What to Do, See and Eat in Spring Lake: One of the Shore’s Prettiest Towns

It has gorgeous beaches, great downtowns shops and charming restaurants.

Spring Lake's downtown
Spring Lake's flower-filled, immaculate downtown. Photo: Arron Andrews

Sometimes called the Irish Riviera because of the people of Irish ancestry who settled here, Monmouth County’s well-heeled town of Spring Lake (population: 2,776) has to be one of the prettiest spots to visit at the Shore. From its pristine beaches to its flower-filled, immaculate downtown to its grand old Victorian homes, Spring Lake is an immensely pleasurable small town for a day or weekend trip. Some say fall is the best time of year here, when the crowds have diminished, but the weather is still warm. 


September 2023 cover of New Jersey Monthly

Buy our September 2023 issue here. Cover photo: Laura Moss

Start your day at the beautiful beach, strolling along the boardwalk and taking in the scenery. Remember, there’s no eating on the beach, but visitors may snack on the benches along the boardwalk. After driving around town to take in the impressive, stately old homes, head to the delightful downtown. In the center is a small courtyard filled with flowers and topiaries shaped like dolphins.

Then stroll along the main street—Third Avenue—stopping in shops like Thunder Road Books, Jean Louise Homemade Candies and Bare Wires Surf and Skate. There’s still a shop downtown selling Irish goods, Irish Centre, and even a place for your pets—Dandy Canine. Most of the businesses are open year-round. No visit here is complete without a stop at the lake, with its picturesque footbridge and lovely views. On September 2 and 23, the downtown will be alive with the Spring Lake Art Walk.  


For a quick bite, stop at Spring Lake Pizza or Dune Donuts and Bagels. Around the corner, you’ll find Joseph’s Delicatessen on Warren Avenue and Nick + Sons Bakery on Morris Avenue. For your coffee fix, check out Driftwood. Spring Lake Seafood is a casual new dining spot and fish market downtown that offers fresh, local fish with a modern twist. The owners work with local fishing boats and farms to provide high-quality products while supporting the local economy. Of course, don’t forget to finish off your meal with a visit to one of the town’s enjoyable ice cream spots, such as Belle’s Ice Cream or the Sundae Times.


The Breakers on the Ocean hotel in Spring Lake

The Breakers on the Ocean boasts 75 newly renovated rooms (and is the only hotel in town with a pool!). Photo: Arron Andrews

The Breakers on the Ocean, a lovely hotel across the street from the ocean, is a delightful spot to relax while also feeling pampered. Joseph Scardino and his family have owned this spot for 44 years—it’s the only full-service hotel on the ocean, and the only one in town with a pool. The hotel, which has incredible views of the ocean from its front porch, has 75 newly renovated rooms.The food is fabulous here as well, with breakfast, lunch and dinner on offer.

The Spring Lake Inn, with its huge front porch, is only a block from the ocean and is elegant yet unpretentious. The Chateau Inn & Suites is another lovely place to stay in town and is located near the lake and the downtown area.

Want to keep exploring? Check out more of our 12 favorite small towns to visit now.

Thunder Road Books, 1108 3rd Avenue; Jean Louise Homemade Candies, 1205 3rd Avenue; Bare Wires Surf and Skate, 1307 3rd Avenue; Irish Centre, 1120 3rd Avenue; Dandy Canine, 1111 3rd Avenue; Spring Lake Pizza, 1110 3rd Avenue; Dune Donuts and Bagels, 1408 3rd Avenue; Joseph’s Delicatessen, 516 Warren Avenue; Nick + Sons Bakery, 304 Morris Avenue; Driftwood, 1102 Third Avenue; Spring Lake Seafood, 1300 3rd Avenue; Belle’s Ice Cream, 300 Morris Avenue; Sundae Times, 17 Atlantic Avenue; Breakers on the Ocean, 1507 Ocean Avenue; Spring Lake Inn, 104 Salem Avenue; Chateau Inn & Suites, 500 Warren Avenue

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