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Best of the Shore 2011

by Peter Proko, Samantha Melamed, Michelle Spevak and Bill Donahue
It’s not officially summer until you’ve walked the boards in Wildwood, danced the night away in Avalon, gone antiquing in Cape May or snacked on the (arguably!) best Boardwalk pizza in Ocean City. So check out our all-you-can-eat, -dance, -shop and -play guide to the Shore done right. It just might be the best summer ever.

Beach Bites
We scoured the Boardwalk and beyond for classic snacks, casual eats and white-tablecloth dinners to bring you the very best food the Jersey Shore has to offer.

The Classics

The fact that this Wildwood institution is located across from Sam’s Pizza Palace on Morey’s Piers makes for one of the best one-two punches on the Boardwalk. The fresh crinkle-cut potatoes are as wide as your thumb, with just the right amount of grease and salt—perfect with a mix of ketchup and vinegar. 25th Street and the Boardwalk, Wildwood

Vying with saltwater taffy for the most popular Boardwalk confection, fudge is a timeless treat. That might be why, since 1925, folks have been satisfying their cravings at Douglass Fudge on Wildwood’s Boardwalk. The use of fresh cream and butter helps elevate the milky texture and taste of this Shore staple. Wildwood Avenue and the Boardwalk, Wildwood, (609) 522-3875

You know it’s summer when you first hear the sounds of the Shore in high season: Wiffle ball games, chat­ty shoobies, shrieking seagulls and calls of “FUDDDDDGY WUDDDDDGY, CHO­CO TAAAAACO.” The military veterans who spend their summers wheel­ing ice cream carts through the sand offer beachgoers the ideal way to cool down in the hot sun.

More than seven decades ago, Johnson’s popped onto the scene on Ocean City’s Boardwalk and loy­al followers have been filling buck­ets (piled high and without a lid) with the signature caramel corn ever since. For locals, a bucket of Johnson’s is as essential to a summer day as SPF30 and beach tags. 1368 Boardwalk, Ocean City, (800) 842-2676

This summer, expect the debate to rage on: Mack & Manco’s in Ocean City (Boardwalk at Ninth Street, 609-399-2548) versus Sam’s Pizza Palace in Wildwood (2600 Boardwalk, 609-522-6017). Fans of both will argue until their slices get cold about who makes the better pie. For our money, we’ll take ... BOTH!

Is there anything more perfect than a hand-scooped ice cream cone on a breezy summer evening? We think not. Which is why we head to Stone Harbor for a taste of Springer’s, worth battling the daily throngs for the variety of homemade flavors on tap. 9420 Third Ave., Stone Harbor, (609) 368-4631

Those who know flock to this candy shop for all things chocolate-dipped. Their 70 percent cocoa blend is drizzled over everything from almonds to cranberries, but true fans go for the specialty items like the Double Dip Mints: homemade mint patties dipped in dark chocolate, and coated in milk chocolate for good measure. 5115 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor, (609) 823-6501; 8018 Ventnor Ave., Margate, (609) 822-2204

There’s debate as to whether it was Joseph Fralinger or Enoch James who invented salt water taffy, but there’s no denying both helped popularize the iconic sweet that’s still a favorite more than 125 years later. James (25 96th St., Stone Harbor) and Fralin­ger’s (1100 Boardwalk, Ocean City) both serve up classic flavors like mo­lass­es, licorice and lemon in vintage-style boxes.

Technically, they serve more than just doughnuts at this Margate mainstay perched over the bay: for example, they’re well known for the frozen yogurt and hot dogs also on offer. But, it’s the spongy, sweet, deep-fried dough delicacies, an old-fashioned classic that comes either straight up or doused with sugar, that keep the hordes of locals coming back week after week. 9315 Amherst Ave., Margate City, (609) 823-8790

After selling off the two in-town locations last year, T&M owner Mary Bromhead sold her Boardwalk branch to Rowan grad and O.C. native Laura Idell. Now, fans can line up for these gooey delights for many summers to come. 972 Boardwalk, Ocean City, (609) 391-0113

Fried dough + powdered sugar = calorie overload. Who cares? You’re down the Shore. The pillows of goodness originated with the Pennsylvania Dutch and perfected at this Ocean City outpost are seriously addictive, even before adding toppings like cherries or chocolate. 908 Boardwalk, Ocean City, (609) 601-9710

Beyond the Boardwalk

The dining room is always packed, especially for breakfast. The French toast—thick-sliced brioche dipped in heavy cream, eggs and fresh orange juice and topped with almonds and powdered sugar—is our preferred way to start the day. 19 Jackson St., Cape May, (609) 884-5970

This particular wing of The Princeton in Avalon is known for upscale pub grub and quality cocktails. One of our favorite menu items is this clever take on the traditional reuben, in which the filet of fish is topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing and served between two pieces of grilled rye bread. 2008 Dune Drive, Avalon, (609) 967-3456

