Where the hell are we?
Welcome to West Long Branch, New Jersey, a small (around 8,000 residents) New Jersey town located on the Jersey Shore in eastern Monmouth County. Sandwiched between Oceanport in the North, the City of Long Branch in the East, Ocean Township in the South, and Eatontown in the West, we're a dense little suburb around an hour from NYC with a surprising amount of personality. That is to say, none.
What, if anything, is there here?
Nothing. Well, okay, maybe I'm biased. We're home to a regional high school, Shore Regional, which pulls students from West Long Branch, as well as the towns of Oceanport, Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright, where I'm currently attending 9th grade. We've also got the Betty McElmon school for grades K-3, and Frank Antonides School, grades 4-8, both part of the public school system. In addition, we're home to St. Jerome, a Catholic school and church, and Deal Yeshiva, a Jewish school housed in the prominent schoolhouse on Wall St., a building dating back to the early 1900's. Formerly known as the Wall Street School, a good deal of older residents attended grammar school there.
In addition, we're the home of about one-half of Monmouth University, which sits right between West Long Branch and Long Branch. You'd never guess we're a college town. You see, at Monmouth University, all the kids like to escape to Belmar, a trendy little beach city about half an hour to the south.
Speaking of the beach, our town is located just west of, you guessed it, Long Branch, home of many beach clubs and the Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park, a public beach, as well as Ocean Boulevard. Ocean Blvd, as the name may suggest, runs parallel to the Atlantic from Asbury Park in the South all the way up to Sandy Hook in the North, a span of...well, a lot.
What kinds of things does a bored kid like you do here?
Nothing. Fine...so maybe that's not entirely true. I've been known to frequent the local Pathmark supermarket, located down Parker Road in eastern Eatontown, as well as the 7-11 convenience store, in central WLB (short for West Long Branch). Hey, a growing boy needs his cola and junk food. In the same general area as 7-11 resides the Cost Cutters shopping center. Cost Cutters is a store which, as the name may suggest, offers a bunch of random stuff at pretty low prices. Kids here like to stop there for candy and other snacks. It's amazing the amount of sugar that you can buy there with $10.
Also at the Cost Cutters shopping center are Mangia! (Italian for Eat!, a little pizza place and Italian restaurant), Dairy Queen, and the Hungry Hobo, a neat-o little coffeeshop/luncheonette where anyone and everyone cool (oh, yeah, and people like me, too!) go to eat lunch on a half-day of school. Across the street, right next to the 7-11 is Ren's Garden, a Chinese restaurant which I have yet to eat at. I hear they're pretty good.
I know, I know, most of what we do here has something to do with food. When we're bored, we eat. I know it's sad. Also in town, but out of the way of any pedestrian traffic are the Shop-Rite shopping center and K-Mart on Rt. 36. At the Shop-Rite center, I think there's a pizza place, as well as a laundromat and liquor store. I don't go around there much. Another shopping center in town is the Consumer Centre (spelled the British way, oddly), also known as the Home Depot shopping center, as that's by far the most prominent (and crowded) store in the center. I live right behind there, so I hang out here a lot. Located there is a FuncoLand videogame store, a few electronics stores, a music shop, a sports store which I avoid like the plague, a Barnes and Noble that I spend all my free time in, an office supply store, and a Home Depot, as well as yet another pizza shop, a new Texas barbeque joint, and a Nathan's. Oh, yeah, and a Taco Bell.
Another place a lot of kids gravitate towards is West End, a section of Long Branch which despite its name is actually located at the south tip of the city. Anyway, this area features some independently owned shops and such, including Murder Inc. Paintball, where a lot of kids seem to enjoy hanging out. Personally, I never understood the sport. West End is also home to Windmill, a "Gourmet Fast Food" restaurant, if such a thing exists, and the Lighthouse, a legendary ice cream shack near the beach. And, yes, West End is home to a lot of trendy beach clubs, one of the newest being Promenade. I avoid those things like the plague, too.
Finally, we've got Monmouth Mall located conveniently in Eatontown, and several independently owned shops and coffeehouses in the trendy, upscale area that is Downtown Red Bank, providing salvation for bored high school kids all over the area.
So, do you bored kids at least have some money out there?
Our town isn't what would be considered rich, but we're definitely upper-middle class. A decent-size house for a family with two children will probably set you back 250k to half a mil here; it's not the cheapest place to live, nowhere on the Jersey Shore is. "Rich" areas of town include the South Arlene-Muncy Drive area on the west side of town, and the area around Linden Lake in the mideast.
Travel times to various locations (with differences in traffic, YMMV):
Well...that's all I have. For now, anyway. I think I've provided a decent deal of general knowledge about the town, if there's anybody out there who's interested. Please contribute if you can, West Long Branch may be boring, but doesn't it still deserve a decent writeup?