JERSEY for SHORE
It's one of those places I never thought I would go, but that just shows you how many undiscovered gems there are around the world.
I have been to 48 of the 50 states and my kiddies have 29 passports stamps but have not seen much of America, so when there was an opportunity to head North, we turned it into a mini family vacay!
When one of my Chunkies had a lacrosse tournament in New Jersey, let's just say I was less than enthused. We had two Delta companion passes from our Delta Platinum Reserve Card to use up before they expired in November. We looked at Orlando, Miami lots of beachy spots but they were full, New Jersey was wide open! The plan was to get in, get out and get to NYC as fast as the pathway train could take me. At the end of the third day as the lacrosse tourney wrapped up, all of the Chunkies begged to stay and I was a little said to leave too I must admit!
With the tournament in Brick Township, NJ - we opted out of the team hotel up the turnpike and booked a motel on Point Pleasant Beach. Yes motel as in hotel, motel, it was not the Holiday Inn. When booking last minute (like two days before we left), a place to stay on the Jersey Shore in July can prove rather challenging. After searching every app, every website and googling every possibility, our best option, I decided, was the Wind Swept Motel. As we pulled up, a red neon sign blinked NO VACANCY, reaffirming I really did in fact snag the last room. The Chunkies were very excited for their first motel experience. A room that lets directly out to the outside, vending machines in the hallway and an ice machine. I was looking for a place to put a quarter in the vibrating beds, but apparently those were replaced since the 1970s. The motel was clean, located right on the beach and steps from the boardwalk. So all in all despite the fridge in the bathroom, it was a pleasant experience.
After games, we headed over to Red's Lobster Pot. Note, RED's Lobster Pot, not Red Lobster. Because of zoning or expense, many of the restaurants in Point Pleasant Beach are BYO with no corkage fee so you can bring in whatever you want to drink! An open air seafood restaurant on a marina, we waited about 30 minutes for our table, then you go up to the counter and order your dinner and a server brings it to you. The kids opted for baskets of fried shrimp and fries while Brian and I split a 2 pound Jersey lobster that came with fries and coleslaw. This bad boy was ginormous and inexpensive ($30) compared what we pay for lobsters in the South! The kids decided they would really like to try some lobster and a couple lobsters later, the lobster bibbed kids were lobster lovers too.
At 11, 10 and 7 my little foodies have the palettes of adults, ordering filet, shrimp, sushi, crab legs, big salads, oysters, most veggies and now lobster. With our recent dinner bills, I was kinda wishing they were hot dog, hamburger, chicken nugget kinda kids but there's no going back now. Brian and I reaffirmed our most cost efficient vacations are cruises! Look for my tips in the next blog!
After the afternoon games, we got in some beach time at the Jersey Shore. Our first experience on Mid-Atlantic beaches, our kids were a little set off by the enormous pipe that ran along the beach. We were told they are making improvements and the pipe would soon be buried soon, so it was easy enough to ignore when they spotted the giant waves. Wherever we roam, our happy place is the beach and my kids are not picky what kind of beach it is as long as it has water and waves and the Jersey Shore did not disappoint. For hours and hours they dodged waves, jumped waves got pummeled by waves and could not be happier. A good day at the beach is when you have to empty the pockets of your swimsuit because they are full of sand and I think we brought a couple pounds of the beach back with us!
Later that evening for dinner we opted for Italian which is rare for us. Brian and I have a long list of our rarely eats and almost never eats including pasta, pizza, bread, rice, potatoes, red meat and any other carb like food. We eat mostly fish and veggies - salmon and steamed spinach is a staple we will eat 3-4 times a week. We were told Spannos was off the chains and amazing and decided to give it a try - it did not disappoint! Another BYO place - we had a bottle of red and a bottle of white and brought our appetite!
After being seated, we were greeted with a complimentary platter and I mean PLATTER of bruschetta which my kids devoured in less than 5 minutes. We each had a bite and it was full on vampire level garlic and delicious! The boys each ordered chicken parmesan and my daughter ordered cheese ravioli and asked for a second helping! Brian and I started with a salad and then split the seafood fra diavolo and picked the spicy option. Since we don't eat clams they said we can sub any other seafood so we opted for extra scallops on top of the shrimp, mussels and lobster! It was served over angel hair pasta which took lots of will power to avoid but the meal was so delicious and so spicy I did have to have a few bites of bread, ok a whole piece of bread to put out the fire. We all agreed Spannos was hands down one of the best meals of our lives which is a lot for us to say since we rarely eat Italian. The kids asked to eat more Italian back in Georgia but after Alfredos closed - I'm afraid you just can't get that level of Italian in the South!
After dinner we strolled through Jenkins Boardwalk, an amusement park on the beach. The kids enjoyed some cotton candy and the whole family rode the Himalaya. It's pay as you go for each ride or $80 per person for unlimited rides. Since I hadn't planned on dropping $400 for the fam, we told the kids we'll do a ride and hit Six Flags with our yearly passes when we got back to Georgia. $25 got the whole fam on the Himalaya with no change to spare!!!!
After the final day of games we were off to New York City for a few days to explore, the kids first time in the city. We all left the Jersey Shore with amazing memories and smiles. And I learned even if it's a place you never thought you go, a little research and an open mind and you may find yourself a gem too!