By Pam Teel
Redbank, what can you say about a town that has everything? A mere 45 minute drive from the Hightstown area takes you to a unique town by the river where you can enjoy watching the boats come and go high atop Marine Park or shop the store lined streets until you drop!
Dubbed The Garden State’s Greenwich Village, this cosmopolitan riverside town has it all from art galleries to upscale boutiques, to fine dining restaurants, to boat tours up the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers.
Located on the Navesink River, Redbank is a happening town with thousands of tourist visiting daily. They even have their own visitors’ center, which would be a wise thing to stop in first and get a town directional. With so much to see and do, a weekend in Redbank would be a great getaway. It’s worth catching a live show at the Count Basie Theatre or a play at the Two Rivers Theatre House. If you like shopping, eating, and looking at old historic buildings, then you have to check out Broad Street.
Redbank is part of Shrewsbury Township and one of Monmouth County’s three original townships. It is believed to have gotten its name when in 1736, Thomas Morford sold Joseph French a lot, which he described as “having over 3 acres on the west side of the highway that goes to the red bank.”
In 1844 there were a handful of businesses and residences but by 1860 with the coming of the Raritan and Delaware Bay Railroad, the town began to flourish. Its principle commerce was trading with New York City. Redbank now has over 12,000 residents. It boasts 4 coffeehouses, 64 restaurants, The Count Basie Theatre, a performing arts center that attracts national and regional acts, a playhouse, dozens of antique shops to browse in, over 12 jewelry stores, several art galleries and more. It was named as the 3rd best small town in America by Smithsonian Magazine.
Riverside Garden Park host many events throughout the year to celebrate its different seasons. This 2-acre park has sensory gardens, a boardwalk, a concession building, a stage area, and more. There are weekly outdoor jazz concerts; food events, ice festivals, to name a few. Three of the larger festivals are the International Flavor Festival in the spring, the Guinness Oyster Festival in the fall, and in June, the annual “Riverfest” Jazz Festival, held over a three-day period, which draws approximately 160,000 visitors. Red Bank is host to New Jersey’s largest fireworks display every July 3rd with over 150,000 people in attendance from all over the state. You can watch the fireworks from a top the hills at Marine Park. Don’t forget to bring your blanket and food basket. Don’t plan on getting out of town soon afterwards, as there usually is a line of traffic miles long. It might be a good time to take advantage of staying the weekend at one of the two Inns. The Historic Molly Pitcher Inn and the Oyster Point Hotel are both a short walk from town.
During Christmas, thousands of lights adorn the streets, transforming the town into a winter wonderland. A trolley shuttle transports shoppers between the heart of Red Bank and the Grove Shopping Mall in Shrewsbury.
Boat charters are available up the Navesink and Shrewsbury Rivers. You can tour star’s homes, like Bon Jovi’s, or take a dinner cruise. Three-hour tours, shorter tours, and chartered tours are also available to Atlantic Highlands and back. You can also find fishing boats waiting to take you out. Powerboating, crabbing, fishing, kayaking, swimming and rowing are all available on the Navesink River.
In the winter you can enjoy ice boating on the river or just come down and watch the others as they sail across the ice. This has been a tradition that has been around since the 19th century. After a thorough inspection, the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club’s safety committee deems it safe or not every year to sail in a limited area off Red Bank. Since 1880, the North Shrewsbury Ice Boat & Yacht Club has maintained a clubhouse on the river, containing not just its sailing fleet, but also “historical data, photographs and memorabilia under one roof, which is on open display for all members and guests to enjoy.
Some historic sites you might want to take in are: the Molly Pitcher Inn, Count Basie Theatre, The Dublin House, The Fortune House Historic Landmark, The George R. Lamb Building, Charter School/Century House- a second empire style house built in the 1860’s by William Conover, and many more.
Some interesting shops include Mudslinger pottery, Jay and Silent Bob’s secret Stash- comic book store, Vintage arcades, Redbank Antiques center, HobbyMasters- a great store with lots of things to do, the kitchen galley, and more.
Top ten places for a bite to eat according to yelps: JB’s Soul Kitchen, Molly Pitcher Inn, Nicholas restaurant, Pazzo Restaurant, Dublin House, Siam Gardens, B2 Bistro and Bar, Via 45- Italian food and vegetarian food, Danish Café, Robinson Ale House.
For more information on Redbank, events and things to do, go to: www.visit.redbank.com