Beach Guide: Cape May County

A town-by-town guide to Cape May County beaches.

New Jersey Monthly Magazine - The Shore Issue - June 2013

Ocean City
Exit N-25/S-30
When Sandy Hit: Storm surge on the bay side took a toll, but the rides and attractions on the boardwalk were spared. The Recovery: The town trucked in sand from other parts of the island to widen the beach. Michelle Gillian of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce says visitors will see a “refreshed” downtown, with newly painted and remodeled storefronts. Rides are being repainted to hide flood lines and wear. A new Starbucks has opened on Asbury Avenue, and Gillian’s Wonderland Pier has added a Dark Ride Haunted House in the park’s Thrill Zone for ages 12 and up.

Don’t Miss: Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, Playland’s Castaway Cove, Strand 5 movie theater, Congo Falls Adventure Golf, Sand Sculpting Contest (July 3), Miss NJ Parade (July 15), 104th annual Baby Parade (August 8).

Beach Fee: Season, $25. Weekly, $10. Daily, $5. Under 12, free.

Parking: Metered; seasonal permit, $125.

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Strathmere
Exit N-17/S-25
When Sandy Hit: The beach side fared relatively well behind protective dunes, but the bay side was battered. Most docks on the bay were ripped off their moorings. High tide immersed homes and businesses along Bayview Drive in up to 5 feet of water. Dunes were breached in neighboring Whale Beach.

The Recovery: The first-floors of most homes were flooded but structural damage was minimal. Several house fires in March were attributed to saltwater damaging the wiring of home appliances. Don’t Miss: Whale Beach, Old Shack Ice Cream, Twisties, Deauville Inn.

Beach Fee: Free.

Parking: Free.

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Sea Isle City
Exit 17
When Sandy Hit: Sea Isle City sustained the worst flooding in Cape May County. Yet because the relatively calm eye of the storm passed directly over Sea Isle, wind damage was held in check.

The Recovery: Sea Isle has completed its third beach replenishment project in five years, according to Mayor Leonard Desiderio. Preparing for summer, it has updated the downtown shopping area, repaired JFK Boulevard and built a new Welcome Center on JFK Boulevard to provide tourist information and beach tags. Water and sewage lines have been updated or replaced.

Don’t Miss: Free summer concerts on Saturday nights, crabbing at Ludlam Landing, Sea Isle City Historical Museum, guided beachcombing on Tuesdays and Thursdays, free outdoor movies in Excursion Park.

Beach Fee: Season, $25 ($20 before May 15). Weekly, $10. Daily, $5. Wednesdays (except July 4) and under 12, free.

Parking: Free and metered.

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Avalon
Exit 13
When Sandy Hit: The bridge that connects Avalon and Sea Isle City at Townsends Inlet was destroyed. The dune system protected the boardwalk and the town; only one home was declared a loss.

The Recovery: A rebuilt Ocean Drive Bridge is expected to be open before Memorial Day weekend. A major beach-fill replaced lost sand, according to public relations officer Scott Wahl.

Don’t Miss: Pirate Island Golf, shopping on Dune Drive, Avalon Mouse Trap, Greater Avalon Fishing Tournament, new September 11 memorial.

Beach Fee: Season, $26. Weekly, $12. Daily, $6. Under 12, free. Tags accepted in Stone Harbor

Parking: Free and metered.

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Stone Harbor
Exit N-6/S-10
When Sandy Hit: The business district along the bay was inundated with 3½ feet of water. The worst damage occured at Stone Harbor Elementary School, which reopened in March.

The Recovery: Most homes and businesses dried out after the storm with little additional damage. A beach fill should be completed before summer, and the Reeds at Shelter Haven, a new 37-room boutique hotel, is on target to open June 20.

Don’t Miss: Wetlands Institute, shopping on 96th street, Tee Time rooftop mini golf, Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream, Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary.

Beach Fee: Season, $26. Weekly, $12. Daily, $6. Under 12, free. Tags accepted in Avalon.

Parking: Free and metered.

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The Wildwoods
Exit N-4B/S-6
When Sandy Hit: Minimally damaged, the area’s motels and hotels were able to house many displaced residents from other parts of the Shore. Wildwood proper boasts a famously wide strand, which helped cushion the blow.

The Recovery: “In the scheme of things at the Shore, we needed a Band-Aid,” admits Wildwoods marketing representative Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt. North Wildwood enacted a sand-replenishment program to restore its beach. Some attractions and infrastructure along the boardwalk have been modernized. Expect new shade structures throughout Mariner’s Landing, renovations on the Zoom Phloom and Boat Tag attractions, and benches along the boardwalk equipped with smartphone QR codes and a Morey’s Piers app for free download. The Soggy Dollar Beach Bar is a new place to wet your whistle at Ocean Oasis Waterpark.

Don’t Miss: Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks, Ferris Wheel Breakfast in the Sky, SplashZone Waterpark, Curley’s Fries, Doo Wop Experience Museum, Restaurant Week (June 16-21), Wildwood Crest Sand Sculpting Festival (June 29), Anglesea Blues Festival (July 12-14), NJ State Crab Festival (July 20).

Beach Fee: Free.

Parking: Free and metered.

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Cape May
Exit 0
When Sandy Hit: McGlade’s on the Pier, a favorite breakfast spot, was badly damaged, and tons of sand washed onto Beach Avenue, but most of the area escaped harm.

The Recovery: McGlade’s has been repaired and will be dishing out French toast and bacon this summer.

Don’t Miss: Washington Street Mall, Cape May Whale Watch and Research Center, Cape May Bird Observatory, Cape May Lighthouse, Cape May County Zoo, Bay Springs Alpaca Farm, Emlen Physick Estate, Cape May Winery and Vineyard, Cape May Brewery, West Cape May Strawberry Festival (June 1), Harborfest (June 15), National Lifeguard Championship (August 7-10), Craft Beer & Crab Festival (August 10).

Beach Fee: Season, $25. Weekly, $15. Three-day pass, $10; daily, $5; Under 12, free. Delaware Bay beaches, free.

Parking: Free and metered.

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