A Shore Thing

Visit one of these 7 Jersey Coast hot spots and you'll find more than a picturesque beach


Description: With a host of premier music venues, art galleries and streets lined with Queen Anne Victorian–, Gothic-, Federal Revival– and Moderne-style buildings, this historic city along New Jersey’s central coast has been a mecca for music and the arts for a century.

Beach Information:

  • Entrance: $5 for adults daily; children 12 and under free
  • Parking: Metered street parking and metered parking lots available on Ocean and Kingsley Avenues
  • Public restrooms: Located along the boardwalk
  • Lifeguards: On duty 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Special options: Surfing is permitted at beaches on the north end of town.
  • Food: Restaurants and concession stands available along boardwalk
  • Showers: Outdoor showers available along beach


Other attractions: While the beach might rule by day, at night you can catch a concert at one of the city’s famous live music venues, such as Convention Hall and Paramount Theatre, both located on the boardwalk, and The Stone Pony, a legendary rock club that’s hosted such music greats as Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.

Where to eat: Live jazz, hearty Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, gorgeous views of Wesley Lake—you’ll find this and more at Moonstruck (732-988-0123, moonstrucknj.com), a lively multilevel eatery on the south side of the city.



Description: Once an important U.S. military base, this 7-mile–long barrier beach peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean and Sandy Hook Bay is currently part of the National Park Service’s Gateway National Recreation Area, which encompasses 26,000 acres of parklands in parts of New York and New Jersey. It features seven public beach areas, salt marshes, a holly forest and numerous historic landmarks.


  • Entrance: Free
  • Parking: Nine parking lots available; $10 per vehicle daily
  • Public restrooms: Seven throughout the park
  • Lifeguards: On duty 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at North Beach, Gunnison Beach and South Beach Areas C, D and E
  • Special options: Fishing is permitted at Nine Gun Battery Field, Fishing Beach and South Beach Area B; nonmotorized car-top boats can be launched from Beach Area C and the Horseshoe Cove salt marsh; surfing is allowed in Area C; nudity is permitted at Gunnison Beach.
  • Food: Concession stands are open in each beach area from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also dine at the Sea Gulls’ Nest Oceanfront Deck Restaurant & Bar in Beach Area D, which sells salads, sandwiches, hot platters and alcoholic drinks.
  • Showers: Six outdoor showers throughout the park


Other attractions: Take a stroll on Sandy Hook’s walking paths, hiking trails and new 5-mile multiuse pathway, which also accommodates bicyclists and inline skaters, to discover the area’s natural wonders, including more than 300 species of birds. History buffs can also tour the historic Fort Hancock district at the northern tip of the peninsula, which contains the Sandy Hook Lighthouse—the oldest standing lighthouse in the country, dating back to 1764.

Where to eat: Take in an elegant seafood dinner with the Sandy Hook Bay as a backdrop at Doris & Ed’s (732-872-1565, dorisandeds.com), located in a centuryold bayside inn in the nearby town of Highlands. An added bonus: more than 315 wine choices.



Description: Situated on the northern tip of the Barnegat Peninsula, this family-friendly town draws crowds with its sandy beaches along Ocean Avenue and 1-mile boardwalk featuring rides, games, food vendors and other activities.

BEACH INFORMATION (mostly for Jenkinson’s, a popular 1-mile private beach):

  • Entrance: $7 for adults on weekdays, $8 on weekends and holidays; $2 for children 5 to 11 daily; free for children under 5
  • Parking: Free parking on side streets; metered parking on Ocean Avenue; four Jenkinson’s parking lots available on Ocean Avenue (fees start at $5 per vehicle)
  • Public restrooms: Located at various spots along the boardwalk
  • Lifeguards: On duty 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Special options: Though surfing is not permitted at Jenkinson’s, you can hit the waves on the south side of the municipal beach on Maryland Avenue.
  • Food: Four dining areas located on boardwalk
  • Showers: Indoor showers available at two bathhouses ($4 for adults, $3 for children)


Other attractions: Jenkinson’s Boardwalk offers fun for all ages with a host of amusement rides and games, four dining facilities, three sweet shops and an aquarium where you can view Atlantic and Pacific sharks, penguins, alligators, seals and more ($10 for adults, $6 for seniors and children ages 3 to 12, free for children 2 and under). More mature crowds can check out Jenks Club, a hip nightclub on the boardwalk featuring DJs and live bands.

