We just discovered a fabulous getaway destination a mere 1½ hours south of Manhattan: Red Bank on the New Jersey shore. We found one of the most fabulous 7-mile biking trails on Sandy Hook, part of Gateway National Park, that is so scenic and so interesting, and even more so because of a long history as a fort (you can see battlements that were revolutionary in their day, from 1890s and buildings that housed soldiers) that spanned the eras from the mid-1800s, through World War II, the Cold War and the Missile Age. It also has Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse, dating from 1764, not to mention gorgeous sandy beaches, water on both sides, and a popular destination for fishermen and birdwatchers.
After biking, we went into historic Highlands, enjoyed a delightful lunch on the water at the Inlet Café, before exploring Twin Lights, a phenomenal lighthouse which turns out to be the first place where Fresnel’s lens was used (and after that, Congress made it the standard illumination for all lighthouses). It’s also where Marconi demonstrated his wireless invention. The structure is fascinating, and you can climb to the top for an amazing view – in fact, it is the highest point (we are told), on the Eastern shore – and for that reason, has been an observation post for military and commercial reasons since Colonial times.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the riverfront Oyster Point Hotel – recently renovated and thoroughly contemporary and charming. We especially loved the patio with plush sofas and pillows, where we could enjoy morning coffee and croissant. It also has a fitness center, beautiful lounge. The views of the river (especially from our room, 510, on the highest floor), are just glorious (www.mollypitcher-oysterpoint.com).
Its sister property, the Molly Pitcher Inn, just around the corner, is completely different in style – it dates from 1928 and is very traditional, but shares the same quality of excellent service and elegant guest amenities. It also has an outdoor swimming pool (in season).
The village of Red Bank is charming with red brick sidewalks, planters, and whole blocks of Victorian buildings dating from the second half of the 1800s, and lovely cafes with outdoor dining. We were surprised to see two music shops – Jack’s Music Shoppe, and a guitar store and all sorts of boutiques, not to mention various and sundry investment banks and brokerages that are very telling about who lives in the neighborhood (hint: Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi).
What is more, you can reach Red Bank and the Atlantic Highlands without a car – take a ferry from Manhattan (www.seastreak.com), or by North Jersey Coastline train from Penn Station (www.njtransit.com).
Check out the full story and photos at http://www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate.