The New Jersey Shore truly is the beating heart of New Jersey tourism. The shore is unique in that it has something for everyone; from miles of wooden boardwalks filled with fun games, pizzerias and rides to small unknown mom and pop shops and seafood eateries speckled along the 130 miles of coastal shoreline. The coastal shoreline runs from Sandy Hook in the northernmost region all the way down to Cape May Point in the southernmost region.
From North to South, the Jersey shore includes the following counties; Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May County.
Visitors from abroad and NJ natives alike have relished some fun moments as they experienced the different colors of the seasons changing, million-dollar views and lavish historical monuments. The shore offers fishing, nightlife venues, restaurants, casinos and much more.
The younger generation has surely experienced some wilder times renting beach houses for one week stints up to 8 weeks at a time. Depending on the season and the town, it is not uncommon to see a beach rental filled with teenagers on the front porch listening to tunes and drinking refreshments.
The New Jersey Shore is commonly referred to by locals as “the Shore” or “let’s head down the Shore”. So before you pack up your swim trunks to head “down the Shore”, we’d like to first unearth some unique history as well as offer up some practical traveling tips for when you are visiting the area.
Knowing some history will surely open the floodgates of fun as you explore the beaches, small towns, fishing areas, boardwalks and restaurants.
So, are you ready? Let’s begin…
Although the Jersey Shore has always technically existed, it wasn’t until the construction of the first boardwalk in Atlantic City that the shore gained the attraction and tourism that we know and love today. In 1870, the boardwalk simply provided residents of the resort town with a separation between their hotels and the beach, making everyone excited to visit the area. This excitement was due in part by the fact that they didn’t have to step right outside their front door into the hot and sticky sand.
While initially acting as a functional tool that kept resort tourists happy, the advent of the boardwalk soon became widespread, various coastal towns adopted the idea and local businesses jumped on the chance to claim ownership to what would soon become a tourist hot-spot. The location of Jersey Shore is also rather ideal. It persuades businessmen, traders, tourists and passersby to visit. If I say, this land has plenty to offer to everyone; it would be utterly right. Allow me to explain.
Towns and beaches
The beaches along the shores of New Jersey are undoubtedly the most visited attractions during the summer months. Everyone, whether young or old, can have a fantastic time strolling along the boardwalks, people watching or, of course, relaxing in the sand and taking in the sun. Some of the most popular beaches, discussed below, have huge attractions, family-friendly activities and large summertime festivals and events that can draw people in from miles away. However, other beaches, those which are specifically beach and sand-centric, are great escapes for couples wanting to retreat, individuals who want to relax and even families, either locals or tourists, who aren’t visiting the beach for fun and games, so to speak, but because they actually want to SEE the beach, ocean and coastline.
Most popular beach towns:
The Jersey Shore has various towns that are famous, interesting and historical, one of which is Atlantic City. It’s almost 200 years old and people call it the younger sister of Las Vegas. However, during the summer seasons, this younger sister earns all the attention and crumbles the business of its elder sister. It has a four-mile long boardwalk which is lined with well-known restaurants, amusement rides, carnival games, and more. Notably, the casinos inject a dragon’s blood in the veins of the tourists and impel them to open their wallets time and again.
The actual amusements of the Atlantic City started around 1880. After that year, lots of others prominent buildings were built to grow the city. The national bank, public schools, resorts, restaurants and all of the other attractions draw people in year after year. If you’re in the Atlantic City but don’t want to challenge your pockets, you can relish hundreds of other activities as well. For example, you can stroll on the boardwalk, enjoy the waves of beaches with your boogie board or visit the amusement parks. However, whatever you decide to do, don’t forget to enjoy the cheese steaks because the restaurants of the Atlantic City are known to have excellent cheesesteaks that foodies rave about.
Seaside Heights is also packed with action. The town is only .619 sq. mi. and has a population of around 3000, making it perfect for summer fun. It is a self-governing, well-known, incorporated town situated on a long, narrow barrier peninsula that separates the Barnegat Bay from the Atlantic Ocean.
There is sun, fun and much more. This town on the Jersey Shore entices its visitors with games of chance, amusement rides, arcades and, of course, the beach. These attractions keep its legendary boardwalk, which was completed in 1921 by the Senate Amusement Company of Philadelphia, one of the busiest places on the shore. However, this unfortunate area has faced two major catastrophes as well in the form of fire and storm, in 1944 and 1955, but the local residents, as they do in times of hardship today, rebuilt the attractions and brought the attractions back to their greatness.
Seaside Heights is also a rather attractive land for the media industry. The first season of MTV’s reality TV series, Jersey Shore, was filmed here during 2009. Also, back in 1985, Bon Jovi, filmed most of his music video for the song – “In and Out of Love”, in Seaside Heights, on the boardwalk. Additionally, the ABC soap opera, One Life to Live, also filmed some of its 2008 storylines on the beaches of this cherished land.
Wildwood, NJ also has its highs and lows that are incredibly eye-catching. Like Seaside Heights, this town is also a perfect summer resort destination. It has a small population, around 5000, however, during summer, it swells to 250,000 people. These estimates should be enough to prove its status. When we canvass its history, we find the beginnings of the 17th century. It was incorporated on May 1, 1895, becoming a recognized city on New Year’s Day in 1912. It has a total square mileage of 1.394, making it perfect for families to relax, have fun and take in the sun during the summer months.
Though, The Jersey Shore has some of the best beaches in the world (Spring Lake, Long Beach Island, Sea Bright, Asbury Park and Point Pleasant), Wildwood beach is ranked one of the best in the entire Jersey Shore. However, that’s just the tip of an iceberg. The parades, frisbee tournaments, tramcar trolley and ocean oasis water parks also allow this town to rise above the head and shoulders of other lands and allow it to grab the winner’s trophy for the summertime vacation season.
Other, lesser-known beaches
While the most trafficked NJ beaches are Atlantic City, Seaside Heights and Wildwood, there are other, quieter and lesser-known beaches along the coast that can provide you with relaxation, tranquility and an escape from the hustle and bustle of those popular shore towns.
If you are looking to simply escape and enjoy the sand, sun and ocean, Belmar, Bradly Beach, Avon by the Sea, Avalon and Manasquan are the beaches you should visit. These beaches, unlike their wildly popular neighbor beaches, do not feature large attractions that can draw in an overwhelming amount of people. While they do have some attractions, restaurants and bars that bring in decent crowds of people during the summer months and annual events that spark interest, the primary reason many people visit these areas is that they are quiet and afford you the opportunity to enjoy New Jersey’s coastline at its best.
The fishing community
Though it developed as a tourist destination in the late 19th century, the signs of fishing are hundreds of years old. The history reveals that, along the New Jersey Shore, the actual fishing and hunting started under the British rule. Since it has a quiet and upscale atmosphere, which is great for fishing activities… the fishermen of that time were known as “Pound Fishermen”; they used to catch almost every type of fish into their system of wires and net. It was in their ritual to visit and see the largest hunt of the day. Additionally, they also used to head for the hills for a few minutes in order to avoid the odor of the fish.
For recreational fun today, the New Jersey Shore doesn’t require a general salt fishing license. However, in case you’re a professional saltwater angler, you are required to register with the “New Jersey Saltwater Recreational Registry Program”, and need a few permits.
Once you’re on these shores and interested in fishing, you will have a fortune in your hands. The Marinas from Sandy Hook to Cape May have everything you need; boats, kayaks and cruises for parties. Additionally, you can meet and chat with the local fishermen and ask them some latent secrets regarding fishing. They’ve learned the fishing skills from their ancestors who dominated these shores and set their origins under the British rulers.
The New Jersey Shore has received well-deserved attention because of its historical monuments and it plays a significant role in USA’s history as well. According to the United States National Historic Landmark (NHL) program, there are currently 58 NHLs in the NJ. For instance, The Ocean City Boardwalk. It’s one of the most recognizable and well-known landmarks in the world, and ranked highly in the NHLs of New Jersey. The boardwalk is 2½ miles long and was first built in 1880 and it always attracts the tourists on a grand scale.
Next, the Cape May Lighthouse also has the rich glimpses of history. It is situated at the tip of Cape May and is almost 158 feet tall. This lighthouse has an iron spiral staircase that makes it both aesthetically appealing and functional for tourism. The record reveals that this lighthouse was first constructed in 1859 but was automated in the mid of the 19th century and continues to operate rather well to this day.
The tourists usually try to climb its 199 steps in order to relish the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. It would be utterly right to say that it’s one of the most familiar and most photographed places of the Jersey Shore. In addition, this lighthouse has beautified countless calendars, magazine, books and cards over the years.
Apart from this, there are various other exceptional historical monuments of the Jersey Shore that can paralyze you with surprise. The St. Catharine Catholic Church, Hereford Inlet Lighthouse, Twin Lights Historic Site, The Wetlands Institute, Boardwalk Hall and others have the potential to flabbergast you, both emotionally and psychologically.
All in all, The New Jersey Shore has a pleasant and historic touch in the realm of US history. From its beginnings, settlers and residents of the area knew that this land had a lot to offer. Spanning from the beautiful landscape to the eye-catching attractions that draw in people year after year, this coastline area is, without a doubt, one of the gems of the East Coast.
Though it has evolved with the times, the Jersey Shore still holds true to its roots of beauty, beach and fun that allow it to rise above the other waterfront regions. Its beaches turn your days into fun and the nightlife along the coast is sure to liven up your parties. If you’ve been planning to visit this place and see its historic values, just pack your bags. I assure you, the days won’t appear long enough. Once you’d experience its sights, you’d slay the dragons to visit them. The Jersey Shore is a music that moves a million tourists – every year!
There is more to do than visit the NJ beaches. Find a plethora of non-shore based cool things to do all throughout NJ!
We’re also interested in what you know about the NJ Shore. Did we miss an important fact? Let us know!