Updated: May 7
Covid be damned! Long Branch's beachfront, promenade and Pier Village not only survived 2020 without any significant changes, but the beachfront area is coming back stronger than any place at the Shore in 2021.
More than a half dozen new restaurants are opening by July 4. Re-paving of the promenade and Ocean Avenue is complete. The Carousel is whirling again. And people are moving into the brand new condos and apartments that line the four-lane Ocean Boulevard that's the main road along the beach.
Seven new eateries open this spring at Pier Village
Since 2005 when Pier Village opened, Long Branch's promenade has welcomed diners with Avenue Le Club, McLoone's Pier House and Sirena Restaurant, offering white-table, sit-down fine dining with views of the ocean. Joining them in 2019-20 as part of the second phase of Pier Village were upscale Mexican Branch Cantina, kosher LBK Grill, coffee shop Buzz Bait and 100 Ocean, an American Mediterranean restaurant. In the next two months, these restaurants will open:
Hummus Republic, first East Coast location of popular Mediterranean eatery
Robinson Ale House, a branch of the restaurant in Red Bank
Salt Steakhouse, David Mizrahi kosher steakhouse
Kahuna Burgers, a Hawaiian flared, eatery
Mr. Wish, fresh tea beverages
The Baked Bear, ice cream sandwich eatery
K Kitchen to Go, Asian delicacies
For shoppers, Asbury Park's Hot Mess Hair Salon opens its second location, a trendy new men's
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clothing store is scheduled to open and Makers + Shakers, the Asbury Bazaar's curated retail experience will open featuring established and emerging creatives, beautiful homewares, stunning lifestyle products, vintage goods and delicious food & beverages.
For the younger kids, the Pier Village Corousel is open year round weekends noon to 8pm.
Tickets are $4 each or 3 for $10, and Long Branch students ride for $2. Moving closer to the action is the arcade, Boardwalk Fun 'N Games.
Hotels, condos and apartments
Along Ocean Boulevard, the equivalent of the population of Sea Bright or Monmouth Beach is ready to move. Construction of condos and apartments is essentially complete, adding more than 1,700 condos or apartments just south of the first phase of Pier Village. Added to the mix are two new hotels: the Bungalow Hotel and the 67-room Wave Resort, whose curved roof gives the promenade a much-needed modern look.
Finally, the city showed muscle and foresight by forcing the owners of the decrepit Sea View Towers to demolish the twin towers this spring. It shows the city is determined to catapult the hottest residential and retail market on the Jersey Shore into the future.
Now, what's left is to figure out how to connect the beachfront to the city's downtown via the empty lots on lower Broadway. Lawsuits and counter lawsuits have stalled that effort.
Tips for Visiting Long Branch Beach
What's New: It's open all year (unlike last year)! The new addition to the Skateplex opened late last year.
Road Access & Parking: Parallel to the beach is four-lane Ocean Boulevard, the major access to the beach, parking, restaurants and accommodations. South along the ocean starting at Pier Village is Ocean Avenue, a mostly one way street that can make access confusing. In season, there is $10 a day parking at the city lot west of Ocean Avenue between South Broadway and Garfield Avenue. From May 1 through September 30, there is limited metered parking (use mPay2 app) along the street at Pier Village at a cost of $2 an hour Monday through Thursday and $3 an hour Friday through Sunday and holidays from 10 am to midnight. The privately-run, indoor parking garage at Pier Village is very expensive.
Amenities: There are outdoor showers and restrooms along the main promenade and beach area that starts at Seaview Avenue by Seven Presidents Park and continues to the end of Ocean Avenue which meets Brighton Avenue by Ocean Boulevard.
Beaches: Seasonal beach badges cost $45 for adults 18-61 and $30 for students 14-17. Everyone else has free access. For daily beach access, adult badges are $5 weekdays and $7 weekends and $3 for people 14-17. Seniors and children access the beach for free.
Starring Role: Annie was filmed at The Great Hall at Shadow Lawn at Monmouth University in West Long Branch and The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Aniston and Gerard Butler was filmed at Monmouth Park Racetrack in Oceanport. Both locations are only a few miles from the beach.
This spring, summer and fall, follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he walks the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park, from Old Barney to Beach Haven, from Brigantine to Cape May.
Next stop: Long Branch's Elberon section at Beach Walk Mile post 14. See all the Jersey Shore Walk stories at www.JerseyShoreWalk.com