I've now lived in New York for almost 16 months, and I finally made it across the Hudson River into New Jersey. (Well, I've flown out of Newark a few times, but the airport alone doesn't count.) Anyway, my time in Ocean Grove this past weekend couldn't have come at a more perfect time. Isn't God's timing amazing?
The best way to get there from the city is by train. One can take the NJ Transit from NY Penn Station to Asbury Park for about $33 round trip, and it only takes about two hours to get there. (It's closer and cheaper than going to the Hamptons.)
The 0.43 sq mile community was founded in 1869 by a group of Methodist clergymen as a place to operate summer meeting camps. It remains the longest active camp meeting space in the United States. Sounds pretty fitting for a retreat from the normal city pace with friends, right?
While it rained most of Friday evening, the weather was amazing on Saturday and Sunday. There were about 90 of us together as a part of Cru Millennials, ready to relax but also build community through worship, study, and quality time.
Yes, we were there with an organized group and purpose, but I would certainly go back there for a vacation with my family and/or friends. The water and sand are beautiful, and the boardwalk is perfect for active runs or leisure strolls.
The architectural elements are exquisite, showcasing Victorian design and wonderful wraparound porches and balconies. Parts of it reminded me of home in the South, too.
Main Street is filled with boutique shopping and little eateries. Ice cream from Nagle's was my personal favorite. Last weekend was also the time for the annual Fall Festival, providing musical entertainment and craft booths among other fun activities for the community.
For lodging, I'd recommend Quaker Inn or Albatross, for that's where we stayed. But they're are a number of other places. The people are really nice, and it ultimately provides a quiet space to enjoy the water and to spend intentional time with those in your travel group. (We played sand volleyball and strolled around the city.)
Some might need more activity than that, but I think you'll be surprised just how much fun the peacefulness can be.