WILDWOOD - Ridiculously wide beaches that don't cost a penny, a funky boardwalk and tons of chrome-and-neon, doo-wop-style architecture have made the Wildwoods a prime vacation resort for decades.

They've also made the three-town resort the winner of this year's Best Beaches contest.

Wildwood, Wildwood Crest and North Wildwood teamed up to submit a joint entry in the contest, which was run by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium/New Jersey Sea Grant and the Richard Stockton College Coastal Research Center as a way of making people feel more connected to and protective of the state's 127-mile coastline.

Residents and tourists voted in an online poll, and scientists also weighed in on technical and environmental grounds to pick a winner.

Following the Wildwoods in the poll, in order of finish, were Ocean City; the communities along Long Beach Island, which submitted a joint entry; Asbury Park; Sea Isle City; Cape May; Island Beach State Park; Seaside Heights; Cape May Point and Avalon.

Wildwood won the first contest in 2008; Ocean City won last year.

"We like Wildwood because of the incredible free - key word 'free' - beaches," said Doris Jordan, 81, of Lewistown, Pa., who was vacationing with her husband, Lou, 86. They spent their honeymoon here 51 years ago and brought their daughter here when she was a child.

"It's a trip down memory lane," she said.