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  • NicoleDeRosa

NEW JERSEY - Part 1: Asbury Park to Freehold

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

New Jersey is packed with things to do and spots to see, whether you’re interested in discovering hidden gems or exploring local hotspots. We've got it all...mountains, lakes, beaches, farms, cities, small towns, museums, vineyards, historic landmarks, skiing, entertainment...I could go on and on. Best of all, nothing is too far away!

Life in the Garden State may be wonderful but, along with all the perks, there are a few downfalls. If you can afford it, it's definitely worth it, but, it is one of the most frequent complaints that you hear about the Garden State. You can practically afford a palace in Pennsylvania for what you might pay for a modest home in some parts of New Jersey. That being said, it's also a wonderful place to go on vacation as well.

I've compiled my favorite restaurants, activities, attractions, and more! This is only Part 1, so be sure to check out Part 2 afterwards. Also, let me know in the comments if you have more spots to share!



Cookman Creamery

711 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit their website here

Family owned frozen dessert shop, specializing in hand-crafted small batch ice creams. Plant based vegan flavors available! All their vegan bases begin with coconut cream, almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter, sweetened primarily with agave and brown rice syrup. Check them out here



660 Cookman Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit the website here

Head into this beautifully designed corner restaurant for sushi and Japanese cuisine. The lounge feeling that they have cultivated is the perfect match for the masterfully designed dishes and innovative cocktails you will enjoy.

Pascale & Sabine

601 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit the website here

A part of the local restaurant company Smith, Pascal & Sabine is a trip to France from the second you sit. This tastefully designed location pairs classic French food with modern touches to create one of the most sought after bites in town.


513 Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit their website here

Cardinal is the culinary collaboration of chefs Grace Crossman and Laura Brahn. By day, they can be found providing full service breakfast and lunch with great carryout and, by night, hosting pop-up dinners both inside their restaurant and out.

Cardinal also offers catering in every which way: from intimate indoor dinner parties to elaborate fire-lit farm weddings.

Crust & Crumble Gourmet Pizzeria & Bakery

633 Lake Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit their website here

The Robinson Ale House

1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit their website here

Tim McLoone's Supper Club

1200 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit the website here

Tim McLoone's Supper Club opened in July 2008, bringing back the supper club concept of days gone by. Tim McLoone's Supper Club offers the experience of great live entertainment paired with exquisite cuisine. Located on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, above The Robinson Ale House, you will find an elegant venue to enjoy some of the area's finest entertainment.

The upscale menu offers many starters and exceptional dinner choices as well as delicious dessert samplings that are made daily by their in-house pastry chef. Tim McLoone's Supper Club can also host your private event in this beautiful room with a view.

The Asbury

210 5th Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit the website here

Sleep | Eat + Drink: The Counter, Soundbooth, Salvation, Asbury Lanes

The Asbury mashes up Asbury Park's Victorian-era history, rock-n-roll present, and shiny future into a new kind of social hub. Come experience their vibrant bars and hangouts like their renowned rooftop lounge Salvation, the outdoor rooftop movie theater Baronet and their lively lobby bar Soundbooth.

There’s something for everyone at The Asbury, whether it’s hanging by the pool, enjoying live music in the lobby, soaking up a well being class on Baronet or simply relaxing in your room!

Stella Marina

800 Ocean Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit the website here

Whether it’s for one of their cocktails and a quick pizza during their happy hour, or a long dinner with family and friends, Stella is sure to cure that craving for Italian. Their Bolognese is as close to pasta perfection as you will find on the boardwalk. Reservations highly suggested. Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis has been spotted here!


517 Lake Avenue, Asbury Park, N.J.

Visit the website here

Known locally as the best special occasion spot in Asbury, the views of the lake paired with their excellent offerings are worthy of a visit.



JUS Organic

135 First Ave. Highlands, N.J.

Visit their website here

Fresh, simple and elegant Organic, Vegan & Vegetarian food inspired by the rich and exotic flavors of the world. Serves Breakfast + Lunch (8am - 4pm / Closed on Tuesdays) Smoothies, Juices, Coffee, Specialty Lattes, Natural Boosts + Add Ons, Kid's Menu, Tartines + Toasts, Buddha Bowls, Salads, Sides.

The Atlantic House

67 First Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

Visit their website here

The Atlantic House is family owned and operated in the vibrant coastal town of Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. Originally from England, the owners take inspiration from the warm pub culture and traditions. In a modern setting, their restaurant is a casual place to gather, eat great food and feel at home.

