Off-Season at the Shore: Where to Stay, Eat

Crowds are non-existent, and bargains abound.

Photo courtesy of Ocean Place.

The Jersey Shore has a lot to offer in the off-season. Whether you need a quick getaway, or a place to stay when scouting for your summer rental, you’ll find bargain rates at top hotels and no lines at popular restaurants. Here are some picks at popular destinations


The recently re-vamped Ocean Place Resort and Spa is a full-service hotel with a top-notch spa. Located directly on the wide beaches of Long Branch, the high-rise hotel has many rooms with sweeping ocean views. Be sure to look into special packages like the Couples Getaway and Sunday Jazz Brunch. Rooms start at $148 a night off-season. Try to set aside time to be pampered in the hotel’s luxurious spa, complete with heated soaking tubs and an indoor pool.

A short walk from Ocean Place, Pier Village offers a slew of dining choices, both sophisticated and casual. McLoone’s Pier House has great seafood and an equally great view of the ocean. Sirena Ristorante offers fresh Italian fare in an elegant setting, also overlooking the ocean. For breakfast or brunch, head to the Turning Point, known for its cozy atmosphere and varied menu.

McLoone’s Pier House, 1 Ocean Avenue.
Sirena Ristorante, 27 Ocean Avenue.
The Turning Point, 92 Ocean Avenue.


The ultra-hip Asbury Hotel has quickly established itself as Asbury Park’s uber-cool destination. The Asbury’s 110 guest rooms range from eight-person bunkrooms to private king suites. All are comfortable but simply decorated. We love the classic music posters, an homage to the town’s rock ‘n’ roll heritage. Guests can enjoy the hotel lobby, with its grab-and-go counter offering coffee and light fare, and the ground floor rec center with ping-pong, pinball and board games. A plethora of events in the hotel’s nearly 30,000 square feet of venue space – including the swanky rooftop lounge reopening in May – include live music, trivia night and more. Weekend room rates start at about $260 for a standard queen.

Cardinal Provisions features creative egg dishes and hearty sandwiches for farm-fresh breakfast or lunch. It’s an easy walk from the Asbury. For dinner, most of Asbury park’s top restaurants remain open year-round. We love Barrio Costero for its killer margaritas and delicious coastal Mexican dishes. Most dishes are served tapas style; don’t miss the grilled octopus.

The Asbury Hotel, 210 5th Avenue.
Barrio Costero, 610 Bangs Avenue.
Cardinal, 513 Bangs Avenue.


The White Sands is an oceanfront resort and spa located just a few blocks from this beach town’s bustling boardwalk. Rooms are fairly basic but you can’t beat the location: while the main hotel – along with the spa, indoor pool and fully-equipped gym – are on the west side of Ocean Avenue, be sure to request an ocean view room across the street and closer to the beach. Book a service in the hotel’s Sea Spa (massage, manicure, pre-summer tanning) and take advantage of the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. Spring room rates start at $150 per night. The hotel’s restaurant, Arugula, overlooks the ocean and features contemporary American fare.

For lunch or dinner, head to Charlie’s in neighboring Bay Head before the summer season kicks off and securing a table gets tough. It’s less than two miles away and worth the short ride. Enjoy inventive cocktail concoctions in its sophisticated bar; dine on oysters and clams, lamb chops, steaks and flatbread pizzas in its open dining room. For a more casual burgers-and-beers vibe, try the Ark Pub or Frankie’s Bar and Grill, both just a few blocks from the hotel.

The White Sands, 1205 Ocean Avenue.
Charlie’s of Bay Head, 72 Bridge Avenue, Bay Head.
The Ark Pub & Eatery, 401 Sea Ave (Route 35 North).
Frankie’s Bar & Grill, 414 Richmond Ave (Route 35 South).


Daddy O is a 22-room boutique hotel five blocks from the ocean in Brant Beach. The seasonal hotel re-opens in early April, greeting guests with its modern, chic style. Rooms are nicely appointed with ultra-plush mattresses, rain showers and high-end linens. The rooftop deck offers ocean and bay views. The lobby restaurant has an all-day creative menu of seafood, steaks, salads and sandwiches.

Travel a few miles north to Harvey Cedars to Plantation Restaurant and Bar for its festive Happy Hour. Stick around for its creative fare including lobster quesadillas and short rib surf and turf. Breakfast at the Chicken or The Egg in Beach Haven is a must; go early – even off-season, crowds form on weekend mornings. Most dishes feature – you guessed it – either eggs or chicken, all served in its boisterous diner-like setting.

Daddy O, 4401 Long Beach Blvd.
Plantation Restaurant, 7908 Long Beach Blvd.
Chicken and the Egg, 207 North Bay Avenue.


The Reeds is a luxurious downtown hotel four blocks from the beach. With just 37 rooms and suites, it fills up quickly in season. It’s a bargain this spring with weekend rates as low as $279 per night. The sun deck – with hot tubs and a plunge pool – doesn’t open until May 1, but the Reeds is perfectly situated for downtown strolling and nearby nature walks, which never go out of season.

The plush indoor restaurant, Sax at the Reeds, is open year-round. The other restaurant at the Reeds, Water Star Grille, with its expansive outdoor deck and spectacular sunset view, opens May 14. Other off-season, downtown dining options include the modestly priced Fred’s Tavern, open seven days a week for lunch and dinner; and Marabella’s, a family-friendly BYO offering traditional Italian specialties. It’s open for dinner Thursday through Monday in the off-season and seven days a week (including breakfast) starting May 13.

The Reeds, 9601 Third Avenue.
Fred’s Tavern, 314 96th Street.
Marabella’s, 9426 Third Avenue.

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Comments (3)

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  1. markwilsonspratley

    recommendations for hotels – motels “pet friendly ” would be a great asset

  2. markwilsonspratley

    pet friendly? – uh…heeelllooooo

    • Emily

      Most places in Asbury Park have outside dinning that are pet friendly. 🙂