Voted one of the state's best museums by New Jersey Monthly readers, Paranormal Books and Curiosities tingles spines with creepy exhibits and spooky, 90-minute tours along the Jersey shore. Fright enthusiasts feel the icy touch of phantom fingers during a lantern-lit walk through the ghost-ridden streets of downtown Asbury Park. Tourists can also take a moonlit stroll along the boardwalk while absorbing the haunting tales of a doomed luxury liner and a mysteriously flammable theater, or head into Smithville's historic Village Greene for a chance encounter with the Pine Barrens’ shadow-stepping Jersey Devil and his terrifying harmonica solos.
When a shop on Ocean Grove's Main Street became available in 2011, fourth-generation resident Cindy Stiles seized the chance to combine her business savvy with her love for animals. She opened Ocean Grove Pet Boutique, which welcomes pet owners and four-legged friends as long as they're vaccinated and leashed. Stiles also enlisted the help of a baker to help make their own all-natural cookies and frozen yogurt. A baker might seem like a misfit at a pet store, but these goodies aren't for the humans. They're for the pets, and Stiles makes sure to give every visiting pup a complimentary cookie fresh from the store's cookie bar.
Aside from the doggie deserts, the boutique also draws in customers with its pet collars, shampoos, and other products made with natural ingredients. Staying eco-friendly is as important to Stiles as being pet-friendly, and as such, there are no plastic bags to be found in the store. Instead, she offers shopping bags made from recycled materials, and when customers bring them in, they receive 50 cents off future purchases and a silent thank-you from every tree they walk past.
Hot Sand’s studio buzzes with activity as instructors dip pipes into molten glass and then demonstrate how to blow the globs into recognizable shapes. Nearby, other students work on finishing their pieces, refining contours atop wooden blocks and polishing surfaces on a diamond wheel. Hot Sand's glass-blowing artists impart these techniques through basic walk-in experiences and immersive workshops, showing guests how to craft objects such as candy dishes, pumpkin-shaped ornaments, or one-time-use dodgeballs. Welcoming visitors of all ages, Hot Sand earned the distinction as a top kids' destination in New Jersey Monthly's 2012 Jersey Choice awards. The studio also expands the aesthetic tastes of the community through a gallery that showcases original works for sale.
In 2009, Raffaella Pagano and her son, Anthony, decided they wanted to start a new era of fine dining in Bradley Beach. Having already owned and operated a family restaurant on Ocean Avenue, the Pagano family saw their new enterprise as a way to carry on a legacy that had begun decades earlier. Today, their family torch burns brightly from within Pagano's Uva Restaurant & Wine Bar, where chefs craft innovative Mediterranean and Italian dishes using seasonal produce, seafood, and authentic oils and cheeses. Diners dive into those dishes while soaking in the ambiance of two distinct areas, including a cozy bar and lounge framed by dark woods.
Swimsuit Station prepares families for the beach with hundreds of styles of aquatic apparel from brands such as St. Tropez, Island Soul, and Breaking Waves. The selection accommodates beach-goers of all sizes and ages, with a varied array of one- and two-piece swimsuits, swim trunks, and board shorts.