Still Standing Strong at the Jersey Shore


sea-bright-exit_mediumSo a year has gone by.  In some aspects it feels like a lifetime ago when our world at the Jersey Shore was changed forever.

We have grown stronger, smarter as individuals and communities.  We were brought together by a storm.  We were strangers; relying on each other to make it through the next day.  Each day the reality of what just happened started to sink in.

So here we are, 365 days later, and with a simple drive around our area in Monmouth County you will see that our communities are still in states of disrepair.  Our neighbors are still in need of help to make their lives whole again.  If you follow Facebook, the Jersey Shore Hurricane News is constantly reminding people across the Facebook world that the Jersey Shore still needs help.   We still need volunteers, goods and services, as well as, financial aid.

The people from New Jersey are special.  We are resilient, we are strong.  Our determination, our visions for a better tomorrow are burning bright in our souls.  Come and visit us and see how far we have come and how you can help make us better.

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Girlfriends’ Valentine Luncheon


Are you looking for a great reason to have lunch with your BFF? The Monmouth County Historical Association is hosting RED, A Girlfriends’ Valentine Luncheon. This event is occurring on Thursday, February 9th at the Rumson Country Club. I did call ahead to double check everything and this is what I found out.

• You do not have to be a member of the Historical Association to attend this luncheon

• You also don’t have to bring a friend (although that is much more fun)

• Men are welcome to attend (it is not just about the ladies)

• You will definitely have to find a sitter if you have children

I checked out the menu and it looks delicious! In fact, my belly starting rumbling thinking about the Butternut Squash Soup and the Chocolate Mousse Cake with Berries. Isn’t it about how you start and end your meal?

The MCHA has kindly posted all information including an RSVP card on their website. For more information you can call 732-462-1466. All proceeds benefit the continuing operation of the Historical Association. We are fortunate to live in an area that is rich with history – help the Historical Association continue their mission of educating us and future generations.

Middletown, NJ Named a Top 100 Best Place to Live in Money Magazine


I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least give this a mention on the little hotel blog. Middletown, NJ was chosen as one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live by Money Magazine.  We were ranked #89 for our sense of community and volunteerism, those who brave the one hour commute into Manhattan for work and our proximity to the fabulous beaches of Monmouth County.  We’re not just a great place to visit, you would want to live here.

For more information, here is a link to the Press Release.

Free and Low Cost Things To Do At The Jersey Shore This Summer


The economy appears to be on the rebound, Europe is exploding with hot lava, you want to save money but still go on vacation.  These are all perfect reason to plan your Jersey Shore Summer Vacation today.  Having something fun to look forward to is good for the mind and the soul. There are plenty of low cost or free things to do  and the Comfort Inn Middletown wants to be a part of your Jersey Shore vacation.  Make your reservations today, our two queen bedded rooms book up quickly.

This post focuses on what’s good for your wallet.  I tried to put together a list of free or low cost events that you and your family can enjoy on your visit to the Jersey Shore.  We’ll call this the first in a two (at least) part series on Jersey Shore events.  This one will discuss recurring events and the one(s) to follow will include more date specific features. Then we’ll do some posts with more specifics on some of the events we talk about here. Most of the events listed take place during the months of June, July and August on the dates specified.

ARTS & MUSIC:  If the arts  and music are your thing well you’ve come to the right place. The Jersey Shore has a deep history in both. Night of the Arts: A monthly arts event held on the third Friday of every month presenting a sampling of the best arts in Asbury Park. The event takes place in Downtown Asbury Park. Blues On The Beach Long Branch: A Sunday night music series featuring local bands playing jazz and blues taking place West End Park Brighton Avenue, Long Branch.  Atlantic Highlands Summer Concert Series: Each Sunday starting June 27th and running through throughout the summer.  Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor on Simon Lake Drive in Atlantic Highlands.   Belmar Friday Night Concert Series: A concert every Friday night by a variety of artists from July through September. *Weather Permitting at Pyanoe Plaza 9th and Main St, Belmar.

Farmers Markets all throughout the summer at the Jersey Shore

Keyport Farmers Market

FARMERS MARKETS: Who doesn’t love locally grown produce, fresh flowers and crafts? There are many Farmers Markets taking place throughout the area during the summer months. Belmar: Farmers market every Saturday from May through September sponsored by the Belmar Chamber of Commerce. Located at Pyanoe Plaza 9th and Main St, Belmar.  The Galleria Red Bank: This farmers market, runs every Sunday from May 9, 2010 – November 14, 2010 and offers fresh, locally-grown produce from some of New Jerseys finest farmers as well as showcasing unique crafts and wonderful eateries. The Galleria Red Bank Parking Lot Corner of Bridge Ave and West Front St, Red Bank. Manasquan: Locally grown fruit, vegetables and herbs. Great tasting baked goods and more. Every Thursday from June 24 – September 2, 2010, 9am to 3pm at Miller Preston Way, Manasquan.  Keyport: Annual farmers market running every Thursday from July through October. Fresh Picked, Jersey Grown, Fruits, Vegetables,Flowers, Jams and  Honey in Mini Park on West Front Street 1:00 PM to Sell Out.  Highlands:Wake up and smell the fresh flowers and just-picked Jersey-fresh produce available every Saturday from July through October at the Highlands Business Partnership’s weekly Farmers Market in Huddy Park, Highlands.

