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Visit the Jersey Shore Starting With Cape May

[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 8/6/2010 - www.Littleviews.com ]

>>  Our planned New Jersey Shore roadtrip between Cape May and Red Bank (see the map at the end of this article) was cut short due to a heat wave. Our customary roadtrip walkabouts were limited to areas between our air-conditioned car and air-conditioned destinations.

Escaping the heat, of course, is the main reason people visit the Jersey Shore. Stay in just one town, take regular dips in the Atlantic Ocean, and dry off via the sweet, always-blowing ocean winds. That said, languish we did. Walk we didn't.

The New Jersey shore (with the exception of Atlantic City) is relatively free of skyscraper hotels and mega-resorts, making it unlike Miami Beach, Florida, Ocean City, Maryland, and other popular coastal cities. Many of New Jersey's visit-worthy communities also restrict or forbid chain stores in their shopping districts, so that with the exception of ever-present real estate offices, the Jersey Shore and its towns are unique.

In Cape May, It's Location, Location, Location . . .

The entire cape is fronted by vacuumed and raked sandy beaches, some of which are re-sanded after the hurricane season. Its bed'n breakfasts and small inns are cute and comfy, its vacation shares (summer rental homes) large, and there are several pristine, non-chain motels that front the beach itself on Beach Avenue. Some of these motels have pools and a few feature dining. I stay at Cape May's Beach Shack, which, I believe, has everything, including an easy, meet-me-at-the-beach ambiance.

The Beach Shack is one of Cape May's larger motels, with its facilities spread over two lots. It has beautiful views, a large swimming pool (with toddler section), a beach restaurant, an outdoor lounge, and parking. It's near other attractions and is just across the road to the beach itself (motels in this area are located on the west side of Beach Avenue, with the beach located on the east side).

I've stayed at the Beach Shack before and after recent renovations, and have always enjoyed it. The new Beach Shack features huge rooms with kitchenettes, suites (combined rooms that include living room furniture), ultra-comfy beds, free WiFi, and large tables with more than enough room for one or two computers. Dedicated parking spaces circle the facility, which is a plus because parking is limited throughout the city. A few motels have no off-street parking at all.

Shown below is the Beach Shack's pool. This summer, all lounge chairs were fitted with soft, terry cloth lounge covers, topped by large beach towels for pillows.

The view below was taken from the motel's pool-side top floor. The shallow toddler pool is nicely protected from the rest of the pool by a fence, while the other end is deep enough for ledge diving. Beyond the pool is a tree-covered lounge, parking, Beach Drive, and the beach itself.

It might be difficult to identify the Atlantic Ocean in this picture as its water appears gray, but if you look near the top left horizon line, you'll see a ship on the horizon.

The Beach Shack's other section is near its restaurant and bar service area. Below, you can see some of its outdoor lounge which includes a sandy, park-like setting, and fire pit.

The name of the Beach Shack's restaurant is The Rusty Nail. By day, its outdoor dining areas are well shaded, and by night, party-like and inviting. You don't need to stay at the motel in order to enjoy it.

The Rusty Nail describes itself as a surfer bar that attracts lifeguards, surfers, and beautiful women (and what woman isn't?). With a great location near the beach and nightly, live entertainment, I'm sure it does just that (and, of course, it attracted me).

In true beach shack fashion, all the windows open inside the restaurant so you can enjoy your breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks in the fresh air, while being thoroughly protected by the sun (or maybe, slight rain).

When not tanning, swimming, or just sitting, make sure you walk about! Cape May is known for its imaginative Painted Lady mansions, many of which you'll find near The Washington Street Mall (known for its boutiques) and streets northeast of Ocean Street.

Four blocks north of the Beach Shack on Beach Drive is Henry's on the Beach, the only beach-side restaurant open daily for casual dining.

What makes Henry's on the Beach special is its back porch dining room, which projects over the sand dunes. The best seats are along the open walls (although on windy days, you might want to sit near the center of the porch). At all times, hang on to your napkin because constant ocean breezes make anything made of paper fly like a kite.

