Ah, summer time has arrived. As we head into the Memorial Day week, left and right BBQ grills are getting fired up, pools are opening, and as my one (female) friend mentioned, “Time to break out the white pants”. The summer season also obviously marks the beginning of the beach season as well. Luckily for me, a buddy of mine has a family home about 400 meters from the beach in beautiful Avalon, New Jersey.
Now let me say off the bat – this is not your MTV Jersey Shore type location. If you want to see Ed Hardy shirts and trashy college students, head 20 minutes up the road to Wildwood, NJ or go to Dewey Beach in Delaware and you can see that sort of foolishness there. Avalon is much more family friendly, with several locally owned restaurants and shops, mini-golf, and bike rental places. There are people of all ages, but can’t say of all races (I have to report that in the weekend I was there, including myself, I counted a grand total of 9 minorities). I also don’t think the LGBT crowd would have any problems on Avalon beach, but I’m pretty sure when we went on our day trip to Rehoboth beach in Delaware, they were all there.
Getting to Avalon is easy, but getting in isn’t. If you try and go on Friday night, you’ll hit a one lane traffic jam getting in that can last miles and take up to a couple of hours. Same goes for getting out of the town on Sunday night. But once you get over the bridge into Avalon, the town is a welcome sight and is such a great place to relax. You’ll quickly forget your stress from the traffic. I’ll go down the list of the things to see and do.
The beach is easily the highlight of the town. It’s not usually too crowded, and is clean and family friendly. Make sure when you head to the beach, you go there with cash because unless you have a pass that residents pay for, it’s $6 a day, $12 for the week, and $26 for the season. They don’t want you bringing booze on the beach, but you can get away with it if you’re not being too rowdy. Watch out for the seagulls dive bombing down to get the food though; they’re aggressive and relentless. And finally, the lifeguards are pretty strict about staying near the lifeguard seats and not swimming out too far. You’ll hear a whistle on average every 10-15 minutes. The pictures below were taken at around 11 in the morning; the crowds really rolled in about an hour after that.
If you’re looking for a quick bite to eat head to Nemo’s Pizza. It’s a local family restaurant only open during the summer season. There you can get your pizza, pasta, or Italian sub fix for a decent price. I’d say the pizza is pretty close to the kinda you can get a Papa Gino’s for you New Englanders reading this.
If the fun and sun on the beach gets a little boring, there’s a fun local mini-golf (or Putt Putt if you prefer) place called Pirate Island Golf. Get the last shot in at Pirate Island and you win a free game. And next to Pirate Island is the Avalon Freeze, a small, local ice cream shop with the usual soft serve offerings and their version of the Dairy Queen Blizzard called the Avalon Freezer. Watch out – the Avalon Freezer is as filling as a meal.
For breakfast food, Avalon offers two family breakfast joints. The first is Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. Open from 7 AM- 1 PM, this place will always hit the spot, with every type of pancake, waffle, egg, breakfast meat combo you can think of. I personally love the Special Combo that is 1 egg, 3 butter pancakes, bacon, and toast. I usually also get a side of home-fries because I think they’re some of the best. If you get a fruit pancake (bananas, blueberries, whatever) keep in mind they don’t make the pancake with the fruit in it, they put it on top. Now the place is probably a little overpriced, you’ll end up spending at least $10, and it’s cash only. And don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a table – the place is big, but everyone in Avalon ends up there around brunch time. One final thing that you’ll also probably notice is that the dozens of waitresses running around are all high school girls. Just saying, it’s kinda weird. Here’s some pics of the food there:
The second place is the Pudgy Pelican. Much smaller, and a little less high school cheerleader with their employees, the Pudgy Pelican is a solid diner style back up for breakfast with pretty much the same breakfast offerings as Uncle Bill’s, except that it’s open longer for the lunch crowd with more sandwich offerings. I also personally think their omelette is far superior than the one you can get at Uncle Bill’s as well.
The one exception to the quaint family feel is the one bar in Avalon called “The Princeton“. Located at the end of the main drag in the center of town, the Princeton is one of the few, if not the only, bar in town that’s big enough and loud enough to draw a crowd that includes undoubtedly the college, underage drinking posse. Since it is the place to be, and pretty much the only one in town, you’ll pay a pretty penny to get in on a weekend night, and you probably won’t find that many great drink specials once inside. That being said, if you are looking for a place to drink, dance, have a good time with a group of friends and want to find someone to hook up with – The Princeton is probably your best bet.
Avalon, NJ is a great place to go for a long weekend beach outing. It’s clean, safe (no joke, you can literally leave all your stuff on the beach for hours and nothing will happen to it) and you’ll no doubt get your relaxation in.