Highlights from a Jersey Shore vacation

    Last week was my shore vacation. It was a glorious trip filled with too much food and too much sun – meaning it was perfect.

    Our group included six 30-somethings, two four year olds, two one year olds and, for part of the trip, my 50-something mother. Here’s what we liked best.

    Ocean City. We picked this beach, not just because of the kids in the group, but because of the pricing on a rental on the beach. We found a large home on the 19th street block of the boardwalk – far enough away from the buzz of activity but close enough to it to make everyone happy. Mid-September, we paid less than a third of what they were asking for in-season. It was across the street from the beach, so the parents in our group didn’t need to lug everything to the beach, and they could take the little ones back for bathroom breaks and naps.

    Voltaco’s in Ocean City. We did a big takeout meal from this Italian spot on our first night in town. I’ve had their hoagies, but never dinner – it was delicious. Make sure you read serving sizes. My friend’s stuffed peppers was more than enough for both of us. 

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    Anchorage Tavern in Somer’s Point. On the one night our parent friends had a babysitter, we headed out to the Anchorage in Somer’s Point. Not only did they have Monday Night Football on big screen TVs, but the menu is so vast that everyone could find something, whether it was nachos or crab imperial. Reasonable pricing on food and drinks were a perk, too.

    Atlantic City Aquarium in Atlantic City. On the one crummy weather day, the kids (with their parents, of course), made a trip to Atlantic City to visit the aquarium. They learned about terrapins, clownfish (a.k.a. “NEMO!”) and stingrays. It’s not as big an aquarium as they’re used to (two of the kids live in Washington, DC area), but it did the trick for a non-beach day. 

    Lucy the Elephant in Margate. This was a stop on the way back to the aquarium, not only because one of the girls in our group is named Lucy, but also because who wouldn’t want to stop and visit a giant wooden elephant? 

    Wards Pastry in Ocean City. We made two trips to this Ocean City bakery: one for their jelly and cream doughnuts, and another for a birthday cake. Rousing successes on both counts. The donuts aren’t mega stuffed. Instead, they’re the perfect proportions of donut to jelly or cream, and just small enough to make eating two doable – and less guilt inducing. 

    Brown’s in Ocean City. Brown’s doughnuts are a different animal. They’re made hot, then dipping in toppings that you prefer. We bought two of each – cinnamon was my favorite. The best part about coming here in the off season: no need to wait in a line down running the boardwalk.

    Jilly’s Arcade in Ocean City. My mom and I took a walk down the boardwalk, and I had to stop at this arcade, which made a lot of money off me and my siblings in the 1990s. They have the latest and greatest at the front of the arcade, but go to the back where pinball and classic video games live. I quickly lost 50 cents trying to keep that silver ball going, but it was worth it.

    Jilly’s Ice Cream Factory in Ocean City. It’s not a shore vacation without ice cream, and I prefer mine as mint chocolate chip in a pretzel cone. The contrast of salty and sweet here is perfection. 

    Mike’s Seafood in Seal Isle. Our group made two big seafood dinners during the week: shrimp boil and jambalaya. The shrimp for both dishes came from Mike’s, which sells shrimp cooked, uncooked, cleaned and uncleaned. I like eating on their dock in the summer, but it was windy and chilly that day – plus, the shrimp boil (using local and fresh corn – my mom found it from Clinton Conover Farms in Cape May Court House) and jambalaya were delicious.

    Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in Ocean City. After we’d packed up, our group headed to this shore staple for pancakes, french toast, eggs and coffee – lots of coffee. It was the perfect cap to a nice week.

    Soon after we left, a storm blew in and dropped fall temperatures on the region. I love fall – the cooler temperatures, falling leaves, the approaching holidays. But I did feel a bit of a pang to let summer go, even one that was as hot as this one. 


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