Pier Village, Long Branch, NJ

We decided to visit Long Branch in the final weeks before the 2016-2017 school year began.

Translation: I’m pretty sure the fire marshal should have been at the town line with a tally counter and a readied ‘city is full’ sign.

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Though everywhere we drove there were cars scoping out parking spots and masses of people loaded with beach gear walking towards the sound of the waves, Pier Village was the particularly overcrowded section of Long Branch.

According to Trip Advisor, it is the number two thing to do* in Long Branch, and most certainly my kind of beach vibe.

*Second to Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park

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Stalking up behind some beach goers

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I realize palm trees are a special touch hotels give their private beach area, and therefore nothing to get so overly giddy about, however I always find myself squealing with glee when I see them.

I mean, it’s New Jersey. We don’t have palm trees.

Let a girl be excited.

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I also get unreasonably excited any time I see food trucks. The Empanada Guy was stationed just outside of Pier Village and I can’t give you a reasonable explanation as to know why we didn’t stop and get one or two or ten beef empanadas.

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Oh. That’s right. Because this thing of beauty caught my nose when we first arrived. Perhaps an extra meatball or two could have been thrown on, but this sandwich was surprisingly the best meatball sandwich I’ve ever had. The sauce to meat ratio was spot on, the meatballs weren’t dry*, the mozzarella was fresh, and the roll was warm and toasty while also soft and chewy. Yum.

*Good Lord, I’ve had to smile my way through a lot of dry meatballs in my life.

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Even though we didn’t buy anything*, I found Pier Village to be a welcomed relief from the usual boardwalk vibe. The village is the same distance from the beach as a boardwalk, however, it has more of a small city feel.

*Quite honestly, most of the shops in Pier Village were over priced.

And that’s really what I’m all about.

I want to see the beach and think, ‘Gosh, it’s so beautiful’, then turn around to find food and shopping* readily available.

*Good food and good shopping.

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We didn’t spend any time on the beach, but instead walked the length of it taking in sights like men playing bocce ball, picnicking families, beach volleyball, and more. The heat of the day made me wish I could hop in the ocean, but the crowded umbrellas of families grasping at the last fleeting minutes of summer gave good reason to stay back.

Crowds aside, Long Branch turned out to be the best beach I’ve found so far that is close to home. I’m interested to return earlier in the season and also to spend some time on the beach itself.

With beach season winding down…tell me, what is YOUR favorite beach?

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