Best of the Shore 2010
MINI-GOLF Boomers nostalgic for the carnival of their youth lament the demise of the old Belmar Playland, but at least there’s still Belmar Playland and Roof-Top Golf, a kitschy maze of 18 holes filled with suitably silly obstacles perfect for entertaining (and frustrating) the biggest and smallest would-be Arnold Palmers. 1400 Ocean Avenue, 732-681-5115.
DINER Who’s On Third boasts a baseball theme, but it’s the Flintstonian “Mile High” sandwiches that are the home run. The place is a mecca for breakfast, but skip the long waits then and drag your brood off the beach for a midday meal instead—with the caveat that you might not still fit in your bathing suits when it’s over. 1300 Third Avenue, 732-449-4233.
SHOPPING The prospect of a retail stroll down Americana-infused Third Avenue will have you almost hoping for a cloudy day. Among its dozens of shops, find classic menswear at Village Tweed and equally classic threads for her at Camel’s Eye; the Third Avenue Surf Shop offers suitably gnarly surfwear to keep any Shore teen feeling stylish. (Owner Curran Fallon also offers private surfing lessons.) Our favorite retail spot? Soothing home-and-garden oasis Nest, which serves up a treasure trove of truly lovely accoutrements for both (and sure smells nice, too). Stroll, browse, and bring the charge card. Village Tweed, 1213 Third Avenue, 732-449-2723; Camel’s Eye, 1223 Third Avenue, 732-449-3636; Third Avenue Surf Shop, 1200 Third Avenue, 732-359-6886, 3rdavesurf.com; Nest, 1317 Third Avenue, 732-974-8900.
VINTAGE RESORT All that’s missing from the fabulous oceanfront Breakers is ladies twirling parasols. (Paging Jane Seymour in Somewhere in Time!) Our fave: Eating breakfast on the veranda, facing the beach. More tea, please. 1507 Ocean Avenue, 732-449-7700, breakershotel.com.
BREAKFAST The thing you’ll wonder about Mariner’s Cove more than anything is: Where do they store all this food? The cozy coffee shop has a breakfast menu that can only be called behemoth, with offerings that range from your traditional eggs and pancakes to authentic Irish bangers and mash, banana cinnamon sugar waffles, and more than 200 renditions of the omelet. (Caviar, anyone?) The wait can be a bit long, and the service is polite but slightly brusque (this is not the place to linger over a meal), but man, is it delicious. 712 Union Avenue, 732-528-6023.
RAINY-DAY ACTIVITY Along with your pro forma slippery life-forms circling around in tanks (tropical fish, sharks, rays), Jenkinson’s Aquarium also houses surprisingly amusing African penguins, parrots, and an authentic rainforest habitat where you can see pygmy marmosets, the world’s smallest monkeys. And as anyone with a kid under 10 can tell you, when the clouds roll in, such diversions can be sanity-savers. 300 Ocean Avenue, 732-899-1212, jenkinsons.com.
PARTY SPOT The drinks are big, the bikinis are small, the beers are cold, the live music is hot, the boys are wild, and the girls are … wilder, on the boozy, zany, cheek-by-cheeks deck that is Martell’s Tiki Bar. Wildwood circa 1975 lives! Boardwalk at Central Avenue, 732-892-0131, tikibar.com.