• Best Crab Cakes

    Rio Station
    3505 Route 9 South
    Rio Grande

    Yes, we know we’ve said it before, but the world-famous crab cakes are really, truly that good. They’re handcrafted with loads of fresh crab meat then baked or broiled to golden perfection. Trust us, there’s a reason the chef has been making them the same way for more than 25 years.

  • Best Gluten-Free Eats

    Greenhouse Cafe
    605 Long Beach Boulevard
    Ship Bottom

    It can be tough to find gluten-free dishes down the Shore, let alone options that actually taste good, but this is where Greenhouse Cafe shines. The massive menu has everything from delicious gluten-free clam chowder and crab cakes to pasta and desserts. Many of the regular menu items (like eggplant parmesan or chicken piccata) can also be prepared without flour if you just ask, but our favorite is the house-made, gluten-free pizza.

  • Best Food on Wheels

    The Woody Wagon Food Truck
    Atlantic City

    Superstorm Sandy might have forced the owners of Scales Grill to demolish their restaurant, but they weren’t going to let that stop them from serving customers this summer. Enter the Woody Wagon, their mobile kitchen. Most days, you’ll find it parked in scenic Gardner’s Basin, but they’re also taking it on the road to festivals and events up and down the Shore. No matter where you spot the Woody Wagon, you can still get the same great Scales fare.

  • Best Deep-Dish Pancakes

    The Sandbox Café
    2604 Long Beach Boulevard
    Ship Bottom

    You haven’t had a pancake until you’ve had one of the enormous deep-dish pancakes at this favorite LBI spot. Called the Sizzler, it’s a thick, rich pancake concoction that’s baked until it’s golden-brown then loaded with toppings (go for the banana walnut flavor). Each Sizzler takes 20 minutes to cook, but it’s worth the wait. Just be sure to come with an appetite, and you’ll leave with a full – and happy – stomach.

  • Best Chicken Wings

    The Chicken or the Egg
    207 North Bay Avenue
    Beach Haven

    There’s usually a line at the Chicken or the Egg (or the “Chegg” as it’s usually called), but we promise it’s worth sticking around. Their wings are big, juicy and available in original breaded or naked styles. There are also 15 lip-smacking flavors available – we suggest the MediYUMMM, Original Hot and Hickory BBQ. Best of all, you can get your wings fix anytime because this hot spot is open 24 hours a day in season.

  • Best Lobster Rolls

    Crab and Seafood Shack
    4520 Park Boulevard

    Like its name suggests, the Crab and Seafood Shack is a no-frills kind of place, but that’s because the food speaks for itself. All the fresh seafood here is tasty, but the lobster roll is the true star of the menu. Each order contains huge lobster chunks with fresh dill, white pepper, a hint of lemon juice and perfectly crisp bacon bits all served on a toasty roll.

  • Best Belgian Waffles

    Margate Dairy Bar
    9510 Ventnor Avenue

    The Margate Dairy Bar has been a local favorite since it opened in 1952, but that didn’t matter to Sandy. The storm wiped out much of the retro ice cream stand, so owner Chris Clayton worked day and night to build temporary quarters in time for summer (he’s got plans for a bigger, better permanent structure next year). Thank goodness, because locals love their mouth-watering Belgian waffles, served with whipped cream, ice cream and sundae toppings. Yum!

  • Best Scones

    Who’s on First Cafe
    100 Asbury Avenue
    Ocean City

    The heavenly scones at Who’s on First Cafe are so good, we don’t even mind getting out of bed in the morning just to have one. They’re moist, but light with an ever-so-slightly crispy exterior. There are three flavors that change daily, which is reason enough to stop by every single day. Grab one (or one of each flavor!) and a cup of steaming coffee to start your morning off right.

  • Best Pizza-Making Class

    Tony Boloney’s
    300 Oriental Avenue
    Atlantic City

    This foodie course will take you back in time to when pizza dough was made from scratch, by hand. Mike, Tony Boloney’s owner and head pizza chef, teaches the fun, two-hour class for up to 12 students at a time. Young, old, beginners and experts will all learn something new (Mike might even share a few of his secrets). If you and a group of friends want to learn together, you can arrange for a private class.

  • Best Ice Cream Sundaes

    5210 Pacific Avenue

    The menu at Duffer’s actually says “no cones served or allowed,” but it’s for good reason – the sundaes here are out-of-this-world. They have more than a dozen special sundaes (caramel apple, Fluffernutter or coffee toffee, anyone?) and nine different varieties of hot fudge sundaes. No matter what flavor you order, you’ll end up with one unbelievable dessert.

