Where to Shop at the Shore
The southern Jersey coast is a great place to shop for everything, from custom-made surf boards to locally handcrafted artisan goods. From Ocean City to Cape May, the shopping opportunities are plentiful and varied, each providing shoppers with a fun shopping destination with dining . Here is an overview of the shopping districts that are found in each of the towns. Happy spending!
Avalon’s evolving shopping district offers an enjoyable downtown location to browse through unique shops or take a break from shopping to grab a bite to eat or have a drink. Located along Dune Drive between 20th and 33rd Streets, here you will find specialty boutique shops offering clothing, home décor and beach supplies as well as surf shops, art galleries and much more. Some of the seven-mile island’s best eateries are within these 13 blocks so make sure you plan a lunch or dinner either before or after your shopping excursion. And don’t forget to check out some of the side streets where additional shops and restaurants can be found.
Cape May offers several unique shopping areas. The largest and most popular place to shop in Cape May is the Washington Street Mall located between Ocean and Perry Streets. Here, Washington Street is closed off to vehicular traffic, allowing visitors to stroll the three-block outdoor mall and find shops offering something for everyone. Nestled among the shops are restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors and two retro counter service eateries. Another popular Cape May shopping venue is right along Beach Avenue, where surf shops, beach supply stores, and other souvenir, gift and beachwear boutiques can be found. West End Garage is another favorite destination – this repurposed building is now home to over 55 artisan and craft vendors who well their unique, handcrafted and vintage wares in this creatively designed space. In addition to these one-stop shopping venues, don’t forget that there are many free-standing shops located throughout the Cape. Heading to the lighthouse or sunset beach? Check out Cape May Wicker and the Sunset Beach gifts, and then take a turn off the beaten path and head to Beach Plum Farm and the wineries, all of which offer unique items for sale as well as exquisite food and drink in a beautiful outdoor location.
Ocean City offers two main shopping areas – the Boardwalk and Asbury Avenue. The Boardwalk houses not only the typical Jersey Shore tee-shirt shops, but in recent years a few upscale clothing, jewelry and gift boutiques have been added as well. Boardwalk shopping can be accomplished between 6th and 14th Streets where, in addition to the upscale boutiques, you’ll find beach supply stores, surf shops and other stores in which to purchase beach necessities and souvenirs. A few blocks off the Boardwalk is Asbury Avenue, which offers a downtown shopping experience between 6th and 14th Streets. The old Stainton’s Department Store is now a gallery of independently owned shops offering a plethora of unique items, some of which are hand-crafted by local artisans. Other shops along Asbury Avenue include fashion boutiques, home décor and gift shops as well as other specialty stores. Both shopping venues have many restaurant options for you to rest your weary feet and dine on anything from ice cream to gourmet meals, and everything in between – but no bars because OC is a dry town.
Sea Isle City
While other shore towns have distinct shopping districts, Sea Isle City offers visitors the opportunity to browse through unique shops throughout this beautiful barrier island. Many are clustered around and near Excursion Park where JFK Boulevard meets with the Promenade, considered both the geographical and social center of Sea Isle for the many events and activities that occur here all year long. On the Promenade, visitors can shop for tee shirts, sweatshirts, books, gifts, beach and surf supplies at the Shoppes at Spinnaker located between 34th and 38th Streets – these are the high-rise condos you see on the left as you cross over the bridge. Going further south on the Promenade are a few shops along the way featuring beachwear and beach items. Back out on JFK Boulevard, visitors will find historic Dalrymple’s, a one-stop shopping destination for anything you may need during your vacation, including first aid products, games, greeting cards, gifts and more. Several upscale clothing boutiques can also be found here on JFK, and to the north on Pleasure Avenue and in both directions on Landis Avenue. Landis is the main drag through town – follow it south and it will lead you past other shops to 65th Street, where you will find even more stores clustered around and near the Acme and Sands Department Store complex. Sands is another one-stop shop featuring everything from flip flops to fans. With so many shopping opportunities here, you never have to leave the island to find what you want or need.
Stone Harbor is one of the quintessential shopping destinations for visitors to the southern Jersey coast. On any given day in high season, you will find scores of vacationers strolling along the 96th Street Shopping District, which is on the main drag into Stone Harbor from the mainland. It is also a favorite destination on rainy vacation days. Here you will find upscale clothing and jewelry boutiques, gift and gourmet shops, a fabulous hardware store that carries beach supplies, home décor and everything (including the kitchen sink), as well as the southern region’s only remaining movie cinema, the Harbor Theatre. Scattered among these unique shops are fabulous restaurants and bars, as well as the Reeds at Shelter Haven boutique hotel which features three restaurants, two of which are waterfront on the bay.
Recent mixed-use development in Townsends Inlet has led to the creation of new retail and dining opportunities in the south end of Sea Isle. This new complex consists of three buildings that house upscale condos and a couple restaurants. While currently there is only one boutique shop located in The Cove, we’re hoping more may join soon. For a more varied shopping experience, head a few blocks north into Sea Isle City or south over the bridge to Avalon (but make sure the Townsends Inlet bridge is open first – currently it is under construction until Spring 2019).
The Wildwoods are expansive, and so are their shopping opportunities. First stop is the famous Boardwalk, where tee shirt and gift shops, beach supply stories and other novelties can be found. Downtown Wildwood also has shops along the main drags including Rio Grande Avenue, Pacific Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. While Wildwood is an excellent destination for vacationers seeking free beaches, Boardwalk amusements and exciting nightlife, it is not specifically known for its shopping opportunities. That doesn’t mean you can’t find great shops here – you can – but not necessarily the type of shopping/dining experience you can find in other towns along the coast. If you are looking to do some serious or upscale shopping in a more defined shopping district, head north to Stone Harbor or south to Cape May.