While it’s only a two hour drive down NJ-109 to get “down the shore” (about 125 miles top to bottom, from Sandy Hook to Cape May), once you get close to the ocean and the salt air begins to stream in through the car’s windows, you’ll Zen-out and realize: the destination is but a small part of any journey. If you do a Jersey Shore road trip right, you can take your time, gloriously eating and drinking your way onward for days seeing sights, experiencing local communities, and living your best life.
What we’ve put together is less an itinerary than a map of unique food destinations spanning fine-dining to greasy spoon. Burgers, seafood, ice cream, curry—there’s a little something for everyone, but one thing is certain: each and every place you’ll find below is well worth pulling off the road and taking time out to experience. We start up north and end down south, but this is by no means a prescription—once you’re on the road, you’re in charge, so what’re you waiting for? Here are our essential beach eats for your next road trip down the New Jersey shore.