This baby back ribs at this Somers Point spot are given the royal treatment. Hand-selected for quality and cooked slow and low, this competition-worthy barbecue is charred and crisp on the outside, but tender and juicy in the middle. Grab some napkins and dig in. 135 Somers Point-Longport Blvd., Somers Point, (609) 788-4853

The baked goods at this Wildwood shop are so tasty that their legend extends far beyond the 609 area code. We love Britton’s other offerings, like the crumb cake, but the apple fritters are our hands-down favorite. And we’re not alone: former President Ronald Reagan once wrote the bakery a letter saying the same. 5600 Pacific Ave., Wildwood Crest, (609) 522-5600

There’s two things you can count on at Bageleddi’s in Ship Bottom: long lines and quality bagels. Luckily, they’re well staffed, so those lines move at a tolerable pace. Despite being a bit on the pricy side, these bagels sell out fast, so be sure to arrive early. 1714 E. 18th St., Ship Bottom, (609) 494-4761

Philadelphia Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan once lauded the crab cakes at this Avalon B.Y.O.B. as some of the best he’s tasted. It’s no wonder that the signature dish is available as an entrée or for takeout from the seafood counter. For those on the go, the wrap is a perfect way to enjoy this little taste of heaven in the palm of your hand. 503 21st St., Avalon, (609) 967-7553

Since 1954, Voltaco’s has been pleasing Ocean City residents and visitors alike with an array of Italian specialties (don’t miss their lasagna) and sandwiches. But special care goes into their homemade meatball sandwich and you can taste the tradition with every savory bite. 957 West Ave., Ocean City, (609) 399-0743

The sister restaurant of Marie Nicole’s in Wildwood Crest elevates the cheesesteak concept to a new level with this sandwich of thinly sliced beef served au jus on a brick oven-baked roll with sautéed broccoli rabe and roasted red peppers with provolone cheese. 7800 Dune Drive, Avalon, (609) 368-5505

If you’ve ever seen the line snaking down Jackson Street and around Beach Ave­nue, you can bet it’s for one of the hot dogs on the menu at this Cape May walkup. You can get your standard-issue beef frank here—but why would you? One-of-a-kind choices include the Tornado Dog, an all-beef Black Angus dog with mashed potatoes, chili, shredded cheddar, salsa, banana peppers and sour cream. 319 Beach Drive, Cape May, (609) 884-8388

Sometimes the only thing that can shake off an eventful night out down the Shore is a hearty, alcohol-absorb­ing breakfast. That’s when we turn to the Chegg. This one-of-a-kind egg sand­wich takes your typical egg, cheese and bacon combo and places it smack dab in the middle of two slices of French toast. ’Nuff said. 207 N. Bay Ave., Beach Haven, (609) 492-3695

Green Cuisine in Stone Harbor has given vegetarians a place to call their own, but even carnivores enjoy their stellar list of salads. You’ll find better-than-average Cobb and Caesar salads here, but we suggest going for the Middle Eastern sampler with hummus, tabouli and feta, or the mixed greens salad with French goat cheese. 302 96th St., Stone Harbor, (609) 368-1616

Who says you have to wait until November to relish an old-fashioned Thanksgiving dinner? At this Sea Isle City deli, you can dine Pilgrim-style anytime with this turkey sandwich stacked with homemade stuffing and generous amounts of gravy. 3900 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City, (609) 263-5500

Sure, you’ve had eggs and pancakes for breakfast before, but not like this. The Cyclops combines the best of both worlds by placing a fried egg in the center of a pancake. It blew away The Food Network’s Guy Fieri, and it will change the way you look at breakfast, too. There’s a reason this Barnegat Light go-to has garnered attention from the James Beard Foundation. Broadway at West Eighth Street, Barnegat Light, (609) 494-0155

The lobster roll is a New England staple, but Quahog’s version is making plenty of fans among Stone Harbor locals. Their buttery hot dog bun comes packed tight with lobster salad. The best place to enjoy this dish? Outside in the back garden. 206 97th St., Stone Harbor, (609) 368-6300

A short ride from Ocean City to Somers Point affords the chance to order up a bowl of clam chowder (both the Manhattan and New England versions hold their own) from Smitty’s. If you’re not a fan of soup in the summertime—well, good, that’s more for us. 910 Bay Ave., Somers Point, (609) 927-8783

A certain sports bar chain out of Philly may attempt to claim primacy, but this wildly popular menu item at The Whitebrier in Avalon has something undeniable going for it: actual crabmeat. Here, steak fries are covered in jumbo lump morsels and drizzles of Imperial sauce. 260 20th St., Avalon, (609) 967-5225


