Daily Local News (West Chester, PA)
Go ahead and save Wildwood; I’m going to Costa Rica
had a story the other day about how it seems a ton of Wildwood motels are up for sale, and how this is worrying those who want to make sure the shore town retains its mid-20th century look and feel.
If you’ve ever stayed in Wildwood, you know what I’m talking about. Almost all the motels look like they were designed and branded by Don Draper.
It’s awesome, and yeah, as a childhood lover of Wildwood, the idea of the charm of the town disappearing is upsetting.
Note, by the way, that I said “childhood lover.” For years when I was a kid, we’d take our yearly vacation in Wildwood. Usually the last week in August, and we’d stay at the fancynamed … well, I better not name it. It was French-sounding.
And it was not fancy. It had two beds, a little kitchen, a little living room. It had a coffee shop. It had a pool. It was right on the beach. I can remember opening our sliding glass doors and basically stepping onto the sand.
But I didn’t need fancy. I didn’t know from fancy. It was awesome.
I also remember dinners at The Captain’s Table. That place was equally awesome. So kidfriendly. Perfect place for families.
And then there was the boardwalk at night, where, to a 10-year-old’s eyes, was the most alive place on the planet. The people, the smells, the food, the rides, the games — a quarter a spin! — the “watch the tram car please!” declarations …
It was awesome. Awesome awesome awesome. All of it. I have such great memories of our family vacations down there. Couldn’t have drawn it up better.
Honestly, I can’t believe I haven’t taken my family to Wildwood for a week. Let’s see what this French-sounding place is charging these days …
Holy smokes it’s $290 a night before taxes, and I’m sharing a room with at least one of my kids, and that’s over $2,000 for just the room for the week — and over $3,000 if I want to be able to not share a room with one of my kids — and now we have to eat let’s see what the Captain’s Table is offering …
Aww man, they closed. In 2005.
Then there’s the boardwalk … are games still a quarter? No? Not even close?
Here’s the thing: I love my Wildwood memories. I love the French-sounding motel. I love the boardwalk. I love the kitsch.
But I can’t believe that people are willingly spending this much money on a New Jersey shore vacation when — after you add in everything — you can spend less money by actually going out of the region, out of the country.
Seriously: What’s a week at the Jersey Shore cost with three kids? And if you want — ahem — classier accommodations than the old-school Wildwood stuff? I have to imagine it’s easily nearing $5K.
Seriously: Last summer we went to Costa Rica. Got an Airbnb for $75 a night, on the beach, everyone had their own bedroom. Beers were a buck everywhere, food wasn’t much more expensive. Not a boardwalk in sight. My son rented a surfboard for $40 for the week. We chartered a fishing boat for $200 and caught enough fish to last four days — and which was cooked, for a $10 fee, at a local restaurant. We spent 10 days there. We cooked a few meals, ate out a few, experienced a whole ‘nuther culture.
Sure, there was airfare money, but if you’re not using credit card points to fund your vacation, you’re doing it wrong.
Well, this column got away from me. I truly meant this to just be a paean to Wildwood, but … well, I have great memories of the place. I think I’ll keep ‘em there. Almost $300 a night to share a room with my kids? No thank you.