Ever heard of Red Bank, New Jersey? I hadn't. But I went to visit for a travel story and ended up loving the place for a variety of reasons, nostalgia being no small part of it.
Red Bank calls itself a "cool little town" and I agree. It's the kind of place with few chain stores, where teens walk from homes nearby to wander around on their own, hanging out at the yogurt shop, grabbing a slice of pizza, playing some pinball at a pinball and video arcade.
I wrote about Red Bank for today's Washington Post travel section.
If you're a shopper, you'll like the many stores selling high-end clothes or the consignment stores offering the hand-me-down version. (Hey, I'm all about a deal.)
The town is a draw for antiques lovers too. If you're into pinball, which I remembered I was when I got there, or classic video games, you'll have a great time at YESTERcades.
Comic book fan? The supply at Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash is one of the best in the country for finding your faves. Cupcake fan? There are three shops selling them. The Cupcake Magician sells mini cupcakes and stuffed cupcakes too - basically, the icing is also in the middle of the cupcake, if you can't ever get enough frosting.
Danish food? The Danish Cafe sells sandwiches, salads and pastries so authentic, I don't have the correct letters on my keyboard to type them. (think an "a" and an "e" stuck together as one letter and an "o" with a slash through it.) The owners came from the motherland to open their shop.
Celeb watcher? If you're a fan of the Clerks movies, Chasing Amy (shot in Red Bank) or Jersey Girl, you're familiar with Kevin Smith, writer and director. He lives in Red Bank. Rumor has it that Jon Stewart of Daily Show fame does too.
I could go on but it's worth wandering around yourself and discovering all there is to see. The town is compact and it's easy to walk to all of the places described above.
I only had a couple of days. I'd love to go back and shop, eat cupcakes and try the Mexican bakery, which I was too full to contemplate during my visit. Hm, maybe I need to cut out the cupcakes if I'm going to the bakery...which I neglected to do the last time.
It would be nice to visit during the summer and sit in Riverside Gardens Park listening to jazz, or as the website says, sitting in a kayak or canoe under a full moon, doing the same. I'm pretty sure I'll be back.
Photos: by Ellen Perlman