Chef/owner Stephen Se­rano, a West Deptford native, spent three years cooking in New York City for celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. And though Avalon may be a long way from Hell’s Kitch­en, you can taste the sophistication in Se­ra­no’s dish­es at this quaint B.Y.O.B. This particular fish dish is served with a sweet pea and pancetta ri­sotto, tomato chutney and a bright ginger carrot emulsion. 2288 Dune Drive, Avalon, (609) 967-8228

This Ventnor eatery promises “Italian with a twist,” and backs up that claim with dishes like this one. Here, veal medallions are sautéed with Grand Marnier and oranges and topped with velvety Fontina cheese. 141 N. Dorset Ave., Ventnor, (609) 822-1067

Husband-and-wife team Claude and Mary Pottier have a good thing going on in North Wildwood. Claude brings his mastery of French technique to the dinner menu, while Mary handles the breathtaking desserts like this piece of pie overflowing with fresh cut strawberries, sinful amounts of cream and an unforgettable sweetened crust. 100 New Jersey Ave., Wildwood, (609) 522-0400

These grilled mini burgers are made up of Kobe-style beef, producing some of the most tender, juicy and flavorful patties in Wildwood. Topped with cara­melized onions, shredded lettuce and tomato, the burgers are truly made complete with a dollop of chipotle ketchup. 101 E. Taylor Ave., Wildwood, (609) 522-8383

Only a handful of people have ever known the century-old recipe to this soup. Even the special cooking spoon used to prepare it is kept in a safe, in a level of unprecedented security. Thankfully, you don’t need any special clearance to eat it, but it is only available on Sundays and Tuesdays, so plan accordingly. 8700 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City, (609) 263-8626

One of Cape May’s most highly regarded restaurants, The Virginia Ho­tel’s Ebbitt Room has an especially notable dessert menu. This chocolate lava cake with raspberry beet sauce is a nice way to end an extravagant meal—or perhaps to kick-start an evening of romance. 25 Jackson St., Cape May, (609) 884-5700

Located at Cape May’s Hotel Alcott, La Verandah has a reputation for unique takes on fine-dining classics. That’s the case with this dish, a theatrical take on seafood, pan-seared in brandy with a touch of chive cream. It’s like tasting your favorite dish for the first time all over again. 107 Grant St., Cape May, (609) 884-5868

Who says you need to go to Baltimore to get good crabs? In Manahawkin, you’ll find all the taste and authen­ticity of the Charm City with a much more pleas­ing ambience. Strap on your plastic bib and get cracking: it’s going to get messy, just the way it should be. 1185 E. Bay Ave., Manahawkin, (609) 978-3660

The New York Times raved about the fine Northern Italian fare here. We can’t help but agree, especially when it comes to this pièce de résistance. Lobster, shrimp, calamari, clams and snails poached in garlic broth are served with jala­pe­ños and sun-dried tomatoes over a bed of squid ink tagliatelle. 357 W. Eighth St., Ship Bottom, (609) 494-4343

Getting a table here can be a challenge—but when we do, we go for the clam bake. A one-pound lobster, steamed clams, shrimp, mussels, red skin potato and corn on the cob make up this seafood lover’s dream. 906 Schellengers Landing Road, Cape May, (609) 884-8296

Marie Nicole’s is popular with locals for its stellar New American menu and credible wine list. Grab a bottle and dive into a dish of pasta tubes mingling with jumbo lump crabmeat and asparagus in gorgonzola cream sauce, finished with a touch of crispy prosciutto. 9510 Pacific Ave., Wildwood Crest, (609) 522-5425

Tomatoe’s is known for offering a little bit of everything, from pasta to sushi, but it’s this spice-rubbed prime chop cook­ed to perfection that really sings. Serv­ed alongside gnocchi in cinna­mon-browned butter sauce and sliced mango, it’s a meal as memorable as it is delicious. 9300 Amherst Ave., Margate, (609) 822-7535

With such a refined menu, you may be tempted to skip the offerings from the oyster bar at Steve and Cookie’s. But, trust us, nothing speaks to summer more than a dozen of these local oysters on the half shell. It’s the perfect way to start your meal or snack while sitting at the slick bar area. 9700 Amherst Ave., Margate City, (609) 823-1163

In this tiny, unassuming corner restaurant in Ventnor, you’ll find some of the most ethereal sushi at the Shore—or anywhere, for that matter. The creative, caviar-topped rolls and perfect cuts of toro sashimi resting on a banana leaf, make this a spot worthy of repeat visits. It’s high-end food without the stuffy pretense. What more could you ask for? 5305 Atlantic Ave., Ventnor, (609) 822-8007

What do you get when you combine a flour tortilla, duck confit and jicama slaw? One of the most inventive first courses around. The flavorful duck is complemented by a ja­la­peño jam that has the consistency of relish and just the right amount of heat. And just to make sure nothing’s wasted; cracklings of duck skin are sprinkled through­out, al­low­ing for varying textures. 9836 Third Ave., Stone Harbor, (609) 368-1000

