At first glance, Wildwood NJ is the exclusive province of motel balcony parties, boardwalk vices like corn dogs, cheap T-shirts, and fried dough along with Morey’s Piers grand amusement park rides on the beach. You’re getting a roller coasters, care free night life, and crashing-on-the-beach vibe until you start walking down some quieter residential streets like the corner of Atlantic Ave. & East 22nd Ave. where Summer Nites B&B sits. “100 years ago, our porch overlooked the ocean right across the street”, says Sheila Brown who runs the inn along with her husband Rick. Now the beach is 2 long blocks away.
The bed and breakfast world is full of husband and wife teams escaping the rat race of traditional careers to make a living together doing something they love. The Summer Nites homestead is no exception with Sheila, once in human resources at an Atlantic City casino and Nick as general contractor…skills that came in handy when extensive renovations were needed and guests started arriving.
You can walk most places when staying at Summer Nites like the nearly 2 mile long boardwalk overlooking a super wide beach that’s actually growing rather than perpetually losing sand to erosion like so many other shorelines. At the end of the day, you’re hanging your hat in the tranquility of nostalgic B&B where each room is themed to a particular 1950-70s snapshot of America’s pop culture scene. Their 70’s room features a disco ball hanging over the Jacuzzi tub along with a montage of sketches showcasing 70s entertainment icons ranging from Edith & Archie Bunker to the Village People.
You’re in for a treat if you’ve booked the Elvis Suite. Situated on the basement level next to the property’s vintage game room along with an 1950s era Coca Cola machine right outside your door, these digs are a veritable Elvis time capsule. Memorabilia ranging from books, pillows, posters, a slot machine and even light switch pullers are all made in the image of the King of Rock in various stages of his too short career.
Beyond Sheila’s personal obsession with Elvis (she has a whole condo filled with additional memorabilia), there’s a deeper rooted historical influence at work here. Wildwood has long been considered the launching pad of modern rock n’ roll since “Rock Around the Clock” was first performed live by Bill Haley & His Comets at the HofBrau Hotel in 1954 . The scene grew and the spirit remains thanks to aggressive efforts by the Wildwood Doo Wop Preservation League. Over 200 motels built during the Doo-Wop era featuring space-age architecture as well as vintage neon signs of the 1950s & 60s still stand.
You can have breakfast served outside on the deck during nice weather at Summer Nites but for the complete experience, grab a seat in their retro box car style dining area complete with a 1953 Seeburg Jukebox, coin-operated music selectors at every table (quarters included), accompanied by red slippery vinyl seats. You can be sure that Shelia will be chattily pouring coffee and serving up your bacon wearing one of her signature poodle skirts.
Photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky & wildwoodsnj.com