Two NJ Beaches, Two NJ Experiences: From Belmar to Atlantic City

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This travel post is part of a host agreement.

A couple of weekends ago I headed out to join a group of fellow bloggers to give New Jersey beaches a shout out. Weather-wise it wasn’t the best weekend. We’ve been experiencing lots of rain lately, and though I was hoping for some serious beach time, Mother Nature had her own plans.

Nevertheless, I joined the group, made up of bloggers who are part of the Social Media Moms and New Jersey Digital Moms groups, and under the #JerseyLove hashtag shared information on Belmar, NJ, one of the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, as well as Caesars Palace and Atlantic City, not as hard hit by Sandy, but affected by the media’s misrepresentation of the damage to their boardwalk area – which was close to none in comparison to other areas of the Jersey coast, affecting their tourism.

An afternoon in Belmar, NJ

I had never been to Belmar. This cute coastal town is in Monmouth County and has a mile long boardwalk and over a mile long beach. The boardwalk was recently rebuilt since Sandy and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. A lot of homes and Mom and Pop businesses were hurt here, and there are a still areas under re-construction, still some displaced families, and lots of businesses looking forward for visitors to come back and help them get back on their feet. Our group was hosted by D’Jais, a fun restaurant and bar, which offers good food that can be enjoyed while at their outdoor seating overlooking the beach.

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Belmar’s Mayor Matt Doherty came to greet and welcome us here, and accepted a $5,000 donation to help families displaced by Hurricane Sandy – a generous donation made by California-based business D6 SurfSkimmer, who was in town promoting their new beach product, the Surf Skimmer.

Soon after, a few of us decided to take on the waves formed by the tropical storm hitting outside, and with the help and guidance of the surfing instructors from Summer Time Surf, we hit the beach. I have to say, surfing was one of the most fun water activities I have ever participated in and was immediately addicted.

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The instructors were funny, patient, and excited to get us out there learning. Despite the strong winds, stronger waves, and cold water (which wasn’t too bad with the wetsuits on), we were able to experience a beach day at Belmar and see for ourselves why this is one of the most popular beaches in the area.

A Weekend in Atlantic City

Atlantic City’s biggest dilemma from Hurricane Sandy wasn’t so much due to damage from the storm, as it was due to damage from wrong information from the press. Reporters insisted on communicating to the public that the boardwalk there was damaged or destroyed – which was not the case. The family owned Steel Pier, a popular amusement park in Atlantic City, is still standing strong and open for business. The boardwalk is just as I left it since my last visit to the area.

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I also had fun checking out the Absecon Lighthouse, which was first lit in 1857. One of the oldest lighthouses in the country, it offers a great view of the area at the top of its 228 stair climb. It is New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse, and one of the third tallest in the country.

abseconWith Buddy, the volunteer lighthouse keeper

Or hotel hosts, Caesars Palace Atlantic City, is operating in full swing, with guests filling up their casinos and restaurants, as well as coming in to enjoy their many evening shows and events. They are currently in the final stages of preparation for the upcoming Atlantic Food & Wine Festival, which will take place July 25-28, 2013, and of which we got a preview of.

My Suite at Caesars Palace Atlantic City:


Though I am not into gambling at all, the nightlife and other events offered are the kind of fun I would enjoy with my husband or girlfriends. The resort is part of Caesars Entertainment Group and encompasses  Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Showboat Atlantic City and Bally’s Atlantic City, which means being able to access all the fun these resorts have to offer as well. What spoke most to me were the cooking classes led by top chefs (sometimes hosted by celebrity chefs) at The Viking Cooking School at Harrah’s Resort. Now, that is sometime my foodie heart could get into.

I enjoyed my stay at Caesars. My most memorable moment there was my dining experience at the Atlantic Grill and the Sunday brunch at Nero’s, where Chef de Cuisine John Mejlak pulls out all the stops with everything from your traditional brunch flair of waffles, eggs Benedict, and pastries, to sushi, crab legs, and caviar on toast. It’s quite the experience, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. I recommend dining at the sit-down restaurants. Though the buffet may seem more budget-friendly, the customer service needs some work. Overall, it was a fun weekend, and I am glad I went out to see these areas for myself since Sandy. Both areas were affected in different ways, but both are ready to host visitors for the summer.

brunch at nero'sChef de Cuisine John Mejlak brings creativity, originality, and a variety of flavors to Nero’s Sunday brunch.

Two Beaches, Two Different Experiences

The experience is quite different in these locations. Belmar is more of a small beach town feel, wonderful for families looking for a calm, quite, family friendly beach vacation.

Caesars Palace and Atlantic City as a whole, is larger in scale, busier, more active, with more to do both inside and outside of the resort and at night. I am not sure this would be the vacation for my kids, but they are definitely working on making strides to gear some experiences to become more family friendly. The Steel Pier and Absecon Lighthouse can really offer that, as well as the brunch at Nero’s, which would be especially nice if you were wanting to celebrate a nice family event.

I hope you can check them out this summer!

As New Jersey is my new home, I would like to give it some love and thus I will be covering more New Jersey beach areas throughout the summer, highlighting places to visit and things to do there.

Thanks to the SMMS and the NJDM for allowing me to join their group for the weekend! Many thanks to the sponsors and partners for their hospitality during our visit. I received no monetary compensation. I appreciate the considerations offered and the freedom to express all opinions as my own.

My Ride

For this trip, Subaru lent me a new 2014 Subaru Forester, which I got to test out during the few hours that it took to get to these beach destinations and back. I was hoping to take some great videos and highlight some fab scenery along the way, but with a tropical storm on me the entire time, and the traffic that usually follows, it was nearly impossible.

#SubaruForester

However, I was still pretty excited to check out:

I will write more information about the vehicle in a separate post, but I will say it was a great ride. Some of the safety features took some getting used to, such as the notifications that light up when crossing over the lane dividers – which, if you every drive in NJ, you know is always just to get through. The technology features were easy to maneuver and  I am a huge fan of the push start buttons in cars.

It probably wouldn’t have fit my family of 5 very comfortably, but the trunk was spacious, and 4 adults, and a smaller family, would’ve traveled well. Lastly, I took advantage of the sky roof as often as I could and enjoyed how bright and spacious it made the car feel.


 

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Carol Cain

Carol is her happiest when on an adventure, either close to home or farther away. She's the mom to three fun boys and wife to a handsome Irish/Scot. She lives in New Jersey with her happy crew, but will always be a girl from Brooklyn. You can read her full profile here.

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3 Responses to Two NJ Beaches, Two NJ Experiences: From Belmar to Atlantic City

  1. shutterbuggeek says:

    Nice recap! There's so much to see and do in AC, and there's really something for everyone!

  2. India Visa says:

    Sounds interesting. i would love to go there.

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