New Jersey Fourth Of July / by Shane Henderson

I have been coming to Long Beach Island, New Jersey ever since I was born, so I might be a little biased, but I can't think of many better places to spend a long 4th of July weekend. It's got all the essential qualities of a North East beach getaway, like the Hamptons or Marthas Vinyard, but without the steep price tag. 18 miles of sandy beach, decent surf, mini golf courses, and ice cream shops... what more could you want?

We spent the weekend on LBI enjoying time with family, getting too much sun and eating way too much food. My family likes to stay in Barnegat Light, which is definitely the quieter side of the island. Although there aren't as many restaurants or businesses, Barnegat Light has arguably the best stretch of beach on the island, and the quieter streets are better for long bike rides and morning walks. The water was a little cold this year so we weren't in the ocean as much as usual, but the weather was perfect and we were happy to spend our days just napping on the sand. After such a busy June it has been nice to slow down for a bit and not be constantly on the move. When we weren't on the beach, we spent our time kayaking in the bay, biking to the local Dairy Queen, and drinking margaritas on the deck. 

I always love coming back to LBI, although I haven't made it back as much as I would like in recent years. It is a place that will always represent summer in my mind. Hot days, ice cream trucks, whiffle ball in the street, fishing off the pier at the lighthouse... coming here can feel like a step back in time. If you are looking to visit LBI for the first time, my advice would be to rent a house near the beach and then spend as little time as possible inside of it. Hit the beach, ride a bike, play some mini golf, and then go to Chicken Or The Egg for wings. Thank me later. 

R&R Recommends

Mustache Bills
One of my favorite diners. Simple and classic with incredible pancakes. If you have kids, or are a kid at heart, be sure to ask for the whale pancakes.

Off-The-Hook 
A popular seafood takeout place in Barnegat Light. The clam chowder is phenomenal and the fish tacos are pretty solid too. 

Chicken Or The Egg
A 24-hour grill with a lot of great options but most famous for their wings. Hands down my favorite wings on the planet. They have 16 different spice levels and the wings are huge. I always go for killer bee sting or mediyummm. Whatever you do, don't get the obscene wings unless you are a nutcase. I like spicy foods but after one bite of those, I was out of commission for the rest of the night. 

Dairy Queen
Ok, ok, I know, a DQ doesn't sound that exciting, they have those everywhere. BUT, this DQ is a cute, cash-only, take out window next to the lighthouse where you can get a Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl cone and sit next to the bay watching the fishing boats come in and out. Even the blizzards taste better there! If you would prefer to get your ice cream somewhere local, I am partial to Harvey Cedars Ice Cream Parlor.

Fantasy Island
A tiny, old amusement park that has been an LBI staple for many years. Don't go expecting big roller coasters or thrills, but for a cotton candy and a nice ride on the merry-go-round or carousel, this is the perfect place.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
A historic lighthouse at the northernmost tip of the island. Climb the 217 steps to the top for a great view of the ocean, island, and bay.

Flamingo Mini Golf
You can't come to Long Beach Island and not mini golf, its unheard of. The island is only 18 miles long but there are like 30 mini golf courses on it. I personally like Flamingo Golf in Surf City the best. It's not the biggest or the newest, but it's got some great obstacles and difficult holes.