As the summer season slowly approaches, and if she’s in a good mood, Mother Nature will throw a few warm spells into the last few weeks of the spring semester. Eighty degrees and sunny forecasts can make college students have the urge for one thing. Not to study for finals but to pack up the car and head down the shore for the day, or the summer. College students in the Philadelphia area are lucky enough to be within a couple hours of over a dozen beaches. In the tri-state area, everyone has their favorite beach town. In New Jersey, beach-goers have the choice of traveling to over a dozen towns including Cape May, Wildwood, Stone Harbor, Avalon, Sea Isle City, Ocean City, Longport, Margate, Ventnor, Atlantic City, Seaside Heights and Long Beach Island. Some people’s hearts belong to the beaches of Delaware like Dewey, Rehoboth, Bethany, Lewes and Fenwick Island. And then there are those who will always be partial to Ocean City, Maryland.
There’s a reason why beachfront property, like that in Avalon, New Jersey, over the past 40 years has risen from $8.7 billion in 1962 to $34.3 billion, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. It is the same reason why Friday night traffic in the summer can double anyone’s trip to the shore. The shore, whether that means New Jersey, Delaware or Maryland, brings a summer full of carefree fun, distinctive food and endless beach days.
As the dry-town beach, Ocean City, New Jersey keeps its “family-friendly” feel, along with its boardwalk full of amusement piers, specialty shops and classic ‘shore food’ including Boardwalk Fries, Kohr Brothers ice cream, Johnson’s Popcorn, Monkey Bread, saltwater taffies, fudge and the ‘Best of the Shore’ pizza, Mack ‘N Manco’s.
For South Jersey shore lovers, there is a beach for everyone. Family summer vacations can be spent at any shore spot, but college students tend to judge “the best shore town” a little differently. Beach bars and nightlife are what influences those 21 and over.
Atlantic City is a Jersey hottest all year long, but the summer weather turns it into a whole new city. In recent years, casinos have conformed to beach-goers ideals and added several new “beach bars” open throughout the day and night, creating an island-like feel on the AC boardwalk with parties lasting until the early morning hours. People looking to party outside can choose from the Beach Bar at Trump Plaza, the Sand Box at Caesars, Bally’s Bikini Beach Bar and Nikki Beach at Resorts.
Then there are the residential towns where young adults can rent summer homes for the season. According to an article featured in the Delaware Beachcomber, Editor Jay Hodgkins puts it best explaining the annual re-openings of Dewey Beach’s bars as a “return to big, sweaty DJ parties with mass amounts of college-aged kids and ridiculously cheap drink specials” and their favorite cover bands like Mr. Greengenes fill the “giant super beach clubs with a few hundred screaming, sweaty youngsters dancing their hearts out to cheesy cover sets.”
“I’m ready to eat at Ed’s and Sharky’s and to party at Bottle & Cork, the Starboard and the Rusty Rudder,” said Dewey Beach summer resident, Frank Kerwood.
Of course, Dewey Beach is not the only place to find this scene. Over the years, Sea Isle City, New Jersey has increasingly become one of the nightlife spots of the shore with bars like Ocean Drive, La Costa and Shenanigans who host all the favorite cover bands in the area, attracting the same mass amounts of young adults that Hodgkins referred to.
“It’s like being at college, without the school work,” said WCU senior, Jamie Nardiello, who spent last summer with her friends in Sea Isle City. “We were overcrowded in a three-bedroom condo, but had the best summer of our lives.”
As one of the upscale beach towns, Avalon, New Jersey, has some of the best restaurants on the coast, but also keeps up with the nightlife scene with bars like Jack’s Place, Princeton Bar and Grill, the Whitebrier, Flip Flops and Bikini Tops and the Windrift Hotel, who is also famous throughout the summer for Tuesday Wing Nights on their two deck outdoor bar.
“With 127 miles of beach to play on, just about anything goes-from boardwalk sideshow to casino sizzle,” said Cathy Newman in a National Geographic article discussing the best, worst and quirkiest things about the Jersey shore.
Nationally known as a famous summer vacation area, college students in the area can consider themselves lucky to be within a car ride of some of the best beaches, entertainment and local food favorites.