The Best Place to Live in the Northeast

How could Dutch explorer Hendrick Hudson know that his "discovery" could result in one of the wealthiest, most beautiful and diverse counties in what would become New Jersey? On September 2, 1609, after gazing upon the land that is today called Monmouth County, Hudson wrote in his log "...this is a very good land to fall in love with and a pleasant land to see." From beautiful beaches to farmland to outstanding shopping to dining for the discriminating palate, Monmouth County has it all. Located in the eastern portion of central New Jersey, Monmouth’s 665-square miles offers so much variety to the discerning resident, visitor and business. Monmouth’s residential neighborhoods and business climate continue to rank high in Money Magazine’s annual poll. Also notable is the County’s strategic placement near New York City and Philadelphia. Boasting an economic engine which is part of New Jersey’s "wealth belt," it is no wonder people move to beautiful Monmouth County.

The sixth largest county in New Jersey, Monmouth includes white sandy beaches, rich farmlands, rolling wooded hills, wetlands rich in wildlife, and lakes and streams of every size. This extraordinary patchwork of natural environments has been successfully integrated with economic growth and development under the direction of the Board of Chosen Freeholders. The county government provides planning and guidance for both current and future needs.

Life in Monmouth County is limited only by one’s failure to live it to the fullest. Whether one’s choice of home is an apartment in the city of Long Branch, a condo high above the ocean in Atlantic Highlands, a townhouse outside of rural Freehold, or a multi-acre estate in Colts Neck, there is something in Monmouth County for every taste and lifestyle. There is so much to do. It has been said that it would take an entire summer to experience the activity centers and attractions that the County alone provides. Add to that the private sector offerings in recreation and entertainment, and one can be kept busy for a long time to come.

Civic-minded individuals have ample opportunity to spend their time in rewarding activities. Volunteer fire departments and rescue squads offer unique and valuable learning experiences. Local drama groups look for thespians of all ages to put their various talents to work.

Outdoor art exhibits and craft shows draw artists and artisans to present and sell their creations. Ethnic folk festivals at the PNC Arts Center, formerly the Garden State Arts Center, in Holmdel help to preserve the music and dance of many nationalities. The musically inclined can join local and regional bands and orchestras to perform at civic centers and outdoor concerts. The equestrians among us can even relive the exhilaration of "The Hunt" in Middletown.

Shopping, too, can be an experience in Monmouth County. Stopping at a roadside farmer’s stand can provide you with fresh-picked vegetables and delicious fruits or fragrant flowers. Farmers’ markets sell local garden delicacies. For the thrifty budget conscious, there are numerous factory outlets and entire shopping centers devoted to discount stores. The Englishtown Auction is one of the nation’s largest outdoor flea markets. Should you prefer to shop in air-conditioned comfort, you can visit one of our many spacious malls. If you only settle for the best, downtown Red Bank, too, offers the ultimate in quality retail stores.

It has been said that the finest seafood restaurants in New Jersey can be found in Monmouth County. Here, too, the range varies from modest to opulent and everything in between. Not to overlook the landlubber’s fare, the county also offers fine beef, pork, chicken and vegetarian dining, from quaint country inns to elegant hotels at the shore. Dining guides have consistently awarded many of Monmouth County’s restaurants four and five chef’s hats for outstanding cuisine.

Monmouth County may be in the midst of its greatest period of growth and expansion, but it has not lost sight of the finer things in life, namely, its cultural heritage. The performing arts as well as the visual arts are alive and flourishing throughout the county. The most diverse activity takes place at the PNC Arts Center. This contemporary, open-sided structure was designed by Edward Durrell Stone, and seats more than 5,000 inside with room for 4,000 more on the surrounding lawns. The center’s spring-to-fall schedule includes ethnic festivals, popular and rock music performances, classical music, stage plays, TV stars and comedians.

Established primarily to coordinate area cultural activities, the Monmouth County Arts Council sponsors an exciting schedule of performing arts events. The series includes ballet, modern dance, jazz, plays, and symphony concerts all featuring world-renowned artists. Most events take place at the 1,500-seat Count Basie Theater in Red Bank.

The New Jersey State Council of the Arts, sponsor of the Battleground Arts Center in Manalapan, also provides a variety of cultural programs.

The Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove is the hub for a plethora of major activities. The 6,500-seat facility features top-flight entertainers and concert artists on Saturday and noted classical artists during the week.

