Long Beach Island (aka LBI) is such a special place to me. My mom fell in love with the island when she was a teenager and went there with her friend. During the summers when she was in college and grad school she would rent a ‘hut’ (as she calls it) and waitress down there. It was always her dream to have a house there one day. My dad would come down during those summers and crash with her and he fell it love with it too. When I was born they started renting a house for a week or 2 every summer!
Together, they made that dream of my mom’s come true! In 1999 began building our current beach house, which they lovingly named Tranquility. It was completed just in time for us to ring in Y2K. Our time in LBI growing up is what childhood dreams are truly made of. They were the most purely happy and simple moments of my life so doing things like eating an elephant ear literally tastes like my childhood and makes me feel so happy. We went from rolling in the dunes as babies to hosting lemonade stands in the driveways as kids to trolling Bay Village looking to flirt with boys as preteens and then working at Farias as teenagers. I cringe just thinking about my times at the teen club at the Ketch! During my teenage years, my parents continued to be so generous and let me have tons of girls & guys down to stay at our house (in hindsight this sounds miserable for them and they were just so endlessly generous).
When Jay and I started dating, we went down there alone in the winter because I was itching to show him this special place (and let’s be real, play house alone). My parents hosted his family that summer, when they met for the first time (and began a yearly tradition). Jay fell totally in love with LBI. Just like with my parents, it started as my happy place and quickly became our place. I am so grateful that he gets the magic of it…the simple way of living and family friendly feel. We even got married there, which was a life long dream of mine and eventually Jay’s as well.
It is truly our family’s home and not a ‘vacation house’ as people might assume. It is where I go to do my recoveries after surgery while my mom nurses me back to health. This Fall, my dad died at the house, which has obviously rooted up a lot of complex emotions. I am ultimately grateful that if he had to die a premature death, that it was in his favorite place…his and our beloved Tranquility.
If you are lucky enough to get to go to this wonderful island, I hope that this guide will serve you well! Our house is in Brant Beach so that impacts where we frequent more to a degree. It’s a long because its super comprehensive so I hope it’s helpful!
Long Beach Island is just a little island, with local hotels and lots of house rentals. If you'd like help finding the best accommodations for you, I may be able to help so shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this contact form.
Uncle Wills Pancake House: A classic, no frills establishment with great breakfast. It really is the perfect, traditional pancake house. Expect a line if you don't call ahead and put your name down on the list. Kids can request to sit with Uncle Will aka the pig statue.
Ferraras bakery: The BEST doughnuts ever! The buttercream filled doughnuts are one of my favorite things in the whole world and the jelly doughnuts are incredible.
Bagel Shack: Great spot to pick up some bagels but expect a line. The cinnamon sugar butter is that obvious/not-so-obvious type of genius.
Bagels & Beyond: Our go-to bagel shop. The jalapeño asiago cheese bagel is amazing and so is their crumb cake.
Frutta Bowl and Playa Bowl: Both spots are great healthy options for acai bowls, smoothies and oat bowls. Whichever is more convenient for your location will be perfect! You can place your order online in advance and Frutta bowls even delivers.
Living on The Veg: A healthy, vegan cafe with fresh green juices, tofu scrambles, etc.
The Local: This gourmet market was a welcome addition a few years back. They have grab and go options as well as a counter where you can order food to sit down and eat. They also have good baked goods and gourmet grocery items that you can buy to take home. Its on your way on/off the island.
Livin on The Veg: This is my go-to spot. It’s a little vegan cafe that’s in a casual hut. I usually get take out from here and I am so grateful to have a place with healthy options that are delicious. I love their wraps and salads but everything is great. My husband used to be so skeptical and refuse to get it and now that he actually tried it he is a big fan! Make sure to check their opening hours that day/call.
Pearl Street Market: We tend to go to The Local and our friends in Holgate tend to go to Pearl Street based on where we live. This is a great grab and go spot and a perfect place to get food for a group bbq.
Country Kettle Chowda: A hut in Bay Village to pick up your chowder to go (or eat in Bay Village). We couldn’t go to the area without picking up some for my dad.
Subs and Such: We honestly make sandwiches at the house a lot and there are so many good sub places on the island but this one was my dad’s favorite (he got them more than I did).
Dinner (sit down restaurants):
The Gables: This is in my top couple of restaurants on Earth. We had our rehearsal dinner there and I just love it so much. It is an experience being there because the setting just feels like you are in a magical garden. It is on par with NYC restaurants for pricing so it is a spot that is best for a nice date night. The food is great so in combination with the ambiance it’s a slam dunk. You just feel the magic when you are there. I love sitting out back in the garden and on the front patio with all of the flowers and can never decide which I like more. I like to go a couple of times each summer to experience both! Our rehearsal dinner was in the back garden so I think I am not favoring that! You can see pictures from it here. During the colder months, it has a cozy, antique vibe indoors as well. The accept reservations on Open Table. You can bring your own wine or beer here or order off the wine menu.
