New Jersey is home to dozens of incredible small towns, each with its own charm, attractions, and amenities. But, one town has it all – Red Bank. Red Bank has approximately 12,000 residents and sits on just two square miles, packed to the brim with adventure, entertainment, and relaxation. Whether you like fishing or fine dining, this small borough has something to offer you. Smithsonian Magazine named Red Bank one of the coolest towns in the country, these are just some of the reasons why it may have made the cut:
1. Arts and entertainment opportunities abound.
Red Bank is a cultural hub, bursting at the seams with art and entertainment. The 1500-seat Count Basie Theater offers film, plays, live music, and other performing arts events. It has hosted big names including Bill Maher and Andrew "Dice" Clay, among others. Two Rivers Theater is somewhat smaller, but still offers quality shows and performing arts workshops.
If fine art is more your thing, check out one of the many galleries. You can find everything from photography to pottery. Popular choices include the Chetkin Gallery, Mudslingers Pottery, Beacon Fine Arts Gallery, and McKay Photo Studio & Gallery.
2. Comic book lovers and movie buffs - rejoice.
Of course we can't forget about comic book heaven - Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash. Opened by Kevin Smith, of "Clerks" and "Jay and Silent Bob" fame, this shop is known the world over to comic book lovers. It has some of the best comic book memorabilia around and is the filming location for reality television show, Comic Book Men.
3. The vintage arcade is fun for all ages.
If you're looking to travel back in time, visit Yestercades - an incredible retro arcade. Enjoy both arcade and pinball games dating back to 1977. Titles include Ms. Pacman, Mortal Kombat II, Frogger, Tron, Space Invaders, Asteroids, and many more!
4. The antiquing can't be beat.
If you're into antiquing, you're headed to the right place. According to Patch, Red Bank has the largest antique district in New Jersey. The Antique Center of Red Bank is housed in two buildings and offers thousands of unique vintage and antique goods. Riverbank Antiques is another local favorite, offering mainly furnishings. You'll find everything from towering cabinets to tiny signs in a variety of styles - Victorian, Early American, Industrial Salvage, and more.
5. Enjoy big-name brands and local boutiques.
If your style is more modern, you're also in luck. Downtown Red Bank offers local boutiques and trendy chains. You may be familiar with Urban Outfitters, Tiffany & Co., Alex And Ani, and Greene Street Consignment. If you prefer to shop small, you'll appreciate Poor Cat Designs, Madison Boutique and Lucki Clover.
6. Red Bank is the ice boating capital of the country.
Red Bank is also chock full of outdoor activities for all seasons. It is home to one of the country's oldest and most active ice boating clubs. The North Shrewsbury Ice Boat and Yacht Club has maintained a clubhouse since 1880 and is very active, hosting regular events and races.
This unique sport is definitely worth trying, but visitors can also enjoy powerboating, crabbing, fishing, sailing, canoeing, kayaking, bird watching, swimming and rowing on the Navesink. World Fishing Network ranked the Navesink as one of New Jersey's top 5 fishing destinations.
7. Enjoy diverse dining, from community kitchens to five star restaurants.
This tiny town packs a wide variety of dining options in its two square miles. The JBJ Soul Kitchen was founded by Jon Bon Jovi to support the local community. Meals have no fixed prices, customers donate to pay for their food. If they cannot afford to pay, they may volunteer instead.
Visitors can also enjoy mouthwatering Italian food at Birravino. The restaurant is owned by Vic Rallo, the host of Eat Drink Italy. The Cheese Cave, Catch, and Danish Cafe are other local favorites.
8. Incredible boutique hotels to make your stay extraordinary.
The Molly Pitcher Inn is located right on the waterfront and offers fine dining, event spaces, a fitness center, and outdoor pool. Built in 1928, this historic inn is loaded with charm.
The Oyster Point Hotel is another excellent choice, with a more modern feel. It offers a fitness center, marina, fine dining, and a lounge. The two boutique hotels are sister properties and both offer exceptional service.
These are just a few reasons to love Red Bank – I don’t want to give away all of its secrets! There is just so much to discover, you have to visit for yourself. Maybe you’ll fall in love with the falafel at Cafe 28, or find bliss at The Woodhouse Spa; whatever you do, it’s worth the trip. To top it all off, Red Bank is centrally located an hour from North Jersey and Manhattan and under two hours from Cape May.
Have you been to Red Bank yet? Where is your favorite place to go? What other can’t miss towns in New Jersey would you recommend? Let me know in the comments.