Chef Chris Hu­bert’s charmingly atmos­phe­­ric Cape May eatery has walls lined with pictures of the town’s history, but his menu is ex­treme­ly current. A perfect illustration is this plate of delicate pockets stuffed with lobster meat served alongside a citrus sa­lad and a sesame soy dipping sauce. 1 Sunset Blvd., Cape May, (609) 898-0100


Martini Beach’s patio overlooking the ocean is one of the best vantage points in Cape May to enjoy a cocktail. We’re partial to the Dark and Stormy, an original recipe mixing Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, Gosling’s Black Seal rum, fresh lemon and ginger soda. 429 Beach Ave., Cape May, (609) 884-1925

When venturing to the Bashful Banana Bakery on the Ocean City Boardwalk, be sure to order up one of these cold, creamy favorites made entirely of pureed frozen bananas. With an ice cream-like consistency, it’s one of the more unique Shore foods. 946 Boardwalk, Ocean City, (609) 398-9677

For more than 40 years, “Wildwood’s favorite summertime drink” has been enjoy­ed by scores of Shore visitors. The concoction of fresh-squeezed lime and seltzer comes in six varieties including cherry and grape. We prefer to quench our thirst with the original flavor. 3409 Boardwalk, Wildwood, (609) 231-6039

This casual hangout is a go-to spot for many Cape May residents because of its family-friendly atmosphere and solid light fare. But the lemonade is, of course, the standout. Fresh-squeezed daily, it’s crisp, re­freshing and an essential summertime beverage. 101 Liberty Way, Cape May, (609) 884-2704

Trying to find good beer amid the oceans of Miller Lite down the Shore was nearly impossible not that long ago. Thankfully, Wildwood’s Good Night Irene’s came along and brought the craft beer revolution to the coastline. Nearly 40 taps pour the likes of Victory, Flying Fish, Stone and Terrapin. Belly up to the wrap-around bar where the very knowledgeable Charles will pour you a perfect pint or serve up a flight for the indecisive. 2708 Pacific Ave., Wildwood, (609) 729-3861

A Day at the Beach
Weekends at the Shore are about four things: eating, drinking, shopping and playing. Here’s where to do it in high style.

Dining Out
The Shore is way more than just funnel cakes and soft-serve ice cream. From Long Beach Island to Cape May, our beach towns are studded with upscale eateries that prove A.C. isn’t the only fine-dining destination on our coast.

FOR STARTERS: Cape May’s Washington Inn (801 Washington St., 609-884-5697), boasts five dining areas and a stellar menu: start with the seasonable goat cheese and asparagus spring rolls. Closer to the beach at Peter Shields Inn (1301 Beach Drive, 609-884-9090), the Hudson Valley foie gras with pineapple brioche pudding, vanilla Port syrup and coconut foam is a sophisticated starter. Sweet Vidalia (122 N. Bay Ave., Beach Haven, 609-207-1110), is LBI’s only tapas restaurant, known for dishes like braised beef flatbread with Manchego and mustard aioli. Across town, The Engleside Inn’s Leeward Room, (30 Engleside Ave., Beach Haven, 609-492-1251) gives crispy fried tiger prawns a kick with a Thai chili sauce. Harvey Cedars is where you’ll find crispy blue point oysters with smoked chili glaze at The Plantation (7908 Long Beach Blvd., 609-494-8191). Over in Stone Harbor, The Back Yard (220 81st St., 609-368-2627), whets the appetite with a turn­over filled with jumbo lump crabmeat, wild mushrooms and brie.

FOR SEAFOOD: When it comes to seafood, we head to Avalon for the Saturday special at The Diving Horse: stuffed soft-shell crab served with avocado salad and a fiery romesco sauce (2109 Dune Drive, 609-368-5000). Or, we go down the road to sample the lobster pot pie from Fuze (7888 Dune Drive, 609-368-1919) or the mahi mahi encrusted in pine nuts and coriander from Sorella Rose (700 First Ave., 609-967-7708). You’ll also find us enjoying Sea Grill’s lazy lightning scallops—broiled scallops topped with bacon crumbles and horseradish sauce (225 21st St., 609-967-5511). LBI’s hip boutique hotel Daddy O (4401 Long Beach Blvd., Harvey Cedars, 609-494-7051), is mod­ern in design, and so is the restaurant’s menu, thanks to items like the shiitake mushroom-crusted cod served with a saff­ron-chorizo-mussel risotto. Down in Margate, Johnny’s Café (9407 Vent­nor Ave., 609-822-1789) favors salmon over beef when it comes to a classic Wellington.

