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Ocean Grove's main street is a far cry from Asbury Park just one mile north. Tree-shaded, crowded with visitors and family groups, it features largely Victorian buildings converted into gift stores, luncheonettes, and a few upscale restaurants which are all crowded. Parking immediately on the street is difficult but traffic is surprisingly light and pedestrians are the order of the day. A walk here as a diversion from the boardwalk is highly recommended. I have enclosed a few pictures - the fire escape is a classic example of the style of this village. I seemed to be the only person on the street with a camera and felt a liittle limited in exposing images.
Written Aug 26, 2007
Oceanfront at Ocean Grove is a sheer delight. The well-tended boardwalk is filled with strolling and jogging people, but there are no bicycles and no carts. Even better, no commercial activities are allowed on the boards - no amusement rides, arcades, food stands, t-shirt and souvenier stands - nothing. Visible from the boards are the many Victorian mansions now used as hotels across the ocean-front boulevard. Like a walk through nature set in the Victorian past.
Unlike most Jersey Shore beaches, natural sand dunes along the ocean side of the boards partially obscure the wide white sand beach, immaculately maintained. The dunes are protected and reinforce the beauty of this walk.
CELEBRITY SIGHTING - on image 2 note 3 men walking along the boards in the far distance. The man on the far left in the dull red shorts is none other than Jim Cramer, the famed hedge fund investor and host of the CNBC "Mad Money" television program. He has been a resident of Ocean Grove apparently for some time and is regularly seen on the boardwalk.
Updated Aug 26, 2007
Ocean Grove boasts the largest group of pure Victorian architecture in the United States, with the streets leading to the boardwalk and beach lined by great mansions. The town planners carefully made the streets nearer the ocean much wider than inland, favoring the more inland houses with the famed Jersey shore onshore breezes in the years before air conditioning. The great houses were originally leased to private families just like the tents, but in the darker period of the late 20th Century many fell into disrepair. As Ocean Grove as opened its gates ever so slightly, these visually arresting buildings have been converted to hotels filled in the summer months both with Methodists and others.
Written Aug 25, 2007
Dr. James Thornley was a charter member of the Camp Meeting Association and favored building a house for services for children and junior members. After his death in 1892, Rev Stokes sponsored development of this small church in his honor. Even today, it still holds the famous Ocean Grove Children's Meetings as well as serving as a venue for small weddings (non-denominational, no gays wanted).
Written Aug 25, 2007
Since Ocean Grove was founded as a summer revival center, housing was pretty much limited to tents surrounding the pulpit which would be expanded to the auditorium today. Plots were rented from the church with 99 year leases. At some point, wooden facades were constructed to face the church with the tent erected each spring and dismantled in the fall for winter storage. Originally more than 600, today 114 remain in ranks adjacent. Many have been passed on in families for decades. Leases run from May to September, but may be renewed annually by the lease-holding family. The waiting list to rent a tent plot is said to exceed 20 years. They are extremely close together, little privacy here, but certainly for the faithful are the most desirable of accomodations. However, non-Methodists may rent tents or houses anywhere in Ocean Grove as a result of some recent court decisions and a slight shift in rigidity on the part of the Camp Meeting Society.
Today's tents are about 300 sq ft in area. The facade and floor are permanent. The tented area includes the sleeping and living quarters. In the back, small wooden structures have been added to house the kitchen and bathroom areas. Small sheds are used for the tents and portable parts during the winter season. Decoration of these properties is a major issue in Ocean Grove - the occupants cover the facades with hanging plants and fill their small plots of land with bright flowers presenting a remarkable scene.
Updated Aug 25, 2007
Address: Lining the north side of the Great Auditorium
The all-wooden Great Auditorium is the central feature of Ocean Grove. Built in 1894 it has a 6000 seat capacity and is the largest in central New Jersey. The summer revival programs are centered here but big name concerts are also a regular feature both popular and classical. The acoustics are said to be excellent. The pipe organ is one of the largest in the world first built in 1908 and enlarged to 9000 pipes. Free concerts are offered on Wednesday nights in the summer. The impressive statue in the central walkway is of Rev. Stokes who founded this camp revival community.
Updated Aug 25, 2007
Visit the beach, The Great Auditorium, Nagle's Apothecary Ice Cream Shop, Kitch & Kaboodle, Captain Jack's, Favorite Things, and the OG Trading Post.
By NJ standards, it's a pretty broad beach. After spending the right amount of time at the beach (a lifetime seems short), check out the 100+ y/o Great Auditorium. Lots of shows, church services on Sunday. Nagle's is a restored 50's sort of ice cream fountain in the former drug store with the original counter. Kitch & Kaboodle is a one of a kind 'vintage' kitchen store and more. Captain Jack's is good food - with a large aquarium to keep the kid's attention. Favorite Things has dark chocolate (my favorite thing)...probably has your's too. A great place to pick up the gift for someone that already has everything. Ask for a glass pickle ornament for your Christmas tree.
Written Feb 25, 2003
This eclectic restaurant, advertised as a European bistro, occupies the first floor of the venerable Majestic Hotel in Ocean Grove. Bia is apparently Gaelic for food. The hotel has been remodelled as a rather expensive boutique hotel and this new restaurant fits into the mold with earth tone decor, sconces, candles, and a new hardwood floor. The menu is more eclectic than area-specific and features complex yet light cuisine with an emphasis on seafood. The dining area is relatively small, although there is an outside porch with additional tables. The young servers are knowledgeable and relatively efficient. And the food is superb, aggressively seasoned, with full without overbearing seasoning. Every item was perfect - the flavors exploded in our mouths.
Appetizers and salads are $8-12 and entrees run $20-30. Desserts are mostly below $10. Bia has no liquor license - BYOB.
Reservations are mandatory, particularly on nights when there are major concerts in the Great Auditorium. Parking is difficult, on street.
We had a superb meal here and highly recommend Bia for haute dining in the Asbury Park-Ocean Grove area.
Favorite Dish: For appetizers, we had Shrimp Tuscany - grilled shrimp wrapped in basil and prosciutto with a relish of tomato-black olives - remarkably tasty. Calamari was lightly fried and offered with a lime dipping sauce. A lump crabmeat and avocado appetizer with tomatos and bermuda onions was served in a citrusy vinaigrette sauce, also excellent and highly recommeded.
For entrees, the great star was marinated Asian tuna served over intensely flavored wasabi mashed potatoes ( these will clear out your sinuses in a hurry ) and bok choy, the tuna with a sesame ginger vinaigrette. Just as good - seared sea scallops perfectly done with lobster ravioli in a coconut cream sauce with a fruit-based salsa with at least mango and pineapple plus other flavors. I wish we could have sampled some of the complex and beautifully presented entrees at adjoining tables.
Written Sep 6, 2008
Address: 19 Main Avenue, Ocean Grove, NJ 07756
Luggage and bags: Think small.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Shoes are optional - though you will need them to go into any restaurant.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: SUNSCREEN! Don't leave home without it.
Camping/Beach/Outdoor Gear: SUNSCREEN! Don't leave home without it.
Miscellaneous: SUNSCREEN! Don't leave home without it.
Written Oct 5, 2002
Favorite thing: The Methodist Camp Association determines the mindset of this community even if policies have been liberalised over the last 23 years. The cross on the beach (image 1 ) says it all.
Most of the streets have religious names (image 2).
The police station occupies the parish house for the Thornley Chapel (image 3).
The centerpiece of the boardwalk is the pavilion used to this day for religious services on Sunday mornings and for other religious events and speakers during the week. It currently is a very controversial site - two resident lesbians have brought a major lawsuit demanding the right to marry in this pavilion being strenuously fought by the community in the courts (image 4). Appropriate signpost adorn the boardwalk ( image 5 ).
Updated Sep 3, 2008