New Jersey March 31, 2018
The Old Timey Town In New Jersey That Will Have You Longing For The Good Old Days
Wildwood, New Jersey is a town frozen in time. Or, at least, it was. Demolitions over the last decade have led to a modernization of the area, but it still maintains much of its retro charm. Wildwood is home to more Doo Wop style buildings than anywhere else in America, which gives the town a ’50s/’60s vibe – you can’t help but feel nostalgic when you visit. Continue on to learn more about the town’s history, architecture, and attractions; I’m almost certain you’ll fall in love.
Wildwood was first incorporated as a city in 1912 but it began to thrive in the 1950s.
The completion of the Garden State Parkway in 1955 brought tourists from all over the state, but even before the hustle and bustle, the city had a BIG claim to fame. Some call it the birthplace of rock and roll! Why? "Rock Around the Clock," often credited as the original rock and roll record, was first performed on Memorial Day weekend in 1954 at the HofBrau Hotel in Wildwood by Bill Haley & His Comets. The area's architecture was inspired by the vibrant music of the era and dozens of whimsical little spots opened across the city.
Many of Wildwood's most retro spots are the lovely local motels.
Angular elements, space-age imagery, tropical themes and colors (lots of palm trees!), and spectacular neon signage, combine to form a fantastical atmosphere. Many of these motels haven't changed much since the 1950s and '60s. While they do offer amenities like pools, flat screen televisions, and kitchenettes, the kitsch remains. Popular picks include the Aztec Motel, Jolly Roger, and Sea Gull.
But it's not only the motels...
There are gas stations, diners, and even a Doo Wop museum! The museum is small and only offers limited hours, but it has a neon sign garden and an abundance of pop culture artifacts from the Doo Wop era. There's even an old-fashioned malt shop. The Doo Wop Experience Museum can be found at 4500 Ocean Avenue, Wildwood.
I absolutely love the diners!
Marvis Diner has a varied menu and retro decor. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, their pork roll sandwich was voted among the best in South Jersey! They've got over 10 types of pancakes and even more burger options. Another favorite is the Doo Wop Diner, right on the boardwalk. They've got amazing milkshakes and affordable prices, especially for a boardwalk destination. Burgers are a big deal, too - you'll want to try all of their crazy creations. Check out the 57 Chevy, with bacon, pepper jack cheese, jalapenos, onions, and chipotle mayo.
Wildwood's Boardwalk was voted among the best in America!
And not just once! They've gotten praise from Thrillist, Budget Travel, CNN Travel, Bloomberg Business Week, The New York Daily News, USA Today, and more. You'll find hundreds of amusement rides, games, and shops. There's also a little aquarium and Mack's Pizza...a local favorite. The arcades are awesome! Remember When Pinball Palace and Retro Arcade is a personal favorite (because it has Fascination...the BEST game) but as of last September, its future was uncertain. What's your favorite boardwalk arcade?
Wildwood also offers some fantastic, nostalgic events.
There are classic car shows, pooch parades, big band performances, neon night tours, and The Race of Gentlemen. This race will take you wayyyy back, as it pays tribute to the early days of racing. Purpose built pre & post war vehicles flood the beaches for the race of a lifetime!
While the retro motels are a key part of the Wildwood experience, there's a bed and breakfast that I'm obsessed with...
Located in North Wildwood, Summer Nites celebrates the '50s and in a fun way. I love the themed rooms, vintage pinball arcade, juke box, and collection of 1950’s tapes, CD’s, and books. There's also original memorabilia all over the place! Though almost everything will take you back to the '50s, there's also a '60s suite. Find Summer Nites at 2110 Atlantic Avenue, N. Wildwood.
Have you been to Wildwood yet? Are you as excited as I am to go again this summer? Share your favorite Wildwood memories with me in the comments! For other towns in New Jersey that will take you back, check out these