Made with Locally Sourced and Organic ingredients, Chef Neville's delectable creations are unique and delicious.

Things To Do:

This paved, 10-foot wide, 24-mile long trail is a former railroad right-of-way. It is relatively flat, traveling through both man-made and natural environments. Much of the trail is tree-lined, though some parts have views of surrounding wetlands, streams and fields.

Henry Hudson Trail - An ideal trail as it is flat, shady and you can ride for over 22 miles.

Try the Highlands to Atlantic Highlands bike walk path. In Highlands go to the end of Shore Drive down past the Seastreak ferry. Going straight you can’t help but go into the park. Nice bike ride right along the river , with views of New York, going into Atlantic Highlands.

Activity Center - 945 State Hwy 36, Leonardo 07737

Popamora Point - 369 Shore Drive, Highlands 07732

Visit the Monmouth County Park System website here

Hartshorne Woods Park

1402 Portland Road, Highlands, NJ (Rocky Point Entrance)

307 Navesink Avenue, Locust, NJ (Buttermilk Valley Entrance)

239 Locust Avenue, Locust, NJ (Claypit Creek Entrance)

Visit the website here

A hilly, forested 794-acre site overlooking the Navesink River, this park is among the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast and features prominently in area history as a former coastal defense site. Known for its challenging trail system and scenic views, Hartshorne Woods is a popular park for area hikers, bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.

Park features: group cabin camping (by reservation), cross country ski trails, fishing in the Navesink River and trails for walking, hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It's the perfect place to escape the sounds of suburbia.

Hartshorne Woods Park has the most extensive and challenging series of trails (over 14 miles) in the Park System. They include: Rocky Point (paved), Claypit Creek (water views), Buttermilk Valley (dirt trails) Hikers, bicyclists, and casual walkers can all find trails to their liking. Please stay on marked trails, plan your route, take a trail map, and wear appropriate safety gear. Enter from Navesink Ave., Locust or Portland Rd., Highlands.

Atlantic Highlands Art Council

54 1st Avenue, Atlantic Highlands, N.J.

Visit their website here.

We just stumbled upon this wonderful art gallery. The mission of the Atlantic Highlands Arts Council is to strengthen community through the arts. They are a 100% volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit organization that believes in the power of the arts to transform and enrich communities. Their primary function is to develop and execute events and arts related activities for the benefit of the community.

When we were there, we saw the "CHAOS AND ORDER" exhibit by artists, Paul Hansen and David Levy. Their work is absolutely incredible and kaleidoscope-like in the way that you look at it and within a few seconds, different themes & images reveal themselves. They are truly remarkable pieces and I'm now a huge fan of their art.



Seed to Sprout

410 Main Street, Avon-By-The-Sea, N.J. (also located in Fair Haven)

Visit their website here

Alex & Cara, are the owners of the plant based restaurant Seed to Sprout. Seed to Sprout was born out of a deep passion for plant based eating, and overall natural wellness. What started as a weekly dinner pop-up, quickly grew into a multi location business on the Jersey Shore.

Alex & Cara opened the doors to Seed to Sprout in Fall of 2012, right in the middle of Hurricane Sandy. Through this they were able to connect with the community and meet some of their most loyal customers. Over the years, the restaurant and offerings have evolved to include breakfast, lunch, dinner, pantry products, raw food cleanses, custom cakes, catering, cooking classes, and so much more. Alex & Cara currently have two restaurant locations in Avon-by-the-Sea and Fair Haven, a bakery location in Wanamassa. The Avon-by-the-Sea location even has an Herbal Apothecary!

Cavé Bistro

515 Sylvania Avenue, Avon-By-The-Sea, N.J.

Visit their website here

Cavé Bistro has a wonderful seasonal paleo, gluten-free menu served in a quaint bistro setting. Following his own healthy transformation, Chef Doug shares his passion for serving up nutritious meals made from wholesome ingredients. After discovering better health after he adopted a strict gluten free diet, Doug was inspired to share his discovery. His back problems resolved, he slept soundly and shed 30 pounds without much effort. He opened Cavé Bistro, the Jersey Shore’s first gluten free prepared meals service, and later expanded to become a full service restaurant. One of my favorite items on the menu is their gluten free tacos!



