DescriptionThe four communities that make up this popular shore resort are usually referred to in the plural. Although the Wildwoods—North Wildwood, West Wildwood, Wildwood and Wildwood Crest—are separate municipalities, their boundaries are indistinguishable. Together they occupy the state's southernmost isle, just north of Cape May.
For decades after the mid-18th-century departure of the Ketchemeche Indians, the land's first inhabitants, offshore farmers grazed their livestock. It wasn't until the late 19th century that fishermen and whalers began settling the region.
But it was tourism that quickly became a Wildwoods calling card. First conceived in 1899 as a practical way to keep sand out of visitors' shoes, the boardwalk evolved from a temporary feature to a cherished landmark. The first roller coaster arrived in 1916. Today the boardwalk, nearly 2 miles long, boasts three amusement piers and a variety of shops and eateries.
From Easter weekend through September battery-operated tram cars travel the wooden walkway between Cresse Avenue, at the Wildwood/Wildwood Crest border, and 16th Street in North Wildwood. Passengers can board anywhere along the route; the entire one-way trip takes about 30 minutes. For more information contact Sightseers Tram Car, 5308 Boardwalk; phone (609) 523-8726. The open-air trolleys provided by Five Mile Beach Electric Railway Co. are another fun way to get around the Wildwoods resort area during the summer; phone (800) 487-6559. The Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce organizes special events in the spring and fall; for more information phone (609) 729-4000.
The Doo Wop Back to the ’50s Neon Night Tour is a 90-minute narrated evening bus tour that highlights the Wildwoods' fanciful post-World War II resort architecture. A plethora of plastic palm trees, kidney-shaped swimming pools and candy-colored neon signs accent the space-age designs of motels and restaurants along the tour route. Tours depart Tues. and Thurs. at 8 p.m., mid-June to early September or by group appointment, from the Doo Wop Experience Museum; phone (609) 523-1958.
A half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., honors those who served in that war. Wildwood's Vietnam Veterans Remembrance Wall, at Burke and Ocean avenues at Fox Park, is a 250-foot-long monument engraved with the names of the more than 58,900 soldiers killed during that conflict.
Because the surf line lies as far as 1,000 feet from shore, the Wildwoods' beaches are among the safest in the state. Towels and umbrellas dot the sand while speedboat enthusiasts race through the water and parasailers glide above it. Surf fishing also is popular. Sterling Harbor Bait & Tackle, 1020 W. Rio Grande Ave., organizes deep-sea fishing excursions as well as boat and kayak rentals; phone (609) 729-1425. Local marinas include the Pier 47 Marina, 3001 Wildwood Blvd., phone (609) 729-4774; and Schooner Island Marina, 5100 Lake Rd., phone (609) 729-8900.
Summer officially begins in Wildwood when a multitude of colorful kites soar above the beach Memorial Day weekend during the International Kite Festival. An illuminated night kite fly, music, stunt and indoor kite championships, kite exhibits and kite-making workshops are all part of the fun.
Visitor InfoGreater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce 3306 Pacific Ave. WILDWOOD, NJ 08260. Phone:(609)729-4000
Self-guiding toursA brochure describing a self-guiding walking tour of the area's kitschy landmarks is available at the chamber of commerce. The vivid architectural style is courtesy of the many funky-looking signs, motels and restaurants erected during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.
Things to SeeCaptain Schumann's Whale and Dolphin Watching