History, recreation and of course religion all prosper in “God’s square mile”, the unincorporated community on the New Jersey Shore also known as Ocean Grove. Wedged between Asbury Park and Bradley Beach, is this throwback to a forgotten era. It feels completely surprising and almost odd to find such a public display of religion. At the same time, while you might not be into the religious message, Ocean Grove is an incredibly charming beach spot along the Atlantic Ocean. I was blessed to grow up less than 10 miles from the Ocean Grove beach, but due to its otherness, I have only visited this truly unique coastal town a couple dozen times.
Use of the beach is restricted on Sundays until after noon. This is also a dry town. Alcohol has been banned from Ocean Grove. I suppose this is enforced via the honor system, but don’t expect to knock back a few drinks along the beach. Don’t expect to do much on the boardwalk, except enjoy the view since there are no commercial establishments or concession stands. The wooden boardwalk is beautiful and the people are exceptionally pleasant. The huge Victorian style wooden buildings along the beach are beautiful.
Where is Ocean Grove Beach? 40°21′N 74°01′W
If this sounds like an annoying joke, this website has a number of places to party on the beach.
This beach vacation spot came into existence shortly after the Civil War, in 1869. At the time, there was a Methodist spiritual movement in the United States, called the camp meeting movement. The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association was founded by William B. Osborn and Ellwood H. Stokes and tasked with the development and operation of a summer camp along the Jersey Shore. The town and beaches of Ocean Grove were soon known as “Queen of Religious Resorts”. In the United States, this site is the longest operationally running camp meeting site. The camp meeting association owns the community land which is leased to businesses and individual homeowners.
Ocean Grove Beach : No Alcohol in God’s Square Mile
This beach town has been known for years as “God’s Square Mile”. The community of historic tents are rented out by the Methodist Camp Meeting Association. While there are only about 100 tents remaining, Ocean Grove should be considered a tremendous success story. Back in 1878, Ocean Grove had an amazing 506 tents.
The tents are located to the north of the Great Auditorium. Each of the tents is made of canvas and their size is slightly more than 300 square feet, including a rear wooden structure. Unsurprisingly, all of the tents are the same with a striped porch. Anyone can rent one of these tents, but the wait list is up to twenty years.
This small beach spot within Neptune Township had a population of 3,342 according to the census of 2010. By keeping both the communal and religious ties with the original Methodist Camp Meeting ground, you are not going to run into the cast from the reality show Jersey Shore. The town takes its religion seriously. Probably too seriously for most people, but drunken college kids are not going to be an annoyance. If you might enjoy warm summer nights on a quiet boardwalk surrounded by Victorian Inns, start planning your beach vacation to a simpler time now. Think Footloose hits the beach.
For those people who want to sing and dance a little, this is a great place for a day trip. The beach is great. Its huge and the day I visited, there were waves! The beach in Ocean Grove has the following amenities: ample free parking, public changing rooms and bathrooms. Chairs and umbrellas can be rented on the beach. It is nothing short of civilized. In a very positive way, the conservative attitude reminded me of my former home, Malta.
There is a biathlon in Ocean Grove along with other more expected beach activities, like sand castle building contests and movie nights. Sunday mornings, the beach features services followed by the Gospel Musical Ministries series. Lastly, there are Summer Band concerts some nights @ 8pm. While I have never been there, I expect it to be swing or jazz from another era. Something to consider if you are on the Jersey Shore.
Je ne sais quoi