As two girls who grew up spending summers at the Jersey Shore, we take serious issue with MTV’s rendition of the summer hotspot. Tanning beds and fake nails and Jägermeister? Who ARE these people? For us, Jersey Shore summers are more boat shoes and Bud Light, less stilettos and vodka Red Bulls.
Though the Snooki side of life is clearly thriving somewhere on the Atlantic coast, our preferred stretch of the Jersey Shore lies a little further south in Ocean City, Avalon and Sea Isle, New Jersey.
Back in October, we unfortunately had to watch our beloved shoreline get ravaged by Superstorm Sandy. We’ve since seen the Northeast slowly rebuild, and can’t help but think of all the things we’d miss if we didn’t have long weekends at the Jersey Shore to look forward to.
If you’re without a car, using Atlantic City as your entry/exit point is probably your best bet. The Atlantic City International Airport serves as a hub for a ton of domestic and international flights to the region, and is an easy connection from East Coast cities like Philadelphia or New York. A cheaper alternative is via train or bus, which doesn’t boast stellar views on your way into town, but can at least get you there quickly and comfortably.
We strongly recommend renting a car upon arrival, as it’s the easiest way to traverse the Jersey Shore. A night out in Atlantic City is worth it if you’ve never been and do crave a little bit of the club life, and there are plenty of hotels in the area where you can find great last-minute deals. If you’re visiting during peak season (late May – early September), try a hotel off slightly off the main strip but still within walking distance to the boardwalk.
Though everyone should experience one night in Atlantic City, we must say: one night is all you need. After a bit of outlet shopping the next morning (i.e. J. Crew, where you can stock up on the aforementioned boat shoes), hop in your car and head south for your new home base: Sea Isle City. It’s the perfect midpoint between the better beaches in Ocean City and Avalon, but boasts a younger crowd than the other family-focused towns nearby.
Surprisingly enough, most shoebies (yeah, it’s on UrbanDictionary.com, so it’s a real term) start looking for their summer rentals as early as February or March–which means you have to act fast if you want to find a good deal. Having done the share house thing, we can tell you: it’s definitely your best bet financially.
We will warn you: Ocean City is a dry town… meaning, no bars or alcohol allowed in restaurants. We know. But hear us out! A day of alcohol-free fun is way more possible at the beach, where you can soak up the sun and stroll the boardwalk for food you can only appreciate at the beach. Say hello to our favorite staples, Mac & Manco’s Pizza and Kohr Bros Frozen Custard.
If going out is more your scene than sunbathing to a crisp (we get it), head to Sea Isle City for a proper night out down the shore, Snooki-free. You can’t go out in Sea Isle City without a stop at Ocean Drive (known as the “OD” to Jersey Shore vets), but we recommend heading across the street to La Costa, which has a much bigger outdoor space.
Bonus: Sea Isle City makes it easy AND responsible to barhop – the town boasts a jitney that runs along the main drag from 1st St all the way to 94th St for only €3 a ride.
Across the bridge in Avalon is a slightly tamer, but no less fun, bar scene. Make stops at The Princeton Bar (the “P”) or The Whitebrier, which is known for its straight-off-the-beach happy hour. We’re also fans of the historic Fred’s Tavern, which is in the adjoining town of Stone Harbor.
Where to eat
Delicious restaurants are in no shortage down the shore. We have so many favorites in all of the shore points that it’s difficult to recommend just a few!
For breakfast, Blitz’s Market in Sea Isle is the ultimate stop for coffee and freshly baked donuts and sticky buns. If that doesn’t satisfy your sweet tooth, try Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, which has locations in Ocean City, Avalon and many other shore points. Their corncakes are an absolute must.
For lunch, take a quick break from the beach and stop at The Real Enchilada in Avalon for deliciously fresh tacos. If you’d rather pack your lunch, stop at one of the many Wawa locations (a Pennsylvania and New Jersey deli staple) and grab a “hoagie”… aka a local term for the sandwich more commonly referred to as a “sub” in other parts of the world
For dinner, stick to seafood. You are down the shore after all! Mike’s Seafood in Sea Isle City has a huge menu of local catches, cooked every way you can imagine. Get there early, as the line wraps around the block as the night goes on. Better yet, why don’t you try catching your own dinner? Spend one day camping out at one of the many public piers on the bay and try your hand at catching crab.
If you still can’t get enough Jersey Shore recommendations, we suggest taking a look at Ocean City Magazine, which highlights all of the must-see attractions in Ocean City and the surrounding shore points…