Possibly two of the most nautical seaside towns in Monmouth County, Manasquan and Brielle are surrounded by bodies of water that make them a hub for surfers, beach fans, fishermen, and really fresh seafood. For those familiar with these seashore towns, this Jersey Shore local guide to Manasquan and Brielle will just affirm what you already know – these two towns are the hidden gems of the Jersey Shore.
Searching for fun things to do, great food, and definitely some time spent by the water, we found it all with our Jersey Shore local guide to Manasquan and Brielle. Catch some waves, or some fish, or maybe a play. It’s all at your fingertips.
Jersey Shore Local Guide to Manasquan and Brielle
Having a literal translation of “stream of the island of squaws (wives),” Manasquan is one heck of a tight knit beach community. Maybe known to many as the town where Oscar winner Jack Nicholson grew up (being voted Class Clown in 1954 at Manasquan High School), it’s no surprise that the arts are a strong part of the community wherever you go.
Manasquan boasts a bustling downtown featuring the historic Algonquin Arts Theatre that produces extraordinary plays including Hairspray and Cabaret. Add on dozens of unique shops where you can purchase nearly anything and everything, you’ve got a downtown that has continued to grow in popularity!
And speaking of those looking to hang ten, one of the best places to watch surfers catch some waves is at the Manasquan Inlet, which was used as a refuge for small boats during the Revolutionary War. This epic wave spot is partly due to the permanent bulkhead and jetty that was constructed in 1931 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after it had been completely shoaled over with the opening of the Point Pleasant Canal in 1926. Since then, boats, fishermen, and surfers continue to take advantage of this pathway to the sea.
What was once a summer town with wooden bungalows dotting the oceanfront is now a full time community. During the summer months visitors and locals flock to the mile-long beachfront, downtown, and parks including the fishing pier, boat launches, wildlife sanctuaries, and a bike path that runs from North Main Street to Allenwood. A local hangout for dog lovers, the Manasquan dog beach is part dog heaven and other part local hangout. Either way, it’s a great way to spend the day or night during the summer.
Local bars including Leggetts and The Osprey along the oceanfront attract weekend warriors, while sophisticated dining downtown including Blend on Main, a BYOB that brings new meaning to fine dining (check out the Day Boat Chatham Cod) and Remington’s, the perfect local restaurant for a stellar cocktail and live music attract foodies and happy hour enthusiasts throughout the months.
After shopping, surfing, wining & dining, you’ll need a place to stay and Manasquan is home into one of the most unique bed & breakfast’s at the shore – The Nathaniel Morris Inn. Built in 1882, the inn is meticulously decorated and is a home away from home for countless visitors each year.
Getting Nautical With Brielle
Sitting beside Manasquan is Brielle, a town that borders four miles of waterfront along the Manasquan River, Glimmerglass (aka Mud Pond), and Debbie’s Creek. Brielle was originally settled by farmers and known as Union Landing where Union Salt Works opened during the Revolutionary War and was later named Brielle after the town of the same name in Holland. (A little “did you know fact” brought to you by Jersey Shore Local Guide to Manasquan and Brielle!)
A number of famous visitors also made their way to this 1.8 square mile coastal hamlet including Treasure Island author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who proclaimed the 8-acre island located in Manasquan River “Treasure Island” five years after he published his book. (Officially the island is “Nienstedt Island,” however it answers to both names.)
We tend to agree that this small town is truly a treasure. From world-class golf at the 140 acre Manasquan River Golf Club founded in 1922, to fresh seafood delivered daily through more than 200 commercial and charter fishing boats that dock in Brielle, this town has it all.
If you’re looking to dive into some of this seafood we’re talking about (and really, how could you not), head to River House located along the Manasquan Riverfront. It’s a perfect place to watch as the fishermen unload the boats for the evening as you get to sample the recent catches. Or dine like the local’s do at Mariner’s Cove for breakfast where you’ll find over 200 types of omelets to choose from.
Each week, Jersey Shore in Motion will spotlight towns along the Jersey Shore sharing their history, local favorites, and unique attractions. Last week we visited Red Bank. Stay tuned for next week’s Local Guide to Point Pleasant.