Belmar is the little Jersey Shore town with a big attitude. Despite being less than two square miles, tourists flock here every year because it is a popular destination. Take it from a Jersey Shore local whose first-ever beach was 17th Ave in Belmar- this seaside town is one of the Jersey Shore’s finest.
There is no shortage of restaurants in this small Jersey Shore town. There are more than enough Italian restaurants alone to make you believe that you’re in Italy. La Dolce Vita is an Italian seafood restaurant with roots in Italy. Co-owner Guiseppe Salpietro brought his passion of Italian cuisine and culture from the hills of Sicily to Belmar, NJ over 50 years ago. Keeping in the Italian tradition of family dinner, this restaurant creates new dinner specials every Sunday Another seaside favorite, Tulipano’s is Belmar, NJ’s Italian market, gourmet pizzeria and ristorante. Try their chicken scarpiello, veal picatta, pork giambota or any of their specialty pizzas. Federico’s Pizza & Restaurant has been serving up delicious slices and Italian food in Belmar for over 20 years. They serve your favorite pizzeria favorites, from garlic knots to chicken marsala to Italian subs. They will even deliver to the Northern Jersey Shore area.
Belmar is know for more than just Italian food. Klein’s Fish Market has been a Jersey Shore staple since 1928. Three generations later, Klein’s has expanded to a grill room, waterside cafe and sushi bar. During the summer, guests can dine on fresh-caught seafood while sitting by the water’s edge. If Klein’s is booked, head over to Mr. Shrimp Seafood Restaurant & Market. They too serve up delicious seafood dinners while operating as a retail fish market. See why their motto is “fish so fresh, we have to slap it!”
Belmar is also home to unique restaurants. The Jersey Shore is known for beach-inspired Mexican food. 10th Ave Burrito Company is a local favorite because it is a combination restaurant, bar and outdoor tent area. Enjoy weekly live entertainment, Sunday brunch and be sure to grab ice-cold drinks at the TAB bar. The beloved NJ burrito chain Surf Taco also has an outpost in Belmar. Have a taste of Texas barbecue at the Jersey Shore by stopping into Jersey Shore BBQ. The owners spent almost ten years in Texas learning the tradition of authentic smoked food, only to bring their talents back to the Jersey Shore. Although NJ isn’t typically known for its barbecue, that hasn’t stopped Jersey Shore BBQ from winning awards and serving hundreds of satisfied customers.
Looking for something sweet after a day at the beach? Belmar has you covered. Everyone who grew up in the Northern Jersey Shore area knows that summer means one things; Strollo’s Italian Ice. People eagerly wait until this seasonal ice cream shop opens up in April. Everyone lines up to place their order at the white wooden counter top and eat at the blue plastic tables. Watch the bridge go up to let boats pass by as you enjoy the best cream Italian ice in New Jersey. Located directly across the street from Strollo’s is Chill Dessert Cafe. This place is the perfect spot to buy ice cream, specialty coffee, or both! For those looking for a healthier alternative, Playa Bowls is Belmar’s newest addition. They serve smoothie bowls and frozen drinks made from exotic acai, dragonfruit and pitaya. Although their beachfront stand is only open during the summer, their Ocean Avenue storefront is open year-round.
Main Street in Belmar is bursting with trendy places to shop. Artifacts Boutique is the best place in Belmar for “affordable chic” clothing and accessories. They also have funky jewelry, hand-painted wooden signs and other unique gifts. They even feature and sell work from local artists. Nostalgic Nonsense is another great place in Belmar that offers fashion for the truly daring. Their clothing is “new” vintage meaning they come from modern companies that make vintage themed clothes. It’s the perfect way to add some 80’s glam or 60’s funk into your 21st century life. Perhaps a poodle skirt is just what your closet is looking for! Or keep it contemporary by visiting Exit 98, a boutique right on the boardwalk between 13th and 14th Avenue. Their fashion experts are in on all the latest trends can help you find that summer look that you’ve been looking for. Keep up with their social media accounts to be the first to know about sales and special offers.
In addition to hip boutiques, Belmar has places to buy cute, beachy clothes. The Beach Nut is a hot spot for buying swimwear, sportswear, and any beach gear you may need for the season. They even have beautiful shell jewelry and Belmar hoodies and t-shirts so you can sport your favorite shore town on any day. If you’re a big surfer or skater, Eastern Lines is just the place for you. They have gear and apparel for surf, stand up paddleboard (SUP), and skate making it the perfect shop for a water sports activist. But don’t worry, there are also plenty of classic T’s and hats for your time out of the water. Belmar even gives you the chance to customize just what you want. Beckman’s On The Beach has year round custom printing on a clothing article of your choice. There’s no minimum number for your order and they can do up to 10,000. You can simply order a unique Belmar sweatshirt just for you or some themed t-shirts for all your friends during your next big event or outing. Beckman’s also has plenty of supplies and apparel for the beach all summer long.