Where to eat: Located on the boardwalk, Martell’s Sea Breeze Restaurant (732-892-0131, tikibar.com/pages/seabreeze.html) offers a variety of fine steak and seafood specialties and stunning views of the Atlantic in a relaxed setting.



Description: This 18-mile–long, quarter-mile–wide island offers opportunities for a tranquil beach getaway in its six municipalities: Barnegat Light, Beach Haven, Harvey Cedars, Long Beach Township, Ship Bottom and Surf City. With no boardwalk and few public bathrooms along the beach, the island tends to cater to overnight visitors, though day-trippers can find various amenities in Beach Haven, located on the south side of the island.

BEACH INFORMATION (for Beach Haven):

  • Entrance: $5 for adults daily; free for senior citizens and children 12 and under
  • Parking: Free street parking; public lots by the bay
  • Public restrooms: One available on the beach near the Centre Street entrance
  • Lifeguards: On duty 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Special options: Surfing, boogie-boarding and fishing locations depend on surf conditions of the day; check with lifeguards for updates
  • Food: Vendors are not allowed on the sands, but you can take in a casual meal at The Palm Grill, a bistro with patio seating located on the beach at the Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club.
  • Showers: Outdoor showers are located next to bathroom area.


Other attractions: Perfect for a family outing or a romantic date, the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven offers a variety of musicals, comedy shows and children’s productions in a charming theater equipped to seat up to 450 people. After the show, grab a cone next door at the Show Place Ice Cream Parlour, where an animated waitstaff sings as they serve.

Where to eat: Cinnamon-dusted Costa Rican tilapia and Argentinean bistro steak skewers are just a few of the international
delights at Plantation Restaurant (609-494-8191, plantationrestaurant.com), a hip, exotic bar and eatery in Harvey Cedars.

Where to stay: Dating back to the 19th century, the historic Surf City Hotel in Surf City (609-494-7281, surfcityhotel.com), located just one-half block from the ocean, offers a range of accommodation types, including a two-bedroom apartment with a kitchen, laundry facilities and an outdoor deck (rates start at $160/night).



Description: This glitzy city-by-the-sea is a reveler’s haven, complete with free public beaches, world-class casino resorts and a bustling boardwalk offering upscale shopping and a host of games and amusement rides, among other pleasures.


  • Entrance: Free
  • Parking: Metered spots throughout city, public parking garages available at casinos and hotels (fees may apply)
  • Public restrooms: Located along boardwalk
  • Lifeguards: On duty 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Special options: Surfing permitted at Crystal Beach on New Hampshire Avenue, Delaware Avenue Beach and Downtown Beach at Raleigh Avenue; kayaking and windsurfing permitted at Jackson Avenue Beach
  • Food: Food vendors and eateries available on the boardwalk
  • Showers: Outdoor showers located near lifeguard stations


Other attractions: At Caesar’s Palace, check out The Pier Shops at Caesars, a 900-foot–long pier over the ocean housing 80 upscale retail shops, and the luxe Qua Baths and Spa—a 16,000-square-foot facility featuring Roman baths, an herbal steam room and Vichy showers. Organic treatments, such as the Ocean Spray Body Renewal and Detoxification Therapy, restore skin, ease tension and soothe muscles. Of course, you can visit one of the city’s numerous bars and dance clubs for a bit of nighttime fun, such as Casbah Nightclub at the Trump Taj Mahal or Mur.mur at the Borgata.

