Great weather for the shore. Senior Correspondent David Cruz spoke to the editor of New Jersey Monthly, Ken Schlager, about what to expect when you go.
Cruz: Ken, so this is the big summer issue. It’s called the Shore Guide of New Jersey Monthly.
Schlager: Correct. It’s our June issue, but it’s actually our only multi-month issue. It’s on newsstands for three months throughout June, July and August.
Cruz: What makes a good shore town? I mean, my favorite is Asbury Park, but it’s mostly been where I’ve always gone. What are some of the things that make a really good shore town?
Schlager: I think it’s different things for different people, you know, it depends. Families are looking for one thing, young folks are looking for something else. Great beaches, obviously, great access to the beaches, interesting places to stay. Some of the shore towns have terrific restaurant scenes, dining scenes, and some of them just have funky clam bars. Some of them are real quiet places and that’s what people are looking for. Some of them have a big scene during the day, nightlife and all this, so the great thing about the Jersey Shore is that you can find all that in different places. There’s so much variety.
Cruz: If you had to give a person a suggestion, one you’re a young millennial looking for kind of a party town, and then another one you’re a young millennial, or someone, looking for a quieter town. What’s the place to go if you really want to party?
Schlager: Belmar, Seaside Heights, places like that have always been considered sort of the party towns. The really hot town right now is Asbury Park. I mean, Asbury Park over the past ten years or so have really come into its own. It has a great restaurant scene, it’s always had the great rock and roll scene and that’s still there, which is really cool — the Stone Pony is still there, Wonderbar is still there. But now there are other things going on. Two of the recent openings over the past year that have really made a difference there is Asbury Park has its first hotel in years, The Asbury Hotel. It’s 110 rooms, kind of boutique hotel, I think it’s actually booked through the summer. But they’ve got these public spaces, bars, there’s a rooftop bar which is really hot, and then there’s also a rooftop bar at the other kind of newish place that’s really galvanizing the scene, which is the beer hall there, the Asbury Festhalle. And that, if you know in Hoboken, Pilsener House, this a spinoff from that and it’s really crowded, great food, great beer selection and a great scene.
Cruz: And Asbury Park is more of a twelve months out of the year shore town.
Schlager: Right, absolutely.
Cruz: Because a lot of stuff is happening there restaurant wise and music wise.
Schlager: Yes, a lot of stuff and shopping. The Cookman Avenue area is really cool, galleries, antique shops and all this kind of stuff.
Cruz: What is a good quiet place to go? Is Cape May still the spot?
Schlager: Well, I wouldn’t call Cape May quiet, it’s a little bit more laid back than some of the party towns. It’s my favorite place to go and I am amazed by how many people particularly in northern Jersey have never gone that far.
Cruz: That’s way down.
Schlager: Exit 0. But, it is a place that has something for everyone. There’s so much there, so many different types of hotels from a grand hotel like Congress Hall to in a more family style hotels like The Montreal and The Ocean Club. Beachfront hotels are really nice, great restaurant scene, lots going on at night plus bicycling and birding and there is a lot of history there and just so much to do.
Cruz: I think for me of all of the shore towns it’s really the most beautiful, just pleasant to look at.
Schlager: Right, I didn’t even mention the Victorians, they preserved all of these Victorian buildings there. A lot of them are B&Bs where you can stay in or just walk around, ride around and look and it’s kind of like a living museum.
Cruz: You’ve got an app as well that kind of condenses all of this information into a usable thing that if you want to make it down to the shore you can just open the app.
Schlager: Right, free download, our Jersey shore app. And wherever you are at the shore, it’s location aware. If you want to look for restaurants, bars anything like that, where to eat, where to stay, all that’s in there and it will show you the stuff that is nearest to you.
Cruz: I think the Jersey shore town that got the most press over the past year other than Asbury Park is Atlantic City and for two totally different reasons. What is your sense of has Atlantic City turned a corner or are we still just kind of hopeful?
Schlager: The financial situation is still kind of a mess, but the casino scene has kind of consolidated as some has closed. The ones that are still there are actually doing well, and people are still investing. There is a lot of new investment in businesses and attractions in Atlantic City. There is a lot of interesting things going on there. There’s a few great restaurant openings that we’re excited about this summer, there’s two Jose Garces restaurants in the Trop, a new Michael Symon restaurant at the Borgata.
Cruz: That’s a whole different shore experience right? The gambling makes that a kind of a different shore experience.
Schlager: You don’t have to be a gambler to go to the shore. If you love great food, entertainment, and the beach there, Atlantic City’s beach is beautiful and the boardwalk is classic.
Cruz: What are some of the trends? I see a lot of times Asbury has this whole north boardwalk section that’s all food trucks. That’s kind of an urban thing, is that one of the trends in shore towns?
Schlager: Absolutely, yeah. Food is the big thing at the shore. Everybody has their favorite places to go for food, ice cream. We are now seeing more of these kind of boutique, sorbet type ice cream places opening up at the shore, interesting bakeries opening up in different shore towns and all different types of food experiences beyond the kind of pizza and hot dogs. In fact, we have a piece in our June issue of New Jersey Monthly about healthy board walk food, imagine that?
Cruz: You’re crazy. It’s the shore guide, New Jersey monthly, Ken Schlager is the editor.
Schlager: OK, thank you.