The Jersey Shore: A Sensational Holiday Alternative

Dec 16, 2009

Old-Time Shopping Districts and Outlet Centers….Stimulate the Escape Value of Seasonal Tradition!

While the arrival of MTV’s new beach-based reality show is grabbing the sensational headlines, the true reality at the Jersey Shore this holiday season is the stimulating sensation of its timely value as a region rich in traditional celebrations. Combined with its varied shopping experiences, from old-time charm to savings-minded outlet centers, the Jersey Shore is ideal for a day or weekend winter escape.

The holidays are the perfect time of year to leave your crowded malls behind and explore the old-time spirit of Main Street U.S.A. that so many Jersey Shore towns of Ocean and Monmouth Counties offer. These thriving throwback districts are a relaxing antidote to the over-stimulation of the urban holiday shopping environment. Their universal appeal to couples, singles, families and seniors has a rewarding warmth that’s a worthy alternative to expensive trips to warmer climates – particularly in this stressful economy. And it’s all just a drive from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and other major East Coast cities.

Take advantage of the endless antique shops, boutiques and outlets that the Jersey Shore provides and pick a weekend of eclectic shopping, delectable dining and relaxation that coincides with any of your favorite special holiday events, highlighted below.

The Jersey Shore’s pair of outlet centers provides the essential deal-worthy shopping alternative at either end of the Garden State Parkway. Combining high-end name brand quality with deep discounts, the Jersey Shore Premium Outlets (Tinton Falls) and Jackson Premium Outlets (Jackson) have bus departure service from Manhattan’s Port Authority, and their own NJ Transit stops, to help get you there and numerous “shop and stay” hotel packages that make it even easier and affordable to stick around. Only Long Branch has the self-contained, resort-style holiday shop-and-stay experience found only at Pier Village and Ocean Place.

For the Main Street-minded, wake to the sounds of the ocean, enjoy a savory breakfast, then explore the small town intimacy made post-card picturesque for the holidays in historic districts such as Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, and the entire downtowns of Ocean Grove, Toms River, Spring Lake, Point Pleasant Beach and Red Bank.

If trendy boutique hotels bring your face a smile, choose from a list of getaways that make you feel like you’re thousands of miles away! Pick from the luxurious Blue Bay Inn in one of New Jersey’s best kept travel secrets, Atlantic Highlands, the top-rated Victorian style Majestic B&B in Ocean Grove, or tuck in yourself at the stunning Oyster Point and Molly Pitcher Inn in Red Bank. Even if you’re coming to the area to visit family, why stay with them when you can enhance the getaway with an affordable hotel room? Breakfast, lunch or dinner also can be a high point of your visit with an enormous choice of kitschy diners and family eateries to five-star restaurants with cuisine from celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay and David Burke.

ASBURY PARK – Along the revitalized Cookman Avenue, you can shop for beach gear, sporting goods, taffy and other familiar fare, but the accent is on home furnishings and fine art. At the Shoppes at the Arcade ( 658 Cookman Ave.), for instance, vendors include Anglesea Treasures, with such eye-popping home decor as an $850 pair of metal dogs, and LaPlaca Pottery Works, with a wide range of raku designs.
OCEAN GROVE – If Mayberry existed at the Jersey Shore, it would be the strip of Main Avenue, with its tall trees and abundant flowers. Stores include Cheese on Main (No. 53), where you can buy, uh, cheese on Main, and Kitch & Kaboodle (No. 76), a fun place to pick through vintage housewares, linens and knick-knacks.
POINT PLEASANT BEACH Head to the corner of Bay and Trenton avenues to get your antiques fix at the Point Pleasant Antique Emporium and nearby Fond Memories Antiques ( 628 Bay Ave.) and Canvas House Antiques ( 614 Trenton Ave.).
RED BANK – This jeweled setting offers antique and luxury shopping galore, with fabulous boutiques and great restaurants for lunch, from the ultra-chic Red to the down–home comfort of the historic Broadway Diner, not to mention the world-class concerts at the Count Basie Theatre. The beautiful surroundings off the Navesink River make Red Bank absolutely blissful.
SPRING LAKE: Historic Spring Lake’s captivating shopping district welcomes guests from around the world with its small-village graciousness. Nestled within the family-friendly “Jewel of the New Jersey Shore,” Spring Lake’s shopping district provides world-renowned boutiques, unparalleled customer service, unique galleries, casual outdoor eateries and fine dining experiences. Downtown is a short tree-lined walk from the soothing ocean waves and non-commercial boardwalk, charming B&Bs and hotels, and an enchanting park surrounding a spring-fed lake.
TOMS RIVER – Visit historic downtown Toms River for its unique stores, shops, antique stores, art galleries, and restaurants or stop by the many shops and accommodations along Route 37.

