Best of the Shore

Sun. Surf. Tiny paper parasols. What’s better than a visit to the Shore? One guided by our first-ever list of the honest-to-goodness all-around greatest places to grab a dog, rest your head, stroll the beach, sip a cocktail, or just soak up the rays. We’ve gone town by town, to tell you where to stay, what to eat, and how the Shore haunts of your youth have changed

Ocean City

The perfect place for young couples with young children, the town that was founded as a Christian retreat in 1879 has all the water rides, roller coasters and mini golf that any kid could want. Fun typically trumps high style here, though there is choice real estate in an area locals call the Riviera. Ocean City is dry, so you’ll find none of the nightclubs and bars that keep some other Shore towns up all night.

Best of Ocean City

Sandwich rolls: Bennie’s Breads. Their claim to fame is the Bennie, an Italian take on the French baguette, and they sell close to 4,000 of ’em every day. The line typically starts forming well before the 8 a.m. opening (1159 Asbury Avenue; 609-398-9450).

Pizza: Mack & Manco. ­Unpretentious and delicious pizza. Sit at the countertop, have a $1.90 fold-it-in-half kind of slice, and listen as speakers blast “Jukebox Hero” (three Boardwalk locations).

Place to sit at the counter, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper: Ready’s Coffee Shop. The classic ’30s-style coffee shop isn’t the place for grande vanilla lattes — only regular and decaf here—but there’s no better way to start a morning than by poring over a newspaper with the regulars (415 8th Street; 609-399-4418).

Place to sit at a mismatched table, drinking coffee and reading the newspaper: Fourth Street Café. Try the scones. This place becomes a funky — and ­delicious — eatery at night (400 Atlantic Avenue; 609-399-0764).

Home furnishings: Denovum.
Manayunk at the Shore. Hip, swanky contemporary furniture that’s more urban loft than beach block (910 Asbury Avenue; 609-814-9084).

Frozen custard: Kohr Brothers.
When they gentrify Ocean City, one of these gleaming white stands should go in the Smithsonian to rep the old-time Jersey Shore (five Ocean City locations).

Cheap breakfast: Rojo’s Tacos. Get the Chorizo & Eggs Burrito — Mexican sausage with scrambled eggs
(1248 Boardwalk; 609-391-0970).

Bed & Beach

Average 2004 Home Price: $527,969
Average 1999 Home Price: $221,585
Recent listing: A three-bedroom, two-bath beach-block condo with front and rear decks, $635,000.
Cost to rent a three-bedroom beach-block house: $1,500 to $3,000 a week.
Where to stay: Atlantis Inn Luxury Bed and Breakfast, with gourmet breakfast, afternoon tea and spa (601 Atlantic Avenue; 609-399-9871).
On the beach: Eight miles long, with public changing facilities and restrooms. You can surf only at the 7th Street beach. Beach tags are required ($8 weekly; $5 daily).