Whenever I travel, I always get questions asking where I stayed, the best places to grab a bite to eat, and fun activities to do! I’ve been vacationing in Long Beach Island for my entire life so I feel like I am pretty equipped to write-up a travel guide for everyone! Long Beach Island undoubtedly has sentimental value to my family. When my dad was growing up, he would spend his entire summer there. His family would rent a beach house year after year in Harvey Cedars. Because of all of the amazing memories my dad created there as a kid, he wanted us to experience the same type of vacation, so we always make sure to take a trip down every summer! After coming back to the island year after year I have definitely found my tried and true places to stay, places to eat, places to shop and activities to try out. I’m so excited to share them with you!
Where to Stay
Rent a House: Renting a beach house is a great idea if you plan on spending a week or longer on the island or plan on vacationing with friends/additional family. There’s nothing like making meals together as a group and sitting around the kitchen table or out on the front porch relaxing and laughing together! So many amazing and funny memories will be made with a bunch of people staying in a house! I’ve found that renting in Beach Haven has been the best spot if you’re someone who likes who likes to be surrounded by things to do and places to go. Beach Haven is your hub for the best shopping, best restaurants, and most activities to do! If you’re someone who looks to lay low on vacation and prefers the quiet, I would suggest going to the opposite side of the island and staying in Surf City, North Beach, Harvey Cedars or Loveladies. This does come with quite a hefty price tag; however, you will be guaranteed peace and quiet away from the action and most importantly you can expect a less crowded beach.
Stay in a Motel: LBI does not have any hotels, so the closest you’ll get to that type of experience is a motel. You’ll be able to find a multitude of motels across the island. A few summers ago instead of renting a house we decided to book a motel and absolutely loved our stay. We roomed in The SeaHorse Motel located in Brant Beach and it was super clean, had wi-fi, cable, super comfortable beds, a pool, deck, and a great sized bathroom. I recommend it to everyone who asks me where to stay and the rates are very affordable! Staying in a motel will definitely give you a different type of experience but having rented and stayed, I can confirm that both options guarantee a great vacation!
What to Pack
One of the things I love most about LBI is how casual it is. It is known as a family vacation destination where people truly go to unwind and relax. This is definitely apparent in the way that people dress. For most of the vacation you will be living in your bathing suit and coverup! When you want to hit the town at night to grab dinner or go shopping you’ll find women wearing casual sundresses, white jeans and a tee or shorts and a cute top all paired with sandals or flip-flops. Men wear khaki shorts and a tee or a button down with a pair of sperry’s/sneakers or flip flops. Nights on the island do get a bit chilly so make sure to pack a sweater or a sweatshirt to throw on!
Where to Drink: Coffee
Artifacts & Company “Coffee Nest”: Inside of Artifact’s and Company (more on this place later in the post) lies a little hidden gem called The Coffee Nest. This is seriously one of the most adorable coffee places I’ve ever been to. Shabby chic vibes mixed with modern white marble created an incredibly cool and artsy atmosphere. Their iced coffee is to die for, specifically their iced soy lattes…the things I would do for one of those right about now!
Coastal Coffee Company: Get your camera’s ready…this place is so Instagram worthy! Coastal Coffee features a huge menu ranging from lattes, cold brews, teas, espresso, mochas and more! Spend your morning sipping on your favorite drink and chatting away with family and friends. The homey feel will have you wanting to stay all day!
How you Brewin?: The name of this shop you guys…I mean how freaking cute! This cozy and warm environment is perfect for a rainy/cloudy day on the island. Enjoy a multitude of different drinks, sandwiches, soups, salads and pastries!
Where to Eat: Breakfast
The Chicken or the Egg: This restaurant is an LBI classic! It has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives as well as Man vs. Food and is seriously worth all of the hype it gets. The menu is massive, ranging from everything breakfast which is available all day, to sandwiches, wings, milkshakes and other diner classics. This place gets crowded, especially on weekends so do expect a bit of a wait. I would definitely recommend getting there as early as possible if you go for breakfast, as it’s their busiest time of the day. The earlier you go, the less crowded it will be. Like I said, vacationers on the island like to relax and sleep in so waking up a bit earlier than the others will do you a service in this case! Popularly known as “Chegg” on the island, this place is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so you’ll always have a place to eat no matter the hour.
