When Philadelphians go to the beach they say they're going "downashore."
Goin downashore this summer?
Don't look for me there -- well, not most of the time, anyway.
It's been years since I've been to the Jersey shore for an extended length of time.
Why? Because the whole experience is dreadfully overrated. OK, so I've said it and I realize that this is sacrilegious.
Yes, I know the Jersey shore is convenient. But after that, there's not much you can say on its behalf. Not that we wish any of the shore towns ill. To the contrary, we want them to thrive and flourish. And for those who enjoy the shore we wish nothing but the best.
We understand and appreciate how cherished the Jersey shore is for many people and what wonderfully fond memories it holds. That's all good.
I do go downashore for day trips. And sometimes I may even stay overnight. On those occasions I like to be in Margate. The great thing about Margate is you walk right on to the beach. It's right there -- no dunes, no obstructions, no boardwalk and no circuitous route. You can actually see the ocean from the closest street that runs parallel to it.
And during the week it's wonderful. Plus, the town maintains a residential, unhurried atmosphere while providing great amenities, including superb restaurants.
There are sections of Margate that have a grand, old world quality and the architecture of many of the homes is itself noteworthy.
But I find that most Jersey shore towns are more crowded and congested than ever. In Ocean City you’ll find block after block of dreary duplexes all looking exactly the same. They are so close together that if your neighbor sneezes you’re likely to catch a cold.
At least Atlantic City has its casinos and of these the best of the bunch is the beautiful Borgata (pictured). And Atlantic City is just a shell's throw from Margate.
Further south in Wildwood teens still run wild, beer bellies still abound and the messages that adorn those cheap t-shirts are more offensive than ever.
Except for AC and Margate, to me, it's simply not a turn on.
Yes, I know about Avalon and Stone Harbor. But they've always seemed a bit stuffy and somewhat inbred. Unless you have a home there, fuhhgettaaboutit.
I will admit that Cape May is charming and does have the added allure of history. But I don't want to have to stay in a bead and breakfast.
And did I mention how much I hate having to buy a beach tag to access the beaches? Except for The Wildwoods and Atlantic City, as far as I know there is a fee to use the beach. OK, so Margate does have a beach fee but if you buy your tag early its ridiculously inexpensive and it's the quickest beach town to get to (along with AC, Brigantine and Vetnor).
Still, when it comes time for my summer vacation I hop in my car and drive to a tropical island where palmetto trees, magnolias, exotic birds and crepe myrtle are plentiful and you may even see an alligator or two. On this island you don’t need beach tags to enjoy the smooth, inviting beach and the sea is calm with an ocean temperature that’s more like bathwater.
You can walk, jog, roller blade or bicycle for miles under lush tropical greenery along well-maintained paths. Dolphins dance in the waters where fishing, boating, crabbing and shrimping beckon. And when you are not golfing on world-famous courses you can play tennis on championship-style clay courts. Shopping and dining choices are endless and the friendly natives speak in a slow drawl that invites you to slow down linger. At night as you walk along the beach you can enjoy a sky that is literally bedazzled with stars.
Thank goodness for Hilton Head!