by Grace Currie Phillips, Contributing Writer
Although the Jersey Shore gets a bad rap (occasionally deserved), there really are some great beaches. Of course, if you want to find the clean, beautiful, quiet beaches instead of the ones populated by oily body-builders and fratty clubs, you have to be in the know. And then you have to find out which of those are dog-friendly. Positively exhausting! Luckily for you, we’re here to help. These lovely, natural, dog-friendly beaches that are all about an hour’s drive away from the city and should be next on your list for a getaway with your best friend.
Sandy Hook Beach, Middletown, NJ
Sandy Hook is a small spit of beach about 1 hour and 20 minutes away from NYC by car that curves up from New Jersey’s easternmost point. You can also take a 40 minute ferry from the city, provided that you leash your dog on the ferry. Dogs are allowed on-leash on the bay side of the beach year-round, although the leash law doesn’t seem to be enforced. The park is open from 5 AM to 8 PM, the beach can get crowded on summer weekends, and the parking lots may fill up quickly. If you’re willing to park a bit farther away and walk, you can still enjoy a great beach day.
In fact, you can even park at the end of a lovely 2-mile walking path called the Henry Hudson Trail and walk to the beach. And if you’re thinking of stay a night of two, Sandy Hook is fairly close to Red Bank, which is a fun town with lots of great restaurants, boutique shops, tasty bakeries, and a couple great record stores. We’d definitely recommending popping in Jack’s to see what new vinyl they’ve gotten in, and treating yourself to breakfast at The Danish Cafe or dessert at Sugarush.
Fisherman’s Cove Conservation Area, Manasquan, NJ
Fisherman’s Cove is a small, dog-friendly – and just plain friendly – beach. And it’s free! What’s not to like? It’s a little over an hour in driving time from the city. Their website requires that dogs be leashed at all times, however, it seems to be hit or miss as far as enforcement. We’ve never seen the rule enforced, but others have reported that people occasionally get ticketed for off-leash dogs.
If you’re hoping to get your pup a little less salty before the drive home, stop at the Brielle Dog Boutique, where they have a self-service dog wash. Should you stay overnight, Manasquan is right in between Point Pleasant and Asbury Park, two of the larger Jersey Shore towns. Asbury Park is home to the Stone Pony, one of rock and roll’s great venues, should you be interested in catching a show at night. So if you’re looking for salt-water taffy, boardwalks, shows, bars, arcade games, or rides, you’ve got some great options.
Island Beach State Park, Seaside Heights, NJ
At 1 hour and 45 minutes, Island Beach State Park is pretty far from New York City, but it’s worth the drive. It’s a beautiful, unspoiled stretch of beach that seems far away from the stress of the city and the chaos of the boardwalks. As with Sandy Hook, the parking lots sometimes fill up quickly on summer weekends, which means you may have to park elsewhere and walk in. The park charges per car, not per person, which makes it a great choice for a family getaway. Dogs are permitted on the non-lifeguard beaches (there are many) and they must be on leash. There are also a series of trails that your dog will love exploring, most of them fairly short.
The Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is also worth a visit, if you’ll be staying for an overnight visit; however, dogs are only allowed from October to April. But really, the highlight of this spit of land is the peace and quiet of the beach. Island Beach State Park is the perfect relaxing weekend getaway for you and your pup.Three Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Jersey Shore,