FOR?GOURMANDS: At Spiaggia e Luna (696 E. Bay Ave., 609-660-2000) in Barnegat, the two five-ounce filet mignon steaks wrapped in prosciutto are a carnivore’s fantasy. What Ocean City lacks in white tablecloth dining is made up for with one bite of the fresh lasagna at Pino’s Grille and Trattoria (3401 Asbury Ave., 609-399-5755). Stone Harbor offers reason to celebrate with the chicken Champagne—a chicken breast with artichokes and mushrooms in a light Champagne cream sauce—at Ristorante Luciano (9820 Third Ave., 609-967-9115). Italian food lovers can satisfy their cravings with the roasted chicken Milanese from Sea Isle City’s Braca Café (18 Kennedy Blvd., 609-263-4271). In Wildwood, Gia’s pork chop comes with fresh mozzarella and a medley of long hot and roasted peppers (3001 Pacific Ave., 609-729-5959).

FOR DESSERT: Away from the boardwalks, you’ll find much more sophisticated ice cream sandwiches at Cape May’s Union Park Dining Room (727 Beach Ave., 609-884-8811). These French meringue cookies are filled with Nutella ice cream and come with a salted caramel sauce. The Gables (212 Centre St., 609-492-3553), over in Beach Haven serves up an addictive banana and white chocolate bread pudding, and La Piazza Cucina (4600 Pacific Ave., 609-522-8300) in Wildwood offers an authentic tartufo. Margate’s Manna (8409 Vent­nor Ave., 609-822-7722) is known for Grammy’s pecan pie, a flaky homemade treat the recipe for which is protected under lock and key.

Back home, the chances you’d find yourself bopping along to Bob Mar­ley with a foot-long piña colada in hand range from slim to, well, none. But that’s the beauty of nightlife down the Shore. So forget your normal and check out these ocean-side happy hours stocked with live blues bands, as well as rocking dance parties and outstanding cocktails.

FOR HAPPY HOUR: We’re pretty sure the term “happy hour” originated on the Shore, with a frozen drink in hand after a hot summer day on the beach—after all, what could be happier than that? Get in the festive mood at Flip Flopz Beach Bar and Grill in North Wildwood (300 New Jersey Ave., 609-522-3350), which offers drink specials Mon­day through Thursday, 4 to 7 p.m., and a Friday happy hour with half-price appetizers. For a cocktail overlooking the ocean, The Windrift in Avalon (80th Street and the Beach, 609-368-5175), also hosts a great hap­py hour Monday, Wednesday and Thurs­day, 4 to 6 p.m., with discounted appetizers and $3 domestic pints. Stop by Joe Pop’s Shore Bar and Restaurant in Long Beach Island (2002 Long Beach Blvd., Ship Bottom, 609-494-0558), where happy hour lasts for a whole afternoon. Specials run every day from 3 to 7 p.m., including $5 personal pitchers and $5 appetizers. For an all-around good time, Ventura’s Greenhouse in Margate (106 S. Benson Ave., 609-822-0140) offers half-price appetizers every day from 3 to 6 p.m. (3 to 5 p.m. on weekends) and after 9 p.m., with different drink specials each night. And Fred’s Tavern in Stone Harbor (314 96th St., 609-368-5591) features half-price appetizers and $3 beers, 3 to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

FOR LIVE?ENTERTAINMENT: There is no shortage of live entertainment down the Shore. Kick back at Avalon’s Windrift (105 80th St., 609-3686-5175), where you can hear jazz in the Blue Wave Lounge, check out the piano bar in the Signature Lounge, and sing and dance to party bands and DJs performing all summer at the Beach Bar and Deck. Not far away is the town’s other nightlife megaplex, The Princeton (2008 Dune Drive, 609-967-3456), where you can check out live bands in the Rock Room and DJs in the main room and Circle Tavern. If you’re in Cape May, start your evening at the Brown Room at Congress Hall (251 Beach Drive, 609-884-8421), an elegant cocktail lounge that features acoustic live music. Then, move the party downstairs to The Boiler Room, Congress Hall’s sleek nightclub, which regularly hosts live bands for raucous dance parties. If you’d rather go brogue, head on over to O’Donnell's Pour House in Sea Isle City (3907 Landis Ave., 609-263-5600), where there’s live Irish music every Tuesday and live bands every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Also in town, Ocean Drive (3915 Landis Ave., 609-263-1000) turns into Sea Isle’s biggest dance party with loads of live bands. Although Ocean City is a dry town, just over the bridge is the newly opened restaurant Baia (998 Bay Ave., Somers Point, 609-926-9611), which features live bands on Friday and Saturday nights and reggae on Sunday nights, all playing on the outside deck overlooking the bay. At Maynard’s Café in Margate (9306 Amherst Ave, 609-822-8423) you can get down to the tunes of a DJ or live band on their outdoor dance floor. (That is, of course, if you’re not at Memories, (9518 Amherst Ave., Margate, 609-823-2196), grooving with the Geator, Jerry Blavat, to oldies jams.) And at Wildwood’s Westy’s Irish Pub (101 E. Walnut Ave., 609-522-4991), you can dance to live music in the downstairs pub or relax on the deck overlooking the ocean.

