The Jersey Shore is a popular beach destination for people around the world.
See also Southern Shore
The culture of the Jersey Shore (and most of South Jersey) is quite different from that of North Jersey. The locals are far gentler and more easygoing. They live and let live. They respect nature and treasure it. Some visitors appreciate that, and respect the local culture. Too many don't. You would be surprised to know how strongly the locals feel about that.
You will enjoy your visit much more if you adopt the local ways. Speak softly. Listen. Be gentle with everyone. Obey the laws. Take the time to explore the natural wonders like migratory birds, the Pine Barrens, and sunrise on the beach. Don't kill anything except to eat. Never litter.
In 1524 Giovanni da Verrazzano believed he discovered the New Jersey coastline, but it was already inhabited by the Native Americans. New Jersey continued to grow over the next couple hundred years while being fought over by the Dutch, Swedes, and English. It was not until the 1900's that the New Jersey shore became prosperous and popular. In 1916, there was a deadly heat wave that hit the New Jersey area. Thousands of people flocked to the shore for a break from the heat. Unfortunately, between July 1 and July 12, 1916 there were a series of Shark Attacks along the coast, killing 4 people and injuring 1. Although these attacks scared off some tourists, the New Jersey shore was already a favorite among many others. During the Great Depression, the shore became an ideal vacation spot for both the rich and the poor. While the poor usually traveled for day trips, the rich could relax in some of the shores most luxurious hotels. In more recent history, the New Jersey shore has become a popular destination for families and young adults looking for a great time during spring break.
Wariness Toward Outsiders
The natives tend to be extremely wary of the out-of-towners, or Bennies, who invade their beaches, make too much noise, litter, destroy property, trample dunes, and otherwise remind them of their own inhabitants. Bennies can officially be defined as tourists who visit the Jersey Shore from Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark, or New York. At shore towns in southern NJ (ex: Ocean City, Sea Isle, etc), you may hear the term shoobie to describe aggressive out-of-towners from Pennsylvania and New York.
But if you are polite and respectful, they will respond. They might even point you in the right direction to have a good time. Don't try to use any beach slang. There is none.
English is the predominant language of the residents and visitors at all of the New Jersey shore destinations, though Spanish is increasingly popular. Of course, many visitors come from other countries, particularly in Atlantic City, and use their native languages, often along with some English.
The New Jersey Shore is commonly referred to as "the shore." This is simply a shortening by omitting the proper adjectives, New and Jersey, in the same way The Atlantic City Boardwalk will be referred to as "the boardwalk" by those in Atlantic City, or the way people will just say, Jersey, when referring to New Jersey.
The term can refer to the entire Jersey" coastal area in general, or to a specific town or area. For instance, a Philadelphia family talking about their upcoming trip to Cape May might say, "We're going to the shore next week." They might, somewhat less commonly, also use the term "the beach" in the same way, with "the beach" referring not specifically to the sandy beach itself, but to the cities or towns with nearby beaches.
When in a shore town, both residents and visitors usually refer to the actual sandy area adjacent to the water--the place where they go to sunbathe and swim--as "the beach." For instance, when considering a hotel or room to rent, they might ask, "How close is it to the beach?" Or, a mother of father of a visiting family might say, "OK, kids, get your things together. We're going to the beach at nine."
Inexplicably, and unbeknownst to most outsiders, some residents of New Jersey's shore towns find the term "the shore" offensive or "tacky" and use this language test to identify outsiders. This aversion to the term may be partly due to a misunderstanding of the semantics involved.
Locals will often use the terms bennies (most often heard in Monmouth and Ocean counties) or shoobies (most often heard in Atlantic and Cape May counties) when referring, especially when in a derogatory way, to summertime tourists.