  • Best Private Dining Experience

    At the Tropicana
    2831 Boardwalk
    Atlantic City

    FIN is known as the only seafood restaurant in Atlantic City with outdoor and oceanfront seating, but many people aren’t aware the restaurant also has an amazing private dining area. The glass-enclosed Captain’s Table comfortably seats 10 people, and Chef Demetrios Haronis and his team can create special items just for your group (or you can order off the menu). Either way, you’re guaranteed a memorable meal.

  • Best Dessert Before Breakfast

    At The Chelsea
    111 South Chelsea Avenue
    Atlantic City

    It’s okay to splurge when you’re in Atlantic City, so go ahead, order dessert before breakfast. Retro diner Teplitzky’s has a soft and sweet, good and gooey monkey bread that you don’t want to miss. If you’re looking for protein, order the egg whites. But if you’re looking to start your day with some happiness, go for the monkey bread.

  • Best Eclectic Market

    The West End Garage
    484 West Perry Street
    Cape May

    The West End Garage is an artists’ co-op, antique market and clothing boutique all rolled into one quaint shopping destination. There’s tons to look at (new merchandise is added nearly every day,) so be prepared to spend a few hours shopping. The funky garage storefront is located five minutes from the heart of Cape May’s historic district, but it’s definitely worth the walk – you might even meet a few of the local artists on hand with their wares.

  • Best Way to Shop on the Beach

    Tula the Boutique
    806 North Bay Avenue
    Beach Haven

    We’ve always been a big fan of the fashionable finds at Tula the Boutique. But when we discovered we could browse – and buy – chic clothes, shoes and accessories via the store’s Instagram feed while relaxing at the beach (or anywhere, really), we were beyond thrilled. If you want a more low-tech shopping experience, you can always stop by during business hours or call to set up a personal appointment with the boutique’s owner, Brooke.

  • Best Dinner Party Supplies

    Pearl Street Market
    229 Pearl Street
    Beach Haven

    You’ll be the hostess with the mostest thanks to the gourmet goodies available at Pearl Street Market. There’s amazingly fresh seafood, artisan breads and pastries, specialty cheeses, hand-butchered beef, and even roasted-to-order chicken. Together with the prepared salads and side dishes, you’ll effortlessly pull off your party in style (and don’t forget a few homemade dips and spreads for cocktail hour).

  • Best Garden Store

    Wayward Gardener
    9712 Third Avenue
    Stone Harbor

    Just because you’re down the Shore doesn’t mean you can’t indulge your green thumb. The Wayward Gardener has flowers, herbs and hanging baskets to keep your beach retreat looking beautiful, as well as pots, gardening tools and home accents. The newly expanded garden center can be a little tricky to find (it’s down the alley behind Coffee Talk), but once you find it you’ll be glad you did.

  • Best Rail Excursions

    Cape May Seashore Lines

    Long ago, vacationers and day-trippers ventured to the Shore by train. Cape May Seashore Lines has revived the exciting railway experience for families with two services in original passenger trains that have been beautifully restored. You can ride the rails on a 30-mile roundtrip journey between Richland and Tuckahoe, or enjoy the 12-mile round trip between Rio Grande and Cape May City on the first speedway to the Shore. All aboard!

  • Best Bike Tour

    Beach Plum Farm
    140 Stevens Street
    West Cape May

    The next time you go out for a leisurely bike ride in Cape May, head away from the beach. That’s because Beach Plum Farm – just a 15-minute ride from downtown – is now offering bike tours. You’ll get an up-close look at the many varieties of fruits, veggies, herbs and flowers in bloom and catch a glimpse of the free-range chickens as you pedal around the picturesque, 62-acre farm. You can also purchase fresh produce and refreshments at the farm stand then kick back at one of the picnic tables before heading home.

  • Best Creative Outlet

    Island Studio
    261 96th Street
    Stone Harbor

    Maybe it’s the fresh air and relaxed attitude, but there’s something about the Shore that inspires us to flex our creative muscles. Island Studio is the ideal place to indulge your inner artist – choose from pottery painting, mosaic projects, watercolor classes and even jewelry-making tutorials. Kids can also enjoy creative freedom during week-long summer camp sessions.

  • Best Way to Catch a Wave

    Flow House Thundering Surf
    806 North Bay Avenue
    Beach Haven

    It doesn’t matter if the surf conditions aren’t perfect – you can always catch the perfect wave on this super-cool surf simulator. Nearly 60,000 gallons of water are pumped through the machine, creating a man-made swell that’s an awesome way for beginners to gain confidence on the board and experienced riders to perfect their moves. You and your friends can even book private parties at Flow House – bring your iPod to play your music on the house system or your DVDs to play on the big screen for your friends who aren’t riding.

