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Slice of Suburbia Shore Towns: Wildwood, New Jersey

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The Boardwalk! The Motels! The Food! The Insane and Sometimes Offensive The Wildwood BoardwalkT-Shirts! The Crazy People!! 

Wild, Wild, Wildwood days!

I seriously love Wildwood, I really do. One of my favorite places since I was a kid, you just have to love how Wildwood just does its own thing with its own attitude, just the way so many who vacation here do.

On January 1, 1912, Wildwood became a city. Situated out on a barrier island, Wildwood also refers to other municipalities- Wildwood Crest, West Wildwood, North Wildwood, Diamond Beach and the City of Wildwood, all known as ‘The Wildwoods.’ In the late 19th century the completion of the Garden State Parkway lent easy access to the shoreside town, where it quickly made its way as a resort for PA, NJ, NY and other states’ residents.

Located in Cape May County, off Rte 9 and between Cape May  and 7 Mile Island (Stone Harbor and Avalon), it provides plenty of fun for summer vacationers and year-round residents. About 5000 people call Wildwood home year-round, but in the summer, the Wildwoods are home to more than 250,000 people who come for the boardwalk attractions, the fresh salt air, the clean sandy beaches and the warm ocean waves. Just driving over the bridge and seeing the sparkling Atlantic beyond the city always fills me with exhilaration.

My favorite part of the Wildwoods is the almost 2-mile-long boardwalk, which people love to bike, run and stroll, especially in the morning. Nothing else in the world smells like this place: sausage sandwiches and pizza, waffles and ice cream, suntan oil, salt air and the baking boards all give off a scent that is all Jersey. Two piers full of amusements keep people entertained (to say nothing of the people watching!) I heard an ad last year say on the radio that Wildwood’s boardwalk has more amusements than Disneyland- which that’s insane to believe but true! They did just build a new attraction, The Pirate Ship, on Morey’s Piers. Mariner’s Landing Pier  also has the Ferris Wheel, roller coaster, and the Raging Waters Waterpark and other breathtaking, fun rides.

The Wildwood Convention Center, at the end of the boardwalk and adjacent to the Doo Wop District, hosts events year-round. Singers, entertainers, conventions and conferences all come to Wildwood By the Sea. In addition to the festivals onThe Wildwood Amusement Park the beach, the craft shows on the boardwalk, The Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, the New Jersey Fireman’s Convention, Irish Weekend, the Roar to the Shore Weekend, the Baby Parade, the Kite Festival, the Classic Car Show, the Thunder on the Beach Mega Monster Truck Races, and the Hobie Cat Regatta, this area always draws a large crowd.

Wildwood even has its roots steeped in local lore, as I’ve heard ghosts haunt this stretch of sand as well! Wildwood Crest, to the south of Wildwood, houses many old motels still full of vacationers and since the boardwalk is located in Wildwood, Wildwood Crest is fairly quiet. And did you know since the Crest is part of an Urban Enterprise Zone where some places offer a reduced 3½% sales tax rate to encourage employment, economy and growth have been stimulated.

All the Wildwoods have more than one thing in common, but the best being the fabulous free beaches. Of course, you might have a bit of a haul across the sand- on a hot day it feels like the Sahara, and you can even flag down a little buggy to talk to you your chosen spot near the ocean.

North Wildwood and Angelsea also have great shoppes and bars to hang out, in addition to a great seawall along the end of the island to stroll or run along. Crab Island in North Wildwood is a great place for dinner, and be sure to hit up Hassle’s Scoops for ice cream, and you can always have a great time at Westy’s Irish Pub, Casey’s on Third, Woody’s, or Keenan’s Irish Pub.

From my memories as a kid riding the ‘Mine Ride’ (Golden Nugget Mine Ride) with my dad, to strolling along for ice cream and sunning myself with family and friends, to one crazy Senior Week back in the ‘90s, to driving down the shore whenever I get a day or two off to jump in the ocean and get a drink with my pals watching the sun go down over the bay, the Wildwoods are where I want to be.

So watch the tram car please and I’ll see you on the boardwalk!

Christine Tarlecki can be found on FaceBook, on Twitter under engchik, at engchik@gmail.com  or http://engchik.blogspot.com