When people ask me where I’m from, I always stumble on the answer. They’re likely just looking for the name of a hometown where I grew up in New Jersey – or the usual, “What Exit?“.
Frankly, I don’t have a “from”. My family moved around a bit. While that can create a disconnect when compared to those who grew roots in their childhood hometown – I see it more like sampling from a buffet of life throughout the great Garden State.
I suspect my love of the shore formed from countless salty summers spent between beach and bay in the Mantoloking, NJ home my Grandparents built at the tip of Bay Lane meeting the Metedeconk. Salty summers and barefoot fun have marked an indelible imprint on me.
That hammock was my happy place.
As a young adult, work brought me to extraordinary places like Australia, England, France, and Singapore. But when it came time to plant my own roots, I bee-lined back to my beloved Jersey shore to a sweet spot nestled on the Navesink River in Red Bank, New Jersey.
The socially-connected vibe is a perfect fit for our family. We’re never without an adventure or quality interaction with amazing people, who like me chose Red Bank, or as luck provided grew up here. If I had to stick a red pushpin on the heart of town, I’d place it on Front Street at the arched entrance to Riverside Gardens Park.
Central to east and west cross-sections of a culturally diverse town, Riverside Gardens Park anchors the bustling Red Bank community with a wide open view of the Navesink River and a ton of great events. Year-round people play on the Navesink River; kayaking out of Maple Cove, crabbing at Marine Park – also host to RiverFest, sailing lessons out of Monmouth Boat Club, even ice-boating and skating on the frozen playground.
The expanse lawn at Riverside Gardens hosts many community-based social events including The Community YMCA’s Fitness in the Park, activities from Red Bank Parks & Rec like Movies and Jazz in the Park, Graduations, and celebrations.
Adjacent to park is the historic Eisner Memorial Red Bank Public Library, and a few steps away Broad Street paves a long path through great restaurants, shops, cafes, lounges, nightclubs, a rich arts district with the likes of Count Basie and Two River Theaters, drawing in a socially-connected and inspired community of families.
As a PTA parent with fundraising duties – there is never a shortage of venues to plan great events with amazing views. Hop in the car for a short 10 minute drive and you can be hiking in Hartshorne Woods, or beach-front between Sandy Hook and Long Branch.
The quaint Molly Pitcher Inn and her sister-property, Oyster Point Hotel also meet the rivers edge not far from Meridian Riverview Medical Center where both of my children entered the world, one during a frigid ice-storm, and the other on a warm September morning – but both with a gorgeous 4th floor view of the Navesink River below.
So the next time someone asks me where I’m from, it would be accurate to answer, “Everywhere – but my heart lives in Red Bank, New Jersey.”
Red Bank is “one cool little town” and I’m proud to call it home. This post was inspired by all the hot spots happening in my hometown, and some great tools like Eventbrite that are available to help people plan a fabulous event. I was not paid for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.