The Boardwalks of New Jersey Offer Fun for the Whole Family

Nothing evokes the feel of the Boardwalks of New Jersey better than the Drifter's fifties hit (Go ahead, sing along, you know you know it):

"In the park, hear the happy sound of the carousel

You can almost taste the hot dogs and french fries they sell.

Under the boardwalk, down by the see-ee-ee..."

One of the All Time Great Boardwalks

The Big Mama of all the great Jersey Shore "boards" is the one at Wildwood. (In New Jersey, you go down the Shore, and you walk the boards.) Incredible rides, food stands, water parks and old fashioned midway games would make this a great destination even if it wasn't connected to a fabulous beach! Acres of water rides that chute you, spin you or just plain cool you are a great break if you get tired of the ocean. Some of the water parks realize that Mom and Dad may not want to be shot down a rocket raft, so they wisely offer shaded cabana areas that offer food, wifi access and peace while the kids get wet and wild.

The amusement piers of Wildwood are chock full of rides, from kiddie trains and mini scooters to roller coasters, the famous Tilt-a-Whirl and of course great games to impress your girlfriend with.

Wildwood's Boardwalk is close to other great beaches such as Cape May or Ocean City. So if you tire of the genteel life of Cape May or want a break from the gambling of Atlantic City, you can visit Wildwood for a really different change of pace.

And one of the Busiest Ones!

Ocean City’s must be one of the most used in the State! In the morning, count on lots of traffic by bikers, walkers, joggers and the many people who just enjoy sitting and watching. There is lots to do in the evening too, of course. Lots of amusement parks that offer rides, go-karts, a water park, two movie theatres, arcades and miniature golf theme parks with water falls, sharks, pirates and more. Every Thursday in July and August Ocean City presents “Family Night”. Live entertainment and celebrations such as classic, pop and oldies bands, a strolling barbershop quartet, and lots of fun for the kids, such as face painting and magicians. You never know what will be going on. OC’s boards also have lots of great shopping, eating, parades, beauty contests and festivals at all times of the year and the famous New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge! Not too many towns can offer more.

Seaside Heights may have lost its iconic roller coaster and the famous and highly visible ferris wheel to the ravages of Superstorm Sandy, but the town (and its boardwalk) is not defeated. Word is that the great Ferris wheel will once again dominate the skyline and be seen from miles away, making it easy to find this landmark summer fun place. The wonderful arcades and rides are greatly reduced, but owners are working hard and hope to have many of them rebuilt by the summer of 2014.

For many people, Seaside Heights epitomizes the down and dirty, fun and grungy old fashioned boards, and everybody is looking forward to seeing it in its old glory once again.

Atlantic City has an incredible amount to offer. One of the problems with "AC" is that most people now go to Atlantic City for the ritzy casinos, so a lot of the emphasis has been taken away from the boardwalk. It's too bad, since Atlantic City once boasted a real treasure, with the first boardwalk built in 1870 proving such a success that it was added onto until it reached 7 miles long. A major hurricane in 1944 destroyed large parts of it and it was never rebuilt from the 4 miles it was reduced to. Wide swaths of this precious real estate is devoted to the fronts of the casinos. The ocean side has arcades and games, but for any real rides and games, visit the Steel Pier amusement park.

 

Even though it is famous as the home of Miss America, the boards at Atlantic City can also have a grungy side to it, with its palm readers and greasy spoon restaurants, but it is reminiscent of a more innocent, old fashioned time, and a lot of people like to visit just for the "show". And the great Steel Pier has rides and attractions all year long. If you are in Atlantic City for the casinos or for a conference or convention, take the time to stroll it, visit the steel pier and take one of the famous rickshaw drives.Only portions of the boards were damaged by Sandy, so repairs were done a lot faster than in other shore towns. That Atlantic City has all that casino money may have had something to do with it.

The smaller gems

Avon, New Jersey calls itself a "square mile of heaven" and it pristine boardwalk has nothing more intrusive than the beach badge shacks, the bathrooms and a small restaurant and an ice cream stand at the north end. Pots of petunias color your walk and the only distraction is the sound of the ocean waves.

Spring Lake is the least commercial one on the entire Jersey Shore. The residents wouldn't have it any other way. A walk along the Spring Lake boardwalk is like a walk through Architectural Digest. Every home on Ocean Avenue is a perfectly cared for masterpiece. It is hard to decide which is more beautiful to look at, the ocean or the sumptuous homes. There are two food stands, one in the middle and one at the south end, but That Is It!

Superstorm Sandy caused a lot of damage, but Jersey Shore folks don't let too much stop them, so it was quickly rebuilt.

Manasquan boardwalk is not quite as quiet, but it is far from commercial. Just expect lots of kids and teenagers dominating the boards. Manasquan has the best surfing because the Manasquan Inlet corrals and refracts the waves, pushing them up to 15 feet high onto Manasquan beach. So expect to trip over some surfboards on your stroll. There are snack stands, but not a lot else, since this area caters to locals and not tourists.

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