When we first rented a home on Seven Mile Island, in Avalon and Stone Harbor in Southern New Jersey, it never occurred to me that my family would continue to go there every summer for more than two decades. But that’s exactly what happened, and now I’ve been taking the same beach vacation for more than half of my life and for most of my children’s lives. The thing is, something fabulous happens when you get into a vacation routine: It becomes part of family culture. Our beach vacation is something we plan for, and look forward to, all year. And as kids get bigger and life gets more demanding, there’s a permanent place for the summer getaway on all of our calendars, which is basically vacation gold. Here’s why you might want to start taking the same vacation every year, too.
Need some inspiration? Check out the 50 best travel destinations in each state.
Staying in our comfort zone
Exotic destinations are great for keeping you on your toes and learning new things, and we do enjoy exploring new parts of the world. But for a truly comfortable getaway, knowing what to expect when traveling to a favorite spot is priceless. I travel for work throughout the year, and my family is lucky to take vacations during spring break and other holidays as well, but there’s nothing more relaxing than our repeat vacation. I don’t feel the need to climb a mountain or see a world wonder during this trip, or spend an entire day in a museum because it’s my only chance to see amazing works of art. All that’s required of me is to do bring a book and a beach chair, with no FOMO. Talk about a priceless vacation perk! These are some of the most family-friendly beaches in the country—and they’re all at the Jersey Shore.
Anticipation of old favorites
One thing that keeps us coming back to the same location every summer is our family tradition of revisiting our favorite spots and activities at the Shore: diving under the waves, spinning on boardwalk rides, sharing fresh seafood dinners, and indulging in special vacation foods. On the Ocean City Boardwalk, we seek out the warm caramel popcorn at Johnson’s, the sauce-heavy pies at Manco & Manco’s, and the creamy swirls of soft serve dipped in chocolate at Kohr’s Custard. Then we sail above the crowds on the pirate-ship ride! We’ll talk all winter about the fresh seafood at Sylvester’s Restaurant in Avalon, and when we finally pull up a bench under the circus-style tent and order up piles of butter-drenched crab and plates of straight-from-the-sea flounder, it tastes even better from all the anticipation.
Fun for all ages
Courtesy Melissa Klurman
Another highlight of our repeat vacation is that it’s adjusted as our family has grown—and grown older. My oldest son was in college and my daughter was in grade school when we started going to the Jersey Shore; now they’re both married, and their spouses come along, too. My youngest son wasn’t born yet the first time we rented a beach house; he was a baby on the sand, and now he’s a teen learning to surf.
As the family ages and expands, we add to our roster of family activities that we only get to do together this one week a year. There are games ranging from basketball tournaments (the winner keeps the homemade trophy—a gold, spray-painted basketball in a sand pail—for bragging rights year-round) to corn-hole competitions, ultra-competitive card games, and slow puzzles, all of which we talk up, and plan for, all year. Try these fun family beach games you’ll want to play all summer.
Appreciation of the destination
One added bonus of repeatedly visiting the same location is being able to explore it in-depth in a way we could never do with only a one-time visit. On our seven-mile beach island, that means we’ve had time to spend exploring the marshes and bird-wildlife refuges that are unique to the area but don’t necessarily make the list of top beach activities for first-timers. We’ve explored up and down the coast and found our favorite spots to kayak, bike, fish, and eat, each year adding a new find to our favorites list. Of course, that means having to balance everything we want to do with an equal desire to hang out and just enjoy the beach—a true (and perfect) repeat-vacation conundrum.
Same time next year!
The end of vacation is always a little sad, but another highlight of having the same vacation every year is knowing that we’ll be able to do it all again, the exact same way, next year! Planning an annual getaway? Do these 13 things before you leave for vacation to keep your home safe.