If you’re planning a trip to the New Jersey shore, there are several things to consider. Because there are so many beach towns, you should do your research ahead of time. If you’re looking for a quiet seaside town, you may want to vacation in a small town like Avalon. If you want to be closer to the action and excitement, Wildwood or Atlantic City may be more your speed. If you want to see historic sites, consider Cape May. Luckily, no matter where you stay at the shore, you will likely be within 45 minutes of most any other town. On my family’s recent trip to Avalon, we made several day trips to some of Jerseys other seashore towns.
Avalon. Avalon is a quiet town. If you’re going strictly for the beach, it’s wonderful. With nary a boardwalk in sight (there is a very small “boardwalk” with a small arcade and an ice cream shop– that’s pretty much it). Avalon is still my favorite place for a family-style vacation. This summer they had free movies on the beach every Tuesday night. Restaurant stop: Tortilla Flats, for some authentic Mexican food.
Stone Harbor. Stone Harbor is a charming town, with some great little shops. I stepped into a Christmas shop in July! There are also some great restaurants, including Henny’s, which is a Stone Harbor tradition. Restaurant stop: Henny’s– and check out the early bird specials if you like to eat before 5.
Sea Isle City. Sea Isle offers bicycle rentals on their boardwalk. We rented a big carriage style pedal bike for my husband and I and our two kids. Very fun indeed! Restaurant stop: JR’s Chicken & Ribs
Ocean City. If you’re looking for a boardwalk, OC’s is one of the best. Look for the guy that makes the huge sand sculptures. Restaurant stop: Cousins, for Italian food.
Wildwood. Wildwood also has a great boardwalk, featuring Morey’s Piers. There are also arcades, old fashioned photo studios, games and tons of places to eat and buy fudge and salt water taffy. The boardwalk tends to be less crowded during the afternoon hours, so if you have young children who want to go on the rides, this is the best time to go. Restaurant stop: Menz Restaurant–check out the cool artifacts throughout the restaurant!
Cape May. Cape May is a great day trip if you’re down at the shore. Look for the old lighthouse. There’s also great shopping. Best of all, Cape May has a large zoo, The Cape May County park and Zoo, which is free. We took our kids there and they had a great time. Also, take a cruise on the Cape May- Lewes ferry. Restaurant stop: the Mad Batter, for a delicious breakfast.
Atlantic City. Known as the home of the East Coast’s casinos, AC has a lot more to offer. If you want to check out the casinos, try the new Borgata, which is elegant and sleek. Atlantic City also has plenty of things for the kids to do– just 10 miles west of AC is the famed Storybook Land, which is a story-themed amusement park. Restaurant stop: Cuba Libre, inside the Tropicana Hotel and Casino, for awesome Havana style food and drinks (it’s a rum bar).
There are so many more Jersey shore towns– many, many that I have never been to. But I’ve heard great things about Long Beach Island (not to be confused with New York’s Long Island), Sandy Hook, Seaside Heights and Point Pleasant beach.
Wherever you decide to stay, make sure to take advantage of all of the fun things you can do at the Jersey shore–from renting a jet ski to going to the top of a lighthouse to taking a walk on the boardwalk for ice cream. If you have kids, make at least one stop at a water park or amusement park– and don’t forget to play a round of miniature golf (miniature golf places are all over the place at the shore). And remember, when all is said and done, nothing is better than taking an early morning walk on the beach. Get up as early as you can and take a stroll with only the seagulls– and maybe a few fisherman– as your company.