Travel Diary: Lavallette, New Jersey
My Shore Story: A Typical Day “Down the Shore”
Throughout my entire life, I have been spending amazing summers down at the Jersey Shore. My family owns a house in a small family-resort town called Lavallette, located on the Barnegat Inlet in Ocean County, NJ.
My grandparents purchased the small bungalow in 1980. Even though I was a toddler and only enjoyed the original house for a few short years, I could remember everything as if I was in it yesterday. It was tightly packed, but full of love. Just reaching the mid 1990’s, my grandparents decided to renovate the house and add an addition onto it. From there on, I would spend my entire summers with my grandparents. Each day would be the same, but as Bruce Springsteen says in his song Jersey Girl, “down the shore everything’s alright”, because it really is! There is something about the ocean breeze and small town vibe (where everyone knows your name) that gets everyone in a good mood no matter what they are going through in life.
Every summer, my nana would take me on shopping sprees, bake delicious cakes and give me the best life advice. She was my best friend and I cherish all of the summers I got to spend with her. That is another reason why the shore holds a special place in my heart. On New Year’s Eve 2010, my Nana sadly passed away to cancer and it left us all devastated.
Shortly after my Nana passed away, my Pop passed the home down to my family and my uncle’s family. Although being down the shore wasn’t the same without my nana being there, we still had all of her warm touches throughout the house. When Hurricane Sandy hit the Jersey Shore in Fall 2012, we lost our house along with all of our belongings. Everything my nana bought or made was completely destroyed, leaving our family heartbroken.
We ended up rebuilding our home the following year. Even though I missed the old house and all of the memories we had there, building a new home was so exciting. It is much bigger and more colorful, allowing us to host many friends and continue creating happy memories.
Our favorite pastime is ON THE BEACH!
A Wonderful Throwback of Our Beach Crew
The beaches at the Jersey Shore can get very crowded because our season only runs for a few short months. It can be tough to find a good spot near the ocean, so I recommend bringing your beach chairs up early so that you can save your “spot”. Of course, since we have been enjoying the shore for many years now, we don’t mind where we sit on the beach.
Lavallette is a great location since it is between two fun boardwalks – Point Pleasant Beach and Seaside Heights. We are closer to Seaside Heights, so you can easily walk there on the beach within a half hour or drive there within 5 minutes to grab food, enjoy the attractions or just enjoy a lovely stroll.
It may sound crazy, but because we only spend weekends down the shore, we like to get as much beach time as we can. We spend close to six hours on the beach having fun or relaxing. It is the best! When we get off the beach, I love hopping into the outdoor shower house. Now, before you think too ahead of yourself, it is popular for each shore house to have an outdoor shower attached to their house or located somewhere in their backyard. Most shower houses look like a little piece of shelter and allows for fresh air to get in. It is the best way to rejuvenate after a long day at the beach.
Our second favorite pastime down the shore is FOOD!
Since my family works during the week, we usually head down the shore on either a Friday evening or early Saturday morning. After a good night’s rest sleeping with the windows open and letting the sea breeze roam throughout the house, we always wake up early to take a walk along Lavallette’s boardwalk. The great thing about the Lavallette boardwalk is that it is fairly quiet, since it is in a residential area, and you can enjoy beautiful views of the ocean. Another great thing about the Lavallette boardwalk is that you can run into many familiar faces! If you are up early enough, you can even catch a gorgeous sunrise on the ocean. In addition, the bayside is also a great place to walk or ride your bike around in the morning.
Getting fresh donuts (also known as “buns”) for breakfast is a shore tradition. We will either pick up our donuts around the corner at Colonial Bakery or walk a little further to Fumosa Brother’s Bakery in Ortley Beach. There is nothing like enjoying an out-of-the-oven donut on a beautiful summer morning.