FIREWORKS: Ah beautiful eye candy. Keansburg Amusement Park: Free fireworks show July 3 & and 4 and every Monday night at dusk July 12- August 9th at the Fishing Pier. The Lakewood BlueClaws Fireworks Fridays: Fireworks display after each home game Friday nights during the season. Lakewood BlueClaws Stadium is located at 2 Stadium Way, Lakewood. Asbury Park: Fireworks on the Asbury Park boardwalk every Wednesday from June through August. *Weather Permitting*Boardwalk, Asbury Park.

MOVIES: Who needs the drive in when you can settle your beach chair into the sand and catch a flick on the beach?  Free movie screening on the Asbury Park Beach: Every Thursday in July and August. Bring a beach chair or blanket. *Weather Permitting* Asbury Park Beach. Free movie on the beach in Belmar: Every Sunday from July through September. *Weather Permitting*8th Ave. Beach, Belmar. Website lists the movie schedule.

SIDEWALK SALES AND EVENTS: Yes, shopping costs money but only if you buy something. You are more than welcome to come “window shop” and enjoy two historic towns. First Saturday In Asbury Park: Spend the first Saturday of each month enjoying sidewalk sales, shopping, and dining under a variety of different themes.  Red Bank Street Life: Free entertainment on the sidewalks of Red Bank. Red Bank Business District. Saturdays June 5 through August 28th.

SPORTS: Monmouth Park Family Fun Days: Family Fun Days are every Sunday and Holiday Memorial Day to Labor Day from 12 noon – 4 pm. All Activities are FREE and include:Pony Rides, Face Painters, Clowns,Bounce House & Live Music. Grandstand admission is $3, children 12 and under are always admitted free. Henry Hudson Trail: A multi-purpose train in Monmouth County.  Read our previous post on this local gem here.

Monmouth County has a rich County Park System most of which are free to enter.  Check out their website to see all of the things they have to offer.  There’s gardens, beaches, golf, fishing, boating, horseback riding and much more.

This is only a sampling of the great free and low cost things to do at the Jersey Shore. The Comfort Inn Middletown is your Choice Hotel when looking for a hotel at the Jersey Shore. Come stay with us, we want to share your vacation with you.

Lighthouses of Monmouth County


Monmouth County Lighthouses

Lighthouse on Sandy Hook

Monmouth County is home to three lighthouses that are still operational today.  Locations on Sandy Hook, in Sea Girt and the Twin Lights all played a role in shaping the history of the United States.

The lighthouse located on Sandy Hook is the oldest working lighthouse in the country today.  It is located on the northernmost end of Sandy Hook at Fort Hancock.  The grounds around the lighthouse are open daily.  It was originally built at the request of New York merchants who wanted to protect ships entering New York Harbor.  The Sandy Hook Lighthouse was the fifth lighthouse is the original 13 colonies and was first lit on June 11, 1764.

Lighthouse located in Sea Girt in Monmouth COunty NJ

Sea Girt Lighthouse

Sea Girt Lighthouse was the last live-in lighthouse to be built on the Atlantic Coast.  The lighthouse is positioned 19 miles south of Navesink Twin Lights, and 26 miles north of Barnegat Light. Its beacon was first illuminated on December 10, 1896. Due to its location, it was originally (but incorrectly) called the Squan Inlet Lighthouse. The name was soon changed to Sea Girt Lighthouse on March 1, 1897. The lighthouse is situated on Beacon and Ocean Avenues in Sea Girt, New Jersey.  For information and tours, visit the Sea Girt Lighthouse Website.

The Twin Lights are located on the Navesink Highlands near the Sandy Hook area.  Elevated at more than 200 feet above sea level, the Twin Lights have overseen the coastal waters since 1828. It served as the primary seacoast light for the New York Harbor for many years. It was one of the first lighthouses to have an electric light and the first Fresnel lens was used here.   The lighthouse was last fully functioning in 1949 and is now a museum.  Tours are available and you can climb the North Tower for a breath-taking view of the Atlantic Ocean and Sandy Hook Bay. The lighthouse is open daily from Memorial Day to Labor Day and Wednesday through Sunday the rest of the year.

Twin Lights Lighthouse

The Comfort Inn Middletown is located near all of these great lighthouses.  We’d be pleased to have you stay with us while you tour the lighthouses of Monmouth County. Call us today at 732.671.3400. Follow us on twitter @ http://twitter.com/cimiddletwnnj and join our Facebook Fan Page.

