Goes“Down to the Shore”
Wildwood On the New Jersey Shore
If you imagine amusement parks and beaches together, you are probably thinking of Wildwood, New Jersey, one of the best spots in the state for year-round fun.
Wildwood is a city in Cape May, a county located at the tip of New Jersey with a population of around 6,000 residents. The “Wildwoods” is a combined area of three boroughs, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood, and City of Wildwood. Vacationers and tourists mostly come from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware, but many visitors come from Canada and abroad during the summer months. A visit to Wildwood reawakens the child in all of us.
Some of Wildwood’s most notable features are its welcoming beaches, its 2.5 miles of boardwalk, and its three amusement parks spanning six blocks known as “Morey’s Piers,” comprising Surfside Pier, Mariner’s Landing, and Adventure Pier. The rides and concessions amuse kids and parents alike. You’ll find tattoo artists, piercing parlors, ice cream, and apparel sellers. In true arcade style you can even win prizes.
Since 1969, the piers have merged the joy of an amusement park with the sights and sounds of beach life. Ocean Oasis Waterpark off Surfside Pier at 25th Avenue is making a big splash these days. It offers Doo Wop style accommodations; and Wildwood is home to the world-famous beverage, the “Lime Rickey.” There’s also amazing artifacts preserved by our national park systems like the only remaining staircase from the World Trade Center. Visitors can appreciate the grandeur of the structure that “stands” for our patriotism that cannot be tumbled.
For the kid in you, be sure to visit Wildwood’s boardwalk action with its neon lights, carnival atmosphere, and treats. Its 38-block boardwalk offers more rides than Disneyland. It’s got a seemingly endless string of souvenir shops and eateries. Try the pizza! And the seafood is beyond compare! Flip flops are the official footwear on the boardwalk. Nothing fancy now. The good old sponge bottom flops with the rubber thongs will do. You’ll fit right in, on Wildwood’s boardwalk where you can take in the Atlantic’s refreshing salty air day or night!
Wildwood’s got it all, and the rides are incredible. Check out the dune buggies, the raceway, or the demolition derby. You won’t be alone at these events. Roughly 250,000 visitors show up during the peak vacation season. If your feet get tired, just hop on the locally famous Tramcar or go four-wheeling in a “peddle buggy.”
There’s action all year long at Wildwood! September hosts a statewide fireman’s convention that parades from Wildwood Crest to New Jersey Avenue. But my personal favorite is the Thunder on the Beach that begins when the Monster Truck Race weekend kicks off, also in September. With names like Grave Digger, Predator, and Sudden Impact, you know you are in for a treat when these big wheels roll out and rip through the sand somewhere between Schellenger and Youngs Avenues.
Stop by the Wildwood Historical Museum for a blast from the past when you need a break from the heat. Discover how the Lenni Lenape spent their days on the beach or get lost in the heydays of the 50s. Visit the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse in North Wildwood, built in the 1800s in Swiss Gothic architecture, a spectacular structure.
From the Irish and Italian Festivals to the Polar Plunge, there is a unique sight for everyone. Without warning or notice a wave of humans hurtle past the more sense provoked bystanders and splash into the Atlantic. Oversized blokes donning business attire from the waste upward appear to have gotten saturated in some downpour, with ties stuck to the fronts of their body-hugging dress shirt. Some folks in bathing suits look out of place wearing ski caps, standing among beach inhabitants cloaked in full winter garb. No where are bathers with red flushed bodies more understood than those down the shore for the 40 degree ocean dip off Jefferson Avenue in March.
When it comes to summer fun, though, the beach and the boardwalk define summer in Jersey, and Wildwood’s glistening beaches grow ever wider with each wave, as sand erodes from nearby beaches and deposits on Wildwood’s shores. There are no “taggers” to interrupt your tanning session either, but you’ll hear life guard whistles and ice cream sellers shouting above the roar of ocean waves to “Get your Fudgy Wudgy Bars!”
One of the first things you’ll spot when almost there is the old wooden roller coaster, the “Great White.” The Ferris wheel and the Merry Go Round are also among my favorites. Once high up in the Ferris wheel you can see across the Atlantic. Your fingers will be crossed, as you hope to get stopped at its highest point. On a moonlit night, there is no better view, and it’s nice and breezy up there. The lighted rides and whiffs of hot dogs and popcorn, mixed with the ocean air are unmistakably Jersey shore. At night the area comes alive with music, parades, fireworks, and you name it. A stay at one of Wildwood’s cozy motels offers balcony views of the ocean and walking distance to all amenities. A fruit truck roles around, providing fresh produce each morning.
Wide sandy beaches, parades, amusement parks, good eating, and much more is in store for you at Wildwood! It’s all just a hop, skip, and a jump off the Garden State Parkway, headed south. See you there!
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