Hotel deals are abundant in the area. You can choose the getaway that fits your style and budget from the “Shop & Stay” deals listed below. Some packages include room, breakfast, a gift card and more. In addition, Hotels Unlimited is offering special low Holiday rates for corporate, military and leisure travelers at the Ramada of Toms River and The Holiday Inn of Toms River.

Jersey Shore Premium Outlets, Tinton Falls – Find impressive savings at 120 stores including Adidas, Banana Republic, BCBG Max Azria, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Cole Haan and much more. Academy Bus has four daily departures and five on the weekends from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The outlet center has “Shop and Stay” deals, some including gift cards, with 17 local hotels: Albatross Hotel, Ocean Grove (732-775-2085); Avon Manor Inn, Avon-by-the-Sea (732-776-7770); The Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, Asbury Park (732-776-6700); Courtyard by Marriott, Tinton Falls (732-389-2100); Courtyard by Marriott, Red Bank (732-530-5552); Courtyard by Marriott, Wall (732-919-2780); Holiday Inn, Tinton Falls (732-544-9300); Holiday Inn Express, West Long Branch (732-542-1234); The Inns of Ocean Grove (732-774-6552); The Majestic Hotel, Ocean Grove (732-775-6100); Molly Pitcher Inn, Red Bank (732-747-2500); The Oyster Point Hotel, Red Bank (732-530-8200); Radisson Hotel, Freehold (732-780-3400) Residence Inn by Marriott, Neptune (732-643-9350); Residence Inn, Tinton Falls (732-389-8100); Sheraton, Eatontown (732-542-6500); Staybridge Suites, Eatontown (732-380-9300).

Jackson Premium Outlets, Jackson – An impressive collection of the finest brands such as Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, J.Crew, Liz Claiborne, Nautica, Nike, Reebok, Tommy Hilfiger in 70 stores, and the only NJ outlet with Coach and Polo Ralph Lauren. Located just minutes from Six Flags Great Adventure, off I-195, it’s also accessible by NJ Transit bus. “Shop and Stay” packages, some with gift cards, can be found at the Dancer Farm bed & breakfast in New Egypt (732-752-0303); The Courtyard in Red Bank (732- 530-5552); The Courtyard in Tinton Falls (732-389-2100); Courtyard by Marriott in Wall (732- 919-2780); Holiday Inn, Tinton Falls (732-542-1234); Holiday Inn, Toms River (732-244-4000); Holiday Inn Express, West Long Branch (732-544-9300); Hotel Vincencia, South Brunswick (732-758-1600); Laurel Pond Resort, Cream Ridge (609-758-4635); Radisson Hotel, Freehold (732-780-3400); Ramada Inn, Toms River (732-905-2626); Residence Inn by Marriott, Neptune (732-643-9350) and Staybridge Suites, Eatontown (732-380-9300).


Now through December 23rd
Come see professionally decorated Gingerbread creations at 14 businesses in the Red Bank Business District.
Enter at participating stores for your chance to win an overnight hotel stay at The Oyster Point Hotel, tickets to the Count Basie Theatre and a Red Bank Gift Cheque shopping spree (value $700). Donations collected at participating stores to benefit Holiday Express.

Now through Dec. 31 – Holmdel
One of the most extravagant drive through light displays in the tri-state area. Opening at 6 p.m., the spectacular is a 2.5-mile drive through a forest over 5 million lights in over 225 displays in and around the premises, while a radio station plays Christmas Carols. Info: 732-203-2500.

Saturdays in December – Red Bank
Every Saturday afternoon, from 1-5pm, ride through the Red Bank Business District and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holiday season! Rides leave from Bridge Avenue (across from the Galleria) and the Murphy Style Grill ( 26 Broad Street)

1300 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park
Asbury Santa: Saturdays and Sundays in December, noon-6 p.m.
It’s a Wonderful Life: Dec. 23 @ 8 p.m.
Holiday Filmathon: Dec. 20 @ 11 a.m. (FREE)
The Grand Arcade, which separates the Paramount Theater from Convention Hall at the north end of the Asbury boardwalk, hosts Asbury Santa each weekend in December near the 40-foot Holiday Tree. Come tell Santa your holiday wishes and get your photos taken together. The classic holiday event of the Asbury Park Film Initiative’s second annual Dinner and a Movie series features an expanded lineup of restaurants and Frank Capra’s quintessential holiday classic. Start at a participating restaurant at 6:30 pm for a special prix fixe dinner at The Harrison, Carmine’s, Belmonte’s, Old Man Rafferty’s, Il Pavone, McLoone’s, Laila’s, the Adriatic, Asbury Pie, Watermark or Langosta Lounge. You’ll be given a ticket along with your check to catch “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Paramount. Without dinner, it’s just $5 at the door. And the Holiday Filmathon, FREE courtesy of the APFI and the Asbury Park Boardwalk, brings a full day of children’s holiday movies to the Paramount, with a lineup that includes The Polar Express, Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story, and Elf. Box Office: 732.897.8810.

