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The Jersey Shore's hip new Bungalow hotel.
I sheepishly admit that I call the Jersey Shore my home. I grew up in the tiny beach town of Pt. Pleasant and yes, from the months of June through August, some parts do resemble the MTV reality show, which I stubbornly boycott. But for the most part, many Shore towns are Snooki and JWoww-free, particularly post-Labor Day. I travel all around the world and still consider it one of my favorite quick city escapes. Here, a hit list of insider’s tips on the real Jersey Shore.
*I had to laugh when I saw the Shrimp Box, a family-run, waterfront restaurant where I spent my summers waiting tables, reviewed in today's Wall Street Journal. Its new patio is where locals head for summer drinks. For food, I prefer Red’s Lobster Pot, a super-casual, BYOB restaurant set on the water just next door.
*Lines for the house-made ice cream at Hoffman’s in Pt. Pleasant spill out the door, but the Coconut Joy and cookie-loaded Coffee Oreo are worth the wait.
*In the Lily Pulitzer-loving town of Bay Head, the restaurant Dorcas is set in an old Victorian house with green-and-white striped awnings. Sit at the old-fashioned soda fountain and watch the counter girls make floats and egg creams. They also serve a quirky “curly” hot dog on a hamburger bun and thick, crispy onion rings with a side of Ranch dressing (a brilliant pairing).
*In the August issue, I wrote about America’s best new hotels by the sea. Among them, Long Branch’s super hip Bungalow hotel from SIXX Design. Just a few doors down is Avenue, a chic restaurant with the Shore’s best raw bar, a 200-plus wine list and a sceney rooftop club.
*In Asbury Park, Bruce Spingsteen’s stomping grounds, Bistro Olé is my favorite spot for insanely good Spanish and Portuguese food like paella and ropa vieja. An added bonus: It’s BYOB and there’s usually live music. Late-night, I head to the legendary rock club where the Boss is known to make the occasional surprise appearance.