Our Favorite Downtowns: Red Bank

With two live entertainment venues and over 100 dining locations, Red Bank has evolved into a vibrant social and cultural center.

The Shrewsbury River provides a nautical backdrop for downtown Red Bank.
The Shrewsbury River provides a nautical backdrop for downtown Red Bank.
Illustration by Greg Betza

Once a trading post on the Navesink River, Red Bank has evolved into a vibrant social and cultural center. The borough’s leaders are bent on making it even better.

“Over the past two years, we’ve really spent a lot of money beautifying the downtown,” says Jim Scavone, executive director of Red Bank RiverCenter, which promotes downtown business and beautification. “We have brick sidewalks, streets lamps, hanging baskets—we really try to maintain the historic character of the town.”

The main drag, Broad Street, is lined with shops and restaurants. It starts at Front Street, which runs parallel to the river. Walk west on Front Street and you’ll reach Red Bank’s historic West Side, with its sprawling Antiques Center and other shops.

Riverside Gardens Park on Front Street is the best spot to view the river. The park hosts outdoor events in the warmer months and is a nice spot to watch the sailboats along the waterfront. Nearby, the Molly Pitcher Inn and the Oyster Point Hotel also offer riverfront views for dining or overnight stays.

WHERE TO EAT: Red Bank has nearly 100 dining spots to choose from. At the top of the heap, but a short drive from downtown, is Restaurant Nicholas, a regular on NJM’s Top 25. Downtown choices include the Robinson Ale House, Dublin House and the Downtown for pub food; Char for steak; Catch for seafood; Patrizia’s or Birravino for pizza and pasta; Runa for Peruvian specialties; the Danish Cafe for soft croissants and authentic Nordic cuisine; Good Karma Café for vegan and vegetarian dishes; or the Cheese Cave for sandwiches and artisanal cheeses. Get your caffeine at No Joe’s Cafe or Rook Coffee Roasters, or a sweet pick-me-up at Sugarush.

WHERE TO SHOP: Broad Street features high-end boutiques like CoCo Pari; chains like Urban Outfitters, Alex and Ani and the trendy Dor L’Dor; the hip jeweler Poor Cat; and shops with local flavor like Shore Chic and Cabana 19. For home furnishings, check out Red Ginger Home; for accessories and gifts, visit Rumson China and Glass. Music fans love Jack’s Music Shoppe (where you can buy and sell used LPs and CDs). For toy lovers and hobbyists, there are Toymasters and Hobbymasters, respectively. Don’t pass up a stop at Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash, a comics store packed with fun memorabilia. On the West Side, the Galleria Red Bank gathers boutiques, restaurants and a spa under one roof.

DON’T MISS: Red Bank is blessed with two venues for live entertainment. The landmark Count Basie Theater, which opened in 1926, runs a busy and impressive schedule of concerts and theatrical performances. The Two River Theater, on the West Side, is a professional company that stages new theatrical works and beloved classics.

THEN AGAIN: Parking can be challenging. To alleviate the crunch, Red Bank RiverCenter offers valet parking daily after 5 pm. Visitors also are encouraged to park in the underutilized lots east of Broad Street.

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