Wondering where to stay at the shore? The Shore Blog can help you determine the best place to stay, including the best hotels, house rentals & more. Whether staying for a night or the whole season, you will find plenty of options to suit your needs. We provide a list of the best hotels at the shore for each town. If you’re interested in renting a house at the shore, we have information on house rentals. Here is a breakdown of the different options you have.
In determining what is the best place to stay at the shore, figure out which town suits your needs. Each of the 8 towns along the South Jersey Shore are unique in their own way. Most towns have hotels, house rentals and other lodging options. If you’re not sure which town you’d like to visit, read our descriptions. Click on the town name for more information. Or follow the link for each town’s “Where to Stay at the Shore” page. Here, we’ll show you the best hotels at the shore, including information on house rentals and more.
Avalon is an upscale seaside community on a barrier island known as “7 Mile Island”. Most of Avalon consists of residential areas. Most shops, bars and restaurants are concentrated on Dune Drive between 20th and 33rd Streets. However, there are also popular shops, bars and restaurants scattered throughout the island. The natural dunes in Avalon are home to a maritime forest. There are a few hotels in Avalon located around 79th Street at the southern end of town. Otherwise, visitors do condo or house rentals through realtors or online rental platforms like VRBO or Air BNB. There are a few campgrounds inland, west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
Cape May is known as “The Nation’s Oldest Seaside Resort”. That is because, back in the early 1800s, people first started visiting here. It was believed that “sea baths” aided in the recovery of a variety of illnesses. Nevertheless, soon, those visitors discovered that Cape May was a wonderful place to be, even when healthy. As a result, people started coming here for fun. By the mid-1800’s, Cape May became a seaside resort for visitors who came by train. Likewise, Cape May was the first along the coast to develop hotels and guest houses for visitors wishing to stay longer than a day. Over the years, Cape May has been known for its beautiful Victorian architecture.
Cape May was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. Today, Cape May continues to draw visitors looking for quaint Victorian B&B lodging as well as hotels and house rentals. Cape May offers visitors a wide array of activities. These activities include shopping, dining, historical museums, year-round events and lighthouses, among other amenities. Lodging is plentiful here, due to the fact that there is something going on all year. Most places are open all year round, unlike its more seasonal neighbors to the north.
Ocean City definitely earns its name as “America’s Greatest Family Resort”. Coastal Living Magazine voted Ocean City as the “Best Beach in America”. And in 2016 it named OC “America’s Happiest Seaside Town” in 2018. Anyone who has spent time here would agree that Ocean City is a great vacation destination for families. Its historic 2-mile wooden boardwalk is home to two amusement sections. Additionally, various shops and restaurants can be found here. Concerts, craft fairs and theatre productions are held at the famous Music Pier.
Ocean City is also a dry town, which means there are no bars. Visitors here can bring their own alcohol, however, having no bars means tamer crowds on the boardwalk. Ocean City offers a plethora of free events all summer long including live entertainment and activities for the whole family. To accommodate its adoring crowds, Ocean City has many lodging options including hotels, motels, guest houses and rental properties. There are also a few campgrounds inland, west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
Sea Isle City is a fan favorite for many reasons. The beaches here are amazing – expansive and flat with velvety soft sand. There are designated areas for surfing, kayaking, beach volleyball and other activities. Sea Isle has a perfect sampling of all that makes a beach town great. For example, it has great seafood restaurants, seaside shopping and lively bars.
It also is home to a 1.5-mile paved promenade that runs along the beach. The promenade is perfect for a morning bike ride before heading to the beach. Also, it is great for an evening stroll into the center of town to Excursion Park. Nightly family events, concerts and movies under the stars are held in this park. Sea Isle City has only two hotels. As a result, most people who stay here rent through realtors or online rental platforms like VRBO or Air BNB. There are a few campgrounds inland, west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
Stone Harbor shares it’s 7 Mile Island home with Avalon to the north. Like Avalon, Stone Harbor is an upscale residential town with a bustling shopping district along 96th Street. This area is home to boutique shops and dining establishments. There are several smaller motels within a couple blocks of 96th Street along Second and Third Avenues. There is also an upscale hotel called “The Reeds” right in the center of town. Otherwise, most visitors do condo or house rentals through realtors or online rental platforms like VRBO or Air BNB. There are a few campgrounds west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
Strathmere is a sleepy seaside town just south of Ocean City beyond Corson’s Inlet. It is located on the northern end of Ludlam Island. Therefore, Strathmere shares its island home with Sea Isle and Townsends Inlet to the south. Strathmere’s beauty is found on its beaches which are open, expansive and relatively uncrowded beaches. The beaches stretch along the inlet from the ocean to the bay. On weekends, Corson’s Inlet is a playground for fishing enthusiasts, boat picnickers, wave runner riders and other water-involved activities. Strathmere has a library and a handful of restaurants, but aside from that it is quaintly residential. Unfortunately, there are no hotels or motels in Strathmere. Therefore, staying here means condo or house rentals through realtors or online rental platforms like VRBO or Air BNB. There are a few campgrounds inland, west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
Townsends Inlet, on the southern end of Sea Isle, is a quiet residential community with a gorgeous ocean-to-bay beach. That means it’s perfect for fishing, picnicking or watching the boats come in and out of the inlet. New construction over the past few years has brought condominiums with dining and retail space on the street level. The sunset views from Townsends Inlet Waterfront Park are truly breathtaking. There are no hotels or motels in Townsends Inlet. However, a new condominium complex comprised of three condos. The Dunes, The Cove and The Cape – allow for short term rentals of 3 days or longer. Otherwise, overnight visitors must do condo or house rentals through realtors or online rental platforms like VRBO or Air BNB. There are a few campgrounds inland, west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
The Wildwoods are found on 5-Mile Island and consist of five communities, each with their own distinct personality. Wildwood City and North Wildwood are known for their shared wooden boardwalk and abundant nightlife. However, North Wildwood is more of a modest residential beach town at its northern tip. Wildwood City is heavily populated, more commercialized and livelier that its sister communities.
