go and things to do in Asbury Park, less than 40 minutes from Old Bridge, so be sure to add this wonderful jewel on the Jersey shore on the list of places to go for summer fun!
And don’t forget, there are Free Fireworks, every Wednesday night on the beach!
Only in Asbury!
Next, Ocean Grove, and the surrounding Jersey Shore towns!
Continuing south from Asbury Park to the next town over, we are transported to another place in time when entering the historic seaside town of Ocean Grove.
Whereas Asbury is a diverse combination of older legendary architecture, people, places, and local flavor, mixed with “Hip” “Trendy” places to dine and shop, 5 star restaurants, award winning beaches, tons of live entertainment, excitement, things to do,it has quickly become the place to be on the Jersey shore for a different type of summer experience for the family.
Ocean Grove on the other side is a step back in time, (in a nice way), where after passing through the gates welcoming you to the square mile oasis, you enter Main Street, and the splendor of the Antique Victorian homes, small shops, cafes, ice cream parlors, local hardware and general stores, and begin to feel that somewhere the clock stopped in 1952.
For those of you who like to shop, there are a handful of local antique shops, and along the way you can stop for a bite to eat at small cafe’s like Yvonne’s on Main Street.
Walking across Main Street, you will find one of the oldest ice cream parlors and old time food cafe’s, Nagle’s, which has been a landmark since the 1800’s! You can stop and get a bite to eat, or order some old fashioned ice cream through the window outside, and grab a seat outside and take in the 1950’s family atmosphere that is unique to Ocean Grove.
No link, but here are some pics:
Around the corner on Olin Street, be sure to check out one of our favorite cafe’s The Starving Artist for a great breakfast, brunch, or lunch:
On the other side of the Starving Artist, you will find one of our favorite ice cream parlors on the Jersey Shore, “Days” at Ocean Grove. Great ice cream, service, and for those on sugar restricted diets, they offer some amazing soy ices, (including an incredible Chocolate Soy if you are lucky enough to catch it before it sells out!)
There are many more small shops and places to eat around town, but be sure to try and make it to a concert right down the street of Pilgrim Pathway at the crown jewel of Ocean Grove, the Great Auditorium!
Aside from being an amazing place to visit on its own merit, we are also lucky enough to have one of the country’s top organist’s in our own backyard, performing free organ recitals many times throughout the summer! Be sure to check out Gordon Turk, and catch a true master of the pipe organ, a must see!
For schedule and other information, check out Mr. Turk’s website for performance dates and times:
While walking around the Great Auditorium, be sure to take a leisurely stroll through one of our favorite places on earth, the Tent Colony of Ocean Grove!
People from all over come to spend the summer months living in these quaint tents that surround the Great Auditorium. Read more at this link:
And check out these pictures of the Tent Colony-Awesome!
For those of you who are looking for a “getaway”, Ocean Grove has some great Inn’s, check out a few at:
What a way to wake up…
And of course, for those who like the beach, you can take in the rays, and enjoy yourself for the day…
Well, that is about it for now, we hope that you found this guide a little helpful in planning some family activities, or getting away yourself to experience some of the greatest things the Asbury Park/Ocean Grove area of the Jersey Shore has to offer.
Before leaving for now, we would be remiss in leaving out a few favorites from neighboring towns, (all within minutes from Asbury Park/Ocean Grove)…
Right up the road on Main St, a really good restaurant that also has live entertainment, (alot of great blues/rock musicians, like local legend Sonny Kenn can be found playing here in their “Upstairs Room”, which is like seeing a band in your living room. Great place to see bands) -Check out Giamano’s on Main Street in Bradley Beach at:
There are a number of other local great places that are all over the area, so be sure to give them all a chance, but two local legends that we will leave you with are Pizza Legends on the Jersey Shore…
First Pete and Elda’s, on Highway 35 in Neptune City:
And we will leave you with a favorite of ours, another legend for years, Vic’s, in Bradley Beach:
Have a wonderful summer, and be on the lookout for more local fun things to do in between having fun with the music!…