I'll be the first to say that I'm not a fan of Northeast-coast beaches. The water is freezing cold, the beaches are overcrowded (for unknown reasons) and expensive, there's nothing but waves, the ocean floor is rough and jagged, and the sand isn't smooth. Not that pleasant.
On the other hand, send me off to La Jolla to explore the pocket beaches/coves or to Cancun where the waters are warm and I'll stay at the beach all day long.
Ocean Grove, on the other hand, is slightly different. Although it does get crowded during the summer, it's not as commercialized as, say, Atlantic City or Point Pleasant, and there's no boardwalk, so it has the old-fashioned, Jersey shore vibe. You'll see tons of Victorian houses lined up as you walk towards the ocean --- they reminded me of San Francisco (Full House, anyone?)!
Last time I came to Ocean Grove was just a few months ago to play a concert in the Great Auditorium (I'll attach some old photos below), and unfortunately, we didn't have enough time to wander through the streets and stop at the little shops. This time, we stopped at nearly every single store we saw, even meeting some very special people and learning about some really unique stories.
I don't want to get into a long restaurant review right now, but let's just say that Nagle's (the place that I went to last time) is much better in terms of price, portion size, and variety. However, the one thing about the Starving Artist at Day's that makes it unique is that it has a view of an outdoor garden.
Now onto the special people & unique stories:
We stopped into "Gifts by Tina", and after looking at some china for a while, the woman who ran the store began to explain to us the history of the house and of the pieces. Everything, especially the china, was quite cheap, and she explained to us that her mother in law bought over 46 crates full of china back in England during the mid 1900's --- all from the same factory that produced Princess Diana's china. Her basement was full of these pieces, and although someone from Ebay even came and purchased the majority of the items, she was still left with a lot. This house is the oldest house in Ocean Grove that's still standing (built in 1874), and it's actually home to not only her store but two others as well.
We bought the green and white set of 6 tea cups and saucers for $10, and she even threw in the sugar bowl for free (priced at $8)
--- my favorite is the "pink vista" design above :)
The stained glass is all original (from 1874)
Mom and the wonderful lady from Gifts by Tina
the exterior of the house --- she recently placed the house on the market as it's too much work to maintain
and now for some photos of the Great Auditorium from the May concert: