So many of the things I thought were cool as a high schooler haven’t aged so well. Just about everything. Somehow, Red Bank is still one of my favorite spots to spend a Saturday.

The tourism websites will compare Red Bank to Greenwich Village, which made me laugh out loud. It’s more like the classic main street downtown from the movies.Β With really good taco places. That’s more than enough to warrant a day trip.

Red Bank, NJ, USA January 12, 2010 A rider glides his ice yacht across a frozen Navasink River in Red Bank, New Jersey on January 12, 2010

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Exploring

Red Bank is centered on the Navesink River. While you could easily spend a day in town without going down to the waterfront, why would you?

Red Bank has a lot of events. From car shows and food festivals to TEDxNavesink, it’s worth seeing what’s on the calendar.

If you’re coming to Red Bank for an event, it’s probably a show at the Count Basie Theatre. It’s a great alternative to shows in Manhattan and quite often it’s less expensive. It’s also a more intimate experience and the theatre itself is a gem.

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The Two River Theatre has a wide selection of professional performances, from classic to contemporary. They’ve been around for ages now, but their building in Red Bank is still new.

If you’re not into theatre, there’s also Yestercades.

Eating & drinking

While Red Bank is no Greenwich Village, it has more than its fair share of gastropubs and artisanal juiceries.

If you want to channel Jon Bon Jovi while feeling good about yourself, eat at JBJ Soul Kitchen, which is part of his charity.

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The Dublin House is a classic. It’s where you meet up with your professor after class and where you catch up with friends.

The Cheese Cave has a cheese happy hour.

RIP Broad Street Diner, place of so many awkward high school memories.

Shopping

There are lots of boutiques in Red Bank, with everything from designer names to thrift stores.

Do I have to explain what Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash is? If you don’t know, you don’t care.

If you love vinyl, Jack’s Record Shop is the place to go.

If you’re chasing after that perfect model train to complete your collection or just miss life in the days before Amazon, check out Hobbymasters.

Practical details

Getting there is easy. Hop on New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line. Red Bank has a rather lovely station which is almost certain to be closed when you’re there.

Driving into Red Bank is easy, but finding a parking spot can be a challenge. On the weekends you should be prepared to walk.

While there are quite a few hotels in the area, if you’re looking to go car-free, the Molly Pitcher Inn is the only game in town. It’s a quaint independent hotel that capitalizes on its (perhaps outdated) reputation. That’s the nice way of saying it feels a bit more like a BnB than you want it to.

Featured image by Jazz Guy, via Flickr.

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