Contributed by @kirsten_al
Like many people who are either from or have lived in the Midwest for a long time (I fall into the latter group), I left for a recent trip to The Jersey Shore with little knowledge of the place other than what I picked up from reality TV. I’ve never watched a full episode but I know where the “fist pump” in current pop culture comes from and I know that the term “guido” isn’t a reference to an Italian mob boss, someone who I worked for during my days in real estate development!
After 3 days in Sea Bright, Monmouth Beach and Long Branch, I can tell you unequivocally that there is more to the Jersey Shore than fist pumps and guidos. The people I met were not only intelligent but warm and friendly and it seemed to me that family was a priority, not fake melodrama!
Surfing is popular along this stretch of the Atlantic Ocean and I even met a guy who crafts his own surfboards. If you’re looking for a great beach, there are many. While most of the best beaches are private, you can find quite a few options for public access to the water along Ocean Avenue. The stretch of sand we settled on was in Monmouth Beach. The water was clear and the beach wasn’t crowded on a Saturday afternoon. The waves were large enough to satisfy beginning surfers to those who are more experienced. A wet suit in June is a must. The water is cold till August.
Stop by Tasti D-Lite on Ocean Avenue between Brighton and Montgomery in Long Branch for dessert. It’s been featured in various films and television shows like Sex & The City. The Italian lemon ice may have been the best I’ve ever had. Next door you will find the quintessential greasy beach food stand: The Windmill. It’s hailed as a true Jersey Shore landmark with the best hot dogs and fries on the eastern shore (or so I’m told). A great non-chain coffee shop is The Inkwell off of 2nd Avenue close to where Cedar and Ocean intersect.
I’m an architecture junkie so I always love looking at homes and public buildings. I’m fascinated by the appearance of a place. From Sea Bright to Monmouth, whether large or small, every home has a distinctive character. The landmark at Monmouth University features breathtaking examples of both American and European architecture. Apparently, it also plays host to many of the area’s best cultural events – like a recent series in cooperation with The Metropolitan Opera!
I’ll be moving to New York City soon and I can imagine myself escaping to The Jersey Shore again. Next time though, I’ll go when the water is warmer!
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Kirsten Alana is a photographer and travel writer currently in the Midwest who is planning a late 2010 move to the East or West coast. She always has a quote ready and waiting to share. She’s an avid Jane Austen fan, adventure & experience junkie, Francophile, passionate fan of Mexico, Apple and Canon geek, New Englander by birth and the daughter of an artist. Kirsten also loves to support charities and her current favorite is “Charity:Water”.