Long Beach Island is a great destination for a day trip down the Jersey Shore in the summer, for a week of vacation, or for a cost-effective destination spring weekend getaway. We like to go there for a long weekend every June and we always have a blast during our 3-days mini-vacations. There are many great communities on the island, including Beach Haven, Surf City, Barnegat Light and more..
So here is a selection of our favorite things to do in LBI:
1. The LBI beaches are the main reason most people come there, and they’re among our favorite at the Jersey Shore. They’re not as crowded as the boardwalk beaches in other towns, and they’re free until the last weekend of June. The views with the big mansions behind the dunes are great, and you don’t have to walk a lot with your beach cart and kids in tow. The ocean can be very clear here when it’s calm, sometimes it reminds me of the Caribbean with the crystal clear green-ish waters. There’s no big drop, you can walk over 100 feet from the shore and still have water below your waist. Often at low tide you’ll have sand bars away from the beach.
2. Rent a vacation home. Most people vacationing in LBI would rent a vacation home (best source is www.ShoreVacations.com). Be aware that during the summer season houses are only available for a full-week Saturday-to-Saturday rental. If going in a group or larger family, the best way to enjoy the beach is in one of the big rental homes lining up the waterfront (or the bay, if you bring a boat). It gets much cheaper than getting a bunch of rooms at a hotel, and if you’re OK with staying a block away from the beach the prices go down significantly, plus you’re more likely to find a house with a pool.
3. Barnegat Lighthouse is an amazing state park at the north end of the island. Ole Barney is an impressive lighthouse and the waterfront promenade can offer great views any time of the day, but especially near sunset. There are wooded trails, beach access and a lot of photo opportunities.
4. Sea Shell resort is great for a lunch by the pool. No visit to Beach Haven is complete for us without relaxing outside at the Sea Shell! This is one of the only beach-side bars on LBI and it’s by far the best one, the only place you can really feel like you’re on an exotic vacation at the beach. You can sit next to the pool or under the tiki bar, drink cold beers, and try some delicious summer fare (my favorite are the fish tacos – always great taste).
5. Ship Bottom Brewery opened in the Bay Village in 2016, and as a craft beers connoisseur I have to admit they’re a hidden gem of the Jersey Shore. It’s rare to go into a small local brewery and like all their beers! (and they have a wide variety of brews, about 10 different ones every time) The Shack IPA is one of my favorites, with a little bit of a kick at 7.6 ABV. Beach Patrol was one of the rare hefeweizens that I can really enjoy. Their location is also pretty cool and the staff is awesome!
6. Coral Seas is our favorite LBI motel, and it’s always been a great host right by the Beach Haven dunes. It’s nice and very clean, situated right on the beach so you can walk from the door right on to the sand. There’s no on-site restaurant, but you can get take-out food and some beer or wine and just lunch or dine by the pool. The pool is big and clear, and it’s pretty warm in June. The staff is friendly and helpful, providing a great experience. Coral Seas is also more moderately prices than the other oceanfront motels. And as a tip, ask for a first-floor room on the beach side. They’re not prices as ocean-view rooms, but you have a great patio for relaxing, eating or drinking.
7. Spice It Up is a relatively new store in Bay Village, offering an impressive line-up of hot sauces as well as rubs, spices & herbs, BBQ sauces, oils, vinegars and other condiments. They have a very helpful staff that will make recommendations and suggest samples to try before deciding what you want to buy. Spice It Up also has its own deli where you can get some delicious sandwiches.
8. Daddy-O is quite an upscale hotel in Brant Beach, a block away from the beach. It has a trendy rooftop bar for late night partying. But the reason we love it is for the outdoor restaurant. Almost every time we vacation on LBI, we end up there on our way home. The covered area is shaded and cozy, and the bar is a few steps away. The food is always delicious (especially that “burger on a knife”) and the beer selection is great. And of course, it’s very family-friendly for our large group.
9. Chicken or the Egg – there’s no breakfast place more famous on the Island. They have a variety of egg-based plates, from omelettes to sandwiches, or french toast and pancakes covered in eggs, and they are all delicious. The waiting for a table can be quite long but you can also take out and head back to your hotel or rental home (or use the No Wait app for seating). And don’t forget to come back for some fried chicken for lunch, or even a late-night stop when coming back from a bar.
10. Bagel Shack. If you prefer to stay in, at your rental home or hotel, the Shack is a great breakfast alternative in Beach Haven. Their bagels are fresh and tasty, and the breakfast sandwiches (especially the pork roll, egg & cheese) are outstanding. Keep in mind that lines can be long in the morning (because everyone knows they’re so good), but you can call ahead to order.
11. How You Brewin is a cool coffee house in Surf City. A great meeting place in the middle of Long Beach Island with delicious coffee and pastries. It also has a relaxing outside patio where you can watch the throng on tourists while sipping on your brew.
12. Fantasy Island Amusement Park is a small park geared towards the little ones, right in the middle of the town. They have the usual assortment of kiddie rides, with a few more thrills for older kids. Free entrance but you pay for each ride, and there’s a very summery vibe due to the proximity to the beach. Can be a relaxing place to have some ice cream while the kids jump from ride to ride. Sometimes in June they’d have $5 unlimited rides on Friday, or happy hours on Saturday (kiddie rides are 1 token between 6-7pm).
13. Barry’s Do Me A Flavor is great for a late food run in Beach Haven. It’s a nice eatery both for take-out and sit-in (or sit-out on the patio). You’ll have the entire assortment of sandwiches and finger food but I liked the quite unique (and very heavy, some would say unhealthy) Philly Hamburger Cheesesteak, which is the usual steak with an added burger patty. And as the name suggests, Barry’s has dozens of delicious ice cream flavors.
14. Creperie de la Mer is a recent discovery of ours. And it’s very underrated as it seems not enough people know about it. It has some of the most amazing crepes I’ve ever had! Both the sweet fruity ones and the savory ones our outstanding. The ones with ham egg and cheese were my favorites. It’s a a cozy little place, with a French owner, and it should be a top breakfast destination in Beach Haven! (they have very good coffee as well)
15. Triton Craft Beer and Oyster Bar is exactly what it’s name says. A fresh oyster (and clams and shrimp) bar with an excellent selection of craft beers, right across from Barry’s mentioned above. The oysters are indeed very good and the beers are an always-changing menu of trendy brews. It’s quite a hip place, and the staff is very friendly, with good recommendations for the beers.