AVALON AND STONE HARBOR
THE VIBE Lift the Main Line off the Main Line, hike it 37 miles down the A.C. Expressway and 23 more down the Parkway, and plant firmly on
seven-mile island. Add a generous portion of Center City-ites on weekends, plus a heaping handful of overprivileged high-school seniors/college seniors/single yuppies in group houses, and two pinches each of Lilly Pulitzer, Jimmy Buffett and Mercedes-Benz. Fold in friendly locals. Mix well.
THE 411 Across the island, housing prices have dropped about 20 percent since their peak in 2005, reflective of the overall limping real estate market. The good news: Maybe now you can scoop up that Cape Cod on the lagoon for a mere $2.3 mil in Avalon and $2.4 mil in Stone Harbor. Plus, it isn’t just for summertime fun anymore — during off-season, locals claim, the Princeton is now the Hostess with the Mostess.
LOCAL LEGENDS Long but fast-moving lines at Avalon Freeze and Kohler’s Bakery (you haven’t lived until you’ve had its cream doughnuts) in Avalon, Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream and The Original Fudge Kitchen in Stone Harbor, and Uncle Bill’s Pancake House in both.
Head to Oceanside Seafood for takeout king crab legs (it’s actually now on Dune Drive), and to Bud’s Market on 3rd Avenue in Stone Harbor, where owner Mike Zuccato will cut you the dreamiest London broil you’ve ever grilled (served with sweet Jersey corn and tomatoes from Conover’s, just off the island on Route 9, of course). And in the non-edible category, if you arrive only to discover you’re not exactly beach-ready, Suncatcher is still the top go-to for gear.
WHAT’S NEW Thirsty? This summer marks the second season of the redone Princeton. (Read: You can go there now; it’s no longer solely for young, drunk punks.) Plus there’s a full slate of events in both burgs this summer, financed in part by businesses that have debuted in the ground floors of those new condos along Avalon’s main drag.
Brand-new this year: a four-day festival, Tuscany by the Sea (8/10-8/13), with wine dinners, on-the-beach bocce ball tournaments, and performances by the Atlantic Bay Orchestra; during Hospitality Weekend (7/22-7/24), merchants have sales (and nibbles) laid out in their stores. In Stone Harbor, keep an eye on the shops on 96th for a few newbies; alas, plans for constructing a big, fancy library have yet to move beyond the talking stage.
TYPICAL DAY Hit the beach early (with a packed lunch from Isabel’s, the Fishin’ Pier Grille or Ocean Deli) to get a good spot on the sand while all the boaters are wolfing down their morning eggs at Avalon Anchorage. Rotate every half hour or so (and reapply that SPF 30), but wait until the lifeguards go at 5 p.m. for the most peaceful time of day and the best nap you’ll ever take. (There’s no alcohol allowed on any of the beaches, meaning you won’t be interrupted by bonfire-builders just as you’re dozing off.)
Ordering in? Call Mack’s for pizza or Sylvester’s for fried shrimp (served in Styrofoam boxes whether you eat in or out). If you’re venturing out, dine at Café Loren for fine fare (make reservations now) or Solé for family-style Italian. Sit outside in the Octopus Garden at the Whitebrier for drinks (but watch out — it’ll be packed with those who have graduated from the Princeton), or the Windrift to hear the ocean while you imbibe — or actually, just call Fred’s. They’ll deliver a sixer right to your door.
NOTABLE SHOOBIES Developer Brian O’Neill, Joe Paterno.
DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT A hermit crab from Hoy’s 5&10. Oh, c’mon, it’s the Shore.