The term “Jersey Shore” may conjure up images of Snooki and The Situation and a raging youthful party scene, but the folks at Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks want you to know: it’s not like that here. (Really, that’s more north.) In fact, if you’re hankering for a seaside family getaway that you can drive to (and won’t cost a fortune), this Wildwood, Nj vacation spot just might do the trick. Here’s the situation, so to speak, at Morey’s.

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photoMorey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks
It’s somewhat hard to believe, but this sprawling seaside amusement park (the largest in the Western Hemisphere, FYI) began as a 12-lane fiberglass slide operating on a sliver of the Wildwood boardwalk in 1969. (Brothers Will and Bill Morey spotted the attraction near a shopping center in Fort lauderdale, Florida, and shipped it north.) Fast-forward 45 years, and Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks is home to more than 100 rides and attractions and two beachfront water parks on three of Wildwood’s piers. Now, Morey’s is Wildwood and Wildwood is Morey’s.

The spot has racked up scores of accolades over the years, including being named one of the top 10 piers in America by Coastal Living.com, #1 Best Beach Boardwalk by Family Vacation Critic, and Top Labor Day Escape by BudgetTravel.com.

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photoMorey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

The Vibe
Morey’s Piers is the classic seaside boardwalk experience, complete with carnival rides and games, summer indulgences like funnel cakes, fries and ice cream. Americana is alive and well at Morey’s in the very best way. Families have been coming to Morey’s for decades, and they still are, for good reason. The vibe is ultra casual, relaxed and unpretentious, and the piers and parks are clean and welcoming (i.e. you won’t encounter the seedy, run-down feel you find on some boardwalks.) Both on the piers and along the main drag that hugs the beach, it’s all about hanging with the family — in the hotel pool, on the omnipresent motel balconies, at the water park.

Wildwood itself maintains a retro seaside feel, with many of the motels preserving signage both neon and otherwise and architecture of the 1950s and 60s (kitsch is celebrated here, not shunned), and the beach itself is clean, big — and free, which is somewhat of a novelty along the Jersey Shore. Nothing tacky about that at all.

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photoMorey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

What’s New
Morey’s has a history of maintaining its heritage while also making way for the new; many classic rides have been phased out to accommodate more modern rides. For years, a looming, somewhat ferocious-looking “King Kong” ride presided over Surfside pier, eventually succumbing to wear and tear. A modern version of the interactive flying ride is the latest addition to Morey’s, and like its predecessor, it snorts smoke and fog. (Beneath him, a new Kong store offers a wide array of Kong-related souvenirs.)

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The Rides
Morey’s offers a great mix of rides for every member of the family, with classics no old school amusement park would be without, and high powered coasters both steel and wood. (The Great Nor-easter coaster is especially impressive in that it somehow provides a complete, thrill-filled experience on a relatively small footprint.)

For the Littlest Thrillseekers
You’ll find tons of rides for little ones here, from mini boats and tea cups to tiny trains and not one, but two carousels. Morey’s is a great option if you want to go to an amusement park with small kids but a place like Disney or Six Flags would be a bit much both in expense and experience.

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Raging Waters photoMorey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

Where to Cool Off
It’s not called Morey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks for nothing. Morey’s takes its water parks very seriously, as evidenced by not one, but two extensive water parks, each with its own feel, at the end of two piers. Raging Waters Adventure Water park is, naturally, the more intense of the two splash zones. Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club is more mellow and even features a swim up bar — although you’ll still find slides and activities for those who want to speed down a slippery slope. Both parks look out over the beach and water, driving home that you’re at the shore.

Main Lobby

Lobby of the Pan American Hotel photoMorey’s Piers & Beachfront Water Parks

Where to stay
A tourist town, Wildwood’s main drag is lined with lodging options, many which feature pools and balconies for taking in the view. Morey’s runs multiple, well-kept properties, which consistently rank as some of the nicest in the areawith many offering on-site restaurants. (For the ultimate tongue-in-cheek experience, you can stay in a renovated Airstream Trailer at the Starlux Boutique Hotel.) If you’re looking for a bargain and don’t mind a quick drive or walk to the seaside action, look further inland.

Of course, Morey’s provides incentive to stay with them, offering “Play & Stay” packages. Guests of Morey Hotels & Resorts properties can save up to 70% on ride and water park passes throughout the summer.  Through September 13, 2015, hotel guests can choose from a one-day pass starting at $50 per person or the length of stay passes that range from three- to seven-nights. “Play & Stay” is available at the Pan American Hotel, Port Royal Hotel, Starlux Boutique Hotel, and Blue Palms Resort. For more information on this and other promotions click here.

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Where to Eat
Yes, you’ll find all the classic summer treats here, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well at the Piers. In fact, Morey’s is committed to upping its culinary game by offering dishes using “Jersey Fresh” produce, and locally-sourced seafood and other ingredients at restaurants located right on the Piers. Get brick oven pizza, salads and fresh seafood at Joe’s Fish Company, or park yourself  in an Adirondack chair on the deck of Stubborn Brothers Beach Bar & Grille, order up a mixed drink, and survey the surf and beach below. (We recommend the guacamole, bruschetta and strawberry shortcake.)

For a once-in-a-lifetime experience, check out “Breakfast in the Sky,” a gourmet morning meal served (complete with linens and china) 150 feet above sea level in Morey’s Piers’ Giant Ferris Wheel. (Advance reservations are required; call 609-846-1624.)

Off the boardwalk, check out the nearby Jersey Girl for more upscale dining (where you can still wear your casual threads) or town favorite The Jellyfish Café on New Jersey Ave for a great breakfast.

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Know Before You Go

You can choose to ride, splash and play pretty much however you want at Morey’s Piers, buying all-day passes or individual tickets. A combo pass for rides and water parks is $75 for adults and $57 for riders 48 inches and under. Pricing info can be found here.

Depending on when you’re there and what you like to do, you can also take advantage of a variety of specials, including discounted morning and afternoon passes at the water parks, Tuesday and Thursday $25 ride-all-you-want deals, and more.

The boardwalk is big, as in long. It makes for a nice stroll, but you can also hop on the boardwalk tram for $2. (And you should; it’s a Wildwood rite of passage. Just listen for the automated warning to make way for the tram!)

The town of Wildwood Crest itself, where Morey’s Piers is located is dry, which means some restaurants in town don’t serve alcohol (although beer, wine and cocktails are all available at the Piers’ eateries.) If you’re headed out for a bite and want a brew or Bordeaux, you can easily stop by one of the many stores conveniently and strategically located on the border and pick up your libation of choice.

If you want a change of scene, the quaint seaside town of Cape May, known for its picturesque streets of Victorian houses, is a 10-minute drive away.

Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks
3501 Boardwalk
Wildwood, Nj
609-522-3900
Online: moreyspiers.com

Will you be heading to Morey’s Piers this summer? Tell us in the comments below!

—Mimi O’Connor