What we all just know about the Shore

At different times of my life, my “Shore” (meaning the one I go to every year, obviously) has changed from Atlantic City to Wildwood to Ocean City. Of course, my affection for those towns never overlapped – the rule is you only have 1 favorite at any given time. But I love that I have a connection to 3 Shore spots. I mean, how lucky is that.            

There are a lot more truths about the Shore that we all just know. Not sure how we do, but somehow it becomes part of your existence. Like, if you have a kid, you have to buy the hermit crab. At least once.

And if it’s 3 pm and you’re still on the beach, you have to pack up and head back so you can relax a bit before you have dinner and then go to the Boardwalk. Before you leave the Boardwalk, you have to get Kohr Bros. (or funnel cake). It’s even better if you get the ice cream and someone with you gets the funnel cake, ’cause then you can have both.

When you set up on the beach, you make sure other people have plenty of room. You can take up all the space you want, just don’t get too close to anyone else.

For a fun beach day, you take a lot of stuff to the beach: chairs, umbrellas (maybe a canopy tent), towels, a cooler (along with cups), toys, football, frisbee (even cornhole), some kind of wipes, snacks (for kids AND adults), cash, sunscreen. Transport it in a wagon. 

You buy Johnson’s Popcorn on your first day. And then get fudge and salt water taffy on your last day – to take home.

On your drive in, there’s one point when you roll down the windows and take in that glorious smell of the ocean. It smells just like summer.

And if you’re an invited guest at someone’s house – truly the best friends to have – you stop at a farm stand on your way down  and buy plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit for everyone staying with you.

You never play the games at the piers. Everyone knows you won’t win. But you do go on rides. That’s a fun night. 

The more people from your family who go down with you, the more fun you’ll have. Any time you see someone you know on the Boardwalk, you’re probably about to meet their whole family – walking in a pack. (And you’re probably walking with your whole family.) The tradition South Jersey families have of going to one Shore town year after year is possibly my favorite thing about the Shore. In any one Shore house or hotel, you can find babies and grandparents and everyone in between. They’re making Shore memories that last forever. 

If it rains, you all play a Board game. And it’s actually fun.

But if it rains every day, that is not fun.

At least one night on the Boardwalk you play mini golf and Skee-Ball. Or every night.

When you’re on the beach and you hear the bell ringing, you grab your cash and go buy ice cream.

Some restaurants have really long waits, especially for breakfast. Everyone knows that. They just wait.

One morning, anyone who wants to will wake up super early to ride bikes on the Boardwalk. But there will definitely be people who do not want to go. They want to sleep. Hopefully you’ll have enough people to rent a surrey.

Last month, Joe and I headed down the Shore – late in the afternoon on a weekday. We left at 4 and were home by 9. It was very spur of the moment but we were able to feel the ocean air and do a few of our favorite things. Joe had the idea early in the morning, and when he suggested it I said yes, even though I’m more of a planner. But I didn’t hesitate because there’s one more thing we all know: going to the Shore is magical.

I’m sure you could add to this list  – what did I miss? Let me know on my Instagram page!


Follow @mariannealeardi on Instagram


Read more “Wide Awake” by Marianne Aleardi

July 2024
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