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The Jersey Shore beach town of Stone Harbor mixes a small-town vibe with the state’s trademark seaside culture, making it a favorite destination for families. Located on the southern part of Seven Mile Island, the borough is one of Cape May County’s major destinations, along with its adjacent neighbor, Avalon, to the north and Wildwood on the next barrier island south. Sandwiched between the sandy beaches of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the bayfront marinas to the west, there are soothing waterfront views no matter which way you look — as well as plenty of opportunities for fishing, jet skiing, and boating.
The biggest nearby airport is Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), about 87 miles northwest of Stone Harbor via the Atlantic City Expressway. While the Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), about 37 miles north, is closer, its selection of nonstop and seasonal flights is much smaller than Philadelphia’s. If you’re driving in, Stone Harbor is about three hours from New York City or Baltimore, and three and a half hours from Washington, DC — and all roads should lead you into town via the 96th Street Bridge. Once there, if you’re looking for long days at the beach, you may not need a car — you can still get to the northern end of the island via the 7 Mile Jitney shuttle. But if you’re hoping to explore areas off the island, a rental car might be the best choice.
The legendary Jersey Shore beach season is very much a Memorial Day to Labor Day affair — and it makes sense. That’s when the temperature heats up, hovering between the 60s to low 80s Fahrenheit any time of day. Midday, it can feel muggy and humid, though the breeze from the Atlantic Ocean can help. Spring and autumn tend to have the widest range of weather conditions, with temperatures anywhere from the 30s to the 70s, so pack layers — and bring a warm coat — for off-peak travel. And if you venture to the area in the deep winter months, make sure to bring a hat and gloves, as lows can dip into the 20s.
Let summer days melt away on the sands of the shore, but remember that every visitor age 12 or older requires a beach tag from the hours of 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Sold by the day, week, or season, tags can be purchased at the Stone Harbor Beach Tag Office at the waterfront end of 95th Street. Veterans are eligible for free beach tags.
Stone Harbor is known by surfers as having consistent breaks, and during the summer the waves can get crowded. If you’re new to the sport or didn’t bring gear, local outfitters offer rentals and lessons.
Bird watchers can explore three sanctuary trails year-round, where they might spot blue jays, cardinals, glossy ibis, great blue herons, great egrets, or osprey.