Make a day trip to Long Branch, a Long Branch weekend getaway, or even a longer stay. Read on, then choose your own adventure!
I grew up going to Long Branch Beach and have such fond memories of it. It has changed quite a bit since I was a kid, but the beach is just as clean and expansive and the boardwalk, a.k.a. Pier Village is full of dining options, and other fun attractions.
We usually bring our own chairs, but you can rent chairs and umbrellas on the beach. Last year, the rate for a chair and umbrella was $24, and for two chairs and an umbrella it was $30. Beach passes are $5 per adult and children are free. You can buy them at the beach or on Viply.
Without traffic, it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes to drive from midtown Manhattan to Long Branch. On our most trafficky days, it has taken two hours. Parking at Pier Village is abundant and costs something like $3/hour via meter. You can also park in a garage for about $40/day. Traveling sans car? You can also ride the NJ transit train from Penn Station to Long Branch, then take a five-minute Uber or cab to Pier Village. The train ride is about an hour and a half. OR you can take the Seastreak Ferry from 34th Street Terminal or Wall St. Terminal to Highlands Terminal, then take a 20-minute Uber. (You will pass Monmouth Beach and Seabright Beach on the way- so there are other beach options if you ferry to the Jersey Shore).
Once you’ve arrived you might be hungry for breakfast or lunch (maybe even dinner). There is something for everyone-and you can dine in or take out for a beach picnic. You can find the full Pier Village dining directory here, but here are some of our go-tos.
We always have a great time here, whether it’s just the three of us or a group. Sometimes, the kids will even play on the beach while we wait for our food. On one scorching hot day last June, G and Daddy played in the tide pool on the beach while I sat at our table munching on chips and sipping my spicy margarita. I love the pulled pork tacos, shrimp tacos, and the steak. The churro dessert is delish as well. We must have tried everything on the menu and we recommend it all. The drinks are a must, especially if you are in the mood for a margarita!
Playa Bowls can be spotted throughout NJ, and even in NYC. We love ordering from the app then picking up acai bowls and smoothies to enjoy on the beach. When you want something quick, portable, and refreshing, Playa Bowls is kind of a no-brainer.
When Hummus Republic opened last year, I thanked my lucky stars. I love the lemon chicken bowl, which I usually get with greens, couscous, three scoops of hummus, and a bunch of other fixins. The portions are generous and very satisfying, and the menu is all very fresh and healthy. The falafel sandwiches are also delicious! This is a great take out spot that I recommend to everyone.
G loves coming to Turning Point for pancakes. I love the egg dishes and the avocado toast (And the bacon is always crispy). The menu is full of refined diner faves, and you can take out or eat in (and when I say eat-in, there is always an outdoor seating option). Sometimes, we order from the coffee shop portion of the restaurant and take our food and coffee to eat on the beach.
For a very quick bite, we love to grab egg and cheese wraps from the Corner Café. They even have gelato! You can get coffee, tea, and hot chocolate here. You can also grab coffee shop drinks from the Starbucks in the Wave Resort, which is at the southern end of Pier Village. Whereas Corner Café is in the “north”. Not that they are far from eachother- but at least you have options depending on where you have stationed yourselves on the beach.
If you want a nice hearty burger, try Kahuna Burger! I love the wings and onion rings here. Shakes, salads, and cocktails round out the menu.
L’Avenue is a restaurant with a beach club and rooftop pool. They play fun French music and provide a snazzy atmosphere inside the restaurant, in the terrace seating area, and throughout the beach club. We spent one extremely windy night dining on the terrace, and had a lovely evening despite sitting there with wrapped up in our windbreakers with beach towels blanketing our laps. I could not tell you what we ordered, but I can tell you that I drank two large glasses of wine and there was fish involved.
Mr. Wish is G’s wish come true. Bubble tea on the beach. Fruity drinks on the beach. Enough said.
Fun Sweet Treats!
Speaking of wishes, Sugar Pop is where we go when G’s friends come with us to the beach and it is heaven on earth for them. Not only can you get any kind of candy you desire here, but you can also choose from several tempting flavors of Italian ice. I love the cantaloup, cherry, and pistachio. And on that note, we also love the freshly baked cookies and ice at Baked Bear, and the fresh waffles topped with ice cream from Coney Waffles. AND as if we did not already have enough dessert options here, Sundae Donut is opening this summer.
These are just the places that we frequent. There are so many other options.
There’s also a 7Eleven for quick snacks, drinks, and beach items (toys, sunblock etc). There’s a surf shop, a clothing store, a shoe store, AND if you walk north to Ocean Place, you can check out the scene at Tiki Bar.
