Come As You Are Bars

Flip-flops and a bathing suit are no problem at these repositories of refreshment on or very near the beach.

Bathing suits and flip-flops are the norm at these Shore watering holes.
Illustration by Matt Foster.

The Beach Bar at Trump Plaza
Atlantic City
The Beach Bar at Trump Plaza was voted one of the 21 sexiest beaches on the globe by the Travel Channel in 2009. That must have something to do with the abundance of oiled and fit bods that populate the wide beach. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to sidle up to the open-air bar, located on the strand side of the Boardwalk, and order food and drink. The open-air bar, which offers views of the ocean and the passing parade on the Boardwalk, serves burgers, salads, and a raw bar and presents live music daily. You can enjoy the scene for free by day; at night, there is a cover charge, depending on the entertainment. (Boardwalk and Mississippi avenues, 609-449-1000,

Gunnison Beach
Gateway National Recreation Area, Sandy Hook
Gunnison’s half-mile stretch of sand makes it the largest clothing-optional beach on the East Coast. On a busy summer weekend, thousands of sun worshippers will, in every sense, be hanging out. Smack in the middle of it all is the Snack Shack, where bronzed bottoms line up for hot dogs, beer, soda, chips, and candy. It ain’t much, but it fits the minimalist ethos. Shack staffers wear clothes, but typically they are the only ones. While you are in line, check out the nude volleyball game perpetually in progress nearby. In this game, everything bounces. (If you’re driving to Sandy Hook from the north, expect a delay due to construction at the Highlands Bridge over the Shrewsbury River.) (732-872-5970,

Donovan’s Reef
Sea Bright
If you like your beach bars loud, crowded, and constantly churning—and what red-blooded Jersey frat boy doesn’t?—head for Donovan’s, jumping both day and night. The setting is unbeatable: right on the beach, with two large tiki bars planted in the soft sand, only a hop, skip, and a jump from the breakers. From the stage, also on the beach, local bands blast the Jersey Shore sound into the air nightly. If you don’t feel like kicking up sand when you dance, repair to the elevated deck atop the seawall overlooking the bars, bands, and general gonzo-ness on the beach. There’s also a huge (and less crowded) indoor bar. In general the crowd is young, but there’s a good mix of ages on weekends. Cover charge required. (1171 Ocean Ave at Rt 36, 732-842-8646,

The Beach Bar
Asbury Park
Although the revival of Asbury Park is far from complete (see story, next page), three new beach pavilions and a newly renovated boardwalk—one of the widest on the Shore—should noticeably improve the beach scene this summer. For refreshment, sunbathers can traipse into the aptly named Beach Bar, which overlooks the sand from an open-air wing of the enormous and newly restored Convention Hall. The Beach Bar’s billowing white drapes, neon lights, upholstered lounges, and cushy chairs make you feel you’re on a tongue-in-cheek safari.  (1300 Ocean Ave, 732-897-6500,

Martell’s Tiki Bar
Point Pleasant Beach
With several bars—some indoors, some on an outside deck, some right on the beach—plus daily live music, Jersey girls teetering in high heels and waving long, shiny nails, and Jersey guys weighed down with gold chains on buff chests, Martell’s is the Jersey beach bar that most fits the stereotype of the Jersey beach bar. The eclectic menu runs from full raw bar to Italian sausage sandwiches and grilled tuna steak. Shore bands like the Soul Cruisers hold forth on the gigantic outside deck. Combine hot music and cool breezes, and you have a great place to ignite a summer romance. (308-310 Boardwalk, 732-892-0131,

When you do decide to head to the beach, consult our 2009 Summer Beach Guide for beach badge prices, parking information and exit numbers (if you don’t know them by heart). Click here to view the beach guide (PDF format)

Click on the links below to read the different categories of our 100 Shore Things Guide:

Family Fun




Great Outdoors


Atlantic City’s Shore Things

Asbury Park’s Shore Things

Click on the links below to read more in-depth articles about Shore destinations and developments:

Will Tough Times Yield Good Deals? A Gaming Resort Tries to Look Beyond the Recession

Touching All the Bases: Lakewood’s Minor League BlueClaws Have Become A Major Hit

Wave Master: Brian Wynn Is The Go-To Guy For Custom Surfboards on the Shore

Boardwalk Into Controvesy: Wildwood’s Apparent Use of Rain-Forest Wood Irks Environmentalists

Wrecking Crew: Seeking Sunken Treasures (Or Just a Few Fish) in Jersey’s Chilly Coastal Waters

Cape May’s Sparkling Stones: Cape May "Diamonds"?

Greetings From Asbury Park (Again): Amid Economic Slowdown, A Legendary Shore Town Awaits the Fruits of Redevelopment

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