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wildwood crest nj hotels

Top South Jersey Hidden Gems

Most tourists who visit the Jersey Shore arrive with beaches, cocktails, and cabanas on their mind, but our lively slice of New Jersey is also home to some of the most diverse and unique habitats on the East Coast. When you choose to vacation at ICONA Resorts, you’re always minutes away from a beach, ocean, or boardwalk adventure. ICONA Diamond Beach has firmly placed itself as one of the premier Wildwood Crest NJ hotels thanks to our prime beach access, great dining, and pristine hotel suites. We know you’re in town to sunbathe on Diamond Beach, stroll down the Wildwood Boardwalk, and soak in our lavish heated pool, but don’t forget to visit these three South Jersey hidden gems during your visit to beautiful Wildwood Crest NJ.

Sunset Beach / SS Atlantus

Most people visit South Cape May Meadows and Cape May Point State Park to explore the tall, pearly white lighthouse and surrounding natural beauty without thinking twice about stopping at nearby Sunset Beach. Not only does this underrated South Jersey beach offer the best sunsets in the state, but it’s also the final resting place of the SS Atlantus, the most famous concrete World War II ship in the United States. The last remains of the SS Atlantus stand high above the azure blue Delaware Bay. Snorkelers and kayakers often visit the site to pay tribute. The beach itself is quiet, pristine, and utterly beautiful.

Strawberry Avenue Boardwalk

Very few South Jersey attractions are as undervalued as the Strawberry Avenue Boardwalk near the charming port town of Bivalve NJ. It’s only a matter of time before Philadelphians and Jersey Shore tourists discover this genuine hidden gem. The 3.6-mile out-and-back boardwalk begins at the end of Strawberry Avenue and meanders through serene New Jersey wetlands. You’ll stroll past dying trees, tall grass, sluggish creeks, and rare fauna.

The Wetlands Institute

The Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor NJ beautifully encapsulates the spirit of the Strawberry Avenue Boardwalk: natural habitats, lush wetlands, and thriving fauna. They’re only open on the weekends during the cozy season, but there’s still plenty to learn and explore during your visit to this underappreciated institution. Visitors can “adopt” a baby terrapin, horseshoe crab, or oystercatcher by donating to the non-profit. The money goes directly toward the hatching, head-starting, and releasing of these often forgotten animals. The Wetlands Institute hosts festivals, events, lectures, programs, and so much more! This non-profit features an aquarium, marsh walkways, nature trails, and a lush garden.

Wildwood Crest NJ Hotels

ICONA Resorts has three year-round beachfront hotels that are steps from sandy beaches, great dining, lavish pools, and popular South Jersey attractions. Finish each evening at Coastal Blue Oceanside Bar & Grill inside ICONA Diamond Beach, one of the premier Wildwood Crest NJ hotels, for a delicious seafood dinner that you won’t soon forget. Dial 1-609-551-0102 to book an overdue escape to lively South Jersey!

jersey shore restaurants

5 Premier Restaurants on the Jersey Shore

Over the years, the Jersey Shore has become one of North America’s foremost destinations for beach relaxation, luxury hotels, and fine cuisine. ICONA Resorts is the home of three distinct, award-winning beachfront Jersey Shore hotels. Whether you’re staying in Avalon or Diamond Beach, you’ll always be steps from the beach, fine cuisine, and a refreshing adult beverage. Don’t forget to fuel up at these five premier Jersey Shore restaurants during your stay at ICONA.

Quick Breakfast: Shimmers Bistro

Start each morning with a quick breakfast at Shimmers Bistro before making your way down to the beach for an afternoon of relaxation, New Jersey sunshine, and refreshing cocktails at The Sandbar Village Beach Bar & Lounge. Shimmers is proud to serve Starbuck’s brand coffee alongside an assortment of quick grab and go breakfast options. Start your morning with a freshly brewed espresso or a bloody mary for an early-morning kick. Shimmers Bistro, which is located inside ICONA Avalon, is also a sophisticated spot for an evening cocktail or glass of wine.