Leisure and recreational opportunities throughout Monmouth County are almost limitless. Picturesque county parks, combined with state and national parks, offer unmatched recreational, cultural, and leisure activities for all ages. The 27 miles of white, sandy beaches provide residents with terrific swimming, surfing and fishing opportunities. Numerous bays, lagoons, and inland waterways provide space for sail and powerboat enthusiasts.

Two of the 75 top-rated public golf courses in the United States can be found at Hominy Hill and Howell Park. Other county-run golf courses include Pine Brook, Charleton Springs and Shark River. From a modest start of 24 acres, Monmouth County’s Park System has grown to more than 5,000 acres of park lands, golf courses and conservation areas dedicated to recreational facilities for County residents.

Perhaps the longest lasting and most famous of Monmouth County’s claims to fame are its shore communities which have been drawing tourists for over a century. Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were among the notables to vacation at the county’s shores. When the fish are biting, thousands of "inlanders" rush to the many shore towns which offer party boats for bountiful off-shore and deep-sea ocean fishing.

The oldest harness racing track in the country is located at Freehold. Thoroughbred racing can be enjoyed at the newly-refurbished Monmouth Park in Oceanport, rated as one of the 10-best places in the U.S. to watch horse racing.

Sports fans will be delighted with all that the area has to offer. In addition to a full slate of athletics events hosted by Monmouth University, the area is also within striking distance of many professional athletics venues.

It is just a 40-minute drive to the Meadowlands Sports Complex, which is home to Jersey’s own New Jersey Devils hockey team and New Jersey Nets basketball team in addition to the MetroStars in Major League Soccer, the National Football League’s New York Jets and New York Giants, and Arena Football’s New Jersey Gladiators. If one goes a bit farther and heads over one of the bridges or through one of the tunnels leading into New York City, they can catch the New York Mets or New York Yankees in baseball action, as well as the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in hockey and the New York Knicks and New York Liberty in basketball.

Philadelphia, which is just an hour away, also offers a full compliment of professional sports teams including the Flyers (hockey), Eagles (football), Phillies (baseball) and 76ers (basketball).

The State of New Jersey also fields minor league teams in baseball, including the Trenton Thunder and Lakewood BlueClaws, basketball and hockey.

Whether you drive or use public transportation, you will find getting around in Monmouth County a real pleasure. U.S. and state highways traverse the county in all directions and make travel to New York City, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City a breeze. The highways are supplemented by an excellent county road system.

Four private bus companies plus the New Jersey Transit offer express bus service to midtown and downtown Manhattan, Newark, and Jersey City. A total of ten local bus routes, operated by the Monmouth Bus Lines, serve local employers and recreational and shopping centers in the County.

Monmouth County can easily boast medical care at its very best. Among the six hospitals in the county, every conceivable service is available to the residents.

When something happens to our families, we want the best in medical services to help them. Monmouth County provides a continuum of care options in treatment, prevention and self-help programs. First-class hospitals are found and support services from radiology to blood work are strategically located near the hospital systems. Free and low-cost lectures are also available from area practitioners and non-profits who help counsel on nutrition, health maintenance, self-improvement and alternative approaches to health. Knowledgeable staffs, accessible care and a diverse choice of practitioners are all available in Monmouth County.

During the Revolution, the sun came up one morning to find two British warships, one in flames and the other sinking fast. The "whaleboat raiders" of Raritan Bay had struck again. Under cover of darkness these brave residents of the bayshore area would silently row out to the British fleet, spy on their firepower and manpower and, when possible, cripple or set a ship on fire. This is just one example of the many fascinating events which make up Monmouth County’s rich historical heritage.

Numerous museums and other historic buildings throughout the county house artifacts and accounts of the many facets of the Revolutionary history and beyond. The story of Molly Pitcher, the Battle of Monmouth, and Washington’s March on Trenton are just a few of the historical highlights of the area that can be studied and relived with a brief visit.

Henry Hudson came to Monmouth’s Sandy Hook Bay in September of 1609. Dutch settlers came from New Amsterdam prior to 1660, and English settlers from Long Island bought the Highlands from the Native American inhabitants in 1664. English Baptists arrived in Middletown, and English Quakers came to Shrewsbury thereafter.

Officially formed in 1908, West Long Branch’s roots date back well into the 1800s. Following a humble beginning as a small farming community, the borough soon attracted a more affluent crowd. Found here were the sprawling estates like Shadow Lawn and one belonging to the Guggenheim family. Even President Wilson was fond of the area, with West Long Branch being one of his favorite places to vacation. Today the borough continues to be a beloved resort, neighboring the Jersey Shore.

Information provided by the Monmouth County Department of Economic Development.

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