Ocean City, New JerseyIf you’ve ever played Monopoly, you know that the most sought-after property is the Boardwalk. In real life, a Jersey Shore boardwalk is also a prized location. With family-friendly rides, games, entertainment, or the chance for a quiet stroll with an ocean breeze, the “boards” get to the heart of life at the Shore in August.

Slow Strolls on Boardwalks

For jaunts with the kids, but without the crowds, get out on the longest non-commercial New Jersey boardwalk at Spring Lake. Along the 2-1/2 miles there are shady gazebos, plus wide vistas of white sand and blue ocean. Jog with your baby stroller or simply enjoy a picnic lunch with your kids; benches are plentiful (and food isn’t allowed on the beach). Charity walks or runs are occasionally held on the boardwalk and, in season, you can purchase food at two pavilions.

Avon-by-the-Sea’s 1/4-mile boardwalk is another quiet place to stroll, admire Victorian lamps, breathe in refreshing salt air, or simply sit on a bench—in sun or shade—to stare at the sea. Arrive early during summer months to park for free.

You can also spend an entire day at Ocean Groves 1-mile-long boardwalk. You won’t find amusements or rides, but benches abound overlooking the beach and surf, in addition to gorgeous scenery, attractive flowerpots, and a fishing pier. On Wednesday evenings, free live music takes place at the Boardwalk Pavilion, while weekend days feature gospel music.

Fun & Games

If you’re craving action, head to the Wildwoods boardwalk. At 2 miles long, it boasts the high-intensity Ghost Ship at Morey’s Piers, games of chance and amusements, roller coasters and gentle rides, water parks, hot dogs and ice cream, and much more. Kids feeling tired or overwhelmed? Board the Sightseer Tram Car going from one end of the wooden boardwalk to the other. Events held year-round include fireworks and laser light shows.

Ocean City’s 2-mile boardwalk (shown in photo) will thrill all ages with its 140-foot-high Ferris wheel, bumper cars, water parks, and miniature golf theme parks. Or try an early-morning bike ride (the boardwalk is open to bikes in summer from 5 am to noon). Free Family Nights in August are Thursdays, with strolling musicians, yo-yo demonstrations, and more. At the Music Pier’s Visitors’ Center, get a map, discount coupon book, and event schedule.

The Point Pleasant Beach boardwalk, just under a mile, is perfect for kids. It’s home to Jenkinson’s Aquarium, featuring a 38,000-gallon exhibit with alligators, penguins, seals, and sharks. In addition, there’s lots of live entertainment on the boards, plus arcades, games of chance, rides, and fireworks on Thursday evenings.

Arline Zatz is the author of Best Hikes With Children in New Jersey (The Mountaineers).

What's your favorite boardwalk in New Jersey? Let us know!