Nothing screams summer at the Jersey Shore quite like zeppoli and a Ferris wheel ride one of these iconic wooden pathways. For those looking to get sprayed, spun, or shaken, there’s that, too. These boardwalks along the coast of New Jersey will allow you to enjoy the sounds of the ocean and keep the kids entertained with miles of fun, food and rides.
Atlantic City Boardwalk— America’s oldest, constructed in 1870— has something for everyone. Families can stroll down this six mile long beachfront path, stopping along the way for saltwater taffy and souvenirs or to browse the more high-end Pier Shops at Caesars. Kids of all ages can also enjoy the attractions at the Steel Pier theme park, which offers over 20 rides ranging from a carousel or ferris wheel to the more extreme “Slingshot.” Once they’ve had their fill of thrills, Steel Pier guests can win prizes by playing various games or fuel up with classic boardwalk treats like water ice, funnel cakes, and popcorn. Families should also visit the newly-opened Lucky Snake at Showboat, a former casino that has been turned into a giant arcade with a sports bar and a boxing ring. Those looking for a more educational experience can visit Garden Pier, which is home to both the Atlantic City historical museum and Atlantic City Art Center. Apart from activities offered daily, the boardwalk also hosts planned events such as runs and food festivals.
Asbury Park visitors are in for a boardwalk experience like no other. This mural-decorated “historic beachfront promenade” offers “family fun,” food, and unique boutiques, as well as what the boardwalk’s website calls “one of the best live music scenes in the world.” Shops like Cultivart, Fun House, Carla Gizzi, and Sanctum Handmade provide unique (and often handcrafted) home decor, jewelry, and clothing from local artists and artisans; and while their parents are shopping, kids can cool off at the Asbury Splash Park. The boardwalk’s Silverball Museum— home to over 6,000 pinball machines, all of which can be played for free with hourly admission— offers a family-friendly escape from the heat, and any music fans should pay a visit to the Stony Pony and Wonder Bar clubs.
Don’t be fooled by the name: Casino Pier is a a family-friendly destination. In fact, this boardwalk is home to one of the best family amusement parks in New Jersey. Thrill-seekers can be launched skyward with the Shore Shot, traverse the waterfront from above on the Sky Ride or Skycoaster, or ride the Motorcycles or Pony Carts for a more kid-friendly experience. Kids and parents alike should also check out the rides at the Breakwater Beach waterpark resort, which has both interactive, multi-level play areas for younger visitors and more intense slides for older children. In addition to the amusement park and waterpark, this boardwalk offers go-karting, as well as a Casino Arcade and outdoor games. Visitors who work up an appetite after a full day of fun should check out boardwalk restaurants like the Pier Grill— which has the “BEST pizza in Seaside Heights,” according to the Casino Pier Website— before grabbing dessert/snacks at Curley Fries or Old Fashioned Waffles & Ice Cream.
Though it’s not technically a boardwalk, Cape May’s paved beachfront path— which is open to the public— provides almost two miles of scenic views and classic shore fun. The promenade is lighted in the evening, making it perfect for a nightly stroll or jog, and dotted with benches for anyone who wants to sit and enjoy the surf from afar. Alcohol consumption is also prohibited on this family-friendly promenade.
With its three amusement piers, two waterparks, and myriad of restaurants and scheduled events, Morey’s Piers boardwalk at Wildwood is sure to keep you busy if you stay a week or a month. Visitors at Mariner’s Amusement Pier have their pick of 24 different attractions, most of which are perfect for families with young children; Surfside Amusement Pier’s 23 rides range from the kid-friendly Wacky Whip and Jump Around to the exhilarating It and The Great Nor’easter, the latter of which features a 95-foot drop. True adrenaline junkies should check out the Adventure Amusement Pier, which features more extreme rides like the Skyscraper, Springshot, and Screamin’ Swing (along with Boat Tag and Luna’s Lost Labyrinth for younger patrons). At the Ocean Oasis Water Park & Beach Club, kids and adults alike can compete with family and friends via the Wipeout! attraction, make their way down a variety of slides, or splash around in The Puddle, while parents who can get a moment to themselves are free to visit the Hot Springs Spa and relax with a drink. Raging Waters Water Park is a paradise for adventurous kids: they can explore “three levels of activities” and “water surprises” with Camp KIDtastrophe, hang from the Rope Swing, or cultivate their inner pirate via the interactive Ahoy Mateys pirate ship, according to the Morey’s website. Dinner spots include Jumbo’s Grub & Pub, PigDog, and Stubborn Bros. Just make sure to watch out for the tram cars!
At Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, fun comes in a variety of packages. Apart from a trip to the beach or a meal at restaurants like Little Mac’s or the crowd favorite Joey Tomato’s, boardwalk visitors can reach new heights with the Adventure Lookout Ropes Course, experience outdoor attractions like the virtual 7D Dark Ride and interactive Fun House, win prizes at both the indoor arcades and outdoor game stalls, and enjoy family friendly rides at the Amusement Park. Families can also play mini golf at Castaway Cove, which includes a pair of pirate-themed courses, or at Lighthouse Point, which is located at the southernmost end of the boardwalk. Aquatic enthusiasts of all ages should also check out Jenkinson’s Aquarium, which features animals such as penguins and Atlantic sharks, as well as a touch tank where visitors are able to interact directly with the wildlife and workshops for children of all ages.
Not to be confused with the popular Ocean City, Maryland, New Jersey’s own Ocean City has a boardwalk and fun all of its own. Home to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier, a historic park that’s been open since 1929. Try the carousel that was built in 1926, soar high in new Giant Wheel or brave their 130′ drop tower, where you’ll speed at 47 MPH towards the ground. Ocean City is also a great spot to rent a surfboard, to try your hand at catching a wave or two. And no trip to the shore would really be complete without some mini golfing at one of their four spots, including the Pirate Island Miniature Golf and Haunted Golf.
This “beachfront Victorian-inspired community” is described on the Village website as “New Jersey’s most luxurious oceanfront and dining destination.” Kids and parents are able to enjoy both traditional arcade attractions like skee ball and virtual reality games at Boardwalk Fun N’ Games, the Village’s arcade. They can also ride the historic Pier Village Carousel or visit various boutiques such as Molly & Zoey, Salt Nation Surf Shop, and Makers + Shapers. During Family Fun Nights, which take place on Sundays during the summer, kids are able to play miniature golf, rock climb, win prizes at Boardwalk Fun N’ Games, and ride the carousel. Village restaurants include the family friendly Branch Cantina and the high-end 110 Ocean.