Illustration by Bridgette Blanton.
A fast, easy getaway from all major surrounding cities, Atlantic County boasts of being one of the top destination spots for families along the Jersey Shore. From upscale beaches to world-famous entertainment, there’s something for everyone to enjoy along this small slice of the coast.
Best known for its oceanfront casinos and active nightlife, Atlantic City’s hoppin’ beach is a favorite spot for parents, too. Readers love AC’s large, stroller-friendly boardwalk that makes it easy to sightsee (or go for a morning jog) with little kids in tow. Bathrooms are easily accessible and the variety of restaurants on the boardwalk makes feeding hungry kids a breeze. Boogie boards are permitted, and many Atlantic City hotels provide complimentary volleyball nets for their patrons’ enjoyment. Unlike most beaches along the shore, Atlantic City is free—so you won’t need beach tags.
If you want to enjoy the fun of Atlantic City—minus the crowds and noise—Brigantine Beach is an excellent choice. A quiet, residential community, Brigantine offers a family-friendly atmosphere a short drive from the rides and entertainment of the Atlantic City boardwalk. Kids love the ability to boogie board, kayak, and fly kites, while parents love the clean public bathrooms and easy off-street parking in municipal lots. Beach tags are required; buy them at the Beach Fee Office at 15th and Brigantine Blvd. Brigantine is also home to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, a great place to visit to see birds and marine wildlife.
It’s been a cherished family-vacation spot for over a century, so it’s no surprise readers love Margate’s clean, kid-friendly beaches and endless opportunities to boogie board, skim board, and enjoy great views of Lucy The Elephant, a six-story landmark that overlooks the beach. A beachfront snack bar is available for hungry little ones; public rest rooms are located at Hunting Beach and Lifeguard Headquarters. Parking can be a challenge, with only street parking available during the busy summer months. So arrive early or later in the day to guarantee a spot near the beach. Beach tags are required and can be purchased at The Martin Bloom Community Center or City Hall.
Praised by readers for being the quietest beach within a short drive of Atlantic City, Longport is a small yet upscale community located on the southern tip of Absecon Island. It’s best known for the breathtaking multi-million dollar homes that line its pristine white beaches. With no boardwalk or attractions, Longport is the perfect place to kick back and relax. Public bathrooms and showers are located in the Community building on 33rd and Atlantic. To use the beach you must buy a weekly beach tag, as there are no daily rates. Parking can be tough, with metered spots and on-street parking extremely limited along the beach.
Tips on Trips
Lucy is a six-story elephant overlooking Margate Beach. It was originally built in 1881 as a gimmick to attract more buyers to purchase property in the area. Lucy has since become a landmark of her own, attracting former presidents, royalty, and children from around the world. Climb all the way to the top of her howdah for a 360-degree view.
Nursery rhymes and cherished bedtime stories come to life at this unique attraction situated on 20 acres of luscious parkland. Enjoy themed rides, story reenactments, and a train ride around the park. Great for small kids, but timeless entertainment for older kids and parents, too.
Located on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is a great rainy-day adventure. Browse the collection of over 400 eccentric exhibits, including a lock of George Washington’s hair and a 27-room, miniature, carved-wood castle.
Up for a sea adventure? Atlantic City Cruises offers daily sightseeing and dolphin-watching tours guided by its “Resident Bottlenose Dolphin.” It’s a great way to experience the vast marine life of the shore.
Amber Watson-Tardiff is a digital entrepreneur excited to pass on the fun of NJ’s beaches to her two children. Her family will be splitting a timeshare on the Atlantic City boardwalk this summer. Follow Amber on Twitter.
Photo of Atlantic City at night courtesy of the Atlantic Convention & Visitors Bureau.