The Jersey Shore isn’t what you think it is.As a resident of the Midwest, the only connection I had with The Jersey Shore is what I watched on television and the stereotypes that went along with shows from the state: Big hair and muscles, and tans for days. So, what did I expect to see when I visited? You guessed it.
Instead, I saw soft, sandy beaches that stretch for miles. I heard stories from kind, compassionate locals that love their state and are proud to tell you about the great parks, moderate climate, and family-friendly areas like Long Branch, an area of New Jersey that took quite a hit when Hurricane Sandy came ashore nearly two years ago and is back to its old self- and maybe even better than ever.
This summer, I was honored to visit one the top-notch Jersey Shore hotels, the Ocean Place Resort and Spa in Long Branch, New Jersey. My 12 year-old daughter and I enjoyed every second of our stay. We woke up early to watch the sun peek over the Atlantic Ocean and stayed up late to watch the twinkling lights of Manhattan in the distance.
We walked along the sandy beaches collecting sea glass and shells, and had a blast watching seagulls dive for our leftover French fries.
And, if you can believe it, I happily kept myself and my tween away from the television for our entire stay and we focused, instead, on the beauty and resiliency of the Jersey Shore.
Family Fun at Ocean Place Resort and Spa
Having just undergone a major renovation, Ocean Place Resort and Spa is more family-friendly than ever! The resort has a private beach area that’s the perfect spot to play in the Jersey sand by day and awesome for bonfires and entertainment by night. Lawn chairs and chaises line the beach for resort guests and large umbrellas are available for folks that want a little less sun.
On rainy or cooler days, Ocean Place has fun indoor options for families. A giant checkerboard in the lobby is a fun way to pass the time and my daughter and I loved pushing the large checker pieces around the board. Of course, she won. Every game.
There’s an awesome indoor pool, as well as an outdoor pool on the second floor of the resort that gives visitors a ton of swimming options. Although we didn’t use the pools when we visited (The Kid wanted to spend every possible moment on the beach!) the newly renovated pool areas have tons of lounge chairs for catching a few rays in the gorgeous New Jersey sun.
There’s also a Kid’s Club area that has a giant flatscreen television and activities for younger kids, movies, and large, plush couches for playing games or simply hanging out.
And if the kids are still wanting something to do, Ocean Place has free wifi throughout the resort. The resort makes it easy to keep kids entertained with family-friendly activities, and my daughter was no exception. We did appreciate the free wifi for doing online school work and logging into her virtual classrooms, though.
Lodging at Ocean Place Resort and Spa
Newly renovated rooms and suites at Ocean Place Resort and Spa bring the palette of sand and surf into the guest rooms. Comfy beds with crisp white linens were absolute heaven to crawl into after a fun day of hanging out on the beach.
The rooms are trimmed in shades of blue (even the sliding glass door to the balcony is turquoise blue!) and no matter what side of the resort your room is on, there’s a gorgeous view of the beach or the city of Long Branch.
Dining at Ocean Place Resort and Spa
Along with the rest of the resort’s renovation, the in-house restaurant, SeaView, has been given a freshening up and its fabulous menu and pretty view of the beach make it a no-brainer for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when visiting. We loved the breakfast buffet, tasty lunch menu, and creative dinner options. Oh, and The Kid loved the battery-powered, light-up dinner menus. SeaView Restaurant has a lower lighting option for dinner and the lit menus made it very easy to check out meal options without needing a flashlight or your cell phone.
Adults looking for some relaxation in a casual atmosphere can take off their shoes and head outside to Tiki Bar where the the sandy beach is right outside the resort’s back door. It’s a relaxed atmosphere with picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean and Pier Village, Long Branch’s upscale shopping and dining area.
Planning Your Visit to Ocean Place Resort and Spa
Ocean Place is just over an hour from Manhattan, making the resort the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple, and there’s plenty of options for getting back and forth.
SeaStreak is a year-round ferry service that runs from two locations in New Jersey several times per day. New Jersey Transit has a scenic rail option that runs directly from Long Branch into New York Penn Station almost hourly and is very cost effective at $30 for a round trip adult fare.
My daughter and I used the free shuttle service at the resort to take us to the train station and, upon our return to Long Branch, we called when we were nearly at the station and the shuttle was ready for us. Not only was the train ride a fun way to see beautiful areas of New Jersey, it certainly beat driving in New York City traffic.