This Monmouth County Borough is where I have been going for many years since I was nine months old. There are some really lovely old Victorian homes surrounding the downtown, but the highlight is the beach. By the 1920’s, a mix of Victorian homes, seashore cottages, and beach shacks dotted the shoreline. Some remain, but many have been torn down and rebuilt particularly on the beachfront. The boardwalk is a great place to walk in the morning and evening. The nice thing is that here you are right on the beach and do not have to cross a busy street for access. Manasquan is at the Manasquan inlet which is the beginning of the intracoastal waterway that goes south to Florida. The town is served by NJ Transit with service from Penn Station in NYC and Newark Airport.
There is a really nice, small downtown area along Main Streets with some great restaurants, shops and delis. The Algonquin Theater, the old movie house, is now the Algonquin Arts Theatre and features a number of plays, musicals, jazz performances and classical concerts throughout the year.
Nearby is BookTowne, a good local bookstore at 171 Main St.
I always enjoy Green Planet Coffee at 78 Main Street for a good latte. Nearby is Third Avenue Chocolate Shoppe, from Spring Lake, at 97 Main St. which has great ice cream and chocolates. Sunburst Pie Co. is new at 150 Main St. and features sweet and savory pies and baked goods.
Chocolate Bar at 140 Main St., on the southside of the building, features coffee, chocolates and baked goods. To emphasize their coffee, bowls and bakery items in addition to chocolates, they renamed the shop as August & Scout Cafe & Bakery. I had a great latte and loved the crumb cafe that I bought for breakfast.
For shopping, Main Street Gallery has some great paintings and prints of the ocean and beach at 131 Main St., while The Garret Home at 135 Main St. has some attractive and creative home furnishings and accessories. I have bought several things there for our beach cottage over the years. Palm Place at 161 Main St. is a Lilly Pulitzer Signature Shop for lovers of the brand.
Surf Taco at 121 Parker Ave. is great for fish tacos and Squan Tavern is an excellent choice for Italian food and has been since 1964 at 15 Broad St. I recently went back to Squan Tavern for the first time in several years and loved the classic atmosphere and the excellent food. I highly recommend the mussels in the marinara sauce and the scallops with sauteed spinach in a tomato sauce. I also love their slogan, Buon Cibo, Buon Vino and Buon Amici. Good Food, Good Wine and Good Friends!
For a good take out menu and sandwiches, try Center Food Market at 113 Main St.
Main Street Kitchen is a newer spot featuring take-out and prepared foods including sandwiches, salads and soups which is perfect if you are renting at the beach. 140 Main St.
The Committed Pig at 168 Main St. is great for brunch. Their pork roll sandwich is excellent !! Get there early or be prepared for long lines on weekends.
Nearby is Blend, for fine dining, at 152 Main St. This is an attractive farm to table restaurant that is open for dinner or brunch on weekends. I enjoyed the crab benedict made for Sunday brunch. The staff is also friendly and helpful. Outdoor seating is also available. Breakfast and lunch are now served in the Peach Pit Cafe on the other side of the restaurant.
Just outside of town is Atlanta Farms at 1506 Atlantic Ave. which is a cute farmstand where you can buy fresh Jersey blueberries, corn and tomatoes. Nearby is Hinck’s Turkey Farm, known for its deli and restaurant. It is a local tradition since 1938.
Close to the beach is the Sandy Seagull Corner Store at 101 1st Ave. They feature coffee and bakery items as well as a good number of breakfast and lunch items including a pork roll and cheese sandwich and burgers. They have casual dining inside as well as a nice outdoor patio. The cold brew coffee is very good. I am glad it is a block from my cottage!