Other Cape May Walkabouts: To see amazing, new mansions, travel to the far northern end of Beach Drive, then turn to your left and poke in and around nearby streets as your interests take you. You might also want to walk around Cape May's Inlet Harbor, where you'll find yachts, fishing fleets, excursion boats, rental boats, and excellent seafood restaurants. Last, for fun and games, drive further northeast and visit Wildwood!


Wildwood deserves its own article and will get one on Littleviews sometime in the future. Located on a long, East Coast barrier island, the area is devoted to vacationing! Non-skyscraper motels and hotels built in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s line its eastern, Atlantic Ocean shore. Adjacent to prime locations are even more motels and next to them, city streets filled with relatively new, low-rise apartments and condos. Many of Wildwood's apartments are rented out as "shares" and are not year-around dwellings. If there was an old Wildwood architectural style, none of it remains except for the motels and hotels.

Stay in Wildwood to enjoy the beach, its long boardwalk, and Morey's Piers & Beachfront Waterparks, a giant, 3-pier amusement park, plus two huge waterparks that compete in size with the ocean, itself.

Wildwood's boardwalk, like all resort boardwalks, is lined with surf shops, tropical clothing stores, and snack huts. Before deciding on which game pier to visit, I recommend that you completely explore the boardwalk's length via a Sightseer tram (pictured below). Even if you are physically fit and don't mind trapsing around under the summer sun, the grounds are too long to cover by foot and enjoy the rides on the same day.

Check Morey's website for daypass prices. Given all the options they offer, I think you'll find the passes to be reasonable (and compared to Disneyland, dirt cheap). That said, come early . . . and stay late!

Atlantic City

Please read Littleviews' 2009 article, Day trip to Atlantic City to learn what New Jersey's largest resort town offers during the summer. For a quick overview of what the long boardwalk has to offer, hop on one of its rickshaws (human-powered pedicabs), three of which are pictured below.

Atlantic City provides many dining options, but during the summer, make a point of sipping tropical drinks at the Hilton Hotel's Beach Bar, which is located on the beach itself. It is just off the boardwalk between Boston and Pacific Avenues.

Ocean Grove

Please read Littleviews' 2009 article Day trip to Ocean Grove and Asbury Park from New York City for more information on Ocean Grove and The Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association. During the summer, pay particular attention to the camp's tents that line various streets near The Great Auditorium, where Christian religious revivals and secular entertainment hold forth.

Asbury Park

Also see Littleviews's 2009 Day trip to Ocean Grove and Asbury Park from New York City for more information on Asbury Park, which is adjacent to Ocean Grove via the boardwalk. Its main attraction is its spotlessly clean, brightly-developed boardwalk where you can find high-quality boutiques, excellent restaurants, surf shops, bike rentals, children's play areas, and miles of beautiful beach. Before deciding on where to dine, check out The Beach Bar, which is located on the northern end of the board walk. Its open patio restaurant is one of the most romantic in the state, and even better, its prices are reasonable.

Other Jersey Shore Cities

Because of the heat wave, we breezed through Red Bank, which is a famous boutique shopping destination, and nearby Sandy Hook National Park, where we were more than eaten alive by an infestation of swarming mosquitoes, then stopped for a cool pint at Red Bank's Basil T's, an excellent restaurant and brew pub.

We did not stop by Spring Lake, which I wrote about in 2004, or Seaside Heights, which is home to MTV's reality series, Jersey Shore. Hopefully, we'll have time to visit Seaside Heights later this summer.

The Jersey Shore and Useful Links

The Jersey Shore discussed in this article runs roughly about 150 miles from Red Bank to Cape May. It is splashed with interesting cities, many of which invite vacationers. We stopped by the cities listed on the map in blue. Cities listed in green are also popular Jersey Shore destinations that, because of the heat, we skipped during this trip.

Useful Links:

Related Littleviews Articles:

Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com

Article by Karen Little. Photos by Karen Little. First published on 8/6/2010. All rights reserved by Littleviews Publishing: www.Littleviews.com and www.LittleviewsTravel.com.

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