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Ocean Grove, NJ

August 17, 2009

Ocean Grove - photo courtesy of Blogfinger

Ocean Grove - photo courtesy of Blogfinger

The Jersey Shore. The tri-state area’s beach destination. Among popular towns like Margate, Ocean City and Seaside Heights, where families rent homes for a week’s vacation and high school and college kids come to party and hang, there is one discreet historical gem of a town called Ocean Grove. Located between Asbury Park and Bradley Beach, Ocean Grove encompasses 1 square mile of beachfront property that is a welcoming tribute to the past. Most residents live seaside all year long and because it’s a dry town it doesn’t attract a rowdy crowd. The history of the town dates back to 1869 when it was established as the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Christian community for summer relaxation and worship. Structures began to erect in the 1870’s and 1880’s to accommodate all of the visitors coming from New York City and Philadelphia; roads were paved and given names inspired by the Bible. The greatest structure built, which is still standing today, was the Great Auditorium completed in 1894. A magnificent theatre-style wooden building that holds approximately 6,000 people, and sliding side doors to allow air to flow and music and words to be heard on nice days.  Concerts and music performances are hosted at the Auditorium on a regular basis; last year I was invited to see Gladys Knight. I was the youngest person in the audience but the singing was fantastic! Today, Ocean Grove’s reputation for the greatest extent of Victorian architecture in the United States continuously draws new tourists, beach-goers and a growing number of residents.


Inside of the Great Auditorium - photo courtesy of Blogfinger

Inside of the Great Auditorium - photo courtesy of Blogfinger

I began to visit this area of the shore a few years ago and it provides a quiet beach getaway from the city, easily accessible by the New Jersey Transit train. Although the actual beach can get crowded on the weekends, unavoidable, the town always seems quiet and calm and moves at a nice, slow pace. Like most New Jersey beaches, beach entry requires a tag that can be purchased for the day or even the entire summer and lifeguards do stand duty. A boardwalk runs the length of the town and connects to neighboring beaches like Asbury Park near the famous Stone Pony. Because the town is still owned by the Camp Meeting Association, the beach on Sunday is unaccessible until 12:30pm.

If you would like to stay for the weekend, there are multiple bed and breakfasts and inns along the oceanside. I have yet to stay in one, as I have the advantage of staying with family, but a complete list can be found online here under Inns and Hotels.

Main Avenue is filled with restaurants, cafes, antique stores and some great ice cream shops. Nagle’s Apothecary Cafe, a beachside diner, maintained the interior of an old apothecary with ancient bottles encased in glass cabinets and serving root beer floats and egg creams for patrons on classic bar stools. Make sure to taste their banana and chocolate peanut butter ice cream – the best! If you’re in the mood for crusty, brick-oven pizza, stop by The Pizza Shoppe, also located on Main Avenue. Serving individual, 4-slice pizzas, the straight from the oven taste surpasses most local pizza places in New York City! Shocking but true.

To stock up on some beach gear while in town, check out Ocean Grove Surf and Skate Shop in the shopping center off of Main Street across from the entrance to town. Clothing, surf boards, skate boards, bikinis and board shorts from all of your favorite beach brands like RVCA, Sanuk, Rainbow, Zoo York and more. In need of surf lessons? Private and group lessons are available to learn technique and etiquette, surfboard included!

Ocean Grove has also been the backdrop to many feature films, most famously Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories, and most recently a film starring Hilary Duff and Ellen Burstyn called Greta releasing sometime in 2009.

Upcoming Community Events:

September 12: Giant Fall Flea Market, Ocean Pathway

September 19: British Car Show, Main Avenue

How to get to Ocean Grove from NYC:

New Jersey Transit train from Penn Station

Train Stop: Asbury Park (code 276)

Depending on the schedule of the day, you will need to transfer trains in Newark Penn Station and go straight from there to Asbury Park, or switch in Long Branch for the local train. The ride is approximately 2 hours and the town of Ocean Grove is walking distance from the train station.

For the latest on what’s going on in Ocean Grove, check out Blogfinger’s blog.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 18, 2009 10:55 pm

    re: “How to get to Ocean Grove from NYC” …please add direct (no need to change) bus service from the Port Authority Bus Terminal to Ocean Grove, enters on Main Ave and proceeds toward the beach exiting via Broadway. Great tour of many towns en route is added sightseeing bonus.

  2. November 13, 2010 1:12 am

    bar stools that are made from stainless steel are the best because they don’t tarnish often `:”

  3. December 2, 2010 8:04 am

    all of my kids love to dwelll on ice cream shops, they really love to munch lots of ice cream “`-

  4. Patsy from Carolina permalink
    December 15, 2011 4:46 pm

    patsy from north carolina..I’m just a southern girl that enjoys the mysteries of the deep and the pictures of the ocean remind me of San Francisco…bright…sunny…and beautiful.I can sit at my desk and feel the breeze as it slides through my hair…close my eyes…and pretend I’m there


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