Most of us Philadelphians, at one point or another, find ourselves down the Shore for a weekend or more during the summer. And most of us Philadelphians, at one point or another, also find ourselves distraught when it storms, and our beach day turns into a house day (a house day with BORED CHILDREN). But screen time isn’t the only option (although you should know that there are movie theaters in Ocean City, Wildwood and A.C. — and I believe the one in Stone Harbor is under renovation right now). Anyway. Here are some fun ideas to keep in your back pocket, should you need ’em the next time you hit the Shore.
What: The Atlantic City Aquarium
Why: This teeny (teeny!) aquarium is good for an hour or two of entertainment, even if you do have to drive to A.C. to get it. Located in cute little Gardner’s Basin (which has great boat-watching and a smattering of casual restaurants), the aquarium has a live diver feeding show (complete with giant sea turtles!), lots of opportunity to pet baby sharks and stingrays (truly, we plant ourselves at the stingrays, and never move), plus a couple stories worth of fish, snakes, lizards, frogs and various sea creatures to take in. The place isn’t fancy, but it’s climate-controlled, and it’s shockingly affordable. (Just $6 for kids; free for kids under 3!)
Where: Atlantic City
What: The pool at Montego Bay Resort in Wildwood
Why: Montego has a popular indoor pool with slides and a little children’s play area, and you can access it for $10 per person, per day. And speaking of Wildwood: You might also try the arcades on the boardwalk — they’re mostly good for bigger kids, but even littles will get a kick out of the simpler games, and all the lights and action makes for at least a little time spent watching, touching, and button-pressing. (Plus, it’s never too early to teach them the art of skeeball, eh?) Same goes for Ocean City, of course — and Avalon has that teeny mini-boardwalk at 29th Street.
Where: North Wildwood for the indoor pool; towns with boardwalks for the arcades
What: Hoy’s 5 & 10
Why: Hoy’s is good on two counts: First, the trip to the store is an adventure in itself, even though you’ll wish you had a leash for your kid. There’s several fairly wide aisles of beach toys, games, balls, hats and other things kids like to look at and mess with — makes for a bit of fun exploration. But the real reason to go to Hoy’s is because letting a kid pick a toy or coloring book or some Play-Doh or an inside game or two from the expansive collection Hoy’s always has feels like such a treat for them, and guarantees that they’ll be busy with something fun and new all afternoon.
Where: Stone Harbor, Avalon, and two outposts in Ocean City
What: The Library
Why: Most of the Shore towns have free public libraries; many of those libraries have things like storytimes, crafts, video game times, and, of course … books.
Where: Google your own town to check, but there are definitely libraries with various offerings in Avalon, Ocean City, Wildwood Crest, Cape May, and more
What: Jugglefish Drop-In Art Projects
Why: No reservations needed! This adorable gallery/studio offers art project ideas and materials for kids as young as three on up through teens. All you have to do is show up, and you’ve got a fantastic, creative and screen-free diversion.
Where: Sea Isle City