By: Anne M. Raso
Wildwood, NJ, has long been known as one of the more well-kept towns on the Jersey shore, with the cleanest beaches (all free to the public) and the largest amount of kiddie rides for the eight and under crowd (not that there aren't several adult thrill rides on the three Morey's Piers jutting off the world-famous boardwalk). Keeping with the times, the town has updated some of its numerous "doo wop architecture" motels into a baby boomer heaven (there's even a free trolley tour that goes around from motel to motel on weekends that you can catch at the Doo Wop Cafe, directly across from the Wildwood Convention Center, and other locations).
Breakfast In The Sky. This unique dining concept was thought of by Will Morey, Sr., the late proprietor of Morey's Piers, back in the mid-90s but was not used as a regular operation until two years ago--and is only available in the months of July and August.
~Other Treats~Adjacent to the Mariner's Landing Pier--right next to the aforementioned ferris wheel--is Raging Waters, one of the cleanest and most family-oriented water parks we have been, too. There's the Little Dipper Pool for toddlers, the Fountain Pool for family relaxation and the Shotgun Falls drop slides (for expert swimmers only) but our favorite is the crowd-pleasing Endless River. Just grab a single or double clear swimming tube and float up and downstream at your leisure.
moreyspiers.com. The greatest value, not surprisingly, is on season passes. Morey's has a second waterpark called the Ocean Oasis Water Parks Beach Club and wristbands allow visitors to go to both parks for one price.
~*~*~*~*~Aside from the constant upgrading of Morey's Piers, the Wildwood Boardwalk has not changed much in the past fifty years. The local hotels/motels are proud of their "doo wop" culture and the official theme song--Bobby Rydell's 1963 hit "Wildwood Days"--plays every morning at 11 am after the National Anthem by Kate Smith.
~*~*~*~*~Our top Wildwood hotel pick is the StarLux at the intersection of Rio Grande and Atlantic Avenues, close to the Convention Center and famous "WILDWOODS" signs (yes, that is PLURAL because it is the border between Northern Wildwood and just plain ol' Wildwood). The 1950s "space age" decor includes a lava lamp in each room, a kidney-shaped pool with blaring rock and roll classics from 1957 to 1973, a retro "rec room" where a free breakfast is served from 8 to 10 each morning, and an "ice cube" wall in each bathroom.
www.thestarlux.com or call 609-522-7412. As a side note, the kind folks at Morey's own the StarLux, so they offer guests half-price tickets on all their Boardwalk attractions.
~*~*~*~*~Directly across from the StarLux is the super-quaint ice cream cottage known as the Sea Shell Ice Cream (300 East Rio Grande Avenue, phone 609-522-7822) which makes a mean cappucino and espresso. They serve Jack and Jilll ice cream and usually have 60 flavors available; a humungous double dip cone (that seems to use nearly a full pint of ice cream) will set you back only $4.50.
Dominic's Place (5209 Pacific Avenue, phone 609-522-2630) for anything with old school red "gravy" on it and the freshest seafood, not to mention a tasty goat cheese and fresh fig stuffed chicken breast called Chicken Dominic that is one of their signature dishes (entrees are prices at $14 to $20).
Duffer's Mini Golf/Arcade/Ice Cream Shop complex (5210 Pacific Avenue, phone 609-729-1817). There can be a long line on summer weekends, but who can resist the talking shark or singing penguins that become you onto the course!
Photos: Anne M. Raso