If you’re not familiar, Long Beach Island (LBI) is a hidden gem off the coast of New Jersey that captures the hearts of visitors with its timeless charm and unspoiled beauty. Far from the stereotypical “Jersey Shore,” LBI is what idilic east coast, Americana vibes pay homage to – what movies are made about. I’ve been visiting with Freddie for the past 14 years, and I’ll never forget our first trip to the shore house. This enchanting island has been our go-to retreat, filled with nostalgia and cherished memories between the two of us and now with our growing family.

For me, the charm of the shore house far outweighs the allure of the Hamptons. While the Hamptons have their glitz and glamour, LBI offers a more relaxed, authentic escape. There’s something special about the simplicity and nostalgia of a beachside retreat, where life slows down, and the focus is on genuine connections and natural beauty. LBI embodies a sense of warmth and community that’s hard to find elsewhere, making every visit feel like coming home.

Getting There and Getting Around

Reaching Long Beach Island is part of the adventure. A scenic drive over the Manahawkin Bay Bridge brings you to this 18-mile-long barrier island. Once there, you’ll notice that life slows down. The best way to explore LBI is on two wheels – everyone rides their bikes here. It’s the perfect way to soak in the island’s charm, with bike rental shops dotted around for your convenience.

Where to Stay

Whether you prefer cozy beachside cottages or luxurious oceanfront resorts, LBI offers a range of accommodations to suit every traveler. For a touch of nostalgia, consider booking a stay at one of the charming inns that preserve the island’s vintage feel. Victorian architecture is super popular on the island, and these two bed and breakfasts are restored homes in the more popular “touristy” area of the south part of the island. There’s a ton to do in this area, from shopping to visiting the famous Fantasy Island Amusement Park and so many amazing places to eat – one after the next!

The Gables: A Victorian-style bed and breakfast in Beach Haven offering a blend of historic charm and modern comforts. Its gourmet dining and beautifully landscaped garden add to the serene experience. Also a stone’s throw from Fantasy Island – a must for the kids!

Williams Cottage Inn: This historic inn in Beach Haven offers a quaint, luxurious experience with beautifully decorated rooms and charming common areas.

If you’re more of a private, high-end home kind of family, look for Airbnbs in these areas located on the north end of the island:

Loveladies: Known for its luxurious beachfront homes and expansive oceanfront properties, Loveladies is one of the most prestigious areas on LBI. It offers privacy, stunning ocean views, and a serene atmosphere.

North Beach: This area is characterized by its upscale homes, many of which are situated on large lots with private beach access. North Beach offers a tranquil and exclusive setting, making it a highly sought-after location.

Harvey Cedars: Harvey Cedars features a mix of modern and classic beach homes, many with direct waterfront access. It’s known for its beautiful beaches, high-end real estate, and a quiet, family-friendly atmosphere.

Where to Eat

LBI is a paradise for seafood lovers. My favorite spot is not actually on the island but just before the bridge over to the island called Mud City Crab House! It has a casual, nautical-theme and is renowned for its fresh, locally sourced seafood and laid-back atmosphere. The bar is in an old airstream that’s surrounded by outdoor fire puts and string lighting – oldies play while you enjoy delicious cocktails.

The island itself boasts some of the best seafood on the East Coast, with local restaurants serving up fresh catches daily. From casual beachside shacks to elegant dining spots, we’ve visited them all. Perhaps the most magical part – you won’t find a single fast food restaurant here. It’s all mom-and-pop, family-owned. Every meal feels like stepping back in time, savoring the authentic flavors that make LBI so special.

A few spots we love most and have been going to as of late with the girls are:

The Mermaid Room: For our morning coffee! Ashley Grimes, the owner, is as sweet as they come. Her eclectic mix of antique finds, home goods, contemporary womenswear brands, and a delightfully curated children’s section makes this spot so much more than a coffee shop!

Crêperie de la Mer & French Café: For breakfast always!

Barry’s Do Me A Flavor: For ice cream.

Triton Craft Beer and Oyster Bar: Where we always stop for a flight of beers and to stock up on wine for the week. We get some oysters and shrimp while we shop!

The Local: For groceries and all sorts of delicious deli finds to stock your fridge if you’re there a while.

Parker’s Garage & Oyster Saloon: Leave the kids at home and go out for a night with your friends. Also great for any private events!

Ship Bottom Shellfish: Love this spot for its countertop outdoor seating. It’s idillic.

Dock & Claw Clam Bar: A little hole in the wall, BYOB!

Harvey Cedars Shellfish Co.: Just one of the best spots on the island for that seafood vibe.

The Gables: More upscale, make a reservation and take your parents

Activities and Attractions

Beach Days: The pristine beaches are the heart of LBI. Spend your days sunbathing, building sandcastles, and swimming in the crystal-clear waters nestled along the dunes. Seasonal day beach passes are needed, so be sure to purchase them before you go. Our favorite beaches are between 32nd and 50th Street. Don’t hesitate to swim out to the sandbars!

Barnegat Lighthouse: It’s a must-visit for a dose of history and spectacular scenery.

Kayaking: Our house sits on the bay so we always spend our morning Kayaking.

Bay Village/Schooners Wharf: Visit Ship Bottom Brewery, Spice It Up Sandwich Shop, and Breezing Up (the only LBI merch store you need to visit).

Fantasy Island Amusement Park: Bring the kids for a full day of rides, arcades, and don’t finish off without ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s iconic storefront straight out of a movie scene.

Miniature Golfing: These are sprinkled all along the avenue. A nice way to break up the day with the kids!

Long Beach Island is more than just a travel destination – it’s a place where time stands still, and the simple joys of life come alive. Whether it’s your first visit or your fifteenth year visiting, each trip to LBI is filled with new discoveries and timeless memories. Pack your bags, hop on a bike, and feel the nostalgia of the shore.