Sandy Hook Among Audubon Society’s Important Birding Areas


sandy hook, nj, gateway national park, Audubon Society, NJ Audubon Society, Sandy Hook Bird Observatory

The New Jersey Audubon Society established the Sandy Hook Bird Observatory in 2001.  It is known as one of New Jersey’s best year-round birding locations.  The Observatory is located in the Fort Hancock section of Sandy Hook. There are programs offered by park naturalists throughout the year.

Sandy Hook, NJ is a popular stop over for birds flying along the “Atlantic Flyway”.  It is a barrier beach on Monmouth County’s northern shores and brings in over 340 different species of birds with it’s optimal location. Sandy Hook has been designated by the National Audubon Society as a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA).

For a seven mile strip of land, there are a vast number of different bird habitats.  They range from the beach and dunes, to mudflats, holly forest, deciduous woods, freshwater ponds, salt marshes, coastal scrub/shrubs and successional field.   It’s no wonder the species are so varied.

There are many shore birds that nest on the ocean side beaches of Sandy Hook. It is a serene setting with a view of New York City. (Not that the birds care but it’s nice for the bird watchers.)  Dog owners are not allowed to walk their pets on the ocean side beaches from March 17th through Labor Day.  Dog are permitted on the Bayside Beaches.  I took this picture on a recent walk at Sandy Hook.  I didn’t see anything more than Sandpipers and Sea Gulls but I wasn’t looking terribly hard either.

There are several more Audubon IBA’s located in Monmouth County. Upper Freehold Grasslands is home to several Jersey state endangered species including Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlarks, Grasshopper Sparrows and Savannah Sparrows.   Assunpink Wildlife Management Area is a nesting spot for Cooper’s Hawk and breeding ground for many other species.  The Big Brook Park Region is located in the Raritan Bay and Southern Shore areas and is part of the Sandy Hook Complex.

The North Shore Coastal Ponds Complex stretches from the Manasquan Inlet at Point Pleasant to Sandy Hook.  It is home to state-endangered Piping Plovers and Least Terns as well as many other species.  Spring and fall are busy migration periods and Turkey Swamp Wildlife Management Area serves as an important stopover for song birds.  If they are your thing, this is the time visit this park.   The Manasquan Watershed is a migratory stop for hundreds of species of land birds and wintering waterfowl.

If bird watching is your passion, hobby, or interest then Monmouth County, NJ is the place to be. The New Jersey Audubon Society will be holding a Bird Walk on Saturday, February 20, 2010 and it is open to members and non-members at no charge.  Meeting place is 10:00am in the Sandy Hook Visitor’s Center.  Make sure to dress appropriately for cold and wind.  Binoculars are necessary and a field guide will be helpful and is recommended.  For more information call (732) USA-BIRD or visit the Monmouth County Audubon Society websiteSandy Hook is just a short drive from the Comfort Inn Middletown and has wonderful birding opportunities year-round.

New Jersey Shore Tourism Meeting


Visit the Jersey Shore Monmouth and Ocean Counties NJI represented the Comfort Inn Middletown at the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau meeting this morning held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lakewood.  It was a gathering of various tourism related businesses from Monmouth and Ocean Counties.  Those in attendance share a common desire to create a viable tourism market at the Jersey Shore all year-round. Attractions, hotels, restaurants, non-profit organizations, tourism related businesses intermingled with networking opportunities before and after the event.

Newly instated Executive Director, Bob Hilton lead the forum. He discussed the value in membership of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, be it as a member or a sponsor.  The Jersey Shore CVB is an example of the phrase “there is strength in numbers”.  The CVB is partly funded by a New Jersey State grant. The cost of membership is only $100.  The value is easily 10 times that amount.  There are trade show and advertising opportunities (just to name a few) that the CVB will represent you that simply are not feasible for a single entity to take on.  Other types of businesses would find it more beneficial to become a sponsor.  There are two levels of sponsorship available depending on your needs.

Barbara Steele, Ocean County Tourism asked Steve Steiner from the Surflight Theatre to tell the group how he has successfully been able to engage the local community to build business not only for the theatre but also the local restaurants.  These efforts have not increased the number of groups to the theatre accommodates annually but it also creates a great guest experience. Steve solicited the local restaurants for a set price menu of their choosing for his group sales department to sell to groups.  The group can then pick a menu by restaurant  and it is all arranged through the theatre.  A group is considered 15 or more people and packages are available for both lunch and dinner.

Jeanne De Young from Monmouth County Tourism spoke about all the great things to come in Monmouth County.  The Visit Monmouth 2010 Travel Guide produced by Spark marketing has been released and she will be bringing them to all the travel & tourism shows she will be attending this spring.  You can access the Visit Monmouth County 2010 Travel Guide on-line here.

The floor was then open and there was a lively question and answer session.  Many people were able to share ideas and connect at this event.  If you are interested in becoming a member call 732-303-5984 or email director@visitthejerseyshore.com.