Parker's Garage: This is my go-to spot to bring a group of friends/family when they come down to stay with us. It’s a place where you can bring kids no problem but doesn’t feel targeted towards families…its for everyone! It’s located on the water and has a great view for the sunset! It has open air instead of windows so you feel partially like you are outdoors. We like to order the food tapas style and get a bunch of things for everyone to try! They accept reservations (with limitations).
Bird & Bettys: The owners of Parkers Garage converted the Ketch into this new restaurant and I'm here for it. Its one of the few restaurants with a bay view. That also means that it has the best sunsets! The food is good and its a fun atmosphere. Its also a bar and gets rowdier throughout the night but is totally fine for families earlier on. They don’t have a ton of seafood, but everyone else is doing that so I am happy to see some alternates personally. The only downfall is that they don’t accept reservations as of now (except if you have a group of 7 or more you can call that morning after 11am to try to make one…aka same day for large groups only).
Daddy O: Our other go-to spot for a nice dinner out. This restaurant feels a little more upscale/trendy than some others on the island. It’s a good date night spot but we tend to go here as a family or with friends. They have a lively bar and usually have live music playing. They also have a great rooftop bar, which is fun to visit for a pre-dinner drink. We have also gone there a few times for drinks and a casual dinner off the bar menu but finding seating can be tricky at times. They serve sushi here and a lot of fish dishes. They accept reservations on Open Table.
Blue Water Cafe: This is a family friendly restaurant with outdoor seating. It’s got that perfect ‘beach town restaurant’ feel. They have outdoor seating (with an awning above you), which doesn’t have a good view but is nice and in tone with the restaurant. They have great salads, fish, sandwiches, and so on. They don’t accept reservations and there’s usually a wait but they have an area where you can hang and drink (if you BYO) until your table is ready.
Yellow Fin: This is LBI’s fine dining experience. It’s a really small restaurant with a small menu. They aren’t super vegetarian friendly so its not my favorite but my family loves it so much. It’s hard to get a reservation so definitely schedule it in advance.
Black Whale: This place also doesn’t have a lot of vegetarian options but our friends love it. It’s great for seafood and seafood buckets.
Arlington: I’ve had a few ‘misses’ there but the rest have been hits. They have some unique dishes and good food. It’s a darker inside and then they have some picnic tables outside (but I’ve never seen anyone at them haha). They have beer flights and lots of cool, local beers.
The Chicken or The Egg (aka the CHEG): We love this place so much. Jay went into our wedding planning saying that his one request was that we got the CHEG for our After Party. He ended up having a few more requests but getting wings from there remained very important to him! They have the best buffalo wings (and even veggie wings for vegetarians). We also love getting their buffalo fries, which are just fries with buffalo sauce on them…so good! We typically get this for take out and eat it at home because the wait is usually crazy long. It’s like a beach town diner with an edge so there are a lot of families and teenagers hanging out. I want to go during the week because the wait will likely be better. Pro tip when getting the fries to go: ask for the sauce on the side and then mix it in at home.
Pinky’s: We frequently get take out from here and do a ‘seafood feast’ at home. It’s super fresh seafood and you can order things family style to accommodate a group if you’d like!
Holiday Snack Bar: You feel like you traveled back in time to an old school diner when you go here. They keep it super simple with burgers, fries, pie, and things like that. It’s like an authentic Johnny Rockets.
Surf Taco: A casual taco shop where we tend to get Mexican food (I get the Mexican salad) to go from.
Skipper Dipper Ice Cream Hands down the best ice cream on the island! You can find me frequenting Skipper Dipper without shame. They have really fresh ice cream, homemade waffle cones, awesome ice cream cakes, and just everything you could want. Another great ice cream place in downtown Beach Haven is Barry’s Do Me A Flavor. They also serve casual food there so there are always families getting a bite to eat and then ice cream there. There is pretty much always a long line at both. If I happen to be in Bay Village at night (which used to happen and doesn’t anymore really), then I love getting a waffles and ice cream from Windmill.
Ferraras Bakery Doughnuts: I would eat the white cream filled doughnuts any time of the day! They have other great baked goods as well.
Crust & Crumb Elephant Ears: A staple on the island. This literally tastes like my childhood in the best way.
Country Kettle Fudge: Another LBI staple.
The Shell: This is an outdoor bar at the beach motel, The Shell. The bar is out by the pool and gets pretty rowdy with people of all ages. I like that it’s outdoors. It’s somewhere where you could see a wedding and a fist fight all within a couple hours of each other.
The Marlin: This is where a lot of younger people go but really people of all ages. They have live music a lot of nights. I rarely go here because I don’t go out to bars much with my injuries and if I do I want to be outdoors.