Uncle Will’s: Yet another LBI breakfast classic! Famously known for their wide variety buttermilk pancakes, these are something you simply cannot pass up! Don’t fret if you’re not a pancake person, this menu is huge filled with loads of egg dishes, breakfast sandwiches, waffles and more! Again, this is a local and tourist favorite so do expect a wait, and again, the early bird gets the worm (in this case the table)! Try to get there as early as possible to prevent too long of a wait.
Shore Good Donuts: Calling all donut lovers…this place is going to be absolute heaven for you! Eat in at their small tables or take out a box of your favorite sweet treats! With a great variety of donuts, you will have lots of options to choose from. My little sister swears by their inside-out Boston cream donut. It’s a warm plain donut, covered in hot chocolate ganache, filled with cold cream. What’s not to love!?
Bagels and Beyond: Most days my family stays in for breakfast and my dad gets up early in the morning to get a bunch of fresh bagels for us! This place has awesome bagels and the employees are so friendly! Not only does this place obviously have bagels but you can also pick up awesome muffins and other sweet treats. Now I’m going to let you guys in on a secret. This place has THE BEST crumb cake in the entire universe. It would honestly be a sin if you didn’t pick some up! You will undoubtedly be coming back every morning for more!
Where to Eat: Lunch
Pearl Street Market: This place is seriously adorable! Besides the curb appeal, the food here is awesome. The menu is filled with gourmet sandwiches, paninis, burgers, wraps, and salads to fuel you up after a few hours of that intense morning sun on the beach. Eat your delicious meal outside under the umbrellas and enjoy the afternoon!
Living on the Veg: The name of this little restaurant was enough to grab my attention! This place is home to all vegetarian and vegan food options that are super healthy and delicious! Pick from a multitude of sandwiches, burritos, wraps, salads, smoothies, pressed juices, and fresh-baked vegan treats!
The Juice House: This place just opened up on the island this year and I’m sure glad it did! If you’re looking for healthy options and a lighter meal, this place is going to be your go-to. The menu consists of fresh pressed juices, smoothies, acai bowls, elixir/energy shots and vegan treats! So yummy!
Where to Eat: Dinner
Buckalew’s Restaurant and Tavern: This fun atmosphere guarantees a great time! You really can’t beat a restaurant that has a great vibe that also happens to have (most importantly) great food! This menu consists of seafood, American-fare, as well as sushi and also has gluten free and vegan options! I ordered the GF/V Cauliflower Steak and it was seriously to die for! I’m still dreaming about it…
Black-eyed Susans: Expect fine dining from this cute place! Excellent service combined with excellent food is the perfect dining experience in my opinion, and you will certainly find this here! Beautiful plate presentations are sure to impress. Great spot for a fancy night out or a date night. This place is an absolute gem. Also this is a cash only, BYOB place so prepare for that!
La Spiaggia Restaurant: This Italian cuisine will blow you away with its presentation and taste. A must-go for a nice place to eat. A cozy and fancy atmosphere will have you wanting to stay the whole night sipping on some wine (BYOB) and enjoy being on island time.
Where to Eat: Ice Cream
The Woohoo: This little ice cream shack is too cute for words! I made a stop after dinner almost everynight on the vacation and don’t regret a thing…it was that delicious! They have a wide variety of flavors, but the best part about this place is that they have vegan softserve…yup, you read that right! It was beyond amazing and is such a great option for someone who is lactose-intolerant, dairy free, or vegan!
Skipper Dipper: This place is legendary on the island. They recently just celebrated their 40th season in LBI! They have a variety of hard and soft ice creams and have amazing sundae’s…you don’t want to skip out on one of those! They also have a dairy free, vegan options feautuing Dole Pineapple Whip as well as Italian Water Ice which is awesome if you’re traveling with someone who has dietary restrictions.