To the south lies Wildwood Crest, a quiet seaside town with no boardwalk. Here, the sale of alcohol is prohibited within its jurisdiction. Even further south is Diamond Beach which is part of Lower Township. Diamond Beach is another upscale and quiet community with large hotels and condominiums lining the beachfront. Finally, tiny West Wildwood is known for its “Small Town Charm on the Back Bay”. Hotels and motels can be found throughout all 5 Wildwood communities. Additionally, condo and house rentals realtors and online rental platforms like VRBO or Air BNB are available. There are also a few campgrounds inland, west of Route 9 and the Garden State Parkway.
Types of Lodging
Most shore towns, with the exception of Strathmere and Townsends Inlet, have hotels or motels. Hotels at the shore are, for the most part, relatively casual. Most shore hotels are not considered upscale, there are some towns with more upscale hotels (Avalon, Stone Harbor and Cape May); otherwise, expect more of the family-owned motel lodging variety when you’re here.
As it turns out, local hotels are the best hotels at the shore. That is because many local hotel/motel owners will treat you like family. They will offer you free parking, free beach tags and, in some cases, complimentary meals or other freebies. In high summer season, expect to find required minimum stays of 3-4 nights. However, this is always negotiable if you call the hotel closer to when you want to stay. If they have rooms available, they may agree to waive the minimum stay requirement. For the best hotels at the shore, check out each town’s “Where to Stay” page.
Ocean City and Cape May are the two towns in the South Jersey Shore area where you can find guest houses and “B&B” (Bed and Breakfast) lodging. In recent years, Ocean City has lost much of its guest house accommodations to hotels and condos, so Cape May is the place to visit if you’re looking for a personalized stay in locally owned homes. In fact, many people come to Cape May strictly to stay in a Victorian B&B – there is nothing like sitting on a rocking chair on a wooden front porch, sipping your morning coffee or tea and watching the horse-drawn carriages go by.
House and Condo Rentals
For most people coming to the South Jersey Shore for more than a weekend, house rentals are the preferred lodging option. Online rental platforms like VRBO and Air BNB have not been as prolific at the South Jersey Shore as they are in larger cities or resort areas, but their numbers are growing. The issue faced by visitors who rent through these platforms is that New Jersey has imposed a nearly 12 % tax which is paid by the renter as part of their rental fees. However, rentals directly from an owner or through a realtor are exempt from this tax. If the best place to stay at the shore for you is a house rental, reach out to a realtor for more information.
Certainly the most tried, true and trusted way to secure a house rental is through a realtor – as a renter, you will not be subject to this tax and you will always have an immediate resource to contact if you have an issue with the property, as opposed to off-island owners or companies that may not be easily accessible in the case of an emergency. (Plus, by supporting your local realtors you are helping the economy of your favorite shore town!)
For those who like to rough it, there are several camping options offshore. As a matter of fact, there are about 50 campgrounds nestled in the wooded areas of the Cape. Therefore, there are more campgrounds per square mile than in other regions of New Jersey. Many of these campgrounds from are located to the west of the Garden State Parkway along Route 9. This inland route runs parallel to the coast of mainland New Jersey. Most campgrounds will require a 10- to 20-minute drive to get onto the barrier islands. The campgrounds offer every setup from no hook-up tent camping to full hook-up for RVs, as well as cabin rentals. Many people park their camper here for the season. Most campgrounds offer pools, fishing lakes, seasonal events and activities and other amenities.
Where do you think is the best place to stay at the shore? What information do you like to know to determine where to stay at the shore? Leave a comment below to help others who are wondering where to stay at the shore.