Most shoregoers will travel by car, usually on the Garden State Parkway (from North Jersey/New York) and the Atlantic City Expressway (from South Jersey). The Garden State Parkway is 173 mi (278 km) long and runs north and south along the state’s eastern seaboard from Cape May north and ultimately connects to the New York State Thruway. The Atlantic City Expressway operates 47 mi (76 km) of roadway and connects the Delaware Valley and Philadelphia metropolitan area with Atlantic City and other South Jersey communities. An alternate route for travelers from the northwest to the southern shore points is to use Route 55, which runs from the Camden/Philadelphia area to the Millville area, not far from Cape May and Wildwood. Travelers from the west can take I-95 to I-195 east to Route 138 toward the shore points.
Street parking at many of the beaches north of Atlantic City is free. South of A.C., and including A.C., the streets close to the beach are metered. There are also lots that charge daily and nightly fees.
The N.J. Transit operates 1900 buses on 178 routes throughout the state. Coach buses can also be accessed with Academy Bus Lines, Coach USA, and Suburban Trails Bus Co.
Shore points from Long Branch to Bay Head are accessible by New Jersey Transit's North Jersey Coast Line, which runs from Penn Station. The Atlantic City Line also serves the area, offering service from Philadelphia. For more information, see NJ Transit's website . Since a number of stations are small, you will need to arrange for transportation to your destination.
The closest International airports are Atlantic City International, Philadelphia International, JFK International, LaGuardia and Newark International. Smaller airports for private planes, small corporate jets, forest fire planes, the Civil Air Patrol and emergency services aircraft include RJ Miller Airport, Central Jersey Airport, and Monmouth Executive Airport.
Jersey shore destinations can be reached by boat via the New York Waterway. The Belford Terminal ferry can hold 500 cars and runs to Pier 11, Wall Street. The Seastreak serves Atlantic Highlands, Highlands & Pier 11 Wall Street and East 34th Street, NYC. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry runs between Cape May and Lewes, Delaware. It holds both foot passengers and cars and is a seventy minute trip.
The Farley State Marina is located in Atlantic City, NJ and managed by The Golden Nugget. The Marina provides 640 floating docks and can dock yachts up to 300 feet in length. It is located 44 statute miles from Cape May and 64 statute miles offshore from the Manasquan Inlet. The harbor is well protected with no wakes and little current.
Most houses are within a reasonable walk from the beach, although there may be a major road crossing required.
A car is easier to get around (especially to procure groceries or other necessities), but going to the beach itself may require money for parking lots or meters (varies by town).
Bike rentals are available at almost every Jersey Shore destination. Get the beach feel riding around on your Beach or Boardwalk Cruiser! Also, some beach spots have Surrey rentals.
Atlantic City features such means of getting around as Trolley tours, Royal Rolling Chairs and Jitney Shuttles.
Summer after summer, the Jersey Shore lures travelers with its blue skies, refreshing breezes and 127 mi (204 km) of beautiful, white sandy beaches. It is one of the most desired year-round travel and vacation destinations on the East Coast. For the excitement of fun and fast nightlife, there’s Atlantic City with its many casinos and night clubs. For laid back family fun, enjoy famous boardwalks like Wildwood, and Ocean City. Whether it’s Sandy Hook, Cape May or one of the diverse shore areas in between, you’ll find world-famous resorts, an abundance of historical sites, legacies and breathtaking scenery at the Jersey Shore.
Fort Hancock — this historical attraction was once a strategic site for naviational and defense purposes.
Beach Tags Most of the beaches on the Shore require a "beach badge" to enter. The badges are purchased for a fee, and are only good for the town in which they were purchased (e.g. a badge bought in Belmar would not be good in Seaside Heights). These fees go towards beach maintenance. Some hotels may offer guests complimentary badges as a perk. A few communities do not charge for the beach, most notably Atlantic City and Wildwood.
Monmouth County Beaches
Cape May County
Atlantic City Casinos and Resorts
When you travel to the New Jersey Shore you will find every type of cuisine. Between cafes, restaurants, and boardwalk shops, one can find exotic international delights, gourmet specialties, seafood, steaks, vegetarian, all American cuisine and traditional takeout.
