Spending summers at the beach is a mid-Atlantic tradition. It’s something we all do, but New Jersey does it better than everyone else — and I say that as someone from Maryland. People from Jersey have turned this into a characteristic of their culture and it’s admirable because there’s so much tradition involved. Some people might not get this. Fear not. I do and I’ll tell you why this is such a big thing in New Jersey.
There’s a Lot to Do
This is the obvious answer. The Jersey Shore is huge — it spans almost the entire coast of the state, so when someone says, “The Shore,” they could really mean any number of beaches, each with its own unique activities, restaurants and sights.
Along the coast, one can find boardwalks, fishing spots, pristine beaches, nightlife and secluded locations perfect for relaxing. Sometimes it’s all in one place or vicinity. Studies have shown how great travel is for your health, and the Jersey Shore has something for everyone.
It’s a Second Home
Because it’s not a first home, the novelty exists throughout the year. It becomes something to look forward to; and since so many families in the New York/New Jersey area go to the Shore in the summer, both children and adults cultivate relationships with other families who also spend their summers in the same houses or neighborhoods every year.
It’s also forced bonding time with cousins, as extended family vacations are somewhat the norm. There’s an old saying that says something like, “Your cousins are your first best friends.” This is why. You’re forced to spend all summer with them at the Shore. (I’m only half kidding.)
New Jersey (and New York, for that matter) has a strong tradition of family and it’s not uncommon for extended families to grow up on the same block or become a familial unit with their neighbors. People get attached to their vacation destinations in the same way that they get attached to their neighborhoods, so much so that it becomes a part of them.
Think about your greatest memories. Where you watched your baby take their first steps or where you had your first kiss. Those are the kinds of memories created at the Shore since so many families go year after year. And it’s not just those kinds of memories. Since generations of families share trips, it may include an attachment to the innocence of childhood. A father may take his son fishing on the same pier that his dad took him. A grandmother may make fresh lemonade and pass that recipe down to her children and grandchildren. There may be a friendly football rivalry between cousins. Smell that saltwater and get ready for all those memories to come rushing back.
It’s a Gathering Point
At some point, the children grow up and have their own families. They move to different parts of the state or maybe even out of state. Those summers become more important because everyone can get together at the beach house and it may be the only time that families see each other all year. Grandparents or parents will often buy a beach house for this reason and pass it down to future generations to keep the tradition going.