It's the Jersey Shore, but not that Jersey Shore

Check out the boardwalk in Wildwood for plenty of food, games and tourist sites.
Check out the boardwalk in Wildwood for plenty of food, games and tourist sites. (Photo Courtesy of Deborah Pegher, Carroll County Times)

If you make it to Wildwood, N.J., keep your Jersey Shore jokes to yourself. Wildwood is located in southern N.J., while Seaside Heights, the infamous town which holds guidos and guidettes, is an hour and a half north.

I had the pleasure of visiting Wildwood with my sister's boyfriend's family, for a joint family vacation this summer. Wildwood is an island between Stone Harbor and Cape May, and is known for its old-fashioned charm and two mile boardwalk, which proclaims, "Through this arch walk the happiest people in the world" on the way in.

I am a sucker for a beach town, so I immediately fell in love with Wildwood, from its 1950s restaurants to its wooden boardwalk filled with games and rides. If you are also interested in finding every little beach town along the Atlantic, Wildwood absolutely makes the cut.

Three things you'll need

A healthy appetite: Fried food is rampant on the boardwalk, and everyone knows the best part about vacation is eating. If you want to make one last beach trip this fall, there is a chili and chowder cook-off on the boardwalk Sept. 30.

Toll fare: Unless you have an E-ZPass, you'll need some cash for the Jersey Turnpike. We were lucky to avoid traffic, and take a couple of back roads that landed us near farms and wineries. Look up a route online prior to leaving if you want to avoid the tolls.

A surfboard: I'm not brave enough to try surfing in the Atlantic, or anywhere for that matter. To my surprise, people actually use surfboards in Wildwood. The waves were tall and the water was warm on our days at the beach.


Three travel tips

Bring sunscreen (and aloe): This is a staple for any trip to the beach, but the aloe part always seems to go over my head until after I'm already sunburnt. Preventative care, people!

Make a sandwich: The beach we went onto wasn't directly on the boardwalk, so we all packed sandwiches and chips for our lunch on the water. We were able to save a little bit of money, and enjoy an amazing view.

Bring walking shoes: The boardwalk is two miles long, which can be a long walk after a day of relaxation on the beach. The tramcar that goes along the boardwalk costs $2.25.

Three things to do or see

Check out the boardwalk: The boardwalk has an abundance of food, games, and tourist sites. While we didn't make it all the way to the end, pizza joints and ice cream shops line the wooden walkway for miles.

Go to the amusement park: There you'll see roller coasters on the boardwalk that will make your hair stand on its ends. It's no Six Flags, but there are enough rides for families to have a few hours of fun.

Urie's Waterfront Restaurant: The crabs at Urie's were excellent, and the restaurant is right on the water. We had the pleasure of dining outside right at sunset, which offered breathtaking views. Also, every entree has a salad and two sides and bread. You definitely get enough bang for your buck - though next time I might not get an appetizer.


One thing to skip

Dinner on the boardwalk: The crowds get crazy, and the service is rushed. You'll be better off getting off the boardwalk for dinner, especially when there are so many great restaurants around the town.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun