I had never been to Long Beach Island (or LBI, as we will henceforth be referring to this pretty island of beach towns) before. As you may remember, I grew up at another beach, so we didn’t really venture to other shore towns when I was younger (I have since started to expand my locales, including exploring North Wildwood at The Shore House last summer).
You probably know Fearless Restaurants, they’re a restaurant group with spots in Philly (Moshulu, Louie Louie, and White Dog Cafe), the Main Line (Autograph Brasserie and the other White Dog locations), and of course, on LBI! They invited some ~influencers~ to check out what the summer life is like at their beachy home, and I was thrilled to see what they had in store!
The LBI basics
Being a first timer to LBI, I had no idea what to expect from the beach spot I’d heard my Central Jersey friends talk about. LBI is an 18 mile loooong island, containing the towns (from North to South) Barnegat Light, Loveladies, Harvey Cedars, North Beach, Surf City, Ship Bottom, Long Beach Township, Beach Haven, and Holgate. There is one entrance point, Route 72, that brings you right to the middle of the island, where you’ll turn left or right to get to your town of choice.
Driving on the main road (Long Beach Boulevard) is actually part of the fun. Because the island isn’t very wide (you can see from the beach to the bay at some spots), you’ll be passing stunning homes (keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to gawk when you go through Loveladies and Harvey Cedars) on your left and right. The landscaping, the little mom & pop shops, there’s so much to explore.
If you’re not going during the “season” (which is typically around 4th of July til Labor Day), the town is a little more quiet than you may be expecting. We found a lot of places were only open on weekends while we were there in mid-June. And if you plan on drinking, keep your transportation in mind. There were very limited Ubers and Lyfts running while we were there – the ones we did manage to find had to come from off the island! There is a taxi service you can call, but that ended up being a bit unexpectedly pricey for us, too. Just a few things to plan for!
Where to stay in LBI
We called Daddy O (4401 Long Beach Boulevard) our home. It’s the longest operating hotel on LBI (but it certainly doesn’t look that way!). The hotel was remodeled after Hurricane Sandy, and it’s really modern and pretty.
Daddy O has 22 rooms and three restaurant/bar spaces. I love when a hotel goes above and beyond to accommodate at the beach (you already have so many things to remember to bring), and Daddy O certainly does. The beach is right down the street (literally, 5 houses away), and complimentary beach tags, beach chairs, and bikes are available for guests. They even have outdoor showers!
We loved the old-time beachy photos all over the walls (even in our room!), the comfy robes, big sinks, and the cool shutters on the windows. There was not a full-length mirror in our room, but I was told some of the larger rooms have them.
The hotel is open April – October and there’s a suuuuper convenient parking lot right across the street. We felt like Daddy O was right in the middle of the action for our first trip to LBI.
Where to eat & drink in LBI
We had the privilege of trying several of Fearless’ restaurants and bars during our trip. (The group also went to Tucker’s Tavern, but I had a party back in the city, so you’ll have to check out some of the other blogs, all linked on Marilyn from Philly Grub‘s site, for a look at TT!)
We kicked off our visit with a happy hour in Daddy O’s Garden Rum Bar. This was one of my favorite places we visited during our trip – it had such a fun, vacation-y vibe and delicious drinks! I’ve heard the rum flights are pretty incredible, too.
We bopped upstairs to the O Bar, Daddy O’s gorgeous rooftop bar with incredible views. They serve sushi up there all summer long, and I can see either bar fitting right into your LBI vacation plans.
Next we were off to dinner! Plantation (7908 Long Beach Boulevard) was the perfect setting to kick things off. The restaurant is covered in tropical palm prints (very Tommy Bahama-esque!) and ratan furniture – my kinda place.
For drinks, I loved the Owl Tree (a manhattan with pineapple juice instead of vermouth) and the Station 51 (all about jalapeno-infused anything). Jim & I got to sit with Camille, Alex & Mike, and Francesca, and we ordered a bunch of apps for the table – the Short Rib Wontons and Spicy Tuna Nachos were my favorite. For our entrees, I got one of the specials, a strip steak with brussels sprouts, and I can’t even tell you how delicious it was. I don’t normally order steak, but I was v glad I did. Jim got the local scallops – equally phenom.
The next day, we had lunch at Daddy O Restaurant, and Jim and I continued our carb fest. The Maine Lobster Bisque was incredible, as was the Applewood Bacon Risotto side (why we needed risotto on the side of carbs? Plz ask my boyfriend). We both opted for sandwiches, the Chicken Cuban and the Ribeye Cheesesteak.
After lunch, we bopped over to Daddy O Restaurant’s indoor bar (that’s right – three bars!), where Andy gave us some cocktail lessons. We tried their Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito, and Revenge of Paloma. The bar keeps all their glasses cold and uses fresh ingredients as much as possible (helps eliminate your hangover!).
What to do in LBI
One of our favorite things we did on our trip was definitely climbing to the top of the Barnegat Lighthouse (208 Broadway). We did this as soon as we arrived, and I was so, so happy we got it in.
After a short drive through all the pretty neighborhoods, you’re there. There’s a free parking lot and a museum to stop in (which I recommend!) and then a long pier and the lighthouse. Admission to climb is $3 in the summer, and it is 217 steps to the top! There are fun signs along the way that tell you how far you’ve gone and what you have left. The view from the top is incredible – and quite windy! We did find one perfect spot where the wind doesn’t hit, so keep going around until you find it!
Ship Bottom Brewery (830 North Bay Avenue) is a fun, 15 barrel production local brewery and tasting room. They’re open 12-10pm daily, and I was very into the laidback vibe. All their brewing and canning is done here (their packaging is amazing) for their 300 accounts in NJ & PA. They even have a pup mascot, a terrier named Juno, who is a definite added bonus.
If you’re into nightlife, Fearless is “going all in” (their words!). This summer, there is a DJ at Plantation every Friday and Saturday (10pm-2am), and Tucker’s is hosting reggae nights on Sundays.
And then, of course, there’s the beach! It was a little too chilly during our visit to sunbathe, but the beach is really just right down the block from Daddy O. If you head to other beach towns, there are many private entrances to the beach (#whatalife), but parking is free! Each town does have it’s own beach tag that’s required when the lifeguard is on duty.
Other LBI recommendations
Our time on the island was short, so I didn’t get to try out the TONS of recommendations I got from all of you on Instagram (thank you!). Because I fully-trust the Her Philly community, here are a few of them: Pancake Willie’s, Holiday Snack Bar, Chaba, Chegg, Skipper Dipper, Crust & Crumb, Bird & Betty’s.
Thank you very much to Fearless Restaurants for inviting Jim & I on this amazing mini-getaway! I am already looking forward to getting some more time on LBI in this summer. Do you have any other places we must try?