This summer,we were determined to have a great end-of-summer-vacation, maybe more so since our plans last year were cancelled by Hurricane Irene. After a lot of conversations around the big questions – Where should we go?? – we decided to have a quick few days doing absolutely nothing down in Wildwood, one of the southernmost beaches down the Jersey Shore.
Wildwood is located on a barrier island in Cape May County, which is almost the southernmost point down the Jersey Shore. It’s made up of Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood and has a boardwalk, beach, tons of places to stay and eat. Wildwood houses the boardwalk, while Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood tend to be a little bit quieter. Driving to Wildwood from Long Island should take about 3.5 – 4 hours.
Wildwood Beach Tips
- Unlike other Jersey Shore beaches where you need to pay admission or buy or rent beach tags, the Wildwood beaches are all free. They are very well taken care of and rank in the best beaches in the world.
- If you want to have some quiet time on the beach, this is the perfect place. The Wildwood Beach is so large that even during the week before Labor Day, it did not feel so crowded. Avoid the crowds by setting yourself up on the part of the beach that is a few blocks past the end of the boardwalk.
- If you’re bringing your own umbrella and chairs, make sure you have a rolling beach cart – the beach in Wildwood is really wide so it’s a pretty good walk from the street to the water. If you’re not bringing your own umbrella and chairs, there are stands on the beach where you can rent them for the day.
- Set yourself up close (but not too close) to the port-a-potty. You can walk to the boardwalk and use the bathrooms there, but if your kids are anything like mine, you’ll be spending your day walking back and forth to the boardwalk – and it’s not three steps away.
- Bring your own lunch and snacks. Over time, the beach in Wildwood has gotten bigger and bigger – and further away from the street and boardwalk. Once you set up your chairs and umbrella, you really won’t want to move – so make sure you bring food with you. On your way you can stop at the local Wawa and pick up some made to order sandwiches, drinks and snacks.
- Bring baby powder with you to get the sand off yourselves and the kids before you leave. I was very surprised to see that at the top of the beach, there were no hoses or showers. It could have been because we were a few blocks away from the boardwalk, but I never saw one anywhere.
- You can park close to the beach in a paid parking lot or bring quarters and park by a parking meter. If you don’t mind walking, drive a few blocks away from the beach where there are no meters and park for free.
Staying in Wildwood
- Pretty much every hotel in Wildwood is a motel that is family owned and operated – you aren’t going to find a Hyatt or Four Seasons chain hotel here. The bonus is that all of the motels are pretty close to the beach (and most have pools), so you can park your car upon arrival and pretty much not use it again until you are ready to go home.
- If you are traveling with a larger group or don’t want to stay in a motel, there is a huge inventory of beach rentals, ranging from condos and apartments to houses. The closer you get to the beach, the higher the rental fee will be, but an upside to a rental is that they all come with kitchens and most come with a BBQ. Visit the supermarket and grab some burgers and dogs and plan to BBQ or cook – eating in a night or two will potentially make up for the difference in price between the motel and a rental.
Eating in Wildwood
- There are hundreds of restaurants in Wildwood, ranging from quick take-out to fancy sit-down. As they’re on the beach, probably the best thing to eat in Wildwood is seafood. My kids discovered a new love for fried shrimp – something that was on almost every kids menu (a nice change from the standard mac & cheese and hot dog).
- If you’re going during the busy season and want to visit specific restaurants, call ahead and make a reservation. It’s definitely worth it so you don’t need to listen to your kids whining that they’re starving.
- Some recommendations that we enjoyed were Urie’s (on the water), Goodfish Grill (tiny restaruant, good food but slow service) and Jersey Girl (make a reservation).
- There are tons of snacks, ice cream and fried dough (our new favorite) that can be found on the boardwalk.
Playing in Wildwood
- The Wildwood Boardwalk is about 2 miles (or 38 blocks). It is huge and has probably about a bazillion things to do.
- There are quite a few miniature golf courses in Wildwood. We played one night at Duffer’s – a very cute 18 hole course that even my 6 year old enjoyed. It wasn’t too expensive – $7/person – and is also a restaurant serving food and delicious homemade ice cream.
- Morey’s Piers seems to be the center of the Wildwood Boardwalk. Started as boardwalk concessions in the 1950’s, Morey’s Piers now boast piers of rides, games, food and two waterparks. The size of this is truly unbelievable. It is free to walk around the piers but does cost money to go on the rides and play games.
- There is another waterpark in Wildwood called Splash Zone, which is potentailly smaller in size to Morey’s Piers but I think better for smaller kids. Pretty much everyone can go on any ride – we went for a day and had an amazing time. It was big enough for our family to spend a full day of fun, but not too big for my kids to feel like they couldn’t go on certain rides because they were too young or small.