Family Road Trip Guide: The Jersey Shore, New Jersey

Take a family vacation to the coast of New Jersey and enjoy games, rides and amazing eats.  

I’ve been watching MTV’s “Jersey Shore” since it came out in 2009 and I have always wanted to go to the boardwalk in the summertime. It took me 13 years, but I finally did it.

We took a family vacation to Seaside Heights, New Jersey, and enjoyed a couple days of shopping, eating, going on the rides and spending our time at the beach. We only had a couple of days there, so if you’re planning on a trip, I would schedule more time because there really is so much to do!

Getting to the Jersey Shore, New Jersey

Prepare to spend some quality time in your Ford. It’s nearly a 10-hour drive via the Ohio/Pennsylvania turnpikes and Interstate 95 but so worth it to cross this off your bucket list.

Things to Do on the Jersey Shore, New Jersey

Photo Credit: Ocean County Business Development & Tourism

  • Enjoy a day at the beach. Some beaches at the Jersey Shore come with a daily fee while others are free. Here is a list of free beaches so you can plan accordingly. Most are free for children 11 and under, though.
  • Go on a boat tour, day cruise or cruise with pirates. A fun boat tour is Salt Marsh Safari. If you’re looking for a day cruise, go on a ferry ride in Cape May. If you want a pirate cruise, try Pirate Adventures of the Jersey Shore or Black Pearl Pirate Tours.
  • Enjoy the rides and games on the Seaside Heights Boardwalk. There are thrill rides, go-karts, miniature golf and midway games to play. My son rode his first roller coaster while we were there, so we had a great experience.
  • See the sea creatures at Jenkinson’s Aquarium, Atlantic City Aquarium or Seaport Aquarium.
  • Cool off at Breakwater Beach Waterpark at Casino Pier. This water park has slides, a lazy river, a wave pool, hot tub and plenty for littles under 6 to do, including the Lighthouse Cove and The Perfect Storm.
  • Go shopping on the boardwalk. You can visit the Shore Store and have hats, T-shirts or other apparel customized. My son and I got matching hoodies that say “GTL” and have the Jersey Shore house on them. You can get the whole family matching shirts to remember the trip by.

Places to Eat near the Jersey Shore, New Jersey

  • If you’re in the mood for pizza, check out Shore Slice Pizza & Grill. The pizzas are huge! Not in the mood for pizza, this boardwalk restaurant has quick eats like hot dogs, chicken fingers, corn dogs, fried pickles, mozzarella cheese sticks and more.
  • Try something different with Seaside Empanadas, which was started with a family recipe. The recipes are beef, cheese, chicken, shrimp and bean and potato. They also have gluten-free chicken and gluten-free beef empanadas. For dessert, have chocolate churros or caramel churros, or do half of each flavor.
  • Grab a cheesesteak or burger at CheeseSteak Louie’s. Enjoy it with fries or tots and a shake. If you have a larger group of people with you, order the 25 Wings, Steak Platter or Fry Box. There are also a few unique breakfast options, including steak and eggs on a grilled pork roll, steak and eggs on a brioche bun or the Seaside Slammer – pork roll, eggs, cheese, steak and tots.
  • Enjoy a scoop of ice cream or custard from Hershey’s Shake Shoppe Arcade, Sweet Charlie’s or Kohr’s Frozen Custard The Original.

Places to Stay along the Jersey Shore, New Jersey

  • Your best bet is probably staying in an Airbnb if you want to stay right on the shore. It’s a popular vacation spot, so I suggest you book in advance. If you’re going with another family (or two), you can divide the cost with others for a cheaper stay while you’re there.
  • There are hotels and motels close to the boardwalk, but make sure you check out the ratings online. I suggest that if you’re staying at a hotel or motel, it’s OK to look a little further and drive to the shore to spend the day. There is plenty of parking around the boardwalk, which was something we were worried about.

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Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano
Kari Zaffarano is a mom of one and Metro Parent's Audience Development Coordinator. She tracks down the best events every week and shares the inside scoop with families in print and online. She enjoys reading, traveling and exploring metro Detroit with her son.


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