Where to eat: Buddakan (609-674-0100, thepiershopsatcaesars.com) at The Pier Shops at Caesars serves up innovative contemporary Asian cuisine in a hip, sexy
setting adorned with rock gardens, thatched roofs and a gigantic golden Buddha.

Where to stay: Hip and happening, the Borgata (609-317-1000, theborgata.com)—a 2,000-room luxury casino-hotel at Renaissance Pointe—offers a full taste of all the glitz and glamour Atlantic City has to offer, thanks to a 161,000-square-foot casino floor, 12 restaurants and bars and a 54,000-square-foot spa (summer rates start at $109/night).

Also check out Revel, the newest and splashiest hotel in town.



Description: With 2.5 miles of public beaches and one of the state’s most impressive collections of beautifully restored Victorian homes, this peninsula city situated at the southernmost point in New Jersey—also a National Historic Landmark—attracts hoards of fashionable visitors each season.


  • Entrance: $5 daily or $10 for a three-day pass for adults; children 12 and under free
  • Parking: Metered street parking throughout city; metered parking lot on Jackson Street
  • Public restrooms: Five, at various locations on beach near the promenade
  • Lifeguards: On duty 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Special options: Surfing is permitted on beaches after hours, though surfers tend to prefer the Cove Area at the south end of Beach Avenue.
  • Food: You’ll find vendors selling hot dogs, sodas and snacks at 12 spots along Beach Avenue.
  • Showers: Outdoor showers available at select bathroom areas


Other attractions: If a day on the sands has you craving a glass of red and white, visit the Cape May Winery and Vineyard, which produces such top-quality wines as Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. You can explore the 150-acre vineyard on a 1.5-hour guided tour, which also includes wine sampling, fruit and cheese and a souvenir glass ($20 per
adult, children under 21 free).

Where to eat: Located in the heart of Cape May’s historic district, the Washington Inn (609-884-5697, washingtoninn.com)—originally a 19th-century plantation home—serves up a host of eclectic dishes in five elegant dining rooms.

Where to stay: Enjoy a romantic jaunt at the Queen Victoria (609-884-8702, queenvictoria.com), a luxurious bed-and-breakfast offering 32 rooms and suites in four stunning Victorian-era buildings located just one block from the Atlantic (rates start at $220/night).



Description: Encompassing the boroughs of Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest, this family favorite destination offers 5 miles of sandy beaches and a 38-block boardwalk featuring more rides than Disneyland!


  • Entrance: Free
  • Parking: Available at metered spots on Ocean Avenue, a metered municipal lot on Schellenger Avenue and the Convention Center lot along Ocean Avenue (fees vary)
  • Public restrooms: Located at various spots on boardwalk
  • Lifeguards: On duty 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
  • Special options: Surfing, kayaking and skim boarding are only permitted during unguarded hours.
  • Food: Various food vendors and eateries available on boardwalk
  • Showers: Indoor showers available at various locations on boardwalk


Other attractions: Learn about Wildwood’s numerous buildings representing “Doo Wop”—a popular architecture style in the 1950s and ’60s featuring boomerang rooflines, jutting facades, zigzagging balconies and other wacky elements—at the Doo Wop Experience, a museum celebrating the city’s heyday with cool artifacts from the era. From here you can hop on the “Doo Wop Back to the ’50s (and ’60s) Tour,” a 90-minute guided bus tour that takes visitors to various Doo Wop–style landmarks ($12 for adults, $6 for children).

Where to eat: Beach Creek Oyster Bar and Grille in Wildwood (609-522-1062, beachcreek.net) offers creative steak, meat and seafood plates, plus an oyster and martini bar and open-deck seating overlooking the Schooner Island Marina.

Where to stay: For a taste of Wildwood’s colorful past, perch at the Caribbean Motel (609-522-8292, caribbeanmotel.com), a fully restored vintage DooWop–style motel across the street from the ocean, featuring a futuristic lobby with an elevated ramp, a central pool area and island-inspired décor (rates start at $199/night).


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