Though Labor Day typically marks the last weekend of summer, NYC is suddenly experiencing our first big heat wave since June. In light of the weather, and for those who just can’t let go of summer, this post is dedicated to favorite summer spot: Bradley Beach, NJ.
I like to think of Bradley Beach as one of the last “non-Jersey” places on the New Jersey Shore. Thanks to a vulgar MTV series that will not be mentioned, the Jersey Shore has a bad rap of being all spikey hair, dance clubs and tanning beds. While this may be true for certain areas of the shore, Bradley Beach has retained a low-ley, residential feel with just 5,000 year-round locals. Lucky for me, my parents have called it home each summer for the past seven years, and not much has changed.
Bradley Beach is located in Monmouth Country, right along the shore, in what can be considered North-Central New Jersey. It’s a two-hour train ride on the North Jersey Shore line from Penn Station. The Bradley beach train station is located right in the town center, and much of the town is within walking distance (a plus for us carless NYC-ers).
Even in the middle of summer, Bradley Beach is a sleepy town with a quiet Main Street and grid of compact residential neighborhoods. At the beach, there’s a small boardwalk, a few refreshment stands and public bathrooms. Beach access is $8 per day for adults and free for kids 12 and under.
The beach, of course, is the town gem. It’s a deep and wide beach covered with white sand (albeit with a few rocks and shells). Lifeguards are on duty and there’s lots of space to swim and lounge. The beach gets fairly crowded in the summer, but after having my “towel-to-towel” experience in Coney Island, I will not complain about the crowds here. You can generally find a first-row spot along the shoreline if you get there by 10 or 11am.
For those of you not lucky enough to stay with friends or family, there are plenty of options: bed and breakfasts, the Sandcastle Inn, and tons of beach rentals. If you are able to book in advance, a rental is the way to go. Many rentals come with a kitchen, private outdoor space and beach chairs. What else could you need?
If you’re car-less, the essentials are within walking distance: a few bars, a few restaurants, 7-11, liquor store and ice cream. My favorite low-key dinner spot is Fin’s, a California-inspired seafood & taco shack with great food and hospitality on Main Street. It’s BYOB and there’s plenty of seating, or you may want to get take out. They also deliver right to the beach! If you’re feeling adventurous, nearby Avon, Ocean Grove, Asbury Park and Belmar offer great dining and nightlife options, too.
For those wanting a quiet beach get-away, Bradley Beach is the perfect place. For those looking to “Fist-Pump” into the wee hours… please stay away! :)