After a day of jumping the waves, shell hunting, sandcastle building, and beach reading, we like to stop by the Carousel for a spin. Even when G is well into her teens I don’t see her ever tiring of taking a spin or two to end her beach day. She also might never tire of doing running jumps onto the giant cement beach ball sculptures nest to the Carousel. Kids love these beach balls. They also happen to be next to public restrooms-which are relatively clean and line-free. You can also find restrooms in the Wave Resort.
There is a Boardwalk Fun and Games boardwalk-style arcade here, but we have yet to even play here. We never have time after playing on the beach and hanging out on the boardwalk!
Depending on the day and season, Pier Village often hosts fun events, You can check the calendar here. We have come to Family Nights when they show movies and have bouncy houses and climbing walls. In the fall they host a kite festival, and in the wintertime, we love the little ice skating rink!
Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park
If you walk north, either on the beach or on boardwalk, you can walk to Seven Presidents Beach. I am not sure if you have to buy a beach pass if you enter via the connecting beach or boardwalk because we have only taken this route during the off-peak seasons. (Normally, you have to pay around $10 to park, when you drive through the main entrance, and the daily pass is $10). The beach here is sometimes emptier AND there is an awesome playground and skate(boarding) park adjacent to the beach. There is a snack bar onsite with concessions, as well as a Strollo’s Ice and Ice Cream outpost.
ALSO, on the way to Seven Presidents is one of our favorite seafood restaurants Rooneys. We love to sit outside and enjoy the oceanview. The brunch here is tremendous. Bring a large appetite!
Other spots to eat in when in Long Branch:
White Chapel Projects for a very fun atmosphere, live music on the weekends, occasional farmer's markets, and yummy burgers and brews.
Nunzio’s for pizza- the sister restaurant is in Staten Island and this is our favorite local pizza spot.
Lupo for take-out pizza and pasta (G adores the cacao e Pepe).
Galindo’s Kitchen- fast and yummy Mexican spot!
The Butcher's Block- The first time I heard of this restaurant, the phrase Michelin-star was mentioned. We haven't tried it, but it's highly touted as a must-try local restaurant. Clearly for when you are craving meat.
Windmill-when you need a grease fix. I LOVE the hot dogs and onion rings. Yea, the burgers and fries are good too. But I go for the hot dogs and onion rings. The location by Brighton Avenue is in a kitschy giant windmill, which makes me smile.
Hot Bagel- the only place in the area to get NYC caliber bagels IMHO. In a pinch (Sometimes Hot Bagel sells out and then closes shop before the normal closing time), the Foodtown on Route 35 also has bagels that live up to city standards.
The main strip on Brighton Ave in Long Branch also offers- Herd Juicery, Aji, Bubbakoo’s Burritos, Offshore Coffee Roasters, Strollo’s, Matiz Shorehouse -There's also a little playground with seating.
Bom Dmais- yummy Brazilian bakery
Fruta Loca- for when you want a colorful dessert; shakes, ice cream, the works!
Other Places to Drive to when in Long Branch:
*I will publish a more detailed post about the neighboring towns soon! In the meantime:
This is on our list of places to try, so no review but who doesn’t like mini golf that’s just a 5-10 minute drive away?
G and I took a private paddle board lesson last summer and saw a bunch of heron. You can also also rent equipment and go sans instructor. Kayaks are available as well. They run day camps for kids as well.
It’s about a 5-10 minute drive from Long Branch.
Happy Day is Instagram-famous for their pumpkin houses, sunflower fields, and the Fall Fest activities that they host each year. We love the corn maze and the Giant Slide. Summertime fun at Happy Day includes lavender fields and berry picking.
It’s about a 30 minute drive from Long Branch.
Bellworks is the former Bell Labs space turned office space/mall/event space. It is kind of the suburban version of Industry City. It also happens to be the location where they filmed Severance, and yes, it is as surreal and pseudo-futuristic looking as the Lumon offices on the show. We have gone there in the wintertime when we need an indoor place to walk around. We usually get BBQ and ice cream while we are there. But I hear they host fun events, so check the website for updates. There is even a library and basketball courts inside! It’s about a 20 minute drive from Long Branch.
This little farm is fun for little animal lovers who want to take a pony ride, and ride on the barrel train. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Long Branch.
G adores the playground at Sickles. Last summer, we even did laps around the dirt track together (twice around is almost a mile). The market and garden center are fun to peruse, and the prepared foods are very convenient when one does not feel like cooking. We love the bakery-the zucchini bread is excellent and the pies are scrumptious.