Where to Shop
Island Gypsy: Add this store to the top of your list on places to shop and come prepared to spend a good chunk of change…you’re going to want to buy everything in this boutique! The clothing style is very feminine with a hint of a slightly bohemian vibe. Find anything from embroidered jeans and cutoffs, to dresses, rompers, dressy-casual tops, hats and jewelry. This is definitely one of my favorite shops on the island.
Sur La Plage: If you love preppy style clothing, look no further than Sur La Plage. Located in Bay Village, this place is super easy to stop into, as it’s close to lots of activities LBI has to offer. You will find a slew of Lilly Pulitzer, Jack Rogers and Vineyard Vines. Every year I stop in to pickup my new Lilly agenda! Make sure to ask to get it monogrammed!
How to Live: This shop has everything I love in one place…clothing, shoes, jewelry, and home decor! I could spend an insane amount of money in here. Everything this store carries is gorgeous, super high-quality, and unique. A great place to buy a gift. I couldn’t help but snapping a few pictures because the store was merchandised so beautifully.
Artifacts & Company: A store that has a coffee shop inside (mentioned previously)….ummm yes please! Grab a latte and take a stroll browsing around this beautiful store. This shop features local artists work, as well as a place that you can purchase home furniture and lighting fixtures. In addition, they sell awesome chalk paint and have a little selection of clothing, jewelry, and handbags which are all gorgeous!
Coconuts: Here you will find your typical beach souvenir store! I always love to pop in and pick up an LBI spirit jersey! If you’re someone who loves to sport anything and everything “LBI”, this is totally the store for you!
What to do
The Beaches: This one is totally obvious and most likely the reason you are coming to vacation here, but I just wanted to give you some insider tips! Get there early as possible to claim your spot on the sand. As the morning progresses, the beach can get pretty crowded so getting there early is definitely a smart move. You can eat on the beach so pack food accordingly. If you like swimming in the ocean, make sure to choose a spot in between the flags. If not, you may have to walk a bit until you reach a spot where you are permitted to swim. Make sure that you are financially equipped to buy a beach badge! Yes, you do have to pay to get onto the beaches in NJ, but they are so beautiful you won’t even mind the small fee. Pack a good book, plop down in your beach chair, and relax the day away!
Visit Barnegat Lighthouse: Boy do I love this lighthouse! Not only is it beautiful, but it just has so much sentimental value to me. Make sure to bring your camera because you will be snapping away from all different angles! You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse to experience the view incredible view…this is a must when visiting Old Barney!
Fantasy Island and Bay Village: Fantasy Island is LBI’s mini amusement park. Great for a night of fun! The ferris wheel is always a favorite of mine. Right across the street from Fantasy Island is Bay Village which is a hub for shopping and grabbing a quick bite to eat!
Mini-Golf: Just like other beach vacation destinations, LBI is home to tons of mini-golf places! This is always something fun to do after grabbing dinner! Play a round or two and then head over to get some ice cream to end the night on a sweet note!
Go on a Sunset Cruise: Head over to Barnegat Light and be there for 7pm to take a ride on the sunset cruise! Super picturesque and very affordable. A fun time for family and friends with lots of memories to be made!
Rent a Bike: Riding around on bikes is a favorite for locals and tourists alike. Getting up early and riding around in the morning while it’s still cool outside is one of my favorite things to do! I adore looking at all of the beautiful homes on my rides! Surf Buggy Bike Shop is a great place to rent!
Take Surf Lessons: For all of you adventurous/sporty vacationers this is something super fun to do! Surf with Nicole is a great place to get lessons!
Go on a Sunrise or Sunset Photoshoot: I recently just uploaded a post (see here) all about my sunrise photoshoot! It is so nice to have such beautiful pictures that you will reminisce about forever…and it is seriously the most beautiful gorgeous sight!
When to go
Although busy during every month in the summer, the height of LBI tourist season is in August. The rent goes up, and there are more people than ever trying to get onto the island. Personally, I think July is the best month to plan your vacation. You are smack dab in the middle of the summer, can look forward to less crowded beaches and the hydrangeas are in full bloom!
Ready to book your trip yet!? This post has got me dreaming of going back. Thank you all for sticking with me through this one! I hope you enjoyed! For any further questions about LBI, please let me know in the comments below!