Best Off-Season Activities on LBI

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Credit: Image by The Guarino Team

Note: This list focuses on the best activities do in the off-season. For our list of recommended 2024 Summer activities click the button below. 

It’s a sweltering mid-summer day in your hometown, a temperate island oasis awaits you just a short drive away. 3 Miles out at sea, its white sand beaches and cool waters are calling your name. It’s not hard to understand why Long Beach Island, NJ draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, making it one of the northeast’s most coveted summer destinations.

While the island offers obvious choices as to why you should visit in the summer months, an off-season visit may seem a bit less enticing. If you ask the “locals”, many will tell you they enjoy the island’s offseason months as much as the summer months. After spending the past couple winters here, I think I agree with them. Here are my top 5 favorite things to do in the off-season.

1. Take your car on the beach

Beginning as early as September 1st and as late as May 28th, you can take your car on the beach in numerous towns on the island. With some of our best beach days coming in September and October, you can really complete your dream beach day.

This may be the coolest thing you can do in the off-season that you can’t legally do in the summer. There is something special about just pulling up to the water, popping your trunk and setting up shop at an empty beach. No lugging chairs and children’s toys over hot sands, or hearing your beach neighbor’s favorite country song played on repeat.

A small seasonal license fee is required that varies from $30-$50 depending on the jurisdiction. There are multiple vehicle entrances conveniently located throughout the island.

For everything you need to know about taking your car on the beach in LBI, view our “Vehicle Beach Access” guide by clicking here.

Credit: Image by Black Whale

2. Enjoy fine cuisine without the wait

Long Beach Island is known for its robust food scene. While many restaurants close in the off-season, some of my favorite restaurants on the island remain open all year.

The Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House

Tide Table’s most expansive offering, the Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House sits just over the bridge in Mud City. Serving food 7 days weeks , including late night options and weekend brunch, the causeway is a convenient and additive option to our area. A lively place that offers live music Thursday-Sunday, this is a great spot to meet old and new friends alike.

I have eaten here more times than I can count and find the food to be consistently solid. My favorites include “The Black Eye”, the “Bonsai” Oysters, “Spanish” Fries, the quesadilla and the “Steak House” Burger.

Pro tips: Ask for bread. They don’t automatically give it to you but it’s free and amazing.

“The Mud Shuttle” is a free shuttle service offered to and from the restaurant. Hours and availability change based on day of week and season.

The shuttle can be reached at (609) 713-0451

Delaware Ave Oyster House

Sporting one of the coziest atmospheres on the island and some of the Long Beach Island’s best food, Delaware Ave. Oyster House is a must visit. Don’t let the name fool you, the oysters are accompanied by pizza, tacos, burgers, wings and much more.

I’d highly recommend the crab fried rice, the whipped ricotta appetizer and the grilled octopus. These are some of the tastiest dishes on the island. 

A daily happy hour from 4-6 is offered. Check out their site linked above for updated specials.

Black Eyed Susans

One of the lone winter food destinations on the “North Side” of the island, this Harvey Cedars establishment is worth the trip.

I have had better luck with their apps and pizza than the dinners, but this may say more about how good the apps and pizza(maybe the best on the island) are.

For apps, I recommend the whipped ricotta, calamari, meatballs and the sourdough bread. They also do a great rendition of a grilled caesar salad.

For pizzas, you can’t go wrong with the traditional or margarita pie. If you are looking for something different, I’d give the burrata or the eggplant pie a shot. 

Black Whale

One of four “Tide Table” island restaurants, the Black Whale is the only one of the group’s bunch that remains open year-round. The bar offers a warm and charming offseason vibe, that is, if you can get a seat (it’s small and a popular spot!). 

The main draw for me is the greens. On an island mainly void of good salads, the Whale delivers with a simple, yet delicious house salad. Pair it with a sandwich or some raw bar items and you will likely leave satisfied. 

Raimondo’s

Possessing one of the more intimate settings on the island combined with a BYOB option, Raimundo’s is a perfect spot for a date night or special occasion. Don’t let the low reviews scare you away here, grab your favorite bottle of wine and give it a try. My go to’s are the Spedini alla Romano, Stracciatella Soup, Parm Trio and Scallop Rissoto. The berries and cream dessert is always a refreshing way to cap the night.

An early dining discounted option is offered in the off-season. Check out their website linked above to confirm times and dates. 

3. Go to the Arcade

Located in the Fantasy Island Amusement Park, the only amusement park on Long Beach Island, this vast 12,000 square-foot arcade is filled with a nice mix of games and amazing prizes that will keep anyone entertained.

Yes, even a mid-30s male (I have had more fun at this place than I’d like to admit).

Play all your classic favorites like Skee-Ball and crane games, or venture off into some modern based games such as corn-hole, beer-pong (the cups are empty) and more!

A great place to take a date or your family!

Credit: Image by The Guarino Team Real Estate Team

4. Go to a state park

Long Beach Island sports two State Parks, one at the northern tip and one at the southern tip of the island. Both are well worth a visit and offer a great way to spend a morning or afternoon on the island.

Edwin Forsythe Park

Located in Holgate, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge is a 3 mile stretch of island that offers over 800 acres of protected coastal habitat.

This is my favorite place on the island to escape from reality for a couple hours. The refuge is a great place to go on a nature walk, meditate, fish or just pop open a chair and enjoy the serenity.

The refuge can be accessed via vehicle or by foot. For more information on the refuge, including check their website.

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

The Barnegat Lighthouse, also known as “Old Barney,” is one of the most famous attractions on the island. The lighthouse is located at the northern tip of LBI and offers a spectacular panoramic view of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay, and Long Beach Island.

“Barney” is an island staple and is the setting for one of my earliest childhood memories on the island. The long walk to the top is rewarded with some truly awesome views. The surrounding area offers some of the most naturistic beaches, including the expansive “4th street beach” which offers the islands most impressive dune scape and vegetation.

For more info and history, check out the link above.

5. Exploring Local Hangouts

If you are like me and enjoy more intimate bar settings, where conversation and bar games are the main attraction, than these places are for you.

Bakers Port Hole Cafe

An iconic dive bar located in the center of the island, Baker’s Port Hole serves as convenient gathering spot for islanders and mainlanders alike. As the only year round dive bar on the island, this place draws a healthy year-round crowd. 

In my many times here, I have always encountered a lively and friendly crowd. If you are a beef person, you have to try the famous roast beef sandwich. I am also a fan of the chipotle chicken cheesesteak.

From early October to mid May there is an active pool table that adds to the off-season enjoyment (this is removed in the summer months to free up space).

Like most dive bars, this place is plastic free so bring your cash. There is an ATM on site if needed.

Hudson House

With its last day of the season being on New Year’s Eve, I debated including this one. But it’s so unique to our island and such a great time that I would be remiss to not include it.

One of the only true dive bars left on the island, the “Hud” is a local favorite. It truly checks the box on everything you would ask out of a bar. Cold beers in mugs accompanied by pool, darts, shuffleboard, games and an old-school juke box is a recipe for a fun time.

True to it’s brand, this place is plastic free, so bring your cash. There is an ATM on site if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Considering visiting LBI during the months of April through June and September through October where you can a combination of good weather, fun events and smaller crowds. November through April may have worse weather, but there are still many ways to enjoy the island. 

Yes, there’s always a variety of water sports to enjoy year-round in LBI, as well as sports fishing and touring historic landmarks like the Barnegat Lighthouse.

Definitely! There are several excellent restaurants open in LBI during the off-season, including Delaware Ave. Oyster House, The Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House, Raimundo’s, and Black Eyed Susans.