The Jersey Shore is open and ready for business. A year after Hurricane Sandy, the 270 miles of shoreline along New Jersey’s coast have seen a resurgence in visitors. This past summer, most of the Jersey Shore’s shops and restaurants were open to travelers. In Monmouth County alone, which saw the brunt of Sandy’s wrath alongside neighboring Ocean County, nearly all the waterfront restaurants have reopened, with new ribbon cuttings almost weekly, attended by the likes of New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno.
“We have to celebrate that we’ve come this far,” says Bob Hilton, executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. A big reason for the Shore’s revitalization has been the arrival of 40,000 new travelers, from places like Virginia, New York, Ohio, Philadelphia and as far north as Canada, who’ve come out of a mixture of curiosity, support and travel discounts. Travelers are finding that, despite the number of displaced families and business that have yet to resettle in the area, the majority of the Shore’s tourism attractions are back up and running. In fact, some areas, such as Atlantic City, saw minimal damage and were open the day after Sandy’s touchdown.
So as news reports on Sandy’s 1-year anniversary saturate your newsfeed, we’ve sifted through the hysteria and the hype — here’s what travelers can really find in visiting the Jersey Shore’s 4 counties:
Home to 27 miles of oceanfront beaches, and 26 miles of bayfront beaches, Monmouth County encompasses Jersey Shore’s northernmost tip. Visit Monmouth’s 3 working lighthouses, including the oldest one in the US, Sandy Hook Lighthouse; enjoy a round of golf at 8 courses; and horse racing at Monmouth Park Racetrack. Popular restaurants in Highlands, NJ, include Bahrs Landing and Inlet Café (both on the waterfront), as well as Windansea, Chilangos and Havana Tropical Café. Plus stroll the revitalized Spring Lake, Belmar and Asbury Park boardwalks.
Despite a dip in its beach rental market, and the recent Seaside boardwalk fire, Ocean County has been coming back strong thanks to a packed festival season — October sees about 60 events happening throughout Ocean County, including, for the Halloween-minded, Fright Fest at Great Adventure and Haunted Seaport, as well as lively parades such as Toms River Halloween Parade — the biggest Halloween parade in the country, on Saturday, Oct. 26.
On the Jersey Shore’s southernmost tip, Cape May was largely unaffected by Sandy. Attractions include the Physick Estate, the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, and come Christmastime, the decoration of local bed-and-breakfasts, like the Queen Victoria, with different holiday themes. For New Year’s, the boardwalk will see 70 different entertainment venues, spread over 2 days, with plenty of fireworks and a New Year’s Day plunge into the Atlantic.
Everything is open in Atlantic City – it’s been that way since the day after Sandy hit shore. Among the highlights is the new Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville complex, which opened this past summer, as well as new stores in The Pier Shops at Caesars including Bare Feet Boutique, Shoe Be Do, Cellairis, BLO/OUT Blow Dry Bar, Auntie Ann’s and Cinnabon. Plus, you’ll find Empire Burger takeout on the Boardwalk, operated by Phillip’s Seafood. In addition, 5 new dining outlets opened at Tropicana’s Marketplace (on the boardwalk side). In Tropicana’s The Quarter, Broadway Burger Bar also opened.
What’s your favorite Jersey Shore attraction? Tell us in the comments box below.
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Visit the aristocrat of beaches, Cape May, New Jersey.
Discover the birthplace of Miss America, Historic Atlantic City.
Take a tour of the Jersey Shore’s Communities.