Monmouth Museum, Brookdale Community College
765 Newman Springs Road, Lincroft
Now through January 3, 2010
The annual holiday exhibition will explore the theme of “Festive Feasts and Culinary Creations” with trees and trimmings decorated by local garden clubs and the Friends of the Museum. As usual, the ever-expanding model railroad layout will play a prominent role in the holiday festivities. Call or see site for museum hours (732) 747-2266.

Victorian Pierson-Sculthorpe House., 26 Hadley Ave., Toms River
December 10
Sample scones, delicious finger sandwiches, and a variety of desserts as a strolling musician entertains. While you’re there, visit the Little Treasures Boutique for your Christmas shopping. Seatings at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Reservations required. Info: 732-341-1880.

Tuckerton Seaport, 120 W. Main St., Rt. 9.
House Tour: December 10 & 11
Christkindlmarkt: December 12
Visit charming and festively decorated Tuckerton and Little Egg Harbor homes on the Holiday House Tour. Enjoy a wonderful holiday display of “ Holiday through the Decades: Trains,Trees and Treasures ” in the Seaport’s Lighthouse. Self-guided map and light refreshments provided. Hours: 11 am – 4 pm. Reservations recommended. The Christkindlmarkt is an old-fashioned Christmas featuring holiday crafts and gifts under huge heated tents. Sip hot mulled cider, enjoy chestnuts roasting on an open fire, sing-a-long with strolling carolers, children’s rides, ice cutting demonstrations, horse drawn cart, entertainment, decoy carvers, crafters, refreshments plus wine tasting by Valenzano Winery. Shuttles available to downtown Tuckerton merchants. Info: 609-296-8868.

December 12 & 13 – Ocean Grove
Step back in time in Historic Ocean Grove with a tour throughout the town. The Doll Houses of the Past Exhibit happens both days at the Historical Society Museum 10am-4pm & 12pm-4pm. Also on Sunday, catch the first of two narrated Narrated Horse and Carriage Rides this holiday season, from 1pm-3:30pm. For complete schedule of events, call (732) 774-1391 or go to

Historic Allaire Village within Allaire State Park Rt. 524/4265 Atlantic Ave., Wall
December 12 & 19
The magic of the season comes alive during Allaire Village’s Holiday Lantern Tours. Visitors get a glimpse of the Historic Village at night as authentically-clad historic museum interpreters lead groups through the lantern-lit Village streets bedecked in Holiday splendor. Catch a glimpse of the past and enjoy many of the historic buildings through the enchantment of candlelight as costumed interpreters explain the various Holiday customs of the time.The smells of fresh baked treats and hot mulled cider greet visitors entering the Bakery, and the sounds of hammer against anvil ring through the night, like hundreds of Christmas Bells, at the Blacksmith’s Shop. The Chapel is alive with Holiday music of the period and visitors are welcome visit the home of Howell Works Company Manager James Parshal Smith where costumed interpreters will be demonstrating hearth cooking. The culmination of the tour is a stop at the Big house, the home of James P. Allaire and his family. Here visitors will have an opportunity to see how an affluent family celebrated the Holiday Season and also gain an understanding of the holiday traditions of France as they tour the home.
Reservations recommended. Hours: 5-8 pm. Info: (732) 919-3500.

Count Basie Theatre 99 Monmouth Street, Red Bank
December 19
It’s the 19th Anniversary edition of this annual all-star holiday concert revue of seasonal music, to benefit area food banks and other charities. Born at a small club in New Jersey in the late 80’s, venerable Jersey rocker Burtnik has seen his show grow larger each year, evolving into a New York-New Jersey area tradition not to be missed. The colorful cast of characters changes from year to year, and last year featured over 100 performers. Past guests have included Patty Smyth, John McEnroe, Phoebe Snow, Marshall Crenshaw, The Patti Smith Band, Fred Schneider (B-52’s), Jill Sobule, , Jeffrey Gaines, Freedy Johnston, Dan Bern, John Waite, Curtis Stigers, STYX, Mary Lee Kortes, and Willie Nile, among others. Show time: 7:30 p.m. Tickets and info: (732) 842-9000.

44 Longstreet Road, Holmdel
December 19 & 20
Enjoy an old-fashioned Victorian Christmas and visit with Santa at this living historical farm, with the purpose of interpreting the agricultural activities in Monmouth County’s rural past. This interpretation includes the breeds of animals and crops raised at this site in the 1890’s. The sights, sounds, and smells of rural Monmouth County in the 1890s have been re-created on nine acres at Historic Longstreet Farm in Holmdel Park. Interpreters in period dress show both daily and seasonal agricultural and domestic activities. Visit Santa from Noon-3 pm. Info: (732) 842-4000.

To learn more about the fantastic travel experiences awaiting on the Jersey Shore, go to The Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau is a non-profit corporation charged with the marketing and promotion of New Jersey’s Monmouth & Ocean Counties as a premier travel destination and is supported in part by a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel & Tourism.

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