Lunch on the Beach: The Sandbar Village

Grab lunch at The Sandbar Village Beach Bar & Lounge after breakfast at Shimmers Bistro, a soak in the onsite spa pool, and a good book on the beach. The Sandbar Village is one of the most popular Jersey Shore bars during prime beach season. Sink your toes into the sand and let the kitchen staff take you on a coastal culinary journey. Not many Jersey Shore restaurants can match Sandbar Village’s fresh fish tacos topped with Asian slaw and jalapeno-lime aioli. Our guests also gush about the grilled salmon wrap, customized pizza, and the “power salad.”

Afternoon Cocktail: The Star Beach Bar

The Star Beach Bar at ICONA Diamond Beach is one of the fastest rising Jersey Shore beach bars. Guests and visitors can enjoy delicious bites and great views from the bar through October 20. This lively beach bar is known by locals for its delicious signature cocktails. We recommend “The Star of the Beach,” “Ocean’s Potion,” and “Tropical Tease,” but you surely cannot go wrong with any of our cocktails.

Elegant Dinner: Coastal Blue Oceanside Bar & Grill

ICONA Diamond Beach is also home to one of the premier Jersey Shore restaurants: Coastal Blue Oceanside Bar & Grill. You’ll notice Coastal Blue’s laid-back luxury and understated elegance upon arrival. Whether you’re a lover of top-quality seafood or steak, you’re in for an evening of fine cuisine, award-winning wine, and refined ambiance. We highly recommend the grilled swordfish, sauteed shrimp, filet mignon, and braised short ribs.

Late-Night Pint: Avalon Brew Pub

Lucky guests at ICONA Avalon don’t have to the leave the premises to experience all the wonders of the Jersey Shore. You’ll always be seconds away from the beach, a lavish pool, delicious meals, and even a brewery! Avalon Brewpub is one of the premier brewpubs on the Jersey Shore thanks its eclectic lineup of classic craft beer styles. Guests and locals alike have fallen in love with Avalon’s malty, citrusy We Don’t Play West Coast IPA and the Chill Pils, a Czech-style lager.

Cape May hotels

Best Autumn Hikes in South Jersey

Take a brief breather from the beautiful, white sand beaches of South Jersey with a brisk, colorful hike this autumn. Fall is the perfect season for a family or group hiking expedition because of the refreshingly crisp air, breathtaking fall foliage, and migratory birdlife. When you choose ICONA Resorts, home to one of the premier Cape May hotels, you’ll always be steps from the ocean and a short drive from beautiful Cape May Point State Park. An autumn escape to Cape May County isn’t complete without an afternoon spent hiking in the vast South Jersey wilderness.

Cape May Point State Park

What sets Cape May Point State Park apart from other area hiking destinations is its gorgeous lighthouse, lush birdlife, and convenient location to ICONA Cape May. There are miles of trails at this nearby state park, but we recommend guests try the 1.7-mile Cape May Point Trail which loops through wetlands, meadows, and ponds. There are thousands of migratory birds in this natural sanctuary as well as rabbits, crabs, snakes, and colorful dragonflies. Walk the scenic beach and visit the mystifying Battery 223, an unused World War II relic.

Cape May National Wildlife Refuge

For an uncrowded, tranquil hike, seek out the Delaware Bay Songbird and Woodcock trails at the Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. This wildlife refuge is a massive operation that spans all across Cape May County, but the Delaware Bay Division is worth revisiting because it’s lush with shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, woodcocks, frogs, and crabs.

East Creek Pond – Belleplain State Forest

The two above family-friendly hikes are on this list because they offer an up-close-and-personal experience with lush wildlife. East Creek Pond makes this list because it has some of the best fall foliage in South Jersey. This 6.5-mile trail is only moderately steep, but most tourists choose not to hike the entire loop. Outdoor enthusiasts, meanwhile, will fall in love with this trail’s serenity, colorful flora, and ample fall photo opportunities. ICONA Avalon is eight miles closer to East Creek Pond than all nearby Cape May hotels.

