To quote one of my favorite writers, Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you will go.”
The new, unique travel book “Day Trips from New Jersey” features a handful of cities and areas in our state that may inspire your next staycation.
From Vernon to Highlands to Somers Point, the author helps residents rediscover their own backyard with (sometimes) free and very reasonable getaways.
Asbury Park and Ocean Grove were highlighted as a great day trip Number Six, with Asbury Lanes, Chico’s House of Jazz, Hot Sand, The Saint, The ShowRoom and Stephen Crane House named as six of the top ten “where to go” places.
I spoke with travel journalist Stephanie Murphy-Lupo, about her new book.
TBP: What was the most surprising destination you went to in New Jersey?
Lupo: Red Bank was a real eye-opener for me. I knew little except that it was Count Basie’s hometown. I was so surprised by the lively mix of businesses located in restored vintage homes and adaptive-reuses of commercial buildings. Just recently, “Smithsonian Magazine” named Red Bank Number 3 on its list of “Best Small Towns in America.”
We knew we’d be touring Cape May again, and decided spur of the moment to take the ferry from there to Lewes, Delaware. Great little gem with plenty to do for a day or longer.
TBP: You loved Asbury Park and Ocean Grove.
Lupo: Asbury Park was quite a treat, partly because the city is so doggedly persistent about restoring historic venues of value and forging forward – balancing permanence with anticipation. It exudes sass and serves nostalgia a la mode.
I admire whoever redeveloped the old Steinbach Building into a mixed-use. Talk about living above the store. And I am excited about The ShowRoom’s plans for a multi-plex. Expanded art house films will be a great compliment to the city.
TBP: If you could go anywhere in the world for a “day trip,” where would it be?
Lupo: Havana, Cuba is a fascinating short trip, where tourists are safer than on many American sidewalks because Cuba has a special police squad to ensure no harm comes to those golden geese with pockets full of dollars – the mainstay of its economy.
The sheer volume of ancient architecture, some five centuries old, is mind-bending; unlike London and much of Europe, Havana was never bombed. Stroll the Malecón, and then take in the Tropicana Nightclub show – an extravaganza in an open-air venue capped with trees.
Admire The Capitolio, formerly Cuba’s capitol, which greatly resembles The Capitol in Washington, D.C., and now is home to the National Academy of Science. On a hillside is Look Out Farm, a Spanish-Colonial bungalow where Ernest Hemingway lived. It now is a museum, and you can see the Pilar, his fishing vessel custom-crafted in Brooklyn. At El Floridita in Old Havana, sip a daiquiri at the bar where the drink was invented.
About 80 miles east of Havana, the area is popular with tourists, as there are more than 40 upscale resort hotels along 27 miles of beaches. Golf became taboo under Fidel Castro’s rule, but the game has been revived to encourage tourism.