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What's New at the Jersey Shore

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Windrift Hotel, Avalon 

This longtime Avalon mainstay turns 45 this year. But it’s not the same waterfront hotel/bar/restaurant complex. In the offseason, the Windrift underwent major renovations, its façade completely re-done. The rooms have been upgraded, too. This classic Shore spot also boasts a recent pool renovation and a new ocean-view deck with a restaurant to heighten its renowned happy-hour experience. As always, everything is just steps from the beach.

105 80th St., (609) 368-5175, windrifthotel.com.

North End American Grill, North Wildwood 

If you’re like me and pine for the bar food at the Concord Café in Avalon (Buffalo cheese fries, please), good news: There’s more of that foodie goodness to go around. The JLB Restaurant Group—masterminds behind both the Concord Café and Marie Nichole’s in Wildwood Crest—have opened a new spot in North Wildwood. North End is a casual spot, but a higher-end one with the Shore always on its mind. The focus is a bar made out of a 38-foot surfboard designed by local shaping legend Brian Wynn.

Two musts are its fish tacos and specialty cocktails. On nice days, your best bet is a seat at the outdoor patio and bar—the perfect place to toast a great beach day.

Chestnut Street and Olde New Jersey Avenue, (609) 435-5691.

Revel Resorts, Atlantic City 

This is the big one: a $2.4 billion, 130,000-square-foot casino resort complex that opened on the north end of the Atlantic City Boardwalk in April. It’s a different kind of casino—especially for AC. The focus isn’t necessarily on gaming. Revel is betting customers will be more interested in the posh resort amenities. What will you find inside? To start, three restaurants from Jose Garces (Atlantic City versions of Philadelphia spots Whiskey Village, Distrito and Amada), a new steakhouse conceived by New York’s Marc Forgione, a mussel bar from Washington, D.C.’s Robert Wiedmaier, and Azure by Allegretti, a gorgeous waterfront fusion of Italian and French Riviera cuisines courtesy of chef Alain Allegretti.

Revel’s Bask spa is a 32,000-square-foot oasis with a Turkish bath, salt steam room and a bar. There are two nightclubs: the four-story HQ and Royal Jelly (a burlesque club whose dancers also make appearances on a specially designed stage on the casino floor).

And, of course, there’s fun in the sun: three immersion pools, an indoor/outdoor pool with 12 private cabanas ready to rent, and a sky garden that’s open year-round. Revel is also completely smoke-free—the only casino in AC (so far) to make the leap.

500 Boardwalk, (855) 348-0500, revelresorts.com.
 

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Beach Plum Farm Tours, West Cape May 

Beach Plum Farm started as a way for the Cape Resorts Group to grow organic produce for Congress Hall, the Virginia Hotel & Cottages, the Chelsea in Atlantic City, and its other properties. The farm has since expanded to provide more than half the fruits and vegetables for Cape Resorts restaurants, which include the Ebbitt Room, Blue Pig Tavern and the Rusty Nail. It’s also become a place for raising pigs and chickens. Beach Plum Farm is open to the public for self-guided walking tours 9:30 a.m.-noon on Thursdays and Saturdays, and for guided tours 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The best way to get there is on your bike; it’s a short ride from the center of town. The tours are free, but make sure you pick up a ticket in the lobby of Congress Hall at 251 Beach Ave.
140 Stevens St., caperesortsgroup.com.

Entertainment Complex, Sea Isle City 

Drive into Sea Isle this year, and you’ll notice a big change. The Pavilion on the boardwalk at JFK Boulevard, right at the foot of the causeway bridge, has been completely reinvented. The town has added a new gazebo, plus a wider entertainment area with performance space and seating. The new a clamshell bandstand (with permanent seating) at Pleasure Avenue and JFK is now home to weekly summer concerts under the stars and movie nights—both free.
JFK Boulevard and the Boardwalk, (609) 263-8687, sea-isle-city.nj.us.

Raging Waters, Wildwood 

Parents, you know how it is: It’s hot, and your kids want to play in the water—but they don’t always want to jump in the actual ocean. If your usual solution is to turn to Raging Waters in Wildwood, your family is in for in for a nice surprise. After a $2 million renovation, Morey’s Piers has added two new attractions to its water park for the 2012 season.

First, the Lazy River has been given new life as the River Adventure, with added geysers, waterfalls and a grotto along the way. Don’t worry if you still want the relaxing experience—it remains a lazing-around tube ride, just with more fun added.

Second, they’ve added Wipeout!, a six-lane waterslide you ride headfirst while racing others. It’s a water-park version of Wipe Out, the giant slide that was one of the first amusements Morey’s operated. It’s a nice touch for a company that continues to move ahead while honoring its rich Wildwood past.

3501 Boardwalk, (609) 522-3900, moreyspiers.com.
 

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Convention Hall, Cape May 

When the Great Storm of 1962 destroyed the Cape May Boardwalk and washed away chunks of its waterfront Convention Hall, the town constructed a temporary facility until a new one could be built. That stopgap solution stood until 2010, when it was demolished to make way for the new Convention Hall, which opened in May of this year with a concert by Peter Nero and the Philly Pops. The 20,000-square-foot space will be a jack-of-all-trades locale, hosting conferences, banquets and exhibits.

Cape May has partnered with the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey for a summer concert series, held Monday nights in July and August. It should also be a boon to Cape May’s special events and wedding businesses. Convention Hall has already hosted the Lower Cape May Regional Prom, and it will also be available as a wedding venue for small and large parties.

714 Beach Ave., (609) 884-9536, capemaycity.com.

How to Live, Surf City 

The Beach Haven location of this shop has been an LBI staple for 11 years. Now, owner Sandy Gingras is opening a second location on Long Beach Island Boulevard in Surf City. Expect the same sort of beach-life items found in the Surf City location: Gingras-designed stationery and prints, plus home items, clothing, jewelry, even Gringas’ whimsical books. All have an easy flair that says relaxation and good times.

8 N. Long Beach Blvd., (609) 492-6454, how-to-live.com.
 

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