1) Shrine to Comic Books
The filmmaker Kevin Smith, whose credits include "Dogma" and "Jersey
Girl," helped put the town on the pop culture map by filming much of
his "Chasing Amy" and the cult favorite "Clerks" in the area. He also
owns a downtown comic book shop called Jay and Silent Bob's Secret
Stash (35 Broad Street, 732-758-0508). Join the steady stream of comic
book aficionados as they browse through coveted copies of Swamp Thing
or Identity Crisis.
2) Taco Night
Red Bank boasts a large Mexican and Salvadoran population, and would-be
patrons often wait in line for a table at the popular Juanito's Mexican
restaurant (159 Monmouth Street, 732-747-9118; lunch and dinner). Try
the queso fundido — a spicy cheese dip with Mexican sausage and flour
tortillas ($7.95), or the shrimp enchiladas poblanas in a dark mole
sauce ($16.95). And while you'll have to do without margaritas (there
is no liquor license), customers can bring their own beer and wine.
3) Stretch Yourself
Ease into the day with a class ($18) in Dancing Foot Yoga's
1,500-square-foot, wood-floor space at Synapse Studios (10 Broad
Street, third floor; 732-219-6662). If that doesn't kick you into gear,
head down the street to No Ordinary Joe Cafe (51 Broad Street,
732-530-4040) for a banana muffin ($1.85) and a medium-size cappuccino
4) Out and About
Stroll the five-block downtown and browse at Funk and Standard Variety
Store (40 Broad Street, 732-219-5885) for hip clothes and jewelry,
retro lunch boxes ($14 and up), Cleopatra action figures ($10) and a
copy of Cassell's Dictionary of Slang ($16.99). Then pop into the Bees
Knees boutique (24 Broad Street, 732-758-1900) for girly Lilly Pulitzer
clothing and Eliza B. accessories. In the rear of this space, don't
miss the Jersey Shore Apparel Company (24 Broad Street, 732-530-1048),
which stocks T-shirts, sweatshirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs and
bumper stickers that all pay tribute to the Garden State and to Red
Bank in particular.
5) Food for the Soul
Down to Earth (7 Broad Street, 732-747-4542) serves organic vegetarian
cuisine in its cheery basement-level dining room. Try the "notorious
nachos" ($6.95), corn chips beneath homemade three-bean chili, lettuce,
salsa and tofu sour cream — yeast cheese is a dollar extra. Or recharge
with a concoction of iced apple and lemon juices with a dash of ginger
($4.75). After lunch, keep walking and peruse a few galleries — Art
Forms (16 Monmouth Street, 732-530-4330); the Art Alliance of Monmouth
County (33 Monmouth Street, 732-842-9403); and the Laurel Tracey
Gallery (10 White Street, 732-224-0760) — for contemporary paintings,
photography, jewelry and sculpture. Occasionally, Red Bank plans
self-guided art-themed walks, and the Visitors' Center (in the train
station at Monmouth Street and Bridge Avenue, 732-741-9211; www.visit.redbank.com) offers maps highlighting galleries and antiques shops.
6) To the Lighthouse
A 20-minute drive northeast to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse at Fort
Hancock puts you where you can watch birds and hike on about five miles
of trails. Built in 1764 and the oldest operating beacon in the United
States, the lighthouse offers impressive views of lower Manhattan
(Gateway National Recreation Area, 732-872-5970). It is open noon to
4:30 p.m. weekends through November, and admission is free. The nearby
Twin Lights of Navesink is where America's first Fresnel lens was used.
The Twin Lights' medieval-style turrets were decommissioned in 1949;
today they are a museum and historic site (Lighthouse Road off Route
36, Highlands; 732-872-1814). It is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to
Sunday; a donation is requested.
7) Go Italian
For the last decade, 2 Senza (2 Bridge Avenue, 732-758-0999) has served
Italian and Mediterranean food to loyal regulars from its open kitchen
in the Galleria building. Start with a salad of mixed greens, roasted
red peppers, grilled portobello mushrooms and gorgonzola ($10). Then
dine on sushi-quality yellowfin tuna with sautéed spinach and a
balsamic vinegar reduction ($30). It has a small shop specializing in
Italian boutique wines.
8) It's Showtime
This year, the Count Basie Theater (99 Monmouth Street, 732-842-9000; www.countbasietheatre.org)
celebrates the centennial of Count Basie's birth. In August 1904,
William James Basie, the renowned composer of "One O'Clock Jump," was
born on Mechanic Street in Red Bank. The theater opened 22 years later
as a vaudeville and movie house; it was given its current name
in 1984. Today its year-round programs include opera, music,
dance, rock bands, world music, comedy and film. The space, with an
impressive proscenium arch, has nearly 1,600 seats and recently
reopened after a major refurbishment, which includes historically
accurate theater seats and an updated screen and sound system. On Oct.
8 and 9, the theater will play host to the fourth annual Red Bank
International Film Festival in conjunction with the Freedom Film
9) An Irish Nightcap
After the entertainment, head down the block for a pint of Smithwick's
($5) at the Dublin House (30 Monmouth Street, 732-747-6699), a
charmingly scrappy Irish bar set in an attractive former home with a
mansard roof, whose owners, Sean Dunne and Eugene Devlin, hail from the
10) Rise and Shine
The bright and spacious River's Edge Café (35 Broad Street,
732-741-7198; breakfast, lunch, and dinner) is an unassuming downtown
spot with around 40 tables; locals feast on eggs Benedict ($8.50) and
seasonal specialties like pumpkin pancakes with honey butter ($7.50).
11) Fresh and Wild
Every Sunday from May through October, you can load up on flowers,
plants, fruits, vegetables and baked items — all from New Jersey — at
the Red Bank Farmer's Market in the Galleria parking lot (corner of
Bridge Avenue and West Front Street, 732-530-7300; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Before leaving town, grab a pressed roasted chicken or prosciutto
sandwich ($8) and a latte ($2.50) from the coffee bar at Savanna (10
Bridge Avenue, 732-741-6333). This newly renovated cafe and tapas bar
fills a section of the restored 80,000-square-foot brick Galleria, a
former warehouse and factory where World War I uniforms and parachutes
Visiting Red Bank
Red Bank is 48 miles south of New York City and 85 miles northeast of
Philadelphia, at Exit 109 off the Garden State Parkway. Local trains on
the New Jersey Transit North Jersey Coast Line (800-772-2222; njtransit.com) stop at Red Bank. From the station, Red Bank can easily be explored on foot.
The Molly Pitcher Inn (88 Riverside Avenue, 732-747-2500) was built on
the Navesink in 1928 and has a bar and a restaurant with river views.
There are boat slips for guests who float in. The inn's 106 rooms start
at $159. The Oyster Point Hotel (146 Bodman Place, 732-530-8200) has
the same owners as the Molly Pitcher, a few hundred yards away. Its 58
rooms start at $159, and it has a restaurant and bar, also on the water.
Seven miles northeast of town, the Blue Bay Inn (51 First Avenue,
Atlantic Highlands; 732-708-9600) is a just-opened boutique hotel with
a restaurant and lounge. Its 27 rooms, some with balconies, start at
$159 and include a continental breakfast.
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