New Yorkers who are carless or leery of rising gas prices can escape the city heat and head to the Northern Jersey Shore via NY/NJ Transit. Until September 1, 2008, purchase round trip ride and beach passes for travel from Penn Station, New York to select Shore sights. Sit back and relax, but make sure to transfer at the Long Branch train station. In less than two hours, you will be exploring a Victorian town, soaking up the sun, shopping along the famed Asbury Park boardwalk and of course, reveling in the New Jersey music scene.

Start your day in Ocean Grove, a town designated as a National Historic District, and claims the largest aggregate of Victoriana in the country. Journey back in time as you walk around this Victorian town founded in 1869 by Methodist ministers looking for a permanent camp meeting ground. During the summer, the Historical Society of Ocean Grove offers walking tours of Tent City and the Great Auditorium Wednesdays and Fridays at 1:00pm and Saturday at 11:00am. A $6.00 donation per person is requested and reservations are recommended.

For lunch have a Bia burger or Bia salad at Bia, a 60-seat European bistro located inside the Majestic Hotel on Main Avenue or hit up one of the bakeries dotting this quaint Victorian era street for some lighter fare.

After lunch, be sure to make your way to the sandy beaches, which are open 9:0am to 5:30pm Monday through Saturday and on Sundays from 12:30pm to 5:30pm.

After your time playing in the sand and surf continue along the boardwalk to neighboring Asbury Park. This historic seaside community just underwent a major facelift including a newly designed boardwalk. Swing by LaPlaca Pottery Works and throw your own pot. Move on to Hot Sands to make your own quick casts, paperweights or tiles. Grab a cone at Eddie Confetti Ice cream where their Chocolate Brownie ice cream is a chocolate lover’s dream or build your own pannini at Casa di Formaggio. Browse through Brielle Cyclery’s Trek concept store and Style Rocket for some unique fashion items. Asbury Park Galleria offers beach supplies such as suntan lotion, beach chairs and boogie boards, as well as a selection of Ashbury Park photo memorabilia. Be sure to stop by John Cavanaugh’s Rocktography exhibit. This Boardwalk favorite features his photographs of Asbury Park’s legendary musical performances.

Take a break at The Beach Bar on the boardwalk next to the Paramount Theater for happy hour by the shore. Then head over to the Salt Water Beach Café. Try the catch of the day or other local New Jersey seafood.

After a full day exploring the Jersey Shore, head over to the Asbury train station where the last train departs at 10pm. However, if you want to catch a late night show at the Stone Pony, home to New Jersey legends like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, you can make it a weekend getaway by staying at the nearby and newly restored Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel.

What & Where:
New Jersey Transit
Historical Society of Ocean Grove (Tours begin at 50 Pitman Avenue)
Bia at The Majestic Hotel (19 Main Ave, Ocean Grove; 732-775-6100)
LaPlaca Pottery Works (1200 Ocean Ave , Fifth Avenue Pavilion, Suite #502, Asbury Park; 732-861-2276)
Hot Sands (1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park Boardwalk, Asbury Park; 732-927-5475)
Eddie Confetti Ice Cream & Boardwalk Bagels (First Ave Pavillion, Ashbury Park Boardwalk)
Casa di Formaggio (Fifth Ave Pavillion, Ashbury Park Boardwalk)
Brielle Cyclery’s Trek  (Fifth Ave Pavilion, Ashbury Park Boardwalk; 732-502-0077)
Style Rocket  (Fifth Ave Pavilion, Ashbury Park Boardwalk)
Asbury Park Galleria  (Fifth Ave Pavilion, Ashbury Park Boardwalk)
John Cavanaugh’s Rocktography  (Asbury Galleria, 1000 Ocean Ave. Asbury Park Boardwalk)
The Beach Bar  (The Grande Arcade at Convention Hall, Asbury Park Boardwalk)
Salt Water Beach Café (1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park; 732-774-1400)
The Stone Pony (913 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park; 732-502-0600)
Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel (1401Ocean Ave; 732-776-6700)

Helpful Information: Beach/rail packages can be purchased from ticket agents and ticket vending machines along the lines or at the stations listed above. Transportation is not valid during weekday morning and evening peak periods. Also, the beach passes cannot be transferred between towns so pick the place where you’d like to sun. These combos need to be purchased from ticket agents or self-service vending machines (be sure to choose choose Special Promotions and then select Beach Package).

Next time you head to the Jersey Shore take the Seastreak ferry from East 35th Street or Pier 11 (Wall Street) in Manhattan to the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation area. A combined beach/ferry ticket offered from May 31st through Labor Day, weather permitting, includes a free bus shuttle service and access to Gunnison Beach, North and South Beach, The Fort Hancock Museum, restrooms and concession facilities. Spend the day exploring Sandy Hook Light, America’s oldest operating lighthouse (1764) and other historical sites; walking along the New Jersey Coastal Historical Trail or swimming and sunbathing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Fort Hancock Museum (Sandy Hook Unit Gateway National Recreational Area, Fort Hancock; 732-872-5970 or 732-872-0115)
Seastreak (800-BOATRIDE)

The round trip off peak ticket is $22.00. These tickets are not issued during peak periods.