Ah, downbeach. The Atlantic City-adjacent towns of Ventnor, Margate, and Longport lovingly call each summer to tens of thousands of visitors, many donning Ivy League T-shirts. They come to speed-walk or bicycle along the boardwalk. And eat.
Really, do people come here to go to the beach or to eat?
The Ventnor, Margate, and Longport beaches are great, beach-badge checkers notwithstanding. On weekends with lifeguard races, be sure to pack a thermos with vodka before you head out to watch, as the locals do.
Stand on the Dorset Avenue Bridge on July 14 and wait for the swimmers from the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival & Around the Island Marathon Swim. Fishing boats still run out of Ray Scott’s Dock in Margate, where the bay side is developing by the minute. Hang at the surf beaches near the piers, and stop by Stacey’s Surf & Paddle, where you can learn to stand-up paddle on the bay.
For the spiritual: Attend Friday night Shabbat services on the beach in Ventnor near the Library (Devotion by the Ocean, hosted by Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel), and Sunday services inside Longport’s beautiful Church of the Redeemer, which was destroyed by fire during the 2012 derecho and painstakingly rebuilt, stained glass and all.
Ride your bike everywhere. It’s much better than being stuck in a scrum of cars outside Casel’s Marketplace on the weekend, waiting for an Uber outside Ventura’s Greenhouse near Lucy the Elephant, or searching for parking at farmers markets (Margate on Thursdays, Ventnor on Fridays, Brigantine on Saturdays).
And walk. You won’t regret a sunrise walk along the ocean, a dusk walk on the beach with your dogs (it’s permitted between 7 and 9 p.m.), or a sunset walk to Ski Beach on the bay or to Longport Point.
Don’t forget to say hi to the locals.
Bars! That’s what’s new in Ventnor: two liquor licenses in the formerly BYOB-only town.
Santucci’s Square Pizza is opening in the old Arrow Hardware Store spot and plans a long-coveted Ventnor Avenue bar with pizzas.
In Margate, the Miami Burger & Food Truck is odd but yummy: It’s stationary, not mobile, and it has indoor seating.
The owners of Stone Harbor’s popular Harbor Square Theater have tackled the ambitious renovation of the historic Ventnor Movie Theater and also have a liquor license. They hope to open this summer with a three-screen theater, a burger joint, and bar.
The lavishly renovated Tilton 9, now Tilton Square Theatre, in nearby Northfield, is another upgraded option for Shore movie buffs.
Ventnor is adding bike lanes to Atlantic Avenue and lowering the speed limit to match Margate’s and Longport’s 25 mph — all good news for cycling fans.
Suzy Kolber, host of ESPN’s “NFL Monday Night Countdown," is a lifelong regular at the Shore, where she honed those sideline skills as a beach-badge checker during the summer. “One of my favorite jobs I’ve ever had,” she said. Returning “feels like going home.” Some of her spots:
Kolber swears by Jon Simon’s epic boxing classes at the Milton & Betty Katz JCC in Margate: “One of the best and most fun workouts anywhere."