If you want to visit more than a couple of beach towns, it makes sense to bring wheels. However, it's easy to get off the train, check into a beachside hotel and walk to everything you need.
Flights to New Jersey are handled by most of the major carriers, including American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest, United, US Airways and Jet Blue. Fly into Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) or Philadelphia with British Airways (www.ba.com). Alternatively, head for New York and then make the drive. Atlantic City has its own airport, but flights are few and far between.
Hop on a train at Penn Station in Manhattan and arrive at a Jersey Shore beach town in less than two hours.
United States: +1. The area codes for Jersey Shore are 732 and 838.
Learn about Atlantic City's prohibition days in Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by Nelson Johnson. The book has recently been made into a HBO drama. Travel back in time with Jersey Shore: Vintage Images of Bygone Days by Emil Salvini. Shore Stories: An Anthology of the Jersey Shore, edited by Rich Youmans, is a collection of short stories, essays and poems, written by literary luminaries.
Do go / Don't Go
Seaside staples with a strong Italian influence.
Taxis are plentiful at train stations. Each small town has its own taxi company, but Atlantic Taxi (www.taksee.com) is a safe bet for transfers from Newark airport and serves all of Jersey Shore. Shore Cab (732 280 4990) is the local cab company for Long Branch.
A discretionary tip of 15-20 per cent will keep your waiter happy.
US Dollar ($).
Pack for the season: sarongs, flip-flops, shorts, shades and sun hats for balmy days; windcheaters, deck shoes and jeans for colder days. In the evenings, dress up your tan with chi-chi cocktail attire: a crisp shirt and shades, or a vivid print dress.
Just about every town has a strip of beachfront shops, with antiques, clothing stores and gifts in abundance. Sift through designer vintage duds at Allan & Suki, at 711 Cookman Avenue, Asbery Park. Explore 30 unique boutiques at Pier Village (www.piervillage.com), a chic oceanfront village. Standouts include clothing store Nirvana, and Primo Glass, a glass studio full of hand-blown objects and light fixtures for the home. Imagine Marie Antoinette by the sea and you'll get an idea of Bodega Shoppe, at 704 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ. This French-style boutique offers elegant but quirky vintage clothing and jewellery. Don't miss the fresh produce available at the weekly farmers' market on Main Street across from Sunset Park.
Mount Mitchill Scenic Overlook, at 460 Ocean Boulevard, Atlantic Highlands (+1 732 842 4000; www.monmouthcountyparks.com) is poised at 266ft above sea level, and is the Shore's loftiest perch. It boasts breathtaking views of Sandy Hook, Raritan Bay and the NYC skyline.
During summer, fireworks light up the sky every Wednesday night in Asbury Park; bonfires warm up the beachfronts on Friday nights in the late summer and early autumn. Bounce and sway to free music on the boardwalks any day or night of the week.
May Run a race of your choice along the Shore at the New Jersey Marathon Festival (www.njmarathon.org). June Celebrate the area's colourful jazz history at the Monmouth Park Racetrack (www.jerseyshorefestival.org). July Register early, bring your sand-sculpting tools and get creative at the New Jersey Sand Castle Contest (www.njsandcastle.com). August Partake in a quirky Jersey Shore tradition by watching the infants and toddlers dressed to the nines and walking the Annual Wildwoods Baby Parade (www.wildwoodsnj). September Join the locals at the Asbury Park Oyster Fest (www.asburyparkchamber.com). Local restaurants and food vendors create delicious oyster-based dishes at this festive, music-packed weekend. October Halloween gets its own parade at the wonderfully weird New Jersey Zombie Walk (www.njzombiewalk.com), where revellers dress up in their zombie best and wander around town.