Free Beaches – The New Jersey Guide to Budget a Beach Vacation
Ever loaded all you beach gear on your back and hauled it all the way to the sand only to find out you need a beach tag to be there. Whether the price has gone up and you are coming up short, or you had no idea there was a fee to begin with the end result is the same, no beach for you. If you are sick and tired of getting kicked off the sand because you forgot about beach tags you might want to check out one of New Jersey’s free beaches.
Located on Absecon Island just off the coast of New Jersey’s mainland, Atlantic City is one of America’s oldest vacation destinations. In fact, historians report finding evidence that the native Americans who once inhabited the land even enjoyed the beaches on the island. That being said, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that plans for a resort community began forming.
In its infancy visitors reached Atlantic City by rail. The train ran from Camden, New Jersey to Atlantic City and drew visitors from all over the state and surrounding cities like New York and Philadelphia. The influx of vacationers flocking to the seaside community led to the construction of lodging, restaurants and amusements. In 1870 the Atlantic City boardwalk was constructed, but gambling wasn’t legalized there until 1976.
Visitors to Atlantic City, New Jersey can walk onto the beach at one of several ramps located along the seven mile boardwalk. Beach tags are unnecessary because the beach is free to all. If surfing is your thing check the designated area for surfing at Crystal Beach; which is located at New Hampshire Avenue. Kayaking and windsurfing are permitted at the Jackson Avenue beach and you can fish on the jetties along Oriental and Maine Avenue. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 am to 6 pm on all but Crystal Beach, which doesn’t have lifeguards. Atlantic City does not have bathhouses, but outdoor showers are available to rinse off sand and there are plenty of public restrooms on the boardwalk. Handicap surf chairs are available free of charge.
Wildwood New Jersey is located in Cape May County and was originally a stomping ground for the Lenni Lenape Indians. It was eventually taken over by European settlers and used for farming. In 1870 the first European settlers took up residence in Wildwood and named it Angelsea. A railroad from Camden, New Jersey going to Angelsea was built in 1874, along with a bridge to accommodate those traveling by horse and buggy.
In 1905 investors bought the land and Angelseas become part of The Wildwoods. The nearly two mile stretch of boardwalk was built at the turn of the century and by 1950 it was well on its way to becoming a bustling resort community. Over the years it has been acknowledge with several honors including being on the Travel Channels “Best Beaches” show. It boasts some of the largest beaches on the east coast.
Much of this resort community was built during the “Doo-Wop” era of the 1950s and 1960s so it has a bit of a Vegas feel to it. In fact, the song “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haly & The Comets was first performed in Wildwood on Memorial Day 1954. This is also credited as being the first rock and roll record that was ever recorded, so Wildwood is often called the birthplace of rock and roll.
When you are visiting Wildwood on vacation you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of low-cost and free activities. It cost nothing to get onto the beach and splash in the waves. From Memorial Day to Labor Day the beaches are open from 10 am to 5 pm in North Wildwood and 10 am to 5:30 pm in Wildwood and Wildwood Crest. Surfing, kayaking and skim-boarding are prohibited during lifeguard hours, but you can use rafts and body boards will splashing in the waves.
If you are not visiting one of these free beaches on your Jersey shore vacation you may still be able to save on beach tags. Children and seniors often receive discount or free admission. If you don’t fall into either of those groups all hope is not lost, most beaches shave a coniserable amount off the daily cost if you buy a beach tag for the season, or week.