Luna Verde

400 Main Street, Bradley Beach, N.J.

Visit their website here

Authentic Mexican Vegan Restaurant / Latinx Owned / Black Owned / Family Owned / Women Owned / 100% Vegan

The Hidalgo Family name Mexican food as their favorite. As a vegan family, parents Mahonrry and Eslin Morris, along with their son, Marel (who just happens to be an amazing guitarist), have wanted to share their love of delicious and homemade (vegan) Mexican food. When the right location became available, they decided to open a restaurant themselves.

After opening in 2018, Luna Verde has gained a large following all across the state, not only vegans, but also foodies who enjoy made-from-scratch, flavorful, and innovative cooking. Offering bright and spicy salsas, rich guacamole, plenty of tacos, burritos, flautas, chimichangas, desserts, updated specials, and gluten-free options.



Beach Plum Farm

140 Stevens Street, West Cape May, N.J.

Visit their website here

Beach Plum Farm is located less than two miles from Cape May’s famed historic downtown. Established in 2008 by owners Curtis Bashaw and Will Riccio, the working farm is open to the public and welcomes visitors from near and far to enjoy its quaint serenity. Spend an afternoon exploring the open spaces, or stay overnight in one of their beautiful cottages to truly experience the rhythm of farm life.

Choose from five historic cottages and barns situated right on the farm. With space to sleep anywhere from six to eight guests, these homes are perfect for a family vacation, reunion or getaway with friends!

Farm to table meals: Nestled in the main Amish barn, the Farm Kitchen features an ever-changing menu based on what’s fresh in the fields that morning. Enjoy homespun breakfast and lunch selections at a picnic table surrounded by greenery and sun.

Since 2008, Beach Plum Farm has grown to produce over 100 kinds of fruits and vegetables as well as chickens, eggs, and Berkshire hogs. The Farm provides produce and meats to local Cape May restaurants including The Ebbitt Room, Blue Pig Tavern, Rusty Nail, Boiler Room, Louisa’s Café and more!

Garrett Family Preserve at Cape Island Creek

609 Lafayette St, Cape May, N.J.

Visit their website here

Are you looking for something fun and new to do in New Jersey? Give rail biking a try! What exactly is rail biking? An exciting activity that involves riding pedal-powered machines along inactive railroad tracks. It’s like biking, but cooler. Rail bike systems are located across the country, repurposing abandoned railroad tracks to create scenic cycling routes.

Enjoy a scenic ride around an actual nature preserve when you take this rail trail trek. Your four-mile out-and-back journey will take you past creeks & salt marshes, through wildflower fields & alongside green, grassy meadows. It's a scenic trek! A picturesque, peaceful Cape May excursion, it's a wonderful way to enjoy wildlife. You may spot a wide variety of songbirds, raptors, bumblebees & butterflies. The relaxing journey is suitable for riders of most ages & ability levels. The trek lasts about 90 minutes & is best enjoyed at a leisurely pace. A family-friendly day trip activity, rail bikes can fit 2 or 4 riders. Children age 4 & up can ride on their own, with seatbelts. Children under age 4 can ride in a front-mounted carrier.

These rides are made possible thanks to a partnership between Seashore Lines & Revolution Rail Company. Revolution Rail Company also maintains miles of track in the Adirondack Mountains. You can find more information & book your rail bike adventure here. Reservations are recommended. During peak season, rides are available between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., so this journey will work well with whatever vacation schedule you’re planning. They also offer rides on a reduced schedule in the spring and fall. You may even come across wintertime slots. Don’t miss out on the best new nature attraction in Cape May, New Jersey!



Delicious Orchards

320 NJ-34, Colts Neck, N.J.

Visit their website here.

A wonderful farm and country food market offering a wide array of baked goods all made on site in their scratch bakery. Delicious Orchards is home to the finest meats and cheeses with unique deli, prepared foods and grocery sections. Perfect gift baskets, coffees and teas, an ever increasing organic department, a personal shopping experience offering curbside service, catering and outdoor dining at their Cider Café where you can enjoy your meal under one of their many apple trees. Note: Closed on Mondays!

Things To Do:

Dorbrook Recreation Area

209 County Rd 537, Colts Neck, N.J.

Visit their website here.

The Sprayground requires advance reservations for admission. There are no walk-up admissions offered. Admission is free but you must reserve a time slot in advance through the registration page. (Search: Sprayground Fun.) During the renovation, the site received all-new spray features including “raining leaves,” domes of cascading water, and a series of high to low play troughs. A new bright blue surface was installed and the pumping system was replaced for improved water filtration. Designed to provide refreshment for park visitors and participants in Park System summer camp programs, the Sprayground is a great place to cool off and play with water. Individuals and families are welcome. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult.