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve

Maurice River Bluffs Preserve is a scenic 37-mile drive from the best Cape May hotels, including ICONA Cape May. This secluded sanctuary is a unique blend of beautiful river bluffs, colorful foliage, and mysterious 19th-century ruins. Multiple trails can be combined into a 4.4-mile loop which occasionally follows the stunning, rushing river.

Cape May Hotels

ICONA Resorts has three oceanside hotels in Cape May County that are highlighted by their understated elegance, chic and cozy luxury, and top notch service. After a full day of hiking and leaf peeping, visit the Avalon Brew Pub for an evening of world-class dining and refreshing craft beer. Fall is closing in fast, so book a South Jersey escape by dialing 1-609-454-6484 or visiting ICONA.com before it’s too late!

hotels in cape may nj

Top 4 Craft Breweries in Cape May County

New Jersey earned elite craft beer status this year as the Garden State welcomed its 100th craft brewery to the family in March. Despite being the fourth smallest state in the U.S., New Jersey ranks 21st in total breweries which had a $1.6 billion economic impact, according to the Brewers Association. A lot of skeptics believe that craft beer will be a short-lived fad, but the fact remains that beer enthusiasts are beginning to recognize that quality matters more than quantity. ICONA Resorts, unlike nearby hotels in Cape May NJ, owns and operates a microbrewery inside the beautiful beachfront ICONA Avalon. Sip on a refreshing pint of craft beer at one of these four sensational breweries when you’re not sunbathing on a sandy beach, soaking in a heated outdoor pool, or meeting adorable animals at the Cape May Zoo County Park & Zoo.

Avalon Brew Pub

The Avalon Brew Pub has five balanced flagship beers, a sleek interior, excellent cuisine, and a hip, decorative keg ceiling. The malty, citrusy We Don’t Play West Coast IPA remains a favorite among guests, though the Chill Pils, a Czech-style lager, will quench your thirst on a hot summer day. Come for a pint of refreshing craft beer, stay for a plate of mouthwatering steak, seafood, or organic chicken! Plus, you have to try the Giant Bavarian Pretzel – a guest favorite!

Ludlam Island Brewery

Operating out of a modest manufacturing complex in Ocean View, Ludlam Island Brewery has the most flavorful beer in Cape May County. Their compact taproom has eight taps, limited seating, wood paneling, and rotating local art. Ludlam Island specializes in hoppy pale ales, including their juicy, dry-hopped oat IPA, Let It Shine. Hoppy beer aficionados often taste all four of their seasonal IPAs in a beer flight.

Slack Tide Brewing Company

Eerily similar to Ludlam Island, Slack Tide Brewing has a petite taproom, but you’ll notice immediately the repurposed wood ceiling and the tap list written in colorful chalk. Their flagships range from IPA, blonde, stout, and pale, but they’ve been experimenting with the newest beer craze: the New England-style IPA. Overfalls is a deliciously juicy New England IPA plump with fruity Mosiac and citrusy Galaxy hops.

Cape May Brewing Company

Cape May Brewing is widely considered one of the premier craft breweries in the Garden State. After officially launching in the summer of 2011, Cape May Brewing quickly grew into an East Coast craft juggernaut after winning over the Philadelphia market. Their charismatic and knowledgeable staff host tours in their production facility and tasting room. Sip on award-winning beer, including the crushable Always Ready Northeast pale ale, and learn about beer techniques and the brewery’s history. ICONA Resorts, home to one of the premier hotels in Cape May NJ, is only 6.5 miles away from this award-winning brewery.

Hotels in Cape May NJ

ICONA Resorts has three beachfront properties in Cape May County, all of which are a short drive from the four best craft breweries in South Jersey. It’s never too soon to start planning an autumn beach escape to stunning Diamond Beach, Cape May, or Avalon – dial 1-609-454-6484 to book that well-deserved vacation you’ve been putting off!