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Main Line Parent’s “Bucket” List Guide to the Jersey Shore (and DE, too!)

Ready for some surf and sand? Take our family guide to the Jersey Shore and Delaware with you and you'll always have a recommendation handy.

2019 Shore Guide


You wait for it all year: that moment when you can escape to the beach. Maybe it’s just a day trip, maybe it’s for the whole season, but family time at the Shore is precious, full of memorable moments, big and small.

We want to help you make the most of the time you do have. That’s why we put together this list of must-do activities — a “bucket” list, of sorts — that’s full of fun places. We combed through our staff’s favorites, and suggestions from our readers, to pick out the very best stops along the shore, from Barnegat Light to Bethany Beach. 

So when you pack up, take our list with you. And don’t forget the sunscreen.


Eating is a huge part of vacation. If you’ve rented a house, you may eat some meals at home, but either way, having a variety of restaurants is key. Clip this list and you’ll never go hungry!

Kid-Friendly- Call ahead to ask about reservations!

Viking Fresh Off the Hook, Barnegat Light
Dino’s Subs & Pizza, Margate
Manco & Manco, Ocean City and Somers Point
DeNunzio’s Brick Oven Pizza and Grille, Sea Isle City
Uncle Oogie’s Pizzeria, Sea Isle City
Carmen’s Seafood Restaurant, Sea Isle City (reader report: it has a sandbox full of toys to keep the kids busy!)
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House; Avalon, Cape May, North Cape May, Ocean City, Stone Harbor, Strathmere, Wildwood
Circle Pizza, Avalon
Windrift, Avalon
Quahog’s Seafood Shack, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: they have a bar now! No more BYO!)
Shorebreak Pizza Grille, Avalon (reader report: seating inside and out, with something on the menu for everyone: personal size pizzas, tacos, burgers, sandwiches, and entrees; totally casual!)
Smitty’s Clam Bar, Somers Point (editor’s tip: this spot is a BYOB! Circle Liquors is close by!)
Sam’s Pizza Palace, Wildwood 
Bucket’s, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: we know it’s a margarita bar, but the menu and atmosphere are super kid friendly, and they’ll make all of their fun drinks as a mocktail!)

Great for a Date Night

The Point Tiki Bar, Somers Point, Sea Isle, Wildhood
Black Eyed Susans, Harvey Cedars
McLoone’s Pier House, Long Branch
Ventura’s Greenhouse, Margate
The Crab Trap, Somers Point
The Reeds at Shelter Haven, Stone Harbor
The Diving Horse, Avalon (editor’s tip: make a reservation before you arrive at your rental, and it’s BYO, so pop into Fred’s across the street on your way!)
Buckets Margarita Bar, Stone Harbor (editor’s: for casual drinks and tacos on the bay.)
La Finestra, Sea Isle City
Steve and Cookie’s, Margate
Quahog’s Seafood Shack, Stone Harbor 
Jay’s on 3rd, Stone Harbor
Cruisin’ Tikis, Sea Isle and Wildwood (Editor’s note- This was an incredible amount of fun. Grab some friends, call a sitter, and BYO snacks and beverages on a floating tiki boat complete with captain for a cruise of your choice.)

Ice Cream

Buccaneer Ice Cream & Candy, Avalon (editor’s tip: a warning for those who order a double or triple scoop- bring friends to help you finish! By far the biggest scoops in all of NJ!)
Johnny B. Goode, Ocean City
Marita’s Homemade Ice Cream, Sea Isle City
Springers, Stone Harbor (a big reader favorite. Says a staff member: “There is no other option for scooped ice cream. The end. The best.”)

dog eating ice cream

Phoebe’s first visit to Salty Paws.

Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard, multiple locations
Yum Yums, Sea Isle City (reader report: there’s a surprise at the bottom of your cone!)
Margate Dairy Bar, Margate

Salty Paws, Stone Harbor- NJ’s ONLY doggy ice cream parlor!