Sports Courts - Includes, Tennis and Basketball courts, as well as the In-Line Skating Rink are available during posted park hours on a first-come, first served basis. The in-line skating rink is a shared use facility between skating activity and pickleball games.

Challenger Place – A Playground for Children of All Abilities - This universally accessible playground provides all children, at their own level of play, an opportunity to laugh, play, grow and learn together. This play facility, opened in June 2004, includes elevated surfaces that are accessible to those in wheelchairs and Braille signs for individuals who are visually impaired. Each of the three play structures has areas in where children of varied abilities can play together, enjoying fun and stimulating activities. This playground project was a joint venture of the Monmouth County Park System and Challenged Youth Sports, Middletown and is the first universally integrated playground in New Jersey.

Trails - A paved trail winds its way around and through the north side of this active park. The 2.3 mile trail has two loops for you to choose and vary your trail experience. A bicycle repair station with a tire pump and tools has recently been added near the basketball courts.

Holistic Healing Center

353 County Rd 537, Colts Neck, N.J.

Visit their website here.

Orthopedic Injuries, Geriatric Rehab / Sports Injuries / Neurological Disorders / BPPV / Chronic Pain / Pediatrics / Women's Health / Lymphedema / Physical Therapy / Chiropractic Medicine / Massage / Nutritionist / Personal Training / Acupuncture / Thermographic Testing / Nervous System Screenings / Hypno-sound Healing & Hypnotherapy / Reiki / Cupping / Spa services


Things To Do:

Deal Lake Kayak Tour

Deal Lake, N.J.

Contact: Bob Jaroszewski

Cell: (609) 557-7077


Bob Jaroszewski has been offering nature kayak tours on Deal Lake for the past few years. He is a knowledgeable birder + wildlife enthusiast. He shares the history of Deal Lake & talks about the wildlife which includes: herons, egrets, osprey, cormorants, ducks, geese, muskrats, and there are a few otters living at the lake too!

Bring your own vessel or rent a single/tandem kayak, canoe, or paddle board at Deal Lake Dock Company: (732) 403-0730 or check out their website here. Note: Advance reservations recommended; 2-hour rental suggested.

Deal Lake is a man-made lake in Monmouth County, N.J. It is the largest lake in the county & one of the largest lakes in N.J., occupying 158 acres & drains into the Atlantic Ocean. Seven municipalities border the lake, accounting for 27 miles of shoreline, including Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Deal, Interlaken, Loch Arbour, Neptune Township & Ocean Township. Deal Lake, like many urban and suburban bodies of water experienced serious environmental pollutant problems in the mid 20th century, in 1974 the Deal Lake Commission was formed to help save the lake. Deal is a freshwater lake, but is unique because it has spawning saltwater fish, including alewives, blueback herring & gizzard shad.

Deal Lake has gone by many names over the years including Lake Uliquecks, White's Pond, Hogs Swamp Pond, Corlies Pond, Great Pond & Boyleston Great Pond. Originally an estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, Deal Lake was altered starting in 1890 to its present form, with the closing off the inlet from the ocean & creation of several separate lakes & ponds. Deal Lake was a model system of the late 19th century for flood control & storm water management. Over time, the lake lured many to build along its banks. Today, almost the entire shoreline has been developed with many homes built within the 100-year flood plain.



Seed To Sprout

560A River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here

100% Vegan + Preservative Free

Over Easy Kitchen

588 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here.

I recently went here for breakfast and O.M.G. is their menu delicious AND healthy! My favorite combo! My Mom (Mama Joy) & I shared the Summer Avo Toast and the Cold Chia Bowl (overnight chia oatmeal soaked in oat milk, berry compote, house-made toasted oats, bananas, fresh mixed berries + acai gelato) I can't wait to come back for lunch! I want to try their "Vegan Stack", which is: red organic quinoa, sauteed spinach, grilled zucchini + eggplant, avocado, broccoli, EVOO, balsamic glaze, jicama, sweet + spicy roasted pepper sauce AND their "Roasted Beetroot Salad" which is: red + golden beets, spring mix, over-grilled pineapple, balsamic vinaigrette, strawberries, cranberries, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, jicama (optional: blue cheese crumbles)

Nauvoo Grill Club

121 Fair Haven Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here

American food served in a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired lodge-like setting.

