what i’ll miss about new jersey

Before I get too used to living in Maryland, I wanted to do a post reminiscing about New Jersey. I feel like New Jersey gets a bad rap. If you just drive through it on either the turnpike or the parkway, you drive through a lot of industrial areas, and they kinda smell and are pretty ugly. Between that and MTV’s representation of the Jersey Shore, yeah not the best. I went to college in New Jersey [Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ] and lived in Eatontown, NJ for 4 years, so while I am not a native New Jerseyan, I feel like I lived there long enough to appreciate it. This list is in no particular order, and a lot of them have to do with the food and the ocean.

  • The view from Hoboken. This was my view for the 4 years that I was in college, and was the view from my dorm room for 2 of them. Stevens is up on a cliff overlooking the Hudson River, and you can’t get better views than this.

hobokenview

  • Living close to New York City. Hoboken was very close, but Eatontown was still close enough that you could go in for a concert or event on short notice. You never had to worry about your favorite band skipping your city because most band tours kicked off or closed in New York. We also were able to attend a lot of parades, festivals, and broadway shows.
  • Cheap gas that you don’t have to pump. Thanks to state regulations, you aren’t allowed to pump your own gas. Luckily, gas prices are cheap thanks to instate refineries. After dealing with pumping gas in New Hampshire winters, I always appreciated having someone else do it.
  • Great public transportation. Buses and trains go everywhere, including into New York City. It was great when we didn’t have a car in college, and was great for getting in and out of the city when we didn’t feel like driving/finding parking.
  • Water Taxis. While a little more pricey than the New Jersey Transit, it was a great way to see New York City on a beautiful day. They also ran from just north of Eatontown, which made it a shorter commute.
  • Taylor Ham. Also known as porkroll if you are from south jersey. This salty meat is a delicious part of Taylor ham, egg, and cheese on a bagel, which is my favorite breakfast sandwich. We brought a bunch of it with us when we moved, but we recently discovered that our local Wegmans carries it.

taylorhameggcheese

  • Bagels. While New York bagels are famous, New Jersey bagels are still pretty damn good. Especially when you catch them as they come right out of the oven.
  • Sandy Hook-Gateway National Park. This national park was located on a barrier spit off the coast. It has gorgeous sandy beaches, and a great paved path that was perfect for bike riding and walking. The top of it was Fort Hancock, but now is open to the public to explore. It was one of our favorite spots to spend a day. You could see New York City from the tip of the barrier. [The bridge on the left connects Staten Island to Brooklyn, and in the center is One World Trade mid-construction]

nycskyline

  • Monmouth County Park Systems. Monmouth County had an excellent park system, totaling close to 16,000 acres of land. They were great for hiking, biking, swimming, etc. Every park that we went to was beautifully maintained.
  • The Henry Hudson Trail. Part of the Monmouth County Park Systems, it is a multi-use paved trail that spans 24 miles. It was another of our favorite places to ride our bikes.
  • McLoone’s restaurants. We frequented the locations in Sea Bright, and Long Branch whenever we wanted an excellent seafood meal with a view. Their lobster encrusted sea bass is exquisite, and they make a mean sidecar. The Long Branch location overlooked the ocean, and had big floodlights to light up the beach at night. Unfortunately, their Sea Bright location is still closed due to damage from Hurricane Sandy [reopening in 2015], but their outdoor seating had a beautiful view overlooking an inlet. They also served some of the best lobster mac and cheese that I’ve ever had.

mcloone's

sunset

  • Jersey Palm Trees. No, New Jersey doesn’t actually have palm trees,but they do bury them in the sand every summer, and it made me feel like I was in some exotic local every time I went to the beach in the summer.

jerseypalms

 

  • Ice Cream at Nagel’s & Ocean Grove. Nagel’s Apothecary Cafe is located in Ocean Grove, NJ. They have an excellent selection of ice cream and other treats, but what really set it apart was its location. Ocean Grove is a small area of the Jersey shore that was originally a Christian summer camp. It also home to the Great Auditorium, which was built in 1894 and can accommodate an audience of 6,000. The community is still owned by the camp meeting association, and all of the properties are leased to individuals and businesses. Most of the houses are beautiful examples of Victorian architecture.  They also have a tent city of 114 tents which are erected every summer around the Great Auditorium. There is a 10-year waiting list for summer rentals of tents.

oceangrovehouses

  • Italian Food & Pizza. Thanks to the abundance of Italians, New Jersey has an excellent selection of Italian cuisine. Tutta Pasta in Hoboken, and Illiano’s Cafe in Eatontown were some of our favorites. Between the fresh baked bread and giant plates of homemade pasta, it is a carb lover’s dream. Good pizza was available pretty much anywhere, either by the slice or by the pie. Giovanni’s and Benny Tudino’s were great options in Hoboken (Benny’s if you wanted their famous 19″ slice, Giovanni’s if you didn’t.)
  • Diverse Other Cuisines. Besides the Italians, New Jersey has a diverse population, which translated to a great selection of restaurants. Red Bank, NJ was home to a few of our favorites – Pho Le, Dublin House, TEMPLE, and Teak. It seemed that no matter what you were craving, you were able to find it.
  • Fabric Inspirations. Located in Manalapan, NJ, they had a wide selection of quilting fabrics. The women who ran the store were always very friendly and helpful. I usually went in needing one thing and left with an armful. It was a perfect spot to browse, and find inspiration among the beautiful selection of fabric.
  • Turning Point. The first time we went to Turning Point for breakfast (They only serve breakfast and lunch), the wait was over 1 1/2 hours. We almost decided that it wasn’t worth it and went to a diner. Luckily, we decided to wait it out because it was completely worth the wait. They have a couple of locations, and I’ve been to the ones in Hoboken and Long Branch. Both are equally good, and if you ever get a chance to try their OMG French Toast, do it. It is whole wheat french toast, topped with caramelized bacon and walnuts and is served with a pumpkin mascarpone and maple syrup.  Insider’s tip: They don’t take reservations, but you can call ahead. We used to call when we woke up, and by the time we got dressed and drove over there, our table was ready.
  • Diners. New Jersey is known for their diners. Some are good and some are great, and most are open 24 hours. The portions are always large, and prices are low. My favorite was Mastoris Diner in Bordentown, NJ.
  • Jaimie at Jon Lori Salon. I am extremely picky about who does my hair, and Jaimie was a dream come true. She colored and styled my hair for the 4 years while I was in Eatontown, and I am tempted to drive back to have her continue to do my hair. I always looked forward to my sessions with her, even when it meant sitting in a chair for 5 hours [highlights + thick hair adds up to a lot of time]. No matter how vague my wants were, she always managed to pull of my color flawlessly and always made me feel beautiful.
  • The Boardwalks. Most of the shore towns in New Jersey have a boardwalk. They are a great way to walk along the ocean without having to deal with any sand. During the summers they were usually packed, which made for great people watching. Unfortunately a lot of them were destroyed after Hurricane Sandy, but most have been rebuilt.

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  • Watching Storms. You could always tell when there was a storm off shore because the waves would be huge. We would also occasionally drive down and watch the lightening over the water.

 

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lightening

  • Sun Rises Over the Ocean. On the rare mornings that I woke up before the sun rose on summer weekends, I’d head down to beach with a cup of coffee and watch the sun rise over the ocean. It was extremely relaxing and just beautiful.

sunrise

New Jersey was my home for 8 years, and I’m glad that I lived there. The next time that you drive through it, I urge you to pull off the highway, and check out what New Jersey has to offer even if it is just for a couple of hours.

ocean

 

 

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