If you rather go out and enjoy a nice breakfast outside where you can get seated service, there are so many great spots! Some of my favorites in Lavallette are Sand Dollar Pancake House & Restaurant, Lava Java, Meg’s Grill, The Bay View Café and Sunny Hunny by the Sea Restaurant & Pancake House in Ortley Beach.
After enjoying a fulfilling breakfast, I like to take my coffee outside and enjoy a nice book before walking up the block to the beach. Through spending countless summers in Lavallette, we have a ton of friends who we like to sit with on the beach. Every summer, we share new stories and create endless memories having fun in the ocean and going out at night.
If we aren’t enjoying my mom’s delicious homemade food, we are usually out at some of our favorite restaurants or bars on the inlet. Below is a list of the places we love to go to on the Barnegat Inlet:
- Lenny’s Pizza and Italian Grill, Lavallette, NJ and Mia’s Pizza and Cafe, Ortley Beach, NJ (Best Pizza)
- Rockafella’s, Ortley Beach, NJ (Best Italian food)
- Spicy Cantina, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best Mexican food)
- Hemingway’s Café, Seaside Heights, NJ and Blu Sushi, Normandy Beach, NJ (Best sushi)
- Savor Lounge, Seaside Heights (Best lounge with modern American and Mediterranean cuisines)
- Xtina, Toms River, NJ (Best Asian fusion)
- Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Best seafood and waterfront dining)
- The Sawmill Café, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best boardwalk food)
- Capriccio by the Sea, Lavallette, NJ (Best happy hour)
- Hemingway’s Café, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best nightclub)
- Bum Rogers Crab House, Seaside Park, NJ (Best raw bar)
- Martell’s Tiki Bar, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Best beach bar)
- Klee’s Bar and Grill, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best grilled food)
- Lidia’s Cuban Kitchen, Ortley Beach, NJ (Best Cuban food)
- Jax Garage, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best dive bar)
- The Beachcomber Bar and Grill, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best boardwalk bar)
- Steaks Unlimited, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best late-night food)
- Iceberg Ice Cream, Lavallette, NJ (Best homemade ice cream)
- Jenkinson’s Boardwalk Bar & Grill, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Best frozen drinks)
- Midway Steak House, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best cheesesteaks)
- Bakin Bagels, Ortley Beach, NJ (Best bagels)
- Fumosa Brother’s Bakery, Ortley Beach, NJ (Best deli)
- Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties, Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (best Italian speciality store)
- Kali-O’s Juice Box, Lavallette, Ortley Beach and Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Best raw drinks and healthy food)
- Captain Hooks Bar, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best sports bar)
- Lava Java, Lavallette, NJ (Best coffee)
- Kohr’s Frozen Custard, Lavallette, Ortley Beach, Seaside Heights, Seaside Park and Point Pleasant Beach, NJ (Best frozen custard)
- Frank’s Italian Ice Truck, Lavallette NJ (Best Italian ice)
- Ohana Grill, Lavallette, NJ (Best Hawaiian food)
- Labrador Lounge, Normandy Beach, NJ (Best place to bring your pet)
- Laurita Winery, New Egypt, NJ (Best Jersey Shore winery)
- Free Range, Seaside Heights, NJ (Best Farm to Table Restaurant)
- Genevieve’s, Seaside Heights, NJ (The Best Hidden Gem Restaurant)
Ready for a night on the town!
After enjoying a nice dinner, we either have a relaxing night hanging out on the Lavallette boardwalk, enjoy the thrills on the Seaside Heights boardwalk, mini golf at the classic Barnacle Bill’s or dance the night away and enjoy refreshing cocktails at one of the bars or nightclubs I mention in my list above.
Despite the reputation the MTV show Jersey Shore casted upon our beaches, the shore is still my home and will forever hold a special place in my heart. I recommend everyone to make their way over to Lavallette, NJ at some point in their lives and experience the authentic Jersey Shore that makes it my happy place!
If you have any questions regarding the Jersey Shore or would like us to custom-design your vacation to the beach, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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