  • Best Movie Night

    Sea Isle City Movies Under the Stars
    Excursion Park
    JFK Boulrevard and Pleasure Avenue
    Sea Isle City

    Grab your blanket or lawn chair and some snacks, then head over to Excursion Park and get comfortable for the free show. Movies begin rolling at dusk every Tuesday and Thursday, and all titles are rated PG (think “The Lorax” and “Brave”). Because of that, we give this family-friendly event two thumbs up.

  • Best Way to Learn a New Sport

    Leading Edge Kite School
    Ocean City

    Kitesurfing and stand-up paddle boarding are taking the Shore by storm, and certified instructors Chris Doyle and Sara Seaver are leading the charge. They’ll teach you how to harness the power of the wind to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard, or guide you through the motions of paddle boarding in rivers and back bays. They also offer equipment rentals and sales, so you can be part of SJ’s water sports revolution.

  • Best Tennis Courts

    Sea Isle City
    Central Avenue between 61st and 63rd Streets

    Talk about love. Tennis fans can’t get enough of the eight courts in Sea Isle City (four asphalt, four synthetic clay). If you want to play, call ahead to reserve a court – 609-263-0050 – or be prepared to watch for awhile. You can make a reservation up to a week in advance. Fees are $12 per hour from 8 am to 1pm, $10 for seniors 62 and over, and $10 per hour from 1 to 6 pm. The lit asphalt courts are free between 6 and 10 pm.

  • Best New Accommodations

    The Reeds at Shelter Haven
    9601 Third Avenue
    Stone Harbor

    It just opened last month, but this luxury boutique hotel is already a favorite. Each of the 37 guest rooms and suites is decorated in soothing colors and has stunning views, not to mention top-of-the-line amenities. We like to think of it as our new home away from home.

  • Best Tea Time

    The Flanders Hotel
    719 East 11th Street
    Ocean City

    The Flanders Hotel is one of Ocean City’s most historic landmarks, so it’s only fitting that it offers guests the opportunity to enjoy the classic elegance of high tea. You can take part in this time-honored tradition during seatings at 12:30 and 2 pm every Thursday until Labor Day. What a splendid way to turn an ordinary afternoon into something special.

  • Best Music Venue

    The Music Box
    At Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa
    1 Borgata Way
    Atlantic City

    It’s small – there are just 1,000 seats – but that means The Music Box is an amazing place to enjoy an intimate performance (there’s not a bad seat in the house). The venue draws big-name acts (comedian Seth Meyers and musician Jackson Browne are on the bill this summer) but tickets go fast, so buy them early.

  • Best Cabanas

    500 Boardwalk
    Atlantic City

    If you’ve ever wanted your own private island, you have to check out the swanky solitude of Revel’s cabanas. Each cabana has sweeping views of the ocean and is decked out with glass chandeliers, luxe furniture and a 36-inch TV. Your private poolside oasis also comes with bottle service, signature cocktails and fresh food, all delivered by your own server. They’re a splurge, but you’ll quickly find they’re worth it.

  • Best Car Shows

    The Wildwoods

    Whether you’re into ’50s hotrods or antique trucks, there’s a car show in the Wildwoods for you. Auto enthusiasts can enjoy at least one show every month well into the fall, including Wildwood Crest’s August event and Wildwood’s Ford truck exhibition in October. If you like memorabilia, collectibles, parts and accessories, be sure to check out the Car Show Block Party along the Boardwalk in September (you can even bid on your own dream car during the auction that weekend).

  • Best Parade

    Show Us Your Shoes Parade
    Atlantic City Boardwalk

    Not many people know a fun tradition that takes place the night before the Miss America Pageant. All the contestants plus last year’s winner don their fanciest – sometimes craziest – shoes, ride atop the back of a convertible and show off their shoes to the folks lining the Boardwalk. It’s lots of good-hearted fun. This year’s parade starts at 5 pm and runs the length of the Boardwalk.

  • Best Pools

    The Grand Hotel
    1045 Beach Avenue
    Cape May

    Yes, yes, we know there’s a great big ocean out there, but sometimes you need a break from the scorching sand. And sometimes, it rains. That’s no problem for guests at The Grand, which has two large pools; one is indoors and both are heated. But if you really need to ride some waves, the beach is a quick walk across the street. Everything you need to make the sunbather in you happy!

  • Best Family-Friendly Shore Resort

    Reges Oceanfront Resort
    9201 Atlantic Avenue
    Wildwood Crest

    They’ve got everything you need for a fun family vacation: a big heated pool plus a kiddie pool, a cool arcade and a poolside café. Every room has a balcony, so while little ones nap you can enjoy the ocean breeze and still be nearby. And let’s not forget that kids under 15 stay free at this seaside resort. Now that’s a vacation!

July 2013
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