FOR COCKTAILS: If you’re in the mood to cool down with a margarita or strawberry daiquiri, head to Harpoon Henry’s in North Cape May (91 Beach Drive, 609-886-5529) and try one (or a few) of their 250 frozen drinks from one of their three bars. If you’re looking for a more chic nighttime experience, Daddy O on Long Beach Island (4401 Long Beach Blvd, Brant Beach, 609-494-1300), is where you’ll find signature drinks such as the James Bond, with Bombay Sapphire gin, vodka and Lillet, shaken and served straight up with a lemon twist. The sleek bar or tranquil deck make the perfect setting for such a work of mixology. For early starters, Kix-Mc­Nut­ley’s in Sea Isle City (6300 Landis Ave., 609-263-6341) offers mimosas, Bloody Mary’s and frozen cocktails on weekdays and Saturdays starting at 9 a.m. and Sundays at noon. Or, for the most idyllic of all drink options, pull up by boat to Crabby Jack’s, part of the Crap Trap in Somers Point (2 Broadway, 609-927-7377), and sample a Malibu Coco Cosmo, consisting of Malibu coconut rum, triple sec, pomegranate and cranberry juice. We’ll drink to that!

Some go down the Shore for the sand, others for the sun. And some just go for the swag. From hand-made soaps in Cape May to preppy-chic styles in Stone Harbor, to Ocean City souvenirs so kitschy they’re cool again, there are plenty of one-of-a-kind goodies to be had. Here’s our short-list of seaside shopping stops.

FOR GIFTS: After enduring the harsh abuse of sun, sand and surf, (lazy weekends at the Shore can be oh so taxing), the first stop is Cape May for Bath Time (318 Washington St., 609-884-9234), well stocked with lotions and scrubs; Good Scents (327 Carpenters Lane, 609-884-0014), with its bath and body goods, home frangrances and candles; and A Place on Earth (526 Washington St., 609-898-0039), the local answer to Lush with its piles of homemade soaps and body scrubs. If you’re seeking the perfect notecards for sending out weekend invites, drop by Butterfly Boutique (943 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, 609-391-0812), where they also carry Melissa and Doug toys, or head to the Paper Chase (8000 Ventnor Ave., Margate, 609-822-4583) for stationery and other items.

FOR HIGH FASHION: For designer looks, start at the Margate satellite of Philly’s uber-high end women’s store Knit Wit (8001 Ventnor Ave., 609-822-9442), or head to Stone Harbor for stylish clothing and accessories at Skirt (272 96th St., 609-948-4912). Other fashion-forward destinations include Global Pursuit (262 96th St., Stone Harbor, 609-368-5556), which presents lines “with a conscience” from Toms to Vineyard Vines to Trina Turk swimwear. For gents, Hassis Men’s Shop (28th Street and Dune Drive, Avalon, 609-967-3234) promises Tommy Bahama wares, along with custom attire and suiting. Also in Avalon, Boutique Bellissima (264 21st St., 609-967-4343) is well stocked with Tory Burch sandals and other irresistable extras. Pick up Brighton accessories at Marcellina Boutique (5316 Boardwalk, Wildwood, 609-729-7528), or try on a party dress at Ideal Fashions, (4110 Landis Ave., Sea Isle, 609-486-6328). In Long Beach Island, Talk of the Walk (11101 Long Beach Blvd., Haven Beach, 609-492-6500) offers high-style day and evening wear. Or head to Ocean City, where Colette (900 Asbury Ave., 609-525-0911) deals in easygoing designer wares from the likes of Betsey Johnson.

FOR CASUAL CLOTHING: Make the mandatory trip to Sand Jamm (2701 Boardwalk, Wildwood, 609-522-4650) for sportswear, sandals and gear for men, women and kids, or try Tropics in LBI for Crocs and colorful resortwear to match (Schooner’s Wharf, Beach Haven, 609-492-4455). In Margate, Cameo Water Wear (9319 Ventnor Ave., 609-822-5230) is the go-to spot for swimsuits, while Stone Harbor’s Rompapparel (221-225 96th St., 609-368-9494) has plenty of sporty items for a day in the surf.

FOR SOUVENIRS: Swing by The Bag Room, (700 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, 609-938-0691) for a “local” or “shoobie” sweatshirt, or try Coconuts (Schooner’s Wharf, Beach Haven, 609-492-3711) for essential LBI apparel and blankets. For marine-inspired trinkets, books and more, the Whale’s Tale (312 Washington Street, Cape May, 609-884-4808) is a standby; their upscale offshoot, Splash, (513 Carpenters Lane, 609-846-7100), offers jewelry and other items.