Surf BBQ

132 East River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here.

Surf NJ combines two distinct American cuisine types under one roof - classic pit smoked BBQ and American comfort foods, featuring a selection of smoked meats, burgers, tacos, and perfectly executed bar fare, and a newly added lighter side to our menu, Surf is the perfect neighborhood dining destination. Artisan beers, bourbons and whiskies, and unique cocktails in a warm, rustic atmosphere add to the dining experience.

They also have plenty of vegetarian options. I LOVE their "Ditch Plains Vegan Bowl" which has quinoa, avocado puree, kale, cashew vinaigrette, cucumber, shaved carrots and pickled red onion.

Raven & The Peach Tea Room

740 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Fine dining perfect for weddings, social & corporate events.


Nicholas Creamery

586 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J. (also located in Atlantic Highlands)

Visit their website here

Homemade 100% organic small batch ice cream shop using natural dairy + the freshest local ingredients. Vegan options are also available! They also make ice cream cakes (Cookie Dream Cake + Toasted Coconut Ice Cream Cake)

Booskerdoo Coffee & Baking Co.

793 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J 07704 ( other locations )

Things To Do:

Natural Elements Nail Spa

740 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here

I absolutely LOVE Natural Elements because they are Eco-friendly + Organic and the healthiest alternative to nail care. From the moment you walk in, you will instantly experience the difference! The founders, Theresa & Lynn, have consciously & carefully chosen specific eco-friendly products and services to nourish your being, while giving you peace of mind during your serene visits.

You can rest assured to be free of air pollution here! Their ventilation system at each station is the best of its kind, & our indoor plant life will enhance your air quality, along with a daily diffusion of Young Living essential oils to dance on your soul. Always expect the perks of their in-house creations such as all natural sugar scrubs, pedicure bath soaks, lotions, & oils, all infused with essential oils & sourced from organic apothecaries.

Natural Elements strive on sanitation, therefore you will have your very own set of nail supplies that they will store for you! They take note of the small details that limit our waste, and keep our earth clean! You will find very little plastic items & lots of eco-friendly movements. Your love for Natural Elements space is necessary to make bigger changes share the love!

Proper and Polished

570 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here

I like this spot for their Eminence facials (all natural ingredients).

POE of Fair Haven

772 River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website here

Gym / Physical Fitness Center

Hot Power Yoga + FireBeat + The MVMNT + Fit Crawl

The Pilates Project

560K River Road, Fair Haven, N.J.

Visit their website

Classical Pilates / Virtual + In Studio instruction / Private + Duet Sessions / Group Classes Become A Teacher




341 W Main St, Freehold Township, N.J.

Things To Do:

Clayton Park

161 Emley's Hill Road, (Imlaystown) Upper Freehold, NJ 08526 - Trail Head Parking

202 Davis Station Road, (Imlaystown) Upper Freehold, NJ 08514 - Activity Center

Visit the website here

You'll feel many miles away from civilization as this rustic 450-acre site in rural Upper Freehold is located amidst the rolling farmland of western Monmouth County. One of the most beautiful parks in the Park System, the property is known for stately stands of red and white oak, beech, ash and birch trees.

Located along the Upper Freehold Historic Farmland Scenic Byway, a 24-mile stretch that captures the agricultural, historical, environmental and cultural traditions still visible around Upper Freehold and Allentown, Clayton Park offers miles trails for visitors to explore.

Crosswicks Creek Greenway and Union Transportation Trail (UTT) - Located amidst horse farms, nurseries, and protected farmland in the rural, southwest portion of the county, more than 1,897 acres protect Crosswicks Creek, an important local water resource, and provide access for fishing, paddling and informal multi-use trails. At the heart of this greenway is pastoral Historic Walnford, a former mill village that has been carefully preserved to highlight over 200 years of local history. More information about Historic Walnford can be found here.

On the banks of Crosswicks Creek, this charming site has buildings to tour, exhibits to view, and beautiful grounds for quiet enjoyment & photography—a great place to start exploring the area. Don’t miss free programs and demos on weekends 1-4pm throughout the year, including the operating gristmill Apr.-Nov. More information & directions can be found here

Turkey Swamp Park

200 Georgia Road, Freehold, N.J.

(Main Park Area)

143 Nomoco Road, Freehold, N.J. (Nomoco Group Campground)

Visit the website here

This 2,283 acre wooded park was acquired and developed with campers in mind. A major attraction is the 17-acre lake for fishing, boating, and ice-skating. The park also features miles of trails, an archery range and playgrounds. You can rent a kayak, canoe or paddle boat!

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