There are also some great restaurants where one can sit waterside and enjoy the gorgeous view as they enjoy their meal. Try the Pilot House for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. If you prefer fine dining, give the Water's Edge a try, they are right on the bay. Of course when you are on the boardwalk, you have to eat some of the hot dogs, steak sandwiches, pizza, and drink some of the "fresh squeezed" lemonade. Don’t forget the caramel corn and famous salt water taffy, which the original recipe originated in Atlantic City. In Ocean City, visitors can watch salt water taffy being pulled at the store front of Shriver's on the boardwalk. After driving over the 9th Street bridge in Ocean City, you can't miss the Chatterbox, a bright pink restaurant, welcoming visitors to the shore and serving excellent food. Also, don't forget to eat at Mack and Manco's, one of the most popular pizza stops on the boards. A visit to the shore is never complete without a pound of Laura's Fudge, at 9th and Asbury. If you travel to Seaside Heights, you have to try the very large pizza at the Saw Mill or Three brothers. It is excellent and 1 slice is more then enough! Wildwood is home to some fantastic zeppoles and Italian sausage and pepper sandwiches. One big thing about visiting the Jersey Shore and its many boardwalks, promenades and snack bars is that anything can be fried, and it will be delicious. Oreos, candy bars, twinkies and those amazing intertangled webs of dough we know as funnel cakes can all be enjoyed down the shore.
Upon visiting the Jersey Shore, it is necessary to try a Pork Roll sandwich. Pork roll is a breakfast meat rarely found anywhere except New Jersey and Philadelphia. A common pork roll treat is the "Jersey Shore Breakfast" which consists of pork roll, egg and cheese often on a bagel or english muffin. Pork roll originated in Trenton in 1856 and has been a Jersey tradition ever since.
Another Jersey Shore staple is Wawa, a convenience store providing a variety of fresh foods for breakfast and lunch. Along with customized sandwiches and fresh salads, Wawa also provides award-winning coffee at a very low price. Customers throughout the Mid-Atlantic enjoy the convenience of Wawa.
Use caution in Asbury Park at night. While the areas around the bars in Asbury are safe, some of the city's residential neighborhoods are less hospitable for outsiders. Also, the highways are extremely dangerous, due to tourist traffic as well as drunk drivers. Police are known to enforce traffic laws vigorously in some smaller towns. Expect to be hit with a hefty fine if you're caught driving under the influence. Police will also ticket more aggressively than the rest of the state (especially in summer) for parking infractions and driving above the speed limit.
Although Asbury Park is a major LGBT tourist destination as is Ocean Grove, Red Bank and now parts of Bricktown, be aware that the rest of the Jersey Shore is extremely conservative. Intolerance towards homosexuals is changing and October 2013 Gay marriage became legal providing equal right to everyone in the state. It is still wise to use caution with openly gay or transgender behavior on many boardwalks. The Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau, a nonprofit Destination Marketing Organization website is a great resource for LGBT friendly towns, restaurants and attractions in the northern part of the shore. Local police tend to be very indifferent towards LGBT issues, even though NJ has strong hate crime and anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.
Wildwood, while generally safe near the boardwalk, has some neighborhoods that aren't as nice as those in most other shore towns. Serious crime against tourists is rare, but use common sense and try to avoid walking alone late at night, especially in the unlit neighborhoods more than a block or two from the boardwalk.
Atlantic City has some crime problems, but these areas are far away from the Boardwalk. Panhandlers on the Boardwalk may become annoying, since there is so many of them, but if you don't want to give anything, just keep walking. Casinos are safe due to the high number of security personnel and video cameras. Do NOT explore Atlantic City at night. All night life is limited to the casinos.
When you visit the New Jersey shore there are many nearby attractions and destinations to visit. All of these places can be seen in 1 day trips.