Road Trip! Destination: Red Bank, N.J.
Securing its status as one of those cool little towns that you visit and can’t wait to get back to, Red Bank is located in central New Jersey, minutes from the coastline.
No need to wait until summer to take full advantage of the surroundings — from five-star restaurants to an infamous Irish pub, quirky retail shops and even a throwback arcade. Neighbors Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi are known to make surprise cameos in the most unexpected places, and if you find yourself in a New York state of mind, the Big Apple is only a 90-minute train-ride via New Jersey Transit.
Count Basie Theatre
Legend has it that Tony Bennett dubbed the Count Basie Theatre his “favorite place,” and Art Garfunkel declared, “This hall is to a singer what Steinway is to a pianist.” Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and named after legendary jazz artist William “Count” Basie, the theater went through a relatively recent renovation to restore its grandeur — including use of the original Act Curtain. These days, the stage is usually hopping with a variety of music, dance and theatrical performances, including some surprise visits on occasion by nearby neighbors Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen. Check the website for a list of upcoming shows.
Details: www.countbasietheatre.org, 732-842-9000
This is your chance to get reacquainted with some old pals. Boasting a massively delightful offering of your favorite arcade games including Pac Man, Frogger, Space Invaders, Centipede and Donkey Kong, this gamer’s paradise also includes a full line up of pinball games. Play by the hour or snag an all-day pass. Open seven days a week with hours as late as 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and midnight Sundays through Thursdays.
Details: www.yestercades.com, 732-383-7873
Molly Pitcher Inn
Located alongside the Navesink River, the Molly Pitcher Inn is a throwback to the elegant charms of the early 19th century without sacrificing modern amenities. Rest your weary head upon the high-thread count Egyptian cotton bed linens, enjoy a nightcap in the International Bar while enjoying a warm, cozy fire, or take in the panoramic river views with dinner in the award-winning Navesink Dining Room. You also can take advantage of the River Theater, Winter Weekend, Weekday Escape or Romance on the River packages.
Details: www.themollypitcher.com, 800-221-1372
The Dublin House
My goodness, My Guinness, indeed. This legendary Irish Pub began its life as a small house in nearby Middletown. Having been moved not once, but twice in its 175-plus year history, it is located within walking distance of the busy Broad Street shops. Offering the usual fare plus a few extras for “non-Irish eaters,” the cool, casual vibe is a favorite among hipsters, yuppies and faithful regulars.
Details: www.thedublinhouse.co, 732-747-6699
Four stars from The New York Times, a 29/30 in both food and service from Zagat’s, and a spot on Gayot’s list of the Top 40 Restaurants in the United States — Chef Nicholas Harary seems to have cornered the market on mouthwatering New American cuisine. Restaurant Nicholas’ current three-course menu includes Bourbon Braised Suckling Pig, Olive Oil Poached Halibut, Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster or Dry Aged Squab, although guests also can opt for the Chef’s Tasting Menu, which changes frequently. Reservations are recommended and business casual is the dress code.
Details: www.restaurantnicholas.com, 732-345-9977
Broad Street Shops
Embracing the vibe of Greenwich Village, Broad Street offers brick-lined sidewalks that lead straight to the kinds of places that will cure the problem of that money burning a hole in your pocket. Pop into A Time to Kiln and create your own one-of-a-kind pottery or mosaic, or see what the pro’s are up to with a pit stop into the Beacon Fine Arts Gallery. And Kevin Smith fans will be in heaven upon entering Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash — a comic-book and movie-memorabilia store. Broad Street is a literal shop-’til-you-drop scenario.