Five for the Road
Wildwood, Ocean City and Long Beach Island may be the stars of the Jersey Shore, but many lesser-known and smaller towns, such as these five, shine for their own reasons.
- Elissa Leibowitz Poma
BEST FOR: Those yearning for the days when parasol-carrying ladies in bustled dresses strolled the boardwalk and nodded at gentlemen.
WHY GO: Okay, so parasols went the way of the knee-length bathing suit eons ago. But the architecture of those Victorian days lives on, both in the houses and B&Bs and in the small touches along the boardwalk, including Victorian-style streetlamps and pavilions. Borough activities are delightful and family-friendly, including sewing classes and a free sand-castle contest.
INFO: 732-502-4510, www.avon-by-the-sea.com.
BEST FOR: Students of the do-nothing-and-love-it school of vacationing.
WHY GO: The central stretch of Jersey coast is primo real estate, and town planners in Bay Head took great pains to preserve its ultra-small-village feel. When a utility company tried to bring electricity into town way back when, the mayor and council chopped down poles and snipped electrical wires, according to local legend. Today, about the most exciting things to do in town are watch ducks and other fowl cruise the saltwater Twilight Lake, go crabbing, and take in the local art galleries and antiques shops. The town has a handful of inns, plus rental houses.
INFO: Bay Head Business Association (run out of a local gallery), www.bayhead.org.
BEST FOR: Type A desk jockeys who desperately need a week by the sea but get restless after a few days.
WHY GO: Brigantine gives you the best of both worlds - a relaxed pace with the excitement of Atlantic City casinos just six miles south and a nearby seaside golf course. The beaches on the northern end have a New England feel, with rickety fences and sand dunes coiffed with sea grass. There's not a huge stock of lodging: The chamber of commerce Web site lists three motels, a B&B and a trio of condominium resort rentals; rental properties are also available through owners and real estate agencies.