Toms River, NJ, was the best place to grow up in America

It’s more than GTL

If you grew up on the Jersey shore, chances are you didn’t really appreciate all that your hometown had to offer until you left for college. Specifically, how only a couple bucks could get you through a full day with good food and friends. We’ve all been critical of Toms River at some point, but we all also love the town and look forward to enjoying all that it has to offer when we get back there this summer. Here are some things stand out as the best parts of living in TR, and the things I missed the most during my first year at college.

The beach

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the show “Jersey Shore”, but there is much more to our local beaches than watching overly-tanned tourists get drunk and start fist pumping. I grew up on the beach with live music, ice cream, and sandcastles. The boardwalk is home to rides, games, shops, and the nostalgic smell of funnel cake and fried Oreos. Hurricane Sandy might’ve knocked down a couple of our favorite childhood rides, but many of us still find ourselves there on warm summer nights.

toms river atlantic ocean

There’s always something to do in Toms River

With two movie theaters and bowling alleys, a skating rink, a concert venue (albeit a quite small one), and a nearby Six Flags, kids (and teenagers) are always entertained. That’s excluding the beach and the bay, where you can have a bonfire and roast marshmallows or go jet skiing, crabbing, tubing, or fishing. There are five high schools, which means lots of sports teams to join and friends to be made.

The bagels. And the restaurants

The bagels just aren’t as good anywhere else. And whether you call it pork roll or Taylor ham (it’s pork roll), all New Jersey natives seriously miss enjoying this essential ingredient on our breakfast sandwiches now that we’re away at college. My friends at school have never even heard of Wawa, which is their loss, because nothing compares to Wawa coffee. There are also plenty of pizzerias (Luigi’s), diners, ice cream shops (Yellow Brick Road), and sushi restaurants (Uminoya) that are New Jersey staples.

bagels toms river

Uncle Dood’s

This is by far the best donut place in the world. It’s been ranked on dozens of top food lists and reviews, and the menu switches up each month to keep customers coming back (as if we needed another reason). I’ll let the picture speak for itself.

Size and location

Toms River is home to 100,000 people, which is a third of the size of Pittsburgh. This means that there are tons of businesses and job opportunities. It’s also equidistant from Philadelphia and New York City, which makes day trips to the Philly Magic Gardens or Broadway shows quite common.

times square tourists

I’m pretty far from home now, but I can’t wait for summer so I can return to the town that I grew up with my friends that I miss. I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else, and living without Wawa for many months has been a serious struggle.

University of Miami