Shore points are like sports teams. Chances are you already have a favorite, passed down for generations and generations, and are prepared to defend its righteous honor. But let's say you're open to trying something different this year (or just want a reminder why your beach is the Best Beach). Here are our picks, whether you're packing up the boogie boards or the ghost-hunting gear.
For the daytripper: Brigantine
Tucked away to the north of Atlantic City, Brigantine tends to get passed over for the flashy boardwalks and posh condos of the Exit 7S shore points. Which is great news for you, daytripper—not only can you get there in an hour from the city, but the parking is abundant and there's plenty of room on the sand. Pro tip: Set up your umbrella near the Laguna Grill, whose top-notch beach bar is a favorite among locals and in-the-know shoobies alike.
For the history buff: Cape May
Cape May is quaint, yes. But behind those Victorian mansions and kitschy antique shops is some serious history — and, according to some, ghosts. Local psychic medium Craig McManus leads the popular Ghosts of Cape May Trolley Tour, while allegedly haunted hotel and dinner theater Elaine's (www.elainescapemay.com) is known for walking tours. If you're hoping to spot a famous spirit, beachfront hotel Congress Hall— which has been checking in guests since 1816, making it the country's oldest seaside resort—once served as a summer retreat to Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.
For the pool partier: Atlantic City
There's no wrong way to do AC. If you want a family-friendly vacation, no problem—check out the Atlantic City Food Truck Festival (June 18-19) later this month for artisan eats, music in the park and crafts for the kids. But most likely, you're here to party while wearing next to nothing, right? In that case, you want to hit up the Chelsea's Cabana Clubby day and Harrah's The Pool After Dark when the sun goes down.
For the nostalgic: Wildwood
Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. Essentially an extension of Philly, Wildwood—complete with its famous doo wop motels—has a timeless, cozy nostalgia. Owned by former Philadelphians, fan-fave dive #1 Tavern is a must for the Super Tully Nut, an infamously potent, top-secret concoction that tastes a little too good. Starting June 20, the legendary Soul Cruisers are back for their Monday night residency at Keenan's, along with everyone you went to high school with.