Coastal Long Branch, with its boardwalk, beach and breeze, is just over 50 miles south of NYC. Once a favored vacation retreat for theatrical performers and seven U.S. Presidents, today it draws a diverse crowd enjoying the laid-back seaside vibe.
For the car-free traveler, it’s easy to reach Long Branch via rail. Once you’ve arrived, you can stroll over to the Bungalow Hotel in minutes. With the beach and shops and restaurants of Pier Village right there, everything you need is at your fingertips. Don’t wait wait for summer to enjoy a getaway. Long Branch exudes a welcoming vibe year-round for an overnight spring fling that is practically perfect.
Bungalow Hotel is a hip and playful respite. Its location, so close to the beach you can hear the waves crashing, is prime. The décor has been curated by dynamic design duo Cortney and Robert Novogratz so expect a sense of whimsy combined with sky-high good taste. The 24 individually appointed rooms are as clean and fresh as a daisy with modern furniture, bold artwork and splashes of nautical charm. Thoughtful in-room details include fresh flowers, gas fireplaces and waterfall showers. Even the smallest guest room is bigger than many NYC apartments, so it’s super-spacious. Common areas attract guests like bees to honey with an inviting bar and abundance of retro games like billiards, foosball, checkers and backgammon.
The outdoor fireplace and plush seating is a magnet during the daily happy hour (4-7 pm, 4-midnight Fridays), when drinks are sold for a song.
Complimentary low-tech beach cruisers are perfect for pedaling and loaner standup paddleboards seal the deal.
You’ll feel transported to the South of France when you dine at Avenue. The menu is garnering accolades for its clarity of flavors, especially when it comes to seafood. The kitchen conjures up mealtime magic weaving French technique with locally sourced Mid-Atlantic ingredients.
Mouth-watering choices include an appetizer of escargot drenched in luscious parsley-garlic butter or briny and beautiful mussels followed by a delicate salt-crusted whole branzino for two, dusted with fennel pollen. Pastry Chef Stuart Marx’s talent is mythical so you won’t want to miss his warm apple tarte tatin, the fruit enrobed in layers of gossamer pastry and finished with buttery caramel. The cultivated wine list is heavy on French bottles but it spans the globe and includes biodynamic and natural offerings.
If the weather cooperates, the panoramic wrap-around porch is a delight but the fireplace is cozy if it’s a tad chilly. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer views of the surf whether you’re seated indoors or out.
Pier Village presents an eclectic range of shops, dining and nightlife. Drop by Aloha Grove for surf wear, Atlantic Books for the perfect beach read and Playa Bowls for an energy-inducing smoothie.
The New Jersey Repertory Company is one of the most respected non-profit regional theaters in the country. Its mission is to nurture both established and unknown writers. Audiences reap the benefit with a robust schedule of productions throughout the year.
If you crave the wave, Summa Love’s surf camps, private lessons and al fresco yoga can’t be beat.
NJ Transit from New York’s Penn Station to Long Branch takes 96 minutes.
Photo credits: Bungalow Hotel, Summa Love