We don’t need to waste time writing about how absolutely amazing our own Jersey Shore is. Whether you love it for the stunning sandy swimming beaches (with dunes that still make us swoon), the exhilarating family fun of the boardwalks or all that fabulous food (looking forward to sausage and pepper sandwiches, salt water taffy and fried clams), there truly is something for everyone at the shore. With summer upon us, here’s a primer on top spots to hit this summer.
This very-close-to-Bergen County beach spot is the perfect day trip if you don’t have the time to stay over. Think clean, quiet stretch of beach flanked by a tiled boardwalk with shops and eateries.
Distance from Bergen County: 70 miles/ 1.3 hours with no traffic
Highlights: Chairs and umbrellas are available for rent, and surfers can hang ten in designated areas (or perfect their craft at one of the nearby surf schools). Mini-golf is fun for the kids when their done with the beach for the day.
What to look for in 2018: Beer lovers rejoice! After several delays new brewery Bradley Brew Project should be open Memorial Day Weekend. Just six blocks from the beach, the place churns out a pilsner, IPA, stout, and pale ale. Because we can all use a little extra suds this summer.
Fun fact: If you want action (and love seafood) visit during the town’s annual Lobster Fest where over 100 vendors gather to sell their wares and lobster is prepared every which way.
Chow at: Under the grass thatched umbrellas at Hula Grill on the beach which serves up breakfast, tacos and fresh squeezed lemonade. Pop into Beach Plum Ice Cream for icey goodness before you head home.
The kids won’t want to leave Point Pleasant’s Jenkinsons Boardwalk and this long stretch of beach.
Distance from Bergen County: 80 miles/ 1.5 hours with no traffic
Highlights: One of the best boardwalks on the Jersey shore- with rides, games, attractions, plus an Aquarium and a new ropes course. Weekly events (think Mermaid Tea Party and Sandcastle Contests) ensure this fun summer spot never gets old.
What to look for in 2018: The 28th Annual Point Pleasant Summerfest takes place June 2nd this year. Thousands of festival goers will show up for a day of live music, market and food trucks, rides, and a beer and wine tent.
Fun fact: Adopt an Animal is one of Jenkinson's Aquariums most notable features. It’s kind of a keepsake to always remember from their trip- knowing that they have a shark, sea turtle, seal or penguin of their very own back in Point Pleasant.
Stay at: Nearby Bayhead and bike over. We love updated historic Grenville Hotel for short stays and beachfront property rentals for longer trips.
Cape May, NJ
For those with a keen aesthetic, head south to mile marker 0 on the Garden State Parkway to the most southern NJ beach, Cape May- a picturesque and family friendly town flanked with Victorian style homes and Inns leading to a pristine windswept shore.
Distance from Bergen County: 170 miles/3 hours with no traffic
Highlights: Besides the obvious visit to the beach, visitors love to climb to the top of the town's lighthouse for 360-degree vistas, take trolley tours and stroll the Washington Street Mall for its promenade of beach shops and fresh fudge.\
What to Look for in 2018: What started as a weekend has now ballooned to an eight-day Cape May Restaurant Week with dozens of restaurants participating from June 2-8. Diners will get a prix-fixe menu of an appetizer, entree and dessert for $35. Come hungry!
Fun fact: The beloved town is so charming that it was named a National Historic Landmark.
Chow at: Arrive early at the Mad Batter for one of their outdoor tables and elaborate breakfast menu, or grab a quick dog on the go from Hot Dog Tommy’s truck on the beach. Foodies should check out the James Beard nominated chef-created meals from Red Store.
Stay At: Congress Hall if you can snag a room. The luxe, historic hotel provides beach service, a family pool and tons of kid-friendly activities all summer long. Larger families can reserve a bungalow at the fun and funky Beach Shack motel which sleep 8 and accommodates your family dog too.
Ocean City, NJ
The self-proclaimed “America’s Greatest Family Resort” is an island that’s as classic Jersey shore as you can envision, sans the booze.
Distance from Bergen County: 140 miles/2.5 hours with no traffic
Highlights: Voted one of the best beaches in NJ multiple times, OC also boasts a 2.5 mile boardwalk and the famed Gillian’s Wonderland Pier which includes rides, games and mini golf.
What to look for in 2018: Ocean City has a summer schedule full of family fun including an Antique Auto Show on June 23, and July 4th Bike Parade, weekly Wednesday farmers markets, family nights on the boardwalk with entertainment on Thursdays, “Funtastic” Tuesdays downtown with stuff like face painters and balloon sculptors for the kids, and a special 30th anniversary performance by ‘90s favorite band Blues Traveler on July 30 on the pier. Woohoo!
Fun fact: The sale of alcohol is banned in the town, so you have to be willing to give up that wine with your dinner out or hop over to nearby Cape May for your fix.
Stay at: Overnighters can rest their heads at the all-suites Flanders Hotel with its perfect location, heated pool and ease for families. If you’re looking to stay more than a day or two a beach house rental is the way to go.
What’s new for 2018: The OC Waterpark ocwaterpark.com When the kids get bored with the beach, head to the OC Waterpark, where there are thrills like a 35-foot climbing wall and the Serpentine Body Slide, along with fun ways to relax on the Lazy River or playing mini-golf. Arguably, the best part: The pool water is always set to 80 degrees. Open daily starting June 23.
Long Beach Island (LBI), NJ
If you’re a silky sand beach lover whose preferred summer shoe style is a pair of flip flops, LBI is the call. The barrier island boasts 18 miles of serene beach- perfect for everything from sand castle-making to surfing making it a great family getaway.
Distance from Bergen County: 117 miles/ a little over 2 hours with no traffic
Highlights: Generations love the Victorian-themed Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven for rides, games and an arcade, plus the historic carousel and ferris wheel when they tire of the beach. Water park lovers can spend the day at the Thundering Surf Water Parkwhich caters to every age and stage kid (even us big ones).
What to look for in 2018: The Local Market & Kitchen, an artisanal grocery store, market, and eatery in Ship Bottom will be opening its Air Stream Food Truck for the season on May 26th with live music; Thundering Surf Water Park is unveiling its new racing slide the Rainbow ride; and Fantasy Island Park has added a gaggle of new games including Lane Master Bowling and Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory.
Fun fact: Surfing is such a part of the culture that the first Ron Jon surf shop opened up in Ship Bottom in 1961 and you can still shop the 4 story emporium today.
Chow at: For a down and dirty breakfast (think monster sized chocolate chip pancakes) head over early to Mustache Bill’s Diner in Barnegat Light. Fresh catch can be found at Ship Bottom Shellfish if you’re willing to wait or get there early.
Stay at: A beach house rental from Airbnb.com.