My husband and I have been to Wildwood, New Jersey three times in the past four years and we will definately return again and again. We have also taken our 7 year old son there and he loves it too. We live in New Alexandria, PA and this is about a six hour drive from our home, so this serves as a nice little getaway not far from home. Our last visit was in late June 2002. We are both in our early 30's--so this is opinion is from a couple's/family perspective.
The Typical Visitor Make-up
Mostly young couples, college-aged singles, and people under 40. Wildwood doesn't generally attract older couples due to the party-like atmosphere.
Wildwood is situated along the southern Jersey shore about 40 miles south of Atlantic City and just about 10 miles North of Cape May. Wildwood is divided into areas consisting of North Wildwood, Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest. It is easy to navigate the city using a map which you can obtain at any number of travel centers. You would typically enter Wildwood via Route 47 on Rio Grande Ave which is right in the heart of the city.
Wildwood is, of course a beach community, so there are miles of beaches to sun yourself on. The ocean is right off the boardwalk and is usually packed with people tanning or playing volleyball. The water is typically warm during the summer months, but is not clear and is of a greenish dirty color. Surfing and water sports are quite popular here.
The boardwalk spans about 3 miles along the ocean from the southern tip of North Wildwood to the north part of Wildwood Crest.
This is the main attraction of the Wildwood area and is where you can find plenty of activities to do. There are several visitor's centers on the boardwalk where you can obtain easy to navigate maps of the area. Once you park (about a block off the boardwalk) you can enter the boardwalk at any number of areas. Parking ranges anywhere from $2-$6, but if you are staying at a hotel/motel near the boardwalk you won't have to worry about this.
Morey's Pier is the feature family attraction of the boardwalk and is a must if you like water parks and/or rides. It's like a little Disneyland on the beach. There are about 4 huge rollercoasters, 20 or so water rides, and all types of other rides and games of chance. The cost for Morey's Pier is a little pricey and tickets range from $8 for just a water ride pass up to $32 which includes all of the coasters and rides. The cost of the tickets vary depending on which day of the week and what month of the year it is. Many of the area hotel's offer discount passes to Morey's Pier and you can also pick up discount passes at a visitor's center.
There are hundreds of shops along the boardwalk and even a shopping mall right on the boardwalk as well. You can really get some bargains for T-shirts and little souveniers and it is a good idea to check out what all of the shops have before you make a purchase as you may find the same T-shirt you just paid $10 for at half the price in another shop. If you like fudge, stock up here. Wildwood is well known for having among the best fidge around. You can pick up a pound for between $5 and $9 depending on the shop and many of the shops run buy-one-get-one-free pounds of fudge.
There is a wide variety of price ranges for a room in Wildwood. I advise to shop around on internet sites a lot before booking. You can get a nice clean standard motel room for as little as $30/night or pay up to $150 for a hotel on the beach during the peak summer season. Depending on your needs, you are sure to find one that fits your tastes and budget. Unless you want to pay about double the rack rate, avoid Memorial Day Weekend and Fourth of July weekend. We went down during Memorial Day weekend two years ago and paid $100 a night for a little divey motel and the city was a madhouse of people. Way overcrowded!!!
Food, Food, and More Food
You will not have any trouble finding a restaurant in Wildwood. They are EVERYWHERE! All types of cuisine can be found here, but of course the specialty is seafood. Especially Blue crab (what an awesome dish)!
The Boathouse Restaurant-located right on Rio Grande in the heart of Wildwood is a must if you like seafood. They offer waterfront dining and have a plethora of seafood dishes as well a Prime Rib, Chicken, and Filet Mignon, etc. Prices can be a little high, but it is well worth it. This is where you can get some awesome Blue Crab and Lobster dishes as they are well known in Wildwood for this being their specialty.
Russo's is a popular little Italian restaurant located on Prk Boulevard in Wildwood which offers a vast menu of fine Italian dishes at a reasonable price. Dishes range anywhere from $7.95 for some of their pasta dishes to $24.95 for a seafood sampler platter with Mussels, shrimp, clams, scallops and lobster. Yummy Yummy.
There are plenty of restaurants around of all types. There are tons of pizza and take-out places as well as Chinese, Japanese, Italian, American, French, Greek, whatever your desire. Seafood and Steakhouses are everywhere and there are even plenty of little diners and fast food restaurants.
Wildwood is a well-known party spot. This is why it attracts so many college-aged and younger couples. The city comes alive after dark. There are bars on nearly every street corner and you can walk safely on the streets of Wildwood at night from lounge to lounge. There are discos, Irish Pubs, New Wave, Clubs and lounges of all kinds. Many of them have a cover charge and most of them have some kind of $1 or $2 drink special depending on which night of the week it is.
There are plenty of things to do. You can go on a dinner cruise or rent at jet ski at any number of places. Water sports are quite popular here and crabbing is another popular activity.
A popular dinner cruise is the Sea queen (tickets are around $25/pp). It takes you out for a little dolphin watching adventure and your buffet is included. The food on the buffet is OK, not exactly high-quality. More salads, and side dishes than anything and just a few entree choices that weren't anything to write home about, but the cruise itself was an interesting experience.
Jet-ski rentals are about $25 for a half hour ride (at your own risk of course.) The waters here are generally calm but being the Jersey shore the water is a dirty-greenish color and is not clear at all.
If you are in your 20's or 30's and like to party, Wildwood is the place to go. I would not recommend a visit here for an older couple or for someone just looking for a peaceful stay away from home as partying is going on everywhere all night long. This is also a great place for families with young children as there are plenty of family activities. We love to go to Wildwood at least once each summer to experience the Nightlife, great food, and water activities and I am sure we will be visiting for years to come!