Nardis: This bar has a pink bus that stops throughout the island along the Boulevard (just call in advance) to pick you up and bring you home. I always loved this place because of that (especially in the pre-Uber era). It brings out an interesting crowd of people, which also makes it fun/funny. This bar is also indoors.
Daddy O Rooftop: The tamest of all of the bars on this list and also the one I frequent the most (although let’s be real, still not a ton haha). It’s where you would go to grab a drink or 2 before dinner if you wanted to be outdoors on a rooftop. It’s pricier than the others as well.
When I am in LBI I attend fitness classes at Black Sheep Studios. They have a great variety of classes and the instructors have an upbeat energy. They even offer classes on the beach sometimes, like Beach Boot Camp. It’s a studio that is very inclusive of women and men.
Riding bikes is another great ‘low key’ way to get some activity in on your rest days. Since there are so many people out and about on the island, you can’t really ride fast enough for it to be an intense workout but it’s an enjoyable activity to get moving! I would suggest Farias Surf and Sport for bike rentals.
I wish that I was a surfer! I tried for a little while as a teenager (and even bought a board because I worked at Farias and thought I was cool..ugh) but I just am not good at it. If you are looking to rent a surf board and get out on the water though, you can do so at Farias Surf and Sport.
Island Gypsy: My favorite clothing store on LBI (and one of my favorites in general). They have a ton of cute things at a great price point. It gets busy, especially during the weekends (and during bad weather) so there is often a long line for the dressing room and it can get a little chaotic in there with overpacked racks and such. They have great summer dresses/sets and loungewear that I love. At the end of the season they get great clothes for the Fall too. It definitely is aimed at a young demographic but there are plenty of items that are good for all ages too and my mom shops there with me!
How To Live: My favorite store to wander through. It makes you happy just being in there! They used to sell only home decor but they expanded a couple of years ago to sell women’s clothing and baby clothes. It’s a great spot to get cute gifts, particularly for anyone with a beach house. I love all of the signs and finding reading them to be inspiring. They have 2 locations but I mainly go to the Beach Haven location because its bigger (and right next to Uncle Wills).
Farias: This surf shop sells clothes and shoes for people of all ages. It is also where you can get a lot of rentals and beach equipment. This is one of my husband’s favorite stores of all time because he loves surf company clothing. The women’s department is upstairs and has cute things from companies like Billabong and such. I worked here for a bunch of years :) They have a few locations but the Beach Haven location is my favorite. The Ship Bottom location also has a lot of inventory.
Sur La Plage: They sell slightly more high end women’s clothing and accessories. I’d say that this is the relaxed/low key boutique version of Bloomingdale’s if it was on an island and sold beach clothing.
Family Friendly Activities
Fantasy Island: Good luck bringing your kids to LBI without visiting Fantasy Island! It’s LBI’s boutique amusement park that has hardly changed at all since I was a kid (which I love). They have rides and carnival style games outdoors and an arcade indoors. If you buy tokens before the season starts then you can get them discounted.
Mini Golf: There is TONS of mini golf on LBI. Day Romano has talked about his yearly vacations in LBI in interviews a few times and always jokes about how there’s a mini golf course on every corner. The coolest course is next to fantasy island and is called Settler’s Mill Adventure Golf.
Water Park: The waterpark is another kid favorite because they have big water slides for the older kids, a lazy river and a little kid section. I haven’t gone back as an adult and am okay with holding off on this one until I bring my kids haha.
Just Bead It: The perfect rainy day activity. We used to love making jewelry here but I definitely remember it being a more rare occurrence because its pricey. I also got a couple of hair wraps here #classic.
Rent a Boat or Jet Ski: There are marinas all throughout the island that you can rent boats and jet skis to ride on the bay.
Family Photo Shoot: My mom is a photographer and does family portraits on the beach in LBI! Her business is Ellentuck Photography and you can find her website here. Her Instagram handle is @Rachelellentuck_photography and her email address is email@example.com.
Free Activities for Everyone
Visit the light house (may be small entrance fee or donation if you climb it) and/or go for a walk by it.
Walk to the end of Holgate if you’re up for the hugely big trek. If not, still go check out the end of the island where you can drive.
Enjoy a sunset on the bay.
Go for a bike ride on Ocean Boulevard.
Take a drive to see the mansions in Love Ladies.
And obviously go to the beach!
If you are looking to hire a photographer for a family, couple, pet + owner, surfing, etc session, my mom is a mega talented photographer in LBI and knows all of the best places! Her name is Rachel Ellentuck and her company is Ellentuck Photography. You can find her website here. Her Instagram handle is @Rachelellentuck_photography and her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. She also has a ton of incredible photos of different spots on LBI that she sells to people as prints for their homes!