Every year my boyfriend's family holds a family reunion in Seaside Park, New Jersey aka the Jersey Shore. When I first heard that we would be going on vacation to the shore, I immediately thought of GYM, TAN, LAUNDRY. To be fair, most people in their mid to late twenties associate the Jersey Shore with the classic MTV show featuring the not so classy, party lifestyle.
My experience was nothing like the TV show. In fact, the whole TV show takes place within a few blocks of Seaside Heights, which is a particularly trash part of the boardwalk. Just a quick bike ride south you'll hit Seaside Park. This is where we stayed. The beach was amazing. The sand was so soft and it was full New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians escaping the work week, sans blinged out t-shirts and blowouts.
Here are somethings I would highly suggest doing if you are a blogger, Instagram lover, or just looking for new things to try:
1. Walk along boardwalk
When you think of the boardwalk, you immediately think of games and shops. However, keep going south and you'll hit the boardwalk along the beach. I went for a run the first morning we were there and was taken back by how beautiful the morning sky looked. I highly suggest running (or walking) down the boardwalk bright and early. The temperature is cool enough to run or walk comfortably, plus there aren't a lot of people out. This photo was taken at about 6:30am. The light was so soft and I had to stop running just to take a picture.
2. Hit up Park Bakery for breakfast sandwiches
After I went for a run down the boardwalk I was starving. Nick, my boyfriend, and I went to Park Bakery to pick up breakfast for the family. This place is tiny and gets packed in the morning so be ready to get close to other people. Their breakfast sandwiches are great. I got the sausage, egg, and cheese on a homemade everything bagel for $6. This filled me up the whole day. If you're more in the mood for a sweet breakfast, well it will take you 10 minutes to decide from all of their donuts, cinnamon rolls, and trays of pastries.
3. Lay out on the beach
Seaside Park had one of the prettiest beaches I've ever been too. There is so much soft sand that no one is really cramped together. You do need a beach pass to get on the beach. They have booths next to every access point to the beach so you don't have to go anywhere special to get it. Since the house we rented came with annual passes, we just had to clip them on our beach bag.
The water was cold when you first stepped into it, but after five minutes you'll be good and it feels more refreshing than cold. When you go to the Jersey Shore or any beachy vacation, you need to remember you'll be on the beach most of the time. Get a new book, buy sunscreen, bring lots of water, and don't forget the beach chairs. It's time to relax. They do not allow alcohol on the beach and do check coolers (unfortunately).
4. Go to Beach Culture for lunch
Beach Culture is just down the street from Park Bakery and right next to Surf Taco. I can say I was mildly addicted to their Acai (AH - SA EYE - EEE) bowls. Fun fact: Get a punch card there the first day you go. This is great, especially if you have a big group that you can hand it off to. I got the BC bowl for breakfast/lunch four out of the seven days we were there. Not only did this taste fantastic, but their cold brew coffee was great too. They also have regular style smoothies, tea, and kombucha. Not to mention... how cute are these bowls?! Perfect for Intsagram
5. Explore the shops in Seaside Heights
On the boardwalk in between the trashy t-shirt stores and psychic readers you will find some cute stores. For example, this store front was adorable and caught my eye. This was Lucky Leo's Sweet Shop which had a whole wall full of saltwater taffy. I ended up buying a whole box to bring home to my mom and dad as a gift. Not in the mood for a whole box? Each piece is only fifty cents.
B & B is another popular clothing destination. There is one in Seaside Park and I believe the other is in Seaside Heights, but I could be wrong. When I was told about the local "B & B" I was pretty skeptical. I was pretty shocked to find that they actually had cute clothes! Not cheap, but cute!
Shopping not your thing? The people watching on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights is pretty.... unique.
6. Grab a quick drink at Playa bowls
Can you tell I was on a smoothie kick my week at the shore? This is because they were SO GOOD. Playa bowls is located on the southern end of the board walk. It's cute, pop-up-like stand is right off the beach and no pants are required. I had the strawberry banana smoothie and it was very good. I would love to try the waffles or any of their bowls next time I am at the shore. There is definitely something for everyone at this stand.
Check out there website and full menu here.
7. Go to the beach during sunset
Every night, without fail, the sunsets at the Jersey Shore were amazing. Pinks, purples, and oranges always filled the sky. I've never seen such consistency with pastel colors. After 6pm you do not need to have a beach pass to walk along the beach. The beach clears out and just a few people remain around 7:00pm. Grab your significant other, a beach blanket, and a water bottle full of whatever liquid you want... hint hint... and just enjoy yourself. The most relaxing part of this whole trip was when Nick and I would walk along the water at sunset. It's truly an amazing site every night. The sun sets on the bay side of the island, but I highly suggest staying on the ocean side. This way you'll get nice, soft photos without the harshness of the light.
Overall the Jersey Shore was NOTHING like what I expected. I went in expecting Guidos and bumpits, but experienced smoothies and sunsets. I would highly suggest renting out a house in Seaside heights with family or friends. It was definitely must for anyone looking for a low key, stress free vacation.
- Photography - Rachel Dwyer Photography
- Instagram - @rrrachel08
- Location - The Jersey Shore, New Jersey