On the southeastern coast of New Jersey, the Wildwoods are one of the Jersey Shore’s premier vacation spots, a perfect destination for group travel with plenty of options for relaxation and recreation. Known for its boardwalks and beaches, the Wildwoods invites groups to walk along the pier, go on rides, and enjoy the sand and surf.
The Wildwoods consist of three areas that cater to diverse tastes: Wildwood, North Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. Each area has its own personality. The nearby towns of Cape May and Ocean City also attract tour groups.
A recipient of many awards, the Wildwoods were selected in 2013 as the Favorite Beach by NJ.com. They were named “Best Beaches in New Jersey” in the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2008 Top Ten New Jersey Beaches public survey. The 2012 list of TripAdvisor’s “15 Destinations on the Rise” included the Wildwoods, and Home.com voted the Wildwoods one of “America’s Top 10 Scenic Seasides of the Summer.”
Here’s a quick look at the Wildwoods and the southeastern shore:
In the center of the vacation area, Wildwood offers five miles of free beach and a boardwalk with more than 70,000 planks that stretches for two miles. Nothing is more New Jersey than its boardwalks with saltwater taffy, carnival games and eclectic shops.
Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks, with three amusement piers on the Boardwalk, is a great place to start a Wildwood getaway. It boasts more than 100 rides and attractions and two beachfront waterparks, one featuring a beach club with cabanas.
The Doo Wop Experience Museum is filled with neon lights and funky designs recalling Wildwoods of the 1950s and ’60s. Bus tours from the museum spotlight the architecture of seaside motels designed in the ’50s.
At the southern end of the Wildwoods, Wildwood Crest is known for its water sports and family-friendly environment. Atlantic Parasail Inc. has sent riders on over 200,000 flights. Starlight Fleet offers dolphin- and whale-watching cruises. A 20-block stretch of Ocean Avenue has examples of the Doo Wop architectural style popular in the ’50s. Turtle Gut Park and Memorial commemorates the site (near Sunset Lake) of the only battle of the American Revolution fought in Cape May County.
Boasting New Jersey’s best sports beach, special events and a diverse nightlife, North Wildwood is full of attractions. Night spots include 2nd Street Annie’s, Beach Creek Oyster Bar and Grill, Blue Water Grille at the Bolero and Casba Comedy Club.
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse features free, award-winning gardens and a view looking over the Atlantic Ocean along the North Wildwood seawall.
At New Jersey’s southernmost tip, Cape May is another option on the Southern Shore. Enjoy the beaches and Victorian architecture of this classic seaside resort town.
Climb 199 steps to the top of 157-foot Cape May Lighthouse for views of the Cape May peninsula. The beacon, still in use, was built in 1859 with the original bricks of the 1847 lighthouse.
Cape May Whale Watcher, serving Cape May, Wildwood, and the rest of the Jersey Shore, offers whale- and dolphin-watching cruises on its new vessel, the 110-foot Spirit of Cape May. Bird-watching and dinner cruises are available as well.
Another place to view wildlife is the Cape May County Park and Zoo. Nearby is Leaming’s Run Gardens with its themed gardens and re-created colonial farm.
Historic Cold Spring Village is an open-air, living history museum consisting of 25 restored buildings. Interpreters demonstrate such 19th century crafts as broom making and blacksmithing.
In the northern end of the Southern Shore, Ocean City features beaches, boating, sports and attractions. The Discovery Seashell Museum displays cone shells and bulk shells, among many others, plus seashell art, jewelry, hermit crabs and the opportunity to learn about sharks, butterflies and plants. If looking for spooky fun, look no further than Ghost Tours of Ocean City. It sheds light on the secrets of the Boardwalk, Flanders Hotel and legend of the Jersey Devil.
For amusements and relaxation, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and Gillian’s Island Water Park and Adventure Golf are great destinations. The Wonderland Pier is a pay-as-you-go park featuring a Giant Wheel as well as 35 other rides. The water park features the Serpentine Slides, Lazy River and cabana rentals.
−By Becky Neems