As a greater Philadelphia area native, no summer is complete without a trip to the Jersey Shore. The summertime treks started for me as I was a kid, with my parents finding the drytown of Ocean City, New Jersey the most charming while allowing us the occasional one-night-only visit to The Wildwoods’ Boardwalk. Then, came the teen years, where my best friend and I rebelled by spending summers in Cape May, New Jersey—half spent chasing boys and half shelling out cash in the promenade’s upscale shops.
Now, older, wiser and much more boozier, I’ve seemed to commit my entire decade of my twenties to another East Coast nook—Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach—and that’s one-hundred percent because of Dogfish Head’s close proximity to those shores.
But, given the recent opportunity to re-explore the kitschy boardwalk glamor of The Wildwoods, I’ve uncovered that there are similar good-beer opportunities in that retro-inspired shore town that will easily lead me to making the short—talking 1.5 hour sans traffic—trip back.
Here is where I discovered to be the best beer opportunities on and around The Wildwoods Boardwalk.
On Morey’s Piers:
Anyone who has ever set foot in Wildwood knows that the Morey family’s amusement park-themed piers act as boardwalk’s cornerstones. Each of the piers—the Mariner’s, the Surfside and the Adventure—are layered with all the carnival games, water slides, rides and food stands one vacationer can stomach. But, what was most shocking to me was that many of the sit-down restaurants and bars nestled within the piers possess well-curated, local-influenced beer lists. The executive chef of all the piers, Wally Jurusz, even revealed that they “have days where Cape May Brewing Company IPA will outside Miller Lite.”
Of the piers, here’s your beer map:
Enter Mariner’s Landing Pier, breeze past Curley’s Fries on your left and Taco Joint on your right and you’ll spy Jumbo’s Beer Garden. As an offshoot of the laid-back grille serving elevated boardwalk classics (grilled lamb burgers, sesame tuna wraps, truffle-parm fries), you’ll be able to sit back and snack while enjoying pints of Yards, Victory, Brooklyn and Cape May. There’s also a “100 Mile Beer Flight” that features a range of drafts from breweries within 100 miles of Wildwood. We also recommend you sample the signature Beach Plum Margarita (its fruit is sourced locally). Insider tip: they also feature a killer happy hour—take advantage of it!
While on Mariner’s Pier … hit La Bakerie for dessert—especially for the s’mores crepes. Want to detox over a non-beer morning adventure? Book a brunch spot on the Breakfast in the Sky. Coined one of Travel Channel’s “most epic” attractions, you get to undergo a breakfast experience on the pier’s giant ferris wheel. They built customized tables to pop into your cabin, throw white linens and china on top, and serve you elaborate meals—all before you set sail in the air.
Head to the tailend of the Surfside Pier—at the Ocean Oasis Water Park & Beach Club—to grab the best drinking view of the boardwalk. Stubborn Brothers’ bar is perched atop the beach, dressed as an airy tiki bar that specializes in a snappy beer list and a serious tropical cocktail program. Of the beers, there’s a rotating craft draft list and select cans including Neshaminy Creek, Founders and Ballast Point. Insider tip: take the tiki experience to the Nth level by renting a cabana for your squad—food and drink service available.
Anchoring the right entrance of the Surfside Pier is Joe’s Fish Co. and the best time to hit this spot is nighttime. With a second-floor deck that overlooks all the vibrant lights of the lively pier, grab a seat for dinner and drinks with a view. Local beers—Cape May Brewing Co. is very popular here, as is newcomer Glasstown Brewing Company are your options or switch things up with cucumber mule. As the name presumes, you’ll score a wide-range of seafood specials here, including raw Cape May Salts, grilled Mako shark and Atlantic swordfish, local crab pretzels, lobster mac & cheese and cedar-planked salmon.
Off the Boardwalk:
Finish the night just a few blocks from the boardwalk at the bar that serves Wildwood’s largest beer selection. With 38 drafts and a dozen beers by the can or bottle, we predict you’ll begin to frequent this beer-nerd paradise. On a recent visit, we spied Carton, Allagash, Victory, Terrapin, St. Benjamin and Stone, among others, pouring strong. The bar hosts on-going live music, features an outdoor patio and busts out addicting brick-oven pizzas (local lump crab and Jersey tomato pie is a favorite).
Take a Quick Trip to:
After spying Cape May Brewing Company populated throughout Wildwoods’ beer taps, we recommend you go straight to the source and make the quick trip there too. Just a 10-minute drive away, you’ll be able to drink your way through the New Jersey brewery’s one-off releases.
With a minimum of 15 releases on tap, ranging from their flagships to seasonals and small-batch premiums, we predict it won’t be a short visit. Favorites from a June visit included the Salty Lips, a 4.7% gose crafted with Cape May Sea Salt Co.; the Misty Dawn Saison, a yeasty release that’s the marriage of an IPA, wheat beer and saison; and the Sea Mistress, a sessionable IPA that’s hoppy, dry and insanely aromatic. (See full tap list here.)
Insider tip: don’t skip taking the self-guided tour on your way into the taproom. It’s okay to learn things … Guided tours are also available, offered daily throughout the summer at noon, 2, 4, 6 and 8 p.m. (additional hours added Saturdays).