So I just got back from my first ever adult vacation! It was a lot of fun, but had some issues, because that seems to be my life right about now. I went down to Seaside Heights, NJ which is where my family went every August when I was a kid.
I used to know the boardwalk layout like the back of my hand when I was younger. Unfortunately, in 2012 Hurricane Sandy crashed through the Jersey Shore area and Seaside Heights got hit pretty hard. So not only is the boardwalk entirely new, a lot of shops and stands are no longer there. To add to the misery of things, a year after the hurricane hit, a fire broke out and basically torched a good section of the southern part of the boardwalk.
Caught in that fire was a candy store called Berkeley Sweet Shop. It was where we would go at the end of the every vacation and get a box of salt water taffy. It finally opened back up in 2017 and I was so excited to see it again.
A Bad Start
I packed all my stuff in my car for 10:00 AM on Sunday, ready to gas up, then pick up my friend so we could hit the road to get to Seaside.
Well, it literally was a “bad start” as after I finished gassing up, my car refused to start. I won’t sugar coat things, I started crying. I had recently had previous car trouble that I outlined in my post Life Update: 2019 Hates Me as well as my driver’s side window motor needing to be replaced. So having the car fail once again within a two month span, I just lost it.
Thankfully I was literally across the street from a Firestone. I had to wait to be towed and the my friend picked me up so we could use her car to drive down.
After a call to my parents, my father graciously offered to pay for the fix. He also decided that since my catalytic converter had been throwing my check engine light on for the past two years, that he would have them fix that as well. I was and still kind of am uncomfortable with being helped with that amount of money. But now my car should be in relatively working condition. They only thing amiss is the air conditioning. The entire dashboard needs to be taken apart and it’s about 11 hours of labor. I can open my windows for now. (If you want to donate to my financial woes, click here!)
We stayed at the same motel I stayed as a child. Mainly due to the high ratings and its proximity to the boardwalk.
We got a room in the back on the second floor with a balcony. It costs a bit more, but having a balcony to sit out on is such a wonderful addition that I was willing to shell out a little more money.
The motel hasn’t changed much from my memory. They switched out carpet for tile, and updated the furniture a bit, but everything else is exactly the same.
As I mentioned earlier, the boardwalk changed drastically from my childhood. A lot of the smaller arcades had been moved out in favor of vendors and stalls. There are a lot more shops than wheels or arcades, which is fine.
One of the last times I went down there Rita’s had popped up all over the boardwalk, they seemed to have been replaced by a similar place call Polish Water Ice. Almost entirely the same menu, with a few differences.
My favorite arcade, however, remained almost entirely untouched. Lucky Leo’s was able to withstand both the fire and the hurricane and came out pretty damn untouched compared to the rest of the boardwalk.
For the arcades, the biggest difference is a lot of cranes contained mystery boxes or bags that could contain either a “choice” option to win a very expensive prize (beats headphones, macbook, iPad, etc.) or a certain amount of points, instead of generic stuffed animals. But times have changed and apparently stuffed animals aren’t exactly a hit with the kids much anymore.
The food will never change. If you ever head down there yourself, you need to check out 3 Brother’s From Italy. There are conveniently 4 locations on the boardwalk, so no matter where you happen to be, you’re almost right next to a restaurant.
There’s also Midway Steakhouse which has the same advertisement signs as I remember. It’s literally in the middle of the center of the boardwalk. Boardwalk food may not be the healthiest for you, but damn, it’s good.
As I mentioned earlier, the thing I was most excited about was Berkeley Sweet Shop which is now called Berkeley Candy. The store size is less than half of what it used to, and they only offer one shape of taffy rather than two, but it’s just as good as I remember! Just by picking out a few pieces of the flavors I like I ended up with almost 1.5 pounds of taffy!
We also had to stop at the Seaside Eatery before we left and had ourselves some taylor ham sandwiches.
When I was younger we basically stopped going to the beach once building sand castles weren’t a thing anymore (and that was maybe 7 or 8 years old). And because I am on a variety of medication that makes me more susceptible to the sun, I had always avoided the beach.
Man, was I missing out!
We went to the beach for a few hours and it was so much better than I remembered. We rented an umbrella because it was ungodly hot with no clouds in the sky. My friend and I took turns going down to the water so someone was there to watch our belongings.
I managed to inch my way in to the ocean, which is something I’ve never done. For a few seconds I wasn’t touching the sand, which I will accept as a win for now. However, the waves threw me back at the beach and in trying to land I my feet, missed, and ended up scraping up my knees on the sand as the waves kept throwing me around.
We decided to go on two rides, the Ferris Wheel, and the Sky Ride. We managed to get some beautiful pictures.
There was also a bunch of furniture on top of one of the stores that looked strangely like a set. With the announcement of the new season of Jersey Shore, I might have to give it a watch to see if it makes an appearance.
I spent far too much money on games (seriously!) but ended up with about 126,000 tickets from Lucky Leo’s. I was able to walk away with a T-shirt from the arcade and a slow cooker! I’ve been meaning to get a new one, but I never actually took the plunge to get a more modern one. So now I have a slow cooker that has a timer on it!
My friend won a stuffed llama and a stuffed smiling pineapple. They’re adorable and very cuddly. Especially compared to a slow cooker.
I did buy a few things that aren’t exactly prizes. I picked up a .5ml of 200mg CBD watermelon flavored vape cartridge, and two bracelets that were popular during my childhood. They’re called Wish Bracelets. They have beads throughout the braided bracelet. Each color is supposed to represent something different. The point is to make a wish in accordance to the bracelet type when you put it on, and the wish will come true when it falls off. I got “Good Fortune” (green) and “Adventure” (orange), because I need some good fortune with all the financial issues I’ve had lately!
In the End
Overall, I had a lovely time. I honestly wouldn’t mind trying to go back for a weekend before the summer end, if only the go to the beach and experience that again, and more properly with beach chairs, a book, and closer to the ocean.
My finances are screaming at me, but I don’t regret the money I spent. I had fun and that’s the point of a vacation! However, in the future I will definitely be setting a solid budget instead of just winging it and trying to stay within a general amount.
Have you ever been to Seaside Heights, NJ or any of the other shore points? Do you have a favorite memory from them?
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