The Northern Monmouth Coast (specifically, the stretch of Route 36 from Sandy Hook to Keyport) has a different feel than the rest of the shore. The terrain is hilly, the beaches are smaller and, of course, there’s a dramatic view of the NYC skyline at nearly every turn. The towns that dot the coast feel more like a community, and each has a different personality.

Here are just a few ways to spend a fun afternoon sampling the different sites each town has to offer.

northern monmouth coast, road tripHighlands

You can’t have a bad meal in this town, especially when it comes to seafood. Off The Hook Restaurant is a local landmark with a patio that overlooks the skyline; another can’t-miss icon is Bahrs Landing. Up for something different? Head to Chilangos, a restaurant that offers Mexican fare and 260 types of tequila. Of course, if you’re going to walk up Twin Lights State Historic Site, do it before you hit the tequila.

Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook

Pay respect to those who lost their lives in 9/11 with a quiet moment at the memorial in this park, where you’ll also find views of Sandy Hook, the Raritan Bay and the New York City skyline.

northern monmouth coast, road trip

Atlantic Highlands

northern monmouth coast, road tripTake Ocean Boulevard to Bayview Ave, or head back onto Route 36 to get to this town, which offers a small main street with a friendly vibe. Pick up a cup of joe from 1st Cup Coffee then head over to treasure hunt at St. Agnes Thrift Shop, which is housed in a grand old Victorian home. Or enjoy a beer at Carton Brewing and if the timing is right, take in a performance during the monthly jazz series at the Strauss Mansion at Atlantic Highlands Historical Society.

Side trip: Love to bike? You can also pick up the Henry Hudson Bike Trail in Atlantic Highlands, which runs all the way through Keyport.

northern monmouth coast, road tripBelford

Located just off of Route 36 is a small strip mall with a great restaurant: Belford Bistro. Afterwards, pick up a treat from Suckers Candy Shop or kick back at the Belford Brewing Company. Make sure to browse the boutique Refinement, which features consigned designer pieces along with creative gifts.


Refresh with a bubble tea at Kazia Rae’s Chicken & Bubble Tea where there are 144,000 possible flavor combinations. Room for dessert? You can’t go wrong with a pastry from Dixie Lee Bakery.

northern monmouth coast, road trip

northern monmouth coast, road tripHazlet

Pick up some treats for later at Chocolate Village (we’re partial to the chocolate-covered s’mores) then rediscover your lost love of bowling at Brunswick Zone, both at Airport Plaza Shopping Center on 36.

northern monmouth coast, road tripKeyport

From adorable shops to an array of great restaurants to the picturesque promenade, there’s a lot to love in Keyport. The Place and Honey Hole Antiques have vintage finds galore — enough to take up your afternoon. If there’s time, pop into the Free Public Library of Keyport which is located in a quaint historic building…as is the incredible Old Glory Kitchen + Spirits. Housed in a former church, this restaurant offers up crowd-pleasing wings, sandwiches and other casual fare with a great beer and cocktail list.

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