Best NJ boardwalks for kids in summer 2016
Chances are you have your go-to beach in Jersey, no matter how close to the Shore you are. Looking for new spots to explore with the kids — no matter how old — is a great way to play "local tourist."
I've rounded up some of the best boardwalks to bring the kids in Jersey. (They're not ranked, but listed so it's easier to follow along.) Don’t hesitate to share your favorite Jersey boardwalk and family fun photos by tweeting me @ProudJersey and at @NJ1015!
1. Point Pleasant Beach
The boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach is a year-round hot spot for the family, as there is always something to do! At Jenkinson's Aquarium, you can check out the real sea creatures that inspired "Finding Dory."
There's plenty of clean beachfront where you can settle in. By late spring through summer and into the fall, the arcades, games, rides, mini golf and batting cages are all in "full swing".
And, the food options are wide enough to satisfy a crowd. There's also the summer fun of Friday night movies on the beach- July's schedule includes "Minions" and "Zootopia!"
2. Ocean City
There's also the matter of it being a 'dry' town — which means promoted nightlife on the boardwalk involves crab fries and scoops of ice cream, instead of beer and shots.
There's also 7 beach area playgrounds in Ocean City at North, 6th, 8th, 15th, 29, 34th and 52nd Streets.
Plus, there's entertainment at Ocean City's Music Pier, including a production of Disney's The Little Mermaid this summer. In July and August, every Thursday is “Family Night,” with free activities offered by Boardwalk merchants.
3. Long Branch
From a brand-new boardwalk to several beachfront play areas, Long Branch offers lots of family fun, year-round. There are "ark" themed structures at the city-run beaches at Cottage, Melrose, Laird and Great Lawn.
Seven President's Oceanfront park offers a full-scale playground [note: there's separate beach-front badges from the city and the park]! The park includes a skateplex, so bring your skateboards and helmets.
When it comes to food (and maybe some shopping!) Pier Village in Long Branch offers plenty of choices, including McLoone's Pier House, Stewart's Root Beer and Turning Point. And, WindMill hotdogs has a newer location along Ocean Avenue.
4. Seaside Heights
Seaside Heights has more family fun on its boardwalk than ever. This season, Casino Pier has added Smuggler's Quay Adventure Golf to its offerings.
Long before MTV camera crews moved in for a few seasons, Seaside was a family go-to for its rides and games to entertain both kiddos and those 'young at heart'. The tradition is going strong, with the renovated Breakwater Beach water park, go-karts, sky ride, arcades and other attractions.
This summer, Seaside also offers movies on the beach on Sunday and Tuesday nights. The screenings are at Carteret Avenue.
5. Asbury Park
It was a proud day for this Proud Jersey Girl when my young daughter first name-checked the beach as "Asbury Park." It's a great place to go when you want the convenience and fun of a boardwalk, without an overload of distractions from the sand, sun and surf.
It's not wall-to-wall games and rides- but there are two playground areas right on the sand. Silverball Museum and Arcade is a pinball haven that also offers skeeball. There's also a for-pay Splash Park and mini-golf.
Eddie Confetti, Betty's Icebox and Ralph's Italian Ice have you covered for frozen treats, and there's sooo many places for yummy food- including Pop's Garage and McLoone's Asbury Grille. Here's a full list to help you plan.
Not far from the boardwalk, there's an ever-growing number of restaurants and shops along Cookman Avenue. Plus, there's pedal boats rentals in Wesley Lake.
Wildwood's boardwalk has hosted generations of families, with plenty of thrills, luahgs and good eats. Morey's Piers operates 3 areas of rides and two water parks.
This summer, there's a brand new StarLux mini golf course, with three different themes and 27 holes. That's in addition to glow-in-the-dark mini golf (with a fun theme for "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Game of Thrones" fans, alike).
7. Atlantic City
Atlantic City is another Shore boardwalk that really does offer fun for all ages. Steel Pier is an icon itself, offering rides like the Grand Carousel, Swing Carousel, Crazy Mouse and Flying Dutchman.
Plus, beach access in A.C. is free- no beach tags required!
A waterfront playground, food trucks serving up delicious fare, and a movies on the beach schedule make Belmar's (newer) boardwalk a fun spot for all ages!
It's the most northern spot along the Jersey Shore to offer plenty of authentic boardwalk fun. Keansburg Amusements and Runaway Rapids has been in operation for over 100 years!
There's plenty of rides, from the Wave Swinger and Super Slide to go-karts, Pharaoh's Fury, Moby Dick and more. Younger kids also have lots of fun choices, including the Balloon Ferris Wheel, Mini-Himalaya, a mini-train and the Jolly Caterpillar.
And, there's plenty of boardwalk treats to fill up on.
10. Seaside Park
It's been a slow, ongoing recovery since that horrendous fire, but don't overlook Seaside Park's boardwalk. It's typically quieter than its northern neighbor, Seaside Heights (see above!), so it can be the perfect place for a beach breather with the kids.
While the "jury's still out" on the fate of Funtown Pier, here's chance to rent a bike or try out paddle boarding. For a great lunch, check out Bum Rogers Crabhouse.
Proud Jersey Girl Erin Vogt’s first reporting gig involved her Fisher Price tape recorder. As a wife and momma of two kiddies, she firmly believes that life’s too short to drink bad coffee. A fan of the beach, Dave Grohl and karma, in no particular order.