For Philadelphians who have the means, summer trips down the shore are pretty much a given. From its boardwalks and its views to the beaches (of course) and the stunning architecture, there’s a never-ending list of must-sees along the coast. The only trouble is getting there.
If you have a car, you’re in luck: It’s a quick shot to some of the most popular shore towns (if you leave at the right time). But there are plenty of options for those who rely on public transit, too.
Here, we’ve outlined how to get to five of the most popular shore towns—Asbury Park, Atlantic City, Ocean City, Wildwood, and Cape May—by car, train, and bus. If you’re traveling somewhere else, most of the major towns up and down the coast have solid public transit access.
Traveling by car is one of the most popular ways to get to the shore, but to beat traffic, you’ll need to leave Philly at some specific times.
The Thursday and Friday before Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends—two of the most popular times to visit the shore—are generally the most congested, according to Jana Tidwell of AAA’s mid-Atlantic office. She suggests avoiding peak congestