While writing this, I am sitting in my dorm room in Massachusetts, trapped inside as a blizzard rages outside my window. Although classes being canceled is fantastic, it’s the middle of March and I’m getting pretty tired of the bitter Northeastern cold that seeps into your bones and makes you never want to step foot outside again (unless you’re bundled up like a marshmallow).
On days like these, at the end of a Northeastern winter, when the promise of spring is just around the corner but no one knows exactly when the warm weather will be here to stay, I tend to wax nostalgic and think of summer. Most often, these daydreams revolve around the Jersey Shore. I know what you’re thinking; the loud and obnoxious crew from the MTV show just popped into your head. Snooki, JWoww, the Situation, drinking and partying at Seaside Heights, NJ.
My experiences going “down the shore” (since I am originally from northern New Jersey, and all the beaches are in southern NJ, going “down the shore” or “dts” is the typical slang term for going to the beach) have been nothing like the “reality” show. First of all, there are so many other beaches to visit; although Seaside Heights is fun, it doesn’t have the reputation of being the cleanest or nicest beach.
My favorite beaches to go to are Belmar, Point Pleasant, Wildwood, and Sandy Hook, all for different reasons:
- Belmar- the perfect spot for day trips, Belmar Beach is small, but they are incredibly clean and well-maintained. The continuous 1.3-mile long beach is split up into smaller sections by avenues, with restrooms and playgrounds for kids every few blocks. A day pass to the beach is $8 for those 16 or older. There is no official, stereotypical “boardwalk” lined with games, food, and rides, but depending on the avenue, there are various food establishments (think 7/11, pizza, smoothie bowls) right across the street from the beach. The main roads of the town are cute and fun to drive through or walk around as well if you have time.
- Sandy Hook- Sandy Hook is actually part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park, so it definitely isn’t stereotypical “Jersey shore”. There is no boardwalk at all and I recommend you bring your own food because options are limited to the one or two food trucks at the entrance to the beach. However, the special thing about Sandy Hook is that it has bike trails, and bike rentals are available.
- Wildwood/Point Pleasant- These two are perhaps the most stereotypical “Jersey” beaches. The boardwalks lining their beaches are long, bustling, and loud, containing amusement parks with rides, carnival games, and miles upon miles of fried food, ice cream, lemonade, popcorn, pizza, and saltwater taffy. Wildwood is an especially fun place to take a weekend trip because Cape May, a quaint Victorian seaside town, is a quick 20-minute drive away; a combo weekend in Wildwood and Cape May is a perfect way to get the best of both worlds.
Yes, you will probably see some Snooki and Situation lookalikes, but these beaches have so much more to offer than a reality TV stereotype.