The Jersey Shore is 127 miles of public beachfront stretching like a pointing finger along the Atlantic Ocean from the Sandy Hook Peninsula in the north to Cape May at the southern tip. There is no one description of what it’s like “down the shore.” Things change town by town and sometimes season by season—winter storms have a habit of rearranging beaches and boardwalks.
Some shore towns, such as Wildwood, are party hot spots with all-out amusement piers; others, such as Ocean Grove, which was originally a Methodist camp meeting ground, Spring Lake, and Cape May, are more sedate Victorian enclaves. Atlantic City has its glitzy casinos.
In the warmer months, locals and visitors also enjoy nature walks at the ecologically protected Island Beach State Park; the beaches, rides, and attractions at Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park and Safari in Jackson; and performances at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel.
New Jersey Shore with Atlantic City Sights
The northern part of New Jersey’s shore comprises Monmouth and Ocean counties. There are close to three dozen beaches here, among them the Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area, where you can mix history with your nature walks and sunning. Many of the state’s 23 lighthouses are here, including the Sandy Hook Lighthouse.
Farther south are Atlantic and Cape May counties. Atlantic City itself, roughly two-thirds of the way down the coast, has been a gambling mecca since its first casino, Resorts Casino Hotel, opened in May 1978; now there are 13 casino-hotels and more in the planning stages. Although most visitors have traditionally been day-trippers from around the area, Atlantic City developers are broadening their scope, with a world-class convention-center complex, better boardwalk attractions, and a citywide revitalization project.
South of Atlantic City is Ocean City, which has a 2½-mile boardwalk of rides, food, and fun; the Ocean City Music Pier; more than 200 holes of miniature golf; unique shops; and parades and festivals throughout the year. A bit farther south, the shores of Sea Isle City, Avalon, and Stone Harbor offer wide, pristine beaches and wetlands for bird-watching. Wildwood is known for its four amusement piers and wonderful, wide, 3-mile beach.
At the very end of the shore is the classic Victorian town of Cape May, itself a National Historic Landmark featuring 600 restored Victorian homes.
Activities along the shore include saltwater fishing from the pier, bridge, dock, or boat (licenses not required); all kinds of water sports; bird-, whale-, and dolphin-watching; and bicycling or strolling on the ubiquitous wood-plank or concrete boardwalks. Windsurfing is especially good in the calm waters of the open bays.
New Jersey Shore with Atlantic City Restaurant Reviews
Seafood is the Jersey Shore’s strongest suit, with local catches featured on most menus. Ocean City and Ocean Grove do not allow the sale of liquor.
New Jersey Shore with Atlantic City Hotel Reviews
Lodgings should be booked far in advance in summer. Beachfront rooms are more expensive. Rooms in Atlantic City casino-hotels are the most popular, the most costly, and the most difficult to reserve, especially on weekends from mid-June to Labor Day. Chambers of commerce can provide assistance.
New Jersey Shore with Atlantic City Nightlife
Outside of Atlantic City, the Jersey Shore doesn’t have much in the way of nightlife. Families and couples hit the boardwalk’s arcades or stroll into town for ice cream and a movie. The younger crowds are usually content to get a couple of six-packs at the local liquor store and hunker down on the beach or in their rentals, though the boardwalk at Point Pleasant and Seaside Heights has quite a few bars and dance clubs that draw an 18-25 crowd. Local papers will give you the skinny on what bars have live entertainment, the quality of which can range from competent to uproariously cheesy.