THE JERSEY Shore has become an in-and-out kind of place in recent years, as resorts such as Cape May, Wildwood and especially Atlantic City have extended their seasons by offering visitors plenty to do in any kind of weather.
Even during the summer, when it's all about the beach, there's more to do than just park your butt on a blanket with a good book and a strong sunscreen. Here is what's hot, cool and happening for summer '07 at the Shore, inside and out.
, the four-acre complex under a 90-foot-high glass dome opening today at
Harrah's Atlantic City
is that hotel/casino's move to differentiate itself in the new era of non-casino venues.
"I call it watertainment," said R. Scott Barber, Harrah's Atlantic City's senior vice president and general manager. "We knew a couple of years ago, with Pennsylvania and New York slots on the horizon, that we would have to differentiate and diversify our amenities. We thought of shopping centers and other things, but we were impressed with the pool complexes at Mandalay Bay and the Hard Rock, and even the old Flamingo in Las Vegas, so that is what we have done."
The dome is the largest of its kind in a casino, four times the size of the one over the atrium in the Mirage in Las Vegas. It shelters an 86,000-gallon heated pool, seven Jacuzzis, 12 cabanas, a full-service bar and $1 million worth of tropical plants.
There are lounge areas inside and out through mezzanine doors, where the outdoor deck overlooks the bay.
The Pool will be open only to Harrah's guests during the day - and then only to those over 21 because of the alcohol service. Non-Harrah's guests who want to rent a cabana or Jacuzzi will be admitted.
After 8 p.m., though, The Pool will become a club, with special events like Margarita Thursdays and Sunday night luaus.
The Pool, Harrah's Atlantic City, 777 Harrah's Blvd., 609-441-5000, www.harrahs.com.
No town loves the doo-wop like Wildwood does, and this summer, those who love the 1950s and 1960s music, architecture and aura of the place will finally have a permanent shrine to the period: the Doo Wop Experience Museum.
A growing collection of doo-wop-era artifacts, many relating specifically to Wildwood, will now be housed in the old Surfside Restaurant, saved from the wrecking ball a few years ago and rebuilt across from Convention Hall, between Burk and Davis avenues.
The Surfside has a unique, octagonal-shaped base, with bright, multicolored walls and lights. Reminisce with everything from lava lamps to vintage concert posters, squiggly-shaped tables and chairs and the inevitable Rydells and Avalons and Fabians over the sound system.
Back in the day, Million Dollar Pier had amusements and carny acts galore. More recently, Million Dollar morphed into Ocean One and now to the Pier Shops at Caesars, full of hip, high-end retail amusements with names like Baccarat and Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and - we're not making this up - Trust Fund Baby.
Shop here and you'll look like a million bucks - probably because you've spent that much.
But amidst the swank and glitter, there are touches of old-school Atlantic City honky-tonk. Throughout there are high, wooden-backed beach chairs stuck in real sand overlooking the ocean and Boardwalk.
The escalators have glass openings at the bottom, so visitors can see their inner workings. At the back - the ocean side - there's a computer-programmed set of fountains and water jets, entertaining continuously.
The Pier Shops at Caesars, One Atlantic Ocean, 609-345-3100, www.thepiershopsatcaesars.com. Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, till 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. (Restaurants have extended hours.)
Buying a thrill
Joel Richard was in New Zealand, not really looking for something new for his summer business,
Ocean City Parasail
, when he saw something he couldn't resist.
"I just call it a thrill boat. I don't think you can find anything like it around here," he said. Richard's Bayblaster is a jet boat designed to draw only four inches of water. Thus the pilot can make it slide along the calmer bay waters and do spins - sometimes complete, 360-degree spins.
Richard will take up to 10 passengers (ages 5 and up) out into Great Egg Bay for a dipsy-doodle of a boat ride. The hour ride costs $30 a person.
Richard still does parasail rides in the ocean, too. Up to 12 people can go out for the 90-minute excursion, each guaranteed at least 12 minutes in the chute behind one of his two boats, the Slip Knot or the Irie Flyer, overlooking Ocean City. That's $65 a person, and Richard says he will take anyone age 3 to 103.
Ocean City Parasail, Bay Avenue between 2nd and 3rd, 609-399-3559. Open weekends Memorial Day-June 13, then daily through Labor Day, 8 a.m.-sunset, www.oceancityparasail.com.
Clang, clang, clang
The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts in Cape May has more than two dozen trolley tours around the southern part of Cape May County, from "Cape May Unzipped," a comical tour of town started last summer, to old chestnuts like the "Welcome to Cape May Tour and Tea."
New this summer are a World War II boat tour and the "Ghosts and Goodies" trolley tour.
"Ghosts and Goodies" combines sites and stories of Cape May's fascination with apparitions with a stop at the venerable Mad Batter restaurant for dessert and ghostly storytelling.
The World War II boat takes visitors all around the area, from the watchtower in Cape May Point, built to help sight gunnery in case of German U-boat attacks, to the remnants of Fort Miles along the ocean. Each tour is $22.
Trolley tours, Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, 1048 Washington St., Cape May, 609-884-5404, www.capemaymac.org.
While most people come to the Shore in the summer to relax, there are also the folks at the United States Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May, who attend boot camp while heavy tanning goes on just outside their base.
The country's only Coast Guard training center has guided group tours by appointment, but what's even more fun are the periodic Sunset Parades.
A Sunset Parade is a large military march and formation display - much like what goes on at the Army-Navy football game - by the recruits and officers. It's hard not to feel stirred with patriotic fervor while watching the young recruits stomp and salute during the hour-long event.
Coast Guard Sunset Parade, USCG Training Center, 1 Munro Ave., Cape May, 609-898-6969, www.uscg.mil. Parades will be held at 7:45 p.m. May 27, 8 p.m. July 1, 7:40 p.m. Aug. 5, and 7 p.m. Sept. 2. Admission is free. No reservations are necessary.
Wildwood Mayor Ernie Troiano Jr., a lifelong city resident, knows that getting from the boardwalk to the water in his beloved town can be quite a trial. At low tide, the surf can be as far as 1,500 sweaty, sweltering feet across the sand.
Thus he is proud of getting an $80,000 grant from Cape May County for nine new, treated-wood beach walkways that will ease visitors' treks.
"They will be placed at strategic streets, since at some places you can use piers and the like," said Troiano of the 4-foot-wide walkways stretching 900 feet over the beach.
"As hot as the sand gets, these will be better, but I would still caution people to wear sandals or some kind of shoes," he said. "But this will be a lot better than everyone burning their feet."