Best of the Jersey Shore
Discover the joys of the mid-Atlantic’s underdog state, from Cape May to Asbury Park.
The tumultuous history of American leisure has its beginnings on the Shore with the founding of Cape May, the nation’s first seaside resort and the southernmost point in New Jersey. Settled by the wealthy families of Philadelphia, it spurred more than a century of Victorian-era land speculation. Summer communities sprouted up along the coastline—from old-money enclaves like Mantoloking to the humbler summer colonies of Long Beach Island. By the 1920’s, the showiest towns, Atlantic City and Asbury Park, had become bona fide cities—with casinos, amusement palaces, and grand hotels—whose livelihood depended on the flow of tourist traffic. The narrative of the Shore in the latter half of the 20th century is of its slow climb back to prosperity: first from the setback of the Depression, and then from the rise of cheap commercial air travel in the postwar period. Vacationers who once came for weeks at a time, sustaining the local economies, could jet off to exotic locales like Miami or the Caribbean instead. Most towns weathered these blows better than Atlantic City and Asbury Park, and the layers of setback and revival, hokum and heritage, that built up behind the dunes have given this strip of coastline a gonzo charm—and even a beauty—like nowhere else on earth.
1 Pier Shops at Caesars
The two-year-old Pier Shops at Caesar's, an edifice stretching 1,000 feet into the Atlantic, houses the largest shopping-mall fountain in the world. The mall is chockablock with luxury retailers - Bottega Veneta, Prada, and Louis Vuitton.
2 Perrine Boatworks
Watch master boatbuilders in this workshop at the Tuckerton Seaport, a living-history museum of coastal arts and crafts.
3 Lucy the Elephant
Lucy, Margate's iconic 65-foot-tall elephant-shaped house, now open to the public.
You'll find well-priced industrial-modern pieces at this excellent furniture boutique.
5 Brant Beach
Just when you think this beach couldn't possibly get more retro - not an iPod or cell phone in sight - a clean shaven Wally Cleaver look-alike drives up in his vintage 1960's Good Humor ice cream truck. $5 day passes can be purchased from the tag-checkers who roam the shoreline.