Casino Pier, Seaside Heights, New Jersey, USA
The intent was to drive to New Jersey a little late in the morning, hit a gym (a chain that has branches in new jersey - not to far from Asbury Park) and check out the Pinball Museum and possibly Seaside Heights for a nice day of riding and relaxing.
Lots of construction on Belt Parkway, but the Staten Island Expressway was surprisingly OK.
The weather: Hazy, Hot, High Humidity)
The gym was ok. Not too crowded. Did an hour of treadmill and some crunch machines. (I am trying to drop a few pounds.) I like trying different locations of a chain. It was not too far out of the way.
By 12, I was on the way to Asbury Park. As I was nearing the town, it reminded me of the road into Atlantic City. The area before the attraction was not very nice looking. It was run down and it was easy to see that the people were hurting. Lots of boarded up stores and not a lot of hope.
By the time I got near the area that I wanted to go, I was shocked by how crowded it was. Granted it was near 1 PM, there was a concert setting up by the Stone Pony, a large craft show with hundreds of pop-up tents, but parking was nowhere to be found. I tried lots, meters, the "wait and pounce" approach. Nothing! I even passed the attraction I wanted to visit, The Pinball Museum, but alas all I could do was creak on by.
While I was scanning for a space, I got a sense that this looks like a place worthy of visiting. There was a nice vibe and a sense of "happiness" from those around me. I had never been here before and it was always on my bucket list. I saw enough to realize that it will be worth it again - but perhaps on a weekday.
I opted to abort this part of the mission and head to Seaside Heights.
Unfortunately and fortunately, I stayed on Route 35. I got to pass Belmar and also on the fishing bucket list is to fish from a few of the party boats there. We often meet up with the Belmar fleet when I fish from Sheepshead Bay, in Brooklyn, but when we do, the Brooklyn boats have to travel a long way to do so. It's better to leave from a port closer to the action. (More Fishing Time!)
Also, by doing this, I passed several small sea side towns that were very pretty: Red Bank is a lovely town with beautiful view and a lot of artsy things that the Mrs. would like. Ortley Beach and the areas around it are on a narrow piece of land with lots of nice beach shops, small marinas, jet ski rentals, local places to eat and of course the obligatory 7-11s and WaWa's. I took a great photo on the way home as the sun was setting. The ride to Seaside was long, but scenic.
Since my time was limited, I SHOULD have taken the Garden State Parkway south to 37 and headed right in to Seaside. It would have saved me about an hour. I learned that after looking at a map when I got home. OK, live and learn.
Parking was hard, but I found a lot near the northern end of the boardwalk. The guy told me he owns the other lots and it would be better for my car (and five dollars cheaper) if I moved up. I did and that was it. The eagle has landed.
The boardwalk is smaller than Wildwood. (I would say it's close to a third of its length. There is no "Tram Car" to watch, but there is a sky-ride sort of chair lift that takes you from the start of the boardwalk (where I was) to the amusement area. IT is 3 bucks for a one-way and 5 for a round trip. (You can take the return trip at a later time it's not like the Knoebel's up and down trip at once.) I would do this later.
The boardwalk is again a lot like Wildwood. There are cheesey t shirt stands, a lot of food stands (Most with recurring ownerships) There are at least 3 Three Brothers From Italy restaurants, 2 Kohr's icecream, a few games interpersed, etc. In the middle of the boards a stand alone places like a Dunkin Doughnuts, a chamber of commerce hut, a few more restaurants with access to a roof-top mini golf course. What I also found were quite a few bars with pretty good live entertainment (The Regge duo was spectacular) that also served various types of boardwalk comfort food and sea food. The crowds were mixed in terms of ages, but most of the people were having a great time. The prices were high, but most of the food looked good.
If you wanted access for the beach, I think it was 10 bucks for adults and kids were free. (I didn't go on the beach - though it looked clean and the waves were "Jersey Shore Gentle.") Speaking of that show, I was not really a fan, but some of the souvenir stands were hawking mentions of it. I also saw a sign that said something like "All of the wood products were made from the boardwalk that was destroyed by hurricane Sandy." However one of the stickers said "MAde in Canada" Most other things were made in China.
I went to the waterpark "BreakWater Beach." It was hopping and I think something like 52 bucks with a ride wristband to be used at a later time or the same day. The waterpark was clean. In fact, after a longer than needed wait to get in, (Short Staffed) I have to say the maintenance people I came across were very hard working and acting like they were enjoying their job. I thought they were exceptional.
There was the usual assortment of slides, a hot tub, a lazy river and a decent wave pool. Wave Pools are important to me because they can cool you off quick and they entertain a lot of people at once. The water was a little warmer than most (which I appreciate) and the cycle was something like 5 minutes on and 10 minutes off.
The River was a basic oval with only one entry and exit area. There were only a few elements to navigate or aim for. One thing that is also very popular in Keanburg is the "Fish Slapping." Straegically hanging down from metal rods are Polyurethane covered (I think) foam fish. People in the tube try to slap them as they go under them. People really seem to like this. I slaped my share of fish, but I "didn't catch 'em all." While this is going on, people on land can press down on plungers to release (Bubble Bombs) that tickle whatever body part happen to be under them. (I'll leave it at that.)
In the past, I have ranted and raved about the lack of tubes at Hurricane Harbor. This place must have read my post and took it to the extreme. There were too many tubes in this river. It was like what happens when you have too many Cheerios in your bowl and they start stacking one on top of the other. That and the slow current made for quite a few clogged areas.
Also at this park are lots of (Very low to the ground) chairs and a few lounge chairs. Very nice. The pop music was too loud in some spots. Didn't eat there. Only 2 urinals that were happily cleaned by happy maintenance workers.
Took a stroll down the rest of the boardwalk. I saw a small stage used for local concerts and a radio station - sub-station that played music live from the beach.
I never made it to the rides, but Casino pier was starting to light up at the time I got a text and had to leave (and face a three hour ride home.) Again, next time Route 37 to the Garden State Parkway.
Side Note: There was a long line on the boardwalk that appeared out of nowhere. Apparently it's for a hot shower for $4.
All in all, I was impressed by my first visit to Seaside Heights and it's small but fun waterpark and interesting amusement pier. Mostly I liked the overall vibe of the place. I will look up some other things to do on the bay side and I also hope to try again to visit the Pinball Museum at Asbury Park.
If you ever decide to go, Slap one of those fish for me!
Thank you for reading this.
Here's To Shorter Lines & Longer Trip Reports!
There was a lot more to the boardwalk not only before Sandy, but before the fire the following year that eliminated the southern end of the boardwalk. I never go to Seaside without getting a fresh-squeezed orangeade from Kohrs. And I've been to the Silverball Museum several times...love that place!
The amusement park rises bold and stark..kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
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