GPS: 39°05'N 74°44'W
While boardwalks, amusement parks, and McMansions engulf the rest of the Jersey Shore, Avalon has stayed relatively sprawl-free. Its newly protected beaches—habitats for both surfers and terrapin turtles—have some of the last high dunes in the area.
Hop aboard one of the Miss Avalon's four-hour charters; stay inshore (5 to 15 miles/8 to 24 kilometers out) for blues and striped bass ($40 a person, plus $4 for a rod rental), or head out to open water for marlins or sharks on an overnight trip (www.missavalon.com). Rather make nice with the fish? Rent a kayak from Moran’s Dockside and get up close and personal ($20 an hour; www.avalonfishing.com).
The crab cakes at Oceanside Seafood are a must (www.oceansideseafoodavalon.com). Yvette’s Café in nearby Stone Harbor claims to offer “a taste of Europe at the Jersey Shore,” and locals think it's spot-on. Order sandwiches piled high with fresh, organic veggies, cheeses, and imported European meats on locally-baked crispy baguettes or soft focaccia. We hear the French Brie is particularly good: brie, Asian pears, strawberries, mixed greens, and poppy seed dressing. Wash it down with one of Yvette’s fruit-flavored iced teas (http://www.yvettescafe.com/home.html).
The Doctor’s Inn, set in a quiet Victorian mansion, is the perfect antidote to a long day at the beach (doubles from $99; www.doctorsinncmch.com).