Captain William Kidd was said to have anchored off Bradley Beach in 1679 and perhaps hid some treasure among the pine trees near the shore. Well, whether he did or didn't, the only pirates you'll find now are on the Miniature Golf Course on Ocean Park Avenue, but there is plenty of treasure to be found there today.
Add to the beautiful sands of the Jersey Coast a quiet, eminently walkable boardwalk surrounded by flowers, a summer concert series straight out of the Music Man, a bubbling fountain complete with cherubs riding fishes, and you have the family friendly resort town of Bradley Beach, New Jersey.
Unlike its cousins to the south on the Jersey Shore, this beach town is not noted for the wild rides and raucous amusements of its boardwalks. Walkers amble in the gentle ocean breezes, stop for a rest on a bench next to a flower box, or get an early seat by the gazebo for the concert. Big and little kids alike love the miniature golf course set right next to the ocean.
There are a few food stands on the boardwalk, but most of the serious eating goes on a few blocks inland, in and around Main Street. Vic's the "original" pizzeria (they call them tomato pies!) may have started it all, but now there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.
This is one town that is really known for having some of the best Italian
restaurants in the area. The venerable Piancone's is no longer a
fixture on Main Street, but some great newcomers have taken over the
tradition of great Italian food for big post beach appetites. Uva (run by the Paganos, a great Italian restaurant that used to be on Ocean Ave.) is located at Piancone's former site,
Citrico's (who decided to make life easy by having only a FaceBook page, but you can find it easily) Cerrato's, Bella Sogno, Del Ponte's and of course 60 year old Vic's, compete with temptations from sunny Italy. That's a lot of Italian food in a town of a little over 4,000!
There is nothing like
sitting down to great Italian food after a day of sun and sand. Great
take-out menus make it easy to eat at home on a beach side porch, with
prepared lasagna, Chicken Marsala or Franchese and a wide variety of
other wonderful Italian specialities, breads and desserts. And, of course, pizza.
There are many more different style restaurants in this small beach town, from cute cafes to exotic cuisine such as Jamaican, Morrocan, Thai and Japanese.
And there is no better way to top off an old fashioned day at the beach than to head for the local movie theater. Not a viewing room in a multiplex complex, but a real movie theater, the Beach Cinema (on Main Street, of course!) is one of the last single screen theaters in the country and the last one in New Jersey. The prices reflect the old fashioned spirit as well, with tickets half the price of the big movie houses.
Bradley Beach is also keen to maintain the natural beauty of its seaside locale, and in April of 2014, residents of the town planted 5,000 native species of plants, including dune grass, holly, goldenrod, bluestem and cedar. Besides adding beauty to the shoreline, these plants will provide stabilization and reduce runoff and flooding.
Like other shore towns that don't cater to the tourist trade, there are not a lot of motels or hotels in Bradley Beach. But many residents offer summer rentals that offer the comfort and room of your own home just a stone's throw from the beach.
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