advertisement

While the Hamptons and Long Island get all the attention for the New York-area beach scene, the New Jersey Shore, from Margate to Atlantic City to Cape May, has beautiful beaches, great boardwalks, and charming shore towns. If you like gambling, Jersey's got it. Boogie boarding? Jersey's got it. Great seafood? Jersey again. The nightlife hops, the people are friendly, the town's preppy. They even have regattas and of course, the Boss, Bruce Springsteen hails from Freehold, a New Jersey shore town. So, instead of wrestling that Hamptons traffic and having trouble getting a seat in fast food joints let alone fine cuisine spots, join the Soprano lovers and Bon Jovi fans in New Jersey.

First things first, check out the beach guide at www.virtualnjshore.com/beachguide.html to get a rundown on which Jersey beaches offer which water sports and frolic activities. The page lists all the Jersey beaches and tells you what beaches have good surfing, a boardwalk, or rafting. More importantly, you can get insight into the atmosphere at select locations to figure out if it's good for the entire family, couples, singles, locals or a quiet getaway. The rest of the site gives some basic information on most of the areas and a closer look into the different sights to see. Some links are broken, so be careful maneuvering.

Getting to the Jersey shore is as easy as flying into the New York area. You'll get a head start on the shore traffic by flying into Newark Airport in Newark, New Jersey. Some specials into the Newark area include a domestic getaway fare for next weekend from Chicago O'Hare from $139. Even better, flights into New York LaGuardia Airport on American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) start from $99 round-trip from Detroit and $149 from St. Louis, making a quick weekend trip to the Jersey Shore accessible and affordable. Departures are good from Friday June 10, 2005 or Saturday, June 11, 2005. Check the website for details on the restrictions or any changes to the last-minute web fares. Summer fare sales on American are also a great bet. Purchase online by June 9, 2005 and travel up to November 8, 2005 to receive savings such as $238 from Chicago, $268 from Dallas, $198 from Miami, and $268 from Raleigh/Durham, before taxes, all round-trip into Newark.

Now, where to go? Atlantic City casinos and the neighboring beach towns Margate and Ventnor are known for their summer beach and young people scenes. College kids are everywhere as are seasoned gamblers enjoying the buffets and free drinks. Some incredible mid-week deals start from $105 per night at the Trump Casino and $149 for the brand new ultra-luxurious Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa can be had at www.cityatlantic.com (tel. 888/963-8221). The site also has a comprehensive listing of concerts such as Stevie Nicks, Johnny Mathis and Van Morrison and events. The boardwalk in Atlantic City is a must see and you foodies must hit the White House Sub Shop (tel. 609/345-1564) for the best cheese steak outside of Philly. For the best beach scene around, try Margate, which is just a twenty-minute drive.

For a quieter, calmer trip to the Jersey Shore, Cape May is a preppy area filled with old school fisherman and Victorian mansions. For deals at some of the inns and bed and breakfasts in town, go to http://greatcapemayinns.com a gateway that leads you directly to the home pages of the inns themselves. For example, a room at the Mainstay Inn (tel. 609/884-8690; www.mainstayinn.com/mainstay.htm) has summer rates beginning at $180 and goes up to $320 for a cottage. The quaint inn is right in the middle of town and offers plenty of local specials and promotions on carriage rides and meals. Cape May is the jewel of the Jersey Shore, a little slice of charm amidst distinctly different neighboring towns relying on miniature golf and arcades to attract families and groups of kids. You can get maps and directions at http://greatcapemayinns.com/directions.html for your Cape May experience.

Talk about the Garden State on our New Jersey Message Boards today.