FOR SHORE-HOUSE WARES: Whether you’re seeking hostess gifts or looking to update your own beach house, start at Armadillo Ltd., (2761 Dune Drive, Avalon, 609-368-3000), which carries tableware from Chilewich, Mary Jurek and others. If shabby chic is your bag, try the Gingham Whale (636 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, 609-391-0996) for cottage-style an­tiques, baskets and ceramics. In Cape May, Wanderlust (609 Jefferson St., 609-884-0488) captivates devotees with rattan chairs, area rugs and all things beachy, while SOMA NewArt Gallery (31 Perry St., 609-898-7488) brings sophistication in the form of works by regional artists. For kitchen wares—and gourmet groceries to boot—stop by the Cook’s Shoppe (2910 Boardwalk, Wildwood, 609-522-9001). Or, if you’re in Long Beach Island, let DreamMakers concierge drop off linens, groceries, beach chairs and anything else you may need (908-731-1174). In Margate, swing by Giovanni’s (7 S. Granville Ave., 609-487-0064), which has been selling fine linens and handkerchiefs since 1927. Or, in Stone Harbor, pick up hanging plants and container gardens, at the Wayward Gardener (9712 Third Ave., 609-368-2010), or furniture and folk art at Frog and Toad (9500 Third Ave., 609-368-2800).

FOR GEAR: Whether you’re looking to hang 10 or you don’t want to lift a finger, the Shore’s myriad equipment and rental shops have you covered. Heritage Surf & Sport (3700 Landis Ave., Sea Isle City, 609-263-3033), with outposts in Ocean City and Margate, carries a wide range of boards, in­clud­ing their own line, hand-shaped in house. On LBI, look to Farias Surf & Sport (28th Street and Long Beach Boulevard, Ship Bot­tom, 609-494-7368), for surfboards, kay­aks, bikes and other gear to buy or rent. If you prefer dry land, Hollywood Bike Shop (2522 Dune Dr., Avalon, 609-967-5846) offers bicycles, surreys and jog strollers for the boardwalk, plus chairs and umbrellas. And in Cape May, Steger’s will serve you beachside with tents, beach chairs and other essentials (609-884-3058).

Rainy-Day Attractions
When the sunshine gives way to rainclouds, you could take in a summer blockbuster at the Strand movie house or head to the nearest Atlantic bookstore to pick up a bestseller. But there are way more options than books and board games. From arts and culture to exotic animals and wine tours, these alternative activities will make soggy days as fun as, well, a day at the beach.

FOR THE FAMILY: In the mood for a show? Head to the Surflight Theatre (Engleside and Beach avenues, Beach Haven, 609-492-9477), one of South Jersey’s premier professional theaters. For the 2011 summer season, theater productions include Rent, starring Justin Guarini of American Idol fame, and Art starring Judd Hirsch from Numb3rs and Taxi. There’s also Cape May Stage (31 Perry St., Cape May, 609-884-1341), which runs performances nightly at 8 p.m. and matinees on weekends. In addition to main-stage productions, the theater runs a raft of “Second Stage” magic shows, cabaret acts and original works by local emerging artists. If aviation is your thing, check out the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Mu­seum (500 Forrestal Road, Cape May Airport, 609-886-8787). The museum boasts nearly 30 aircraft displays, as well as exhibits of military memorabilia, engines, photographs and much more. Also, The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia has provided NAS Wildwood with a wealth of interactive exhibits that allow visitors to truly discover the science of flight.
Although many of its more than 550 animal species are housed in outdoor exhibits, Cape May County Park and Zoo (4 Moore Road, Cape May Court House, 609-465-5271) has ample indoor facilities to make it a favorite rainy-day destination for shore-goers. Animal lovers with a fondness for sea life can venture to the Wetlands Institute (1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor, 609-368-1211), which has an aquarium and “teacher’s tank” with live horseshoe crabs and sea stars, as well as Terrapin Station, dedicated to the troubled diamondback terrapin, a native species of turtle. And don’t forget the nonprofit Marine Mam­mal Stranding Center (3625 Brigantine Blvd., Brigantine, 609-266-0538), which welcomes visitors to explore 25 life-size replicas of marine mammals and fish, all found in New Jersey waters or stranded on its beaches.

FOR THE KIDS: Energetic kids will busy their hands and minds at the Jersey Shore Children’s Museum (6725 Black Horse Pike, Egg Harbor Township, 609-645-7741). Here, children can enjoy hands-on imaginative play in settings like a TV newsroom, a construction zone and a basketball court, complete with auth­entic props and clothing. For hands-on entertainment of a different sort, rainy-day destination Island Studio (96th Street, Harbor Square Mall, Stone Harbor, 609-368-6500) lets kids get creative by making and painting their own pottery, from dog bowls to dinnerware. And although mini-golf is rarely a rainy-day sport, it can be at Medieval Fantasy Miniature Golf (1336 Boardwalk, Ocean City, 609-938-0579). This indoor/outdoor course, which is situated on a rooftop between 13th and 14th streets on the Boardwalk, steers golfers through a series of fantasy-themed holes under the eerie glow of black lights.