Oves Beach Grill, Ocean City
Uncle Bill’s Pancake House, multiple locations
The Bread and Cheese Cupboard, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: “for the best sticky buns and other baked goods in the world. Often a line before they open!”) 
Hannah-G’s, Ventnor
Ozzie’s Luncheonette, Longport
Bright Spot (formerly Shoobies), Sea Isle City (reader report: check out the character breakfast!)
Mustache Bill’s Diner, Barnegat Light
Fishin’ Pier Grille, Avalon and Stone Harbor

Stand up paddleboarding in the bay in Avalon.

Keeping Busy

Sure, you’re at the beach. But sometimes you want to do something else — especially if it’s raining. And if you’re down the Shore for a longer period, your kids might enjoy a camp or other drop-off activity. 

Where to Spend a Rainy Day

Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts and Sciences, Long Beach
Jilly’s Arcade, Ocean City
Atlantic City Aquarium, Atlantic City (reader report: “a rainy day lifesaver for us!”)
RiGi’s Amusement Center, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: this place is great because it’s small so you don’t get stuck there for hours! Don’t skip the water ice, it’s fantastic.)
Encounters, Ocean City
SwellColors Glass Studio & Gallery, Surf City 
Island Studio Pottery Painting, Stone Harbor
Family Fun Arcade, Cape May
Harbor Square Movie Theatre, Stone Harbor
Stone Harbor Museum, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: new this year is a section of memorabilia dedicated to Taylor Swift and the time she spent vacationing and performing at the Shore as a kid!)
Various locations of the Cape May County Library System in Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Cape May, and more.


inflatable water park with children

Island Watersports, Margate

Outdoor Fun Off the Beach

Cape May County Park & Zoo, Cape May Court House (staff tip: “they have a ropes course now!)
Island Water Sports, Stone Harbor and Margate
OC Waterpark, Ocean City (staff tip: “not for a rainy day, but fun!”)
Playland’s Castaway Cove, Ocean City
Morey’s Piers, Wildwood
Bowfish Studios, Ocean City
Totally Tubular Watersports, Ocean City
Revolution Rail Company, Cape May (A reader shared this new place where you can pedal a railbike down old railroad tracks! She says it’s super fun and easy enough for kids through grandparents to participate!)

Surf lesson with Stone Harbor Surf & Paddle.

Camps and Educational Activities

Wetlands Institute, Stone Harbor
Crafty Chef Academy, Stone Harbor (reader report: Friday night cooking workshops for the kids = date night for the parents! They are Chester County based, so be sure to bookmark them for off-season, too!)
Nature Center of Cape May, Cape May (reader report: “At the lighthouse on Saturdays there is a presentation on animals and the kids get to touch all the animals!”)
Camp By the Sea, Margate
Sea Isle City Recreation Camp, Sea Isle City
Stone Harbor Recreation, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: there’s a huge variety of camps for kids of all ages, from surfing to crafts, plus weekly family fun nights!)
Stacy’s Surf Camp, Margate
Stone Harbor Surf & Paddle, Stone Harbor (editor’s tip: lessons available at 81st Street Beach, boards and wetsuits provided)

Mini Golf

Flamingo Miniature Golf Course, Ship Bottom
Pirate Island Miniature Golf, Avalon, Sea Isle City, Ocean City
Congo Falls Adventure Golf, Ocean City and Margate
Haunted Golf, Ocean City (editor’s tip: this course is indoors, air-conditioned — and creepy!)
Club 18 Mini Golf, Stone Harbor
Hang Ten Golf Club, Stone Harbor (Editor’s tip: look for the staircase, it’s on the rooftop! Also- I have been coming to Stone Harbor since I was 9 and have seen a lot of businesses come and go, but there has been a mini golf on this rooftop this entire time. New ownership, various mini golf themes and layouts, but always mini golf. I love that!)

chair swing amusement park ride

Evening adventures at Castaway Cove, Ocean City.

Evening Activities

Ocean City and Wildwood Boardwalks: Stroll, snack on french fries, grab some pizza, treat yourself to some ice cream, and take in the family-friendly activities that happen almost every night, including magicians and music. Similar activities, different vibe! If you have teens who venture out on their own be sure to check the various rules now in effect regarding curfew, backpacks, etc. Another chance to talk to your kids about behavior expectations!

