Crab Shacks! Dairy Bars! BBQ! All the Best Places to Eat on the Way to the Shore

Your trip to the ocean can include plenty of mouthwatering meals … as long as you know where to look.

jersey shore road trip

Stops for your next Jersey shore road trip. Clockwise from top left: A seafood spread at Bull on the Barn in Newport; Hudock’s Custard Stand in Salem; fresh tomatoes at Vincentown’s Red Top Farm Market; a summer treat from Hudock’s. Photography by Michael Persico

If you’re someone who knows the Jersey Shore, you also probably know that hitting cruise control on the A.C. Expressway might be the most direct way to get there, but it’s definitely not the best. You won’t find crab shacks or pie stands, butcheries, bakeries, buck-a-shuck oysters or anything of the kind while taking the main roads. You won’t find restful farmland views or sleepy small towns or produce stands piled high with sweet corn. You definitely won’t find anything called “the Belly Buster.”

This is why, for generations of Philadelphians, it’s backroads or bust when it comes to driving down the Shore. Once you get off the highways, South Jersey has a lot to offer: pretty scenery, worth-it pit stops and great meals. And the only way to really enjoy it all is to fill up the tank and take some of the road(s) less traveled.

Here, you’ll find five favorite routes between Philly and the coast. One goes north to LBI; others take us down southern shores. All present a compelling case for pulling over, veering off course, and just taking your sweet time driving and eating along the winding, wooded, sometimes one-lane way to the beach. Trust us: You won’t regret the detours.

jersey shore road trip

Routes are approximate. To get to the good stuff, you’ll have to do some wandering. Photograph by Michael Persico

1. Routes 70/72
Where to stop for incredible pies, ice cream, and tacos al pastor

route 72 food

An ice-cream cone from Evergreen Dairy Bar in Southampton. Photograph by Michael Persico

This amble through the Pine Barrens has a rustic sort of charm, with abundant farm stands and forested back roads lusher than any highway. Keep reading here.

2. White Horse Pike
Where to stop for sweet Jersey corn and amazing elk burgers

white horse pike food

A double burger (with the
works) at Tony Beef in Galloway. Photograph by Michael Persico

Time was, the White Horse Pike was a toll road named after the ginormous metal horse that hovered over a local tavern. Today, it leads you through lots of small Jersey towns and long stretches of the Pine Barrens. In search of the Jersey Devil? This is your route. Keep reading here.

3. Black Horse Pike
Where to stop for square pizza and Filipino crabs

black horse pike food

Detroit-style slices from Bakeria 1010 in Linwood. Photograph by Michael Persico

Long before we all hopped on the A.C. Expressway, the Black Horse Pike and its sister, the White Horse Pike, were the way it was done. You can still feel the history as you wind through suburban Jersey on this quirky, eclectic stretch of blacktop. Keep reading here.

4. Route 47
Where to stop for oysters, cheesecake and massive sticky buns

jersey shore road trip

Oysters from Sweet Amalia Farm Market & Kitchen in Newfield. Photograph by Michael Persico

Take a drive on this meandering road that goes through fields and farmlands as well as small towns and main streets, showing off South Jersey in all its quaint and quiet glory. Keep reading here.

5. Route 49
Where to stop for foot-long dogs and a “Belly Buster” burger

route 49 food

On your next Jersey Shore road trip, stop for a hot dog and the Belly Buster from Hudock’s Custard Stand in Salem. Photograph by Michael Persico

Seemingly untouched by time or history or, really, development of any kind, this is a country road preserved, with idyllic views of farmland and saltwater marshes and some superior crab shacks along the way. Keep reading here.

Published as “On the Way to Cape May” in the July 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.