FOR THE GROWN-UPS: South Jersey’s fin­est vineyards offer inviting tours, tastings and the chance to learn why local soil and weather make ideal growing conditions for vinifera grapes. Tast­ing rooms at Turdo Vineyards and Win­e­ry (3911 Bayshore Road, North Cape May, 609-884-5591), Cape May Winery and Vine­yard (711 Townbank Road, Cape May, 609-884-1169), Hawk Haven Vineyard and Winery, (600 S. Railroad Ave., Rio Grande, 609-846-7347) and Natali Vineyards (221 N. Delsea Drive, Cape May Courthouse, 609-465-0075) give oeno­philes access to a wide assortment of award-winning varietals under the win­eries’ respective house labels.
The Noyes Museum of Art (733 Lily Lake Road, Oceanville, 609-652-8848), a partner of the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, provides exceptional arts education activities—including adult workshops—and a collection of fine art and crafts with an emphasis on regional artists. Meanwhile, the Atlantic Heritage Cen­ter (907 Shore Road, Somers Point, 609-927-5218) has been cataloging local nostalgia items dating back to 1913, amassing more than 20,000 objects in its museum collection. It’s also within walk­ing distance of the circa 1725 Som­ers Mansion (1000 Shore Road, Somers Point, 609-927-2212), the oldest house standing in Atlantic County.
Inclement weather presents the perfect opportunity to explore Wildwood’s allure beyond just the sun and surf. At the George F. Boyer Historical Museum (3907 Pacific Ave., Holly Beach Mall, Wildwood, 609-523-0277), visitors can learn through vintage photographs and memorabilia how builders and architects carved Wildwood out of the sand. There’s also the Doo Wop Museum (Ocean Ave., between Burk and Montgomery Aves., Wildwood) a partial reincarnation of the famous Surfside Restaurant from the 1960s tended by the Doo Wop Preservation League. The museum is alive with neon lights, vintage signs and other paraphernalia documenting the small city’s recent history.

Rise and Dine
Ever wonder what it would be like to eat breakfast 160 feet above sea level??Well, thanks to Morey’s Piers, you can now find out. On select dates, they’re offering breakfast on the Ferris wheel. Two to four people can sample al fresco morning meals like a shrimp and lobster omelet while soaring in circles. Reservations are required, and pricing starts at $85 for two people. Call (609) 846-1624 for details.

Same Face, New Place
After five decades pleasing crowds in Cape May, the folks at Carney’s have opened a second location in Stone Harbor, taking over the former location of the White Heron Grill. Look for family-friendly, casual dining and plenty of live music at night. 9628 3rd Ave., Stone Harbor, (609) 796-5137

Time To Make The Doughnuts
From one Ocean City to another, a little taste of our Maryland neighbor is coming to the Jersey Shore, with the debut of The Fractured Prune, a shop whose doughnuts were lauded by Travel and Leisure as America’s best. The hook here is that customers can create their own yellow cake doughnut from a selection of 11 toppings and 15 glazes. 1225 Asbury Ave., Ocean City, (609) 399-0482

Something Brewing
We hear Cape May Brewing Co. is working to ready their new home for craft beer tastings and tours. Look for the fresh brews this summer.

What’s in store
Fans of revered designers like Robert Rodriguez, Tibi and Rebecca Taylor have a brand new home away from home in Avalon at Per Lei Boutique, the offshoot of a favorite Media, Pa., shopping destination. 2521 Dune Drive, 609-368-2929

Readers’ Picks

Lifeguards: Long Beach Island

Miniature Golf: Pirate Island Golf

Amusement Rides: Morey’s Piers

Waterpark: Splash Zone

Boardwalk: Ocean City

Ice Cream: Kohr Bros.

Fudge: Country Kettle Fudge

Pizza: Sam’s Pizza Palace

French Fries: Curley’s Fries

Hot Dog: Maui’s Dog House

Doughnut: Brown’s Restaurant

Breakfast: Uncle Bill’s Pancake House

Appetizers: Tomatoe’s

Seafood: The Lobster House

Italian: La Spiaggia

BYOB: La Verandah

Day Trip: Cape May Zoo

Waterview Dining: Boathouse Restaurant

Romantic Spot: Sunset Beach

Bed and Breakfast: Peter Shields Inn

Shopping District Stone Harbor

Fishing Charter: Starlight Fleet

Surf Shop: Ron Jon Surf Shop

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 3 (June, 2011).
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