Broad Street in Red Bank is lined with dining options (including Little Italy’s very own Patrizia’s) and a little shopping (Urban Outfitters, Tiffany, and Garmany just to name a few) You can find the full list of restaurants here. Sometimes Broad Street is exclusive to pedestrians and you can even catch live music along the lively thoroughfare. Spend an hour or two eating and strolling around. There is also a little playground and park by the marina. I’ve been dying to try the lobster specials at Boon Docks, which reopens in the summertime.
For all the foodies out there, this farm-fresh market is a haven for the best local seasonal produce, baked goods, and other fancy schmancy sundries. We love to go there on a weekend (gird your loins-it gets crowded) for made-to-order apple fritters and apple cider slush custard parfaits, after some power-shopping. You can make the trip extra worthwhile with a visit to next door neighbor Source Farmhouse Brewery for some for a “hand-crafted, farm-to glass ale or lager brewed on site” and some snacks. Sit back in an Adirondack chair on the idyllic lush lawn and just enjoy yourself. You could also add summertime peach picking in Eastmont Orchards which is less than a 5 minute drive from both Delicious Orchards and Source Brewery. Everything is about a 20 minute drive from Long Branch.
Coming soon: posts on...
Point Pleasant/Jenkinson’s/Aquarium – This is the boardwalk where I went as a kid to play games, ride rides, and raise hell with my friends. Full of fun! G is obsessed with the ropes course. Fair warning-if you do the zip line be sure to get a running start because you might get stuck in the middle without the running start! G and I have both gotten stuck and kicked our way to the end. About a 30 minute drive from Long Branch.
Spring Lake – The beach here is pristine and the Main Street is prime for dining, shopping, and strolling. Divine Park boasts a beautiful swan that gracefully glides along the lake and we love the playground! You can easily walk from Main Street to the beach and to the park. The drive to Spring Lake is about 20/25 minutes, depending on whether or not you take the scenic route (Main St)
Asbury Park – Porta Pizza is a go-to for us. Drive along Ocean Avenue for a scenic tour through Deal, where you will see a plethora of very large houses built in an array of different styles. Then walk around the boardwalk and check out what’s happening downtown. Asbury Park is only about a 15-minute drive from Long Branch. Next to Asbury Park, to the south, is Ocean Grove, which is also worth checking out for the beach and the Main St. You can also rent swan boats to paddle along on the canal!
When we go to Asbury Park, we almost always stop at the playground on the beach and at Betty’s Icebox. In town, we love Loteria for Mexican food. There is also a Cardinal Provisions, which is very popular and imported from Brooklyn.
If you drive south, along Ocean Avenue, from Long Branch, you will drive through Monmouth Beach then Seabright. Anjelica’s in Seabright is an institution-it’s worth driving to for a nice Italian lunch outside (dinner reservations are near impossible to get). The baked pasta (Tagliolini al forno) often haunts me in my dreams. This is a great spot where locals gather to see and be seen, so get ready for some prime people watching. Also in Seabright is Second Jetty- another local fave for seafood. The Rum Runner looks like fun-we have never been but have driven by and mentally added it to our lists many times. These are all about 15 minutes from Long Branch via car.
To the north of Long Branch, neighboring Ocean Grove, and along Main Street, you can drive through Bradley Beach and stop by Vic’s, a famous Italian American Restaurant. Whereas Anjelica’s is a white tablecloth setting, Vic’s is more of a red sauce situation with delicious faves that can suit the whole family. There are also a few beach playgrounds along the way in Bradley Beach and Belmar that are worth stopping for! If you drive along Ocean Avenue, you can't miss them!
These are all 5-15 minute drive away:
Ulta, Dicks, BuyBuyBaby, DSW, Five Below, Dollar General, Home Depot (all in Consumer Centre in West Long Branch)
Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, TJ Maxx, a giant wine shop, and Party City are in West Long Branch as well (technically called Eatontown, but basically West Long Branch in my book.
We get everything from art supplies, to last-minute gifts, to storage items here. I recently framed two art prints here as well, and they came out great!
We mainly come here for the Barnes and Noble and the Shake Shack, but you can find a wide selection of your usual mall shops here!
The shoe department is pretty good! To date, I have purchased four pairs of shoes that I have worn frequently. And they were all scores!
Shrewsbury is about a 10 minute drive from Long Branch, and you can find:
Sephora, Williams Sonoma, Harmon, Pottery Barn, Billabong, Free People, J Crew, Harmon; all in The Grove – The Grove is basically an outdoor mall.
And, there is a World Market just down the road.
Please send an email with any questions. We have other local recs that I didn't include here.