Outdoor Events: Check the websites of Avalon, Stone Harbor, and Sea Isle City for their schedules of concerts, movies, family nights, and more.

Souvenirs/Beach Gear

Faria’s Surf and Sport, multiple locations
Hoys 5 & 10, Ocean City, Avalon, Stone Harbor (Editor’s tip: this throwback is a Shore stalwart, and they really do have everything!)
7th Street Surf Shop, Ocean City
Suncatcher, Stone Harbor

Heritage Surf and Sport, Margate, Ocean City, Sea Isle City
Sands Department Store, Sea Isle City (one reader swears, “If they don’t have it, you don’t need it!”)

All-Star Services

Especially if you’re on a longer trip, getting help with some of the comforts of home can be a huge boon. Here are some ways to ease the stress of travel — and maybe keep you from having to come home for fresh supplies.

Beach Caddy

Download the App Beach Caddy from the App Store or Google Play to order your caddy, or call 1-844-4CADDYS

Beach Caddies provide a luxury services to beachgoers from Ventnor to Wildwood- delivering your beach gear from your rental to your preferred spot on the beach, and then back again (if you want!). Not only can they transport all your beach equipment on and off the beach, but they also help you check in. Upon arrival at home or rental, they will meet you at your vehicle and unload your luggage, provisions, and contents directly into your home. Then they’ll come back to move you out, too!

Relax Concierge

232 West Ave., Ocean City
Serving Ocean City, Avalon, Sea Isle City, Stone Harbor, Long Beach Island (all towns in Zip Code 08008), Strathmere, Longport, Margate and more, this company will rent you (and deliver to your house) essentials like beach wagons, chairs, clean linens, cribs, and even games for the kids. They will even make the beds for you. Want groceries when you arrive? Consider it done. Relax Concierge really makes you feel like you are on vacation!

LBI Dream Makers

802 Central Ave., Barnegat Light 
You can get groceries, linens, chairs, and other supplies here. Or you can splurge a bit more and rent a hot tub or book a personal chef.

Guardian Angels Sitting Service

Want to try out one of our date night restaurants, but don’t have a sitter? This branch of a national network will send a sitter with CPR certification and state and local clearances, so you’re not spending the appetizer course worrying.

Points South

Do you love Delaware? The First State is home to some great family-friendly beach towns, and several have developed a reputation for being especially welcoming to LGBTQ families. Here are some highlights from Rehoboth, Dewey, and Bethany.

Kid-Friendly Restaurants

Big Oyster Brewery, Rehoboth
Grotto Pizza, multiple locations
Pie, Bethany Beach 
Purple Parrot, Rehoboth 
Thrasher’s Fries, Rehoboth
Nalu Surf Bar, multiple locations

Date Night Restaurants

Dogfish Head, Rehoboth Beach
Purple Parrot, Rehoboth Beach
The Lighthouse, Dewey Beach
Rusty Rudder, Dewey Beach
Lupo Italian Kitchen, Rehoboth
Starboard, Dewey Beach
Bottle & Cork, Dewey Beach


Sunrise Restaurant, Dewey Beach

Ice Cream

Double Dippers, Rehoboth Beach
Vanderwende’s Farm Creamery, Dewey Beach
Hopkins Farm Creamery, Dewey Beach

Beach Alternatives

Jungle Jim’s Waterpark, Rehoboth Beach
Funland, Rehoboth Beach
Playland, Bethany Beach
Shell We Golf, Rehoboth
Kids Cottage, Drop-in play and learning center, Rehoboth

Evening Activities (Date Night/Adult Only Concerts)

Starboard, Dewey Beach
Bottle & Cork, Dewey Beach
Purple Parrot, Rehoboth Beach (Karaoke!)

Evening Activities Kids

Rusty Rudder, Dewey Beach (live music and dancing on the bay)


Quiet Storm, Rehoboth 

Gwyneth K. Shaw and Mairin Petrone contributed to this article. Lead photo by Abbe Foreman Photography, additional photos courtesy of Pamela Badolato.




Content Director, Main Line Parent & Philadelphia Family. Email me at pamela@familyfocus.org