I was born and raised in New Jersey and although I haven’t lived there in a long time, it is always home to me. I’ve moved around quite a bit. Yet no matter where I go, I am constantly defending my home state. New Jersey gets a lot of undeserved hate, but it’s actually pretty amazing. From the New Jersey shore to NYC, there is something for everyone in the area.
Last week, I went home for the first time since moving out to Portland. Luckily I was able to do everything on my Jersey bucket list, including the shore and NYC. I know New York City isn’t in New Jersey – but it’s so close to my hometown that I always visit.
At the crack of dawn Adam and I headed to the PDX airport.
Yes, that is the OG PDX airport carpet! We finally found it and I was able to take the most Portland looking photo ever. The flight over Mount Hood was amazing.
Down At The Jersey Shore
The Jersey Shore is hands down my favorite (non food related) part of New Jersey. Portland is only 2 hours from the coast, but the water never warms up enough to swim in it. Which is wildly disappointing. Going down the shore in the Summer was a big part of my childhood and adolescence. Since MTV’s Jersey Shore, it seems everyone thinks they know what to expect. But the Jersey Shore has such a diverse set of beach towns and people who reside in them. During this trip, we went to a few parts of the shore I had never been to. The first town we went to was Ocean Grove.
Ocean Grove – The Sleepy Religious Community
This quiet town has a population of just over 3,000. It’s nicknamed “Tent City” after the very tiny tented houses some of the residents live in. They’re so small, that every room in the house is combined…even the bathroom. Locals say that when their neighbors sneeze, that everyone around them will say “bless you”, that’s how close the quarters are. These tents are rented out for the season and have strict rules to abide by. No BBQ’s, dogs, or alcohol. That’s right, it’s a dry town. If the tight living space wasn’t enough to deter me from staying in Ocean Grove, hearing those two words together certainly were. Although not for me, I was fascinated by the town.
But it’s not all tents. Just a block away numerous houses that look like they were plucked out of San Fransisco reside. They’re just moments away from the gorgeous sandy beaches.
Long Beach Island
Long Beach Island is one of my favorite areas of the Jersey Shore. It’s been so long since I have been able to visit the area. Pretty sure the last time I was down was for an All That Music & More tour, so clearly it’s been awhile.
LBI is more my scene with a variety of ice cream shops, bars, and restaurants. It’s a small strip of businesses and houses sandwiched between the coast and a bay area. We didn’t get great weather during our time down the shore but it was still warm and beautiful. Anytime I can be near the ocean I’m happy. Our hosts also made some killer Moscow mules and played a mean game of Uno, so that certainly helped.
Our time at the beach was way too short. It always is. The great thing about the Jersey Shore is that it has a place for everyone. From sleepy towns like Ocean Grove, to party hubs like Seaside and Wildwood. I spent my childhood going to the boardwalk. Wining prizes and eating carnival food until I thought I’d pop. It doesn’t matter what age you are, you’ll appreciate the Jersey Shore.
8 Hours in NYC
Growing up in North Jersey meant that we had quick access to the shore and even quicker access to Manhattan. To be honest, I didn’t appreciate New York City while I was growing up. It was only after I moved and talked to people who have dreamed about going to NYC their whole lives, I realized how lucky I was. Going into the city was never a big deal for me because it was so close. Now that I’m older, I love visiting.
This time around we were able to grab some food in Little Italy, check out The Oculus, and see The Blue Man Group. An all around touristy day.
The best way to find great things in New York City is to walk around. I really discourage getting in a cab or hopping on the subway if you can help it. As an avid planner, I always map out places to see, eat, and drink. I try to do that as little as possible when I go to the city. Most of the time, the best places I have been to in NYC are places we have stumbled upon. And more often than not, all the things you want to see are pretty far from each other. You end up spending your day traveling to and from without getting to see the city!
I’m sure you’ve seen this crazy white structure posted all over your Instagram as I have. Until I visited, I didn’t even know what The Oculus was. Well, it’s a $4 billion transportation center and high-end shopping mall. Placed right next to the 9/11 memorial and museum, the eerily quiet building is confusing, but beautiful. It’s certainly become a hot spot for Instagrammers and tourists (guilty), but locals weren’t happy with the price tag The Oculus provided. If you appreciate architecture, it’s worth a visit.
Have you ever been to New Jersey? And don’t say you’ve driven through it- that doesn’t count! How about Manhattan? What have been your favorite spots in these two locations? Until next time!