There’s nothing that completes a summer night in Belmar like taking on the town for a night filled with drinks, music, and friends, old and new. Luckily, the shore town gives you opportunities to do just that. Visit 9th Ave Pier and revel in an easy-going outing filled with innovative cocktails and breath-taking sunset views over the water. They even have the perfect post- or pre- dinner activity — mini golf! 9th Ave is a great spot for a first date or a casual yet enticing night out by the shore. Musicians also play live regularly to give your night some a beat that you can groove to. Similarly, Jack’s Tavern is a laid back spot with a full bar, specialty cocktails, an extensive menu, and al fresco dining. The food leans towards bar food and their screwdrivers are known for using fresh-squeezed orange juice. Jack’s has a dive bar atmosphere and attracts an older crowd, setting it apart from its surroundings.
Another bar and grill in the area is Boathouse which has typical bar food and plenty of brews and cocktails to choose from. Live bands play earlier in the night until a DJ takes over during the after hours to really set the party mood. This is a medium between a more divey atmosphere to that of a nightclub making it perfect if you just can’t decide what you’re looking for tonight.
When you want a place that puts together drinks, dancing, clubbing, and unbeatable daily specials, you’re looking for Bar Anticipation. This is a hot and popping bar attracting young crowds starting around 8 p.m. and into the late hours of the night. If you want to come for any day, you want to come for Beat The Clock Tuesday’s. Bud Light Drafts start at only $0.50 and increase by $0.25 every hour until midnight. Get there early and load up on 50 cent beers! At Bar A, summer never ends.
Beaches & Boardwalk
The 20 blocks of recently renovated boardwalk span across Ocean Avenue from First to Twentieth Avenues. The new material combines wood with plastic fibers to avoid giving passersby a splinter. It’s a great place for jogs, strolls, or simply taking in the ocean smell and salty breeze. You can even bike the boardwalk at any time of day between October 1st and April 30th, otherwise bikes are only permitted between 6 and 9 AM. What’s better than a sunrise bike ride breathing in the fresh sea air? On the boardwalk, between 5th and 6th Avenues, you’ll also find the beautiful Taylor Pavilion that recently reopened in May of 2017 and has remained a grand destination for weddings and events.
During the season there are also food vendors on the boardwalk adjacent to the beach. What’s even better is that they’ll bring the food to you on the beach! You’ll see employees walking back and forth delivering fries, snacks, and drinks to beach-goers. Don’t be afraid to stop one and place your order. Belmar Beach has been rated one of the top ones in the state for its clean beaches, nearby activities, and welcoming ocean. Swim, boogie board, kayak, surf, there’s so much to do inside the water and out.
There’s no need to stress about parking too much, either. Free parking is available on nearby residential streets and across from the boardwalk. If it’s a busy summer weekend, metered spots are available right by the boardwalk or you can park a bit further into the residential area if you don’t mind a short walk.
The shore town is no stranger to special events and getting the community involved in the fun. The annual schedule is diverse so that anyone can choose at least one favorite to attend. For those fit and ready to take on a 5 mile run, the Belmar 5 is an annual event presented by the Goodwill Hose Company, a fully volunteer fire company in Belmar. They are consistently involved in fundraisers, such as this one and other community activities. But don’t worry, we didn’t forget about you… the top 5 male & female overall will receive awards and prize money. There’s even a kids section for the run for ages 1-14 over various distances with fireworks and entertainment!
If running isn’t really your speed, every year there is a Seafood Festival filled with all your favorites from lobster rolls to shrimp and crab cakes. Food trucks and vendors fill the area on 5th and Ocean Avenue along with live music, activities, and even contests. Take a fun culinary journey into the sea, by the sea. Alternatively, you can opt for a less seafood-inclined festival and attend the Feast of San Gennaro, an event dedicated to all things Italian. Taste classic Italian treats and meals while enjoying music, dancing, and even a pasta and cannoli eating contest. It’s great for families with all the craft vendors and activities for kids.
Sometimes, it’s just nice to get into the spirit of friendly competition outside during the warmth of the summer. Mid-July is the just the time for NJ’s Sandcastle Contest to come about and wow spectators. You’ll see some of the most incredible creations made by kids and families in different age groups that will leave you astounded and impressed. Come to watch the show or register to compete yourself for free. Judging is based on creativity, resourcefulness, accessories, and originality. Even though Belmar is home to heaps of summertime fun, it doesn’t die down when the colder months come around. When March is peaking around the corner, start buying some green apparel to throw on for the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade! Every first Sunday of March the parade committee and family and friends from the area come out to form a sense of community and pride. Become part of the fun this upcoming year.
Belmar may seem like a quaint little town by the coast, but it has a lot more to offer than its acclaimed beaches. Dedicate a day to getting to know the area and the people in it. It’s all about community and forming valuable connections and experiences through the events, attractions, restaurants and shops.