I’m an expert journey journalist, however the coronavirus pandemic has undoubtedly curtailed my wanderlust. After the lockdowns started in my dwelling of New York Metropolis (the one-time COVID epicenter), I canceled all my future journeys and punctiliously sheltered in place for months on finish. However after quarantine measures started to carry this summer time, my household and I began to divulge heart’s contents to the thought of taking a trip.
On the one hand, I’m conscious about the dangers of touring in the course of the pandemic—for myself and for the communities you go to—however alternatively, there’s a solution to journey safely and responsibly. So in mid-August, after avoiding journey for pleasure’s sake for a lot of months and assured that my household was wholesome, we cautiously booked a weekend journey to The Wildwoods, an island made up of funky little seaside cities on the southern finish of the Jersey Shore.
Two years in the past, my household and I had traveled to The Wildwoods and beloved its mixture of family-friendly actions (buzzing boardwalk, amusement rides), its reasonably priced motels and its vast seaside. I used to be to see what it will be prefer to return in the course of the pandemic, particularly provided that the realm’s reputation is on the rise. Reserving.com simply named Wildwood Crest—a city in The Wildwoods—one of many many lesser-known locations which have risen in search ranks yr over yr on the journey website.
This time, we made certain to ebook a lodge that fastidiously outlined its COVID procedures and selected eating places with security measures in place. And whereas we have been nervous in regards to the concept of visiting an amusement park in the course of the pandemic, we have been impressed with the precautions being taken at Morey’s Piers. We additionally felt reassured to know that the island’s municipalities, companies and sights have been implementing intensive measures to guard guests and workers, from sanitizing protocols to social distancing procedures.
Again within the 1950’s, The Wildwoods turned so well-liked that it was nicknamed “Little Las Vegas” and motels sprang up everywhere in the space with futuristic mid-century Doo-Wop structure. After we arrived, we have been struck by how The Wildwoods had amped up its Doo-Wop design sensibility since our earlier go to. Simply over the bridge that leads into the realm, there’s an enormous space-age signal welcoming guests, a Wawa comfort retailer with an atomic-era look and a new McDonald’s with huge swooping arches paying homage to the model’s unique design.
The subsequent impression was much less constructive. As we handed a brewpub, we have been stunned to see quite a lot of folks ready for tables exterior, only a few carrying masks. As we acquired nearer to our lodge, we noticed an enormous group clustered round an open-air bar listening to a band. Once more, masks have been in brief provide. Social distancing? Not a lot. As somebody who’s used to seeing nearly 100% masks compliance in New York Metropolis, I used to be stunned.
However once we acquired to the Daytona Inn & Suites, a retro-chic lodge conveniently positioned only a block from the boardwalk, we have been relieved to see the employees in masks, in addition to indicators instructing friends to put on masks in widespread areas. There can be no housekeeping throughout our keep, however the lodge informed us they might be delivering a bag of recent towels and facilities (espresso pods, additional bathroom paper rolls) every morning.
The Daytona had a traditional 1950’s motel vibe, however our sparkling-clean one-bedroom suite was completely fashionable, full with a kitchenette. The room neglected one of many lodge’s two swimming pools, which have been surrounded by fake palm bushes (and the place we deliberate to spend some high quality time over the weekend).
After settling in, we made our solution to Joe’s Fish Co., an open-air seafood restaurant on the boardwalk that we fell in love with two years in the past. This time, the tables have been extra unfold out, the employees was carrying masks and the bartender was even carrying a face defend. We used a QR code to learn the menu on our telephones and loved a scrumptious—and secure—meal of house-made crab muffins and different seafood dishes.
The subsequent morning, we headed to the Doo Wop Diner, an old-school boardwalk spot that serves hearty breakfast eats (Oreo pancakes, a kitchen-sink omelet) and diner classics (foot-long scorching canines, Southern fried hen, about 1,000,000 sorts of burgers). Once more, the restaurant had security measures in place, with just a few distanced tables exterior and a digital menu powered by a QR code. Friends have been instructed to maintain six ft aside whereas ready in line and to put on masks till they acquired to their desk. Staffers have been carrying face coverings that completely complemented their sassy classic outfits. It was like a flashback to The Wildwoods’ 1950’s heyday (minus the masks, that’s).
The boardwalk itself was one other story. Whereas there’s a compulsory masks requirement and the city even employs boardwalk ambassadors to remind guests about masks carrying and social distancing, I’d estimate that about 1 in 20 guests wore a masks. (Mockingly, masks have been the recent memento in lots of the present shops alongside the boardwalk.) Fortunately, it was simple to social distance from the opposite mask-less guests within the open-air atmosphere.
One other solution to additional distance your self is to hire bikes and surreys from a store like Green’s and journey up and down the boardwalk. Or you’ll be able to head to the seaside, which is completely huge, stretching for 5 miles alongside the coast and giving beachgoers loads of room to unfold out.
The boardwalk can also be dwelling to Morey’s Piers, an amusement park with a whole lot of rides scattered throughout six beachfront blocks. Morey’s has taken great strides to guard its friends and employees, from lowering capability to encouraging social distancing whereas ready in line for rides. To be able to get onto Morey’s amusement-lined piers, we needed to move via a brand new entrance. Masks have been required—and everybody there was 100% in compliance, even on the rides. My household and I have been glad to get pleasure from a balanced mixture of security and enjoyable whereas testing the classics, from tea cups to coasters.
That night time, we dined on the Surfing Pig, an open-air restaurant hidden away in a marina in North Wildwood that’s recognized for its barbecue and seafood. With its tables below a tent and on a wood deck overlooking the water, it’s like a cross between Key West and the Bahamas. As we had skilled in different components of The Wildwoods, the employees was carrying masks and stored friends’ security prime of thoughts. We dined on blackened fish bites (Cajun-seasoned mako), pan-seared sea scallops and a heaping BBQ platter of ribs, brisket and pulled pork. A musician strummed reggae tunes as we watched the solar dip into the ocean.
Regardless of seeing guests with out masks on Wildwood’s boardwalk and on the town, all of it added as much as a relaxed weekend escape that was, in the end, secure and stress-free. And for a few days, the pandemic felt very far-off certainly.
Be aware: Coronavirus has interrupted journey on a world scale. Must you resolve to plan a visit wherever in the course of the pandemic, it’s best to examine native journey restrictions for the vacation spot you’re hoping to go to, contemplate warnings from the State Department and CDC and be ready for quarantines or restrictions that might make journey difficult. Vacationers must also contemplate danger elements like age and current well being points earlier than happening a visit and take precautions to maintain themselves and others secure. For New Jersey state particular info, go to the official New Jersey COVID-19 Information Hub.