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Heading to Wildwood is almost a rite of passage in NJ, but its bustling boardwalk, loud rides and huge crowds aren't always at the top of every family’s vacation list. That’s why we love Wildwood Crest, which is just a short ride away from all the boardwalk fun, but with a quieter beach. 

The shore community is either a nice walk or short drive away from the crowds. You can’t buy alcohol down in the Crest, which makes for a calmer environment.

From its expansive free beach with affordable motels and hotels (we love the Pan American!) to the many pools and grills, you get all the fun of a Wildwood vacation minus the craziness. 

Stay for a week and you’ll get to wander the town, meet some friendly dogs (and their owners) out for a walk on the beach and take in the summer music series.

Enjoy your typical beach fun, try your hand at parasailing, and head to Wildwood for rides at Morey’s Piers and the water park. A trip to Wildwood wouldn’t be complete without Curley’s fries, a turn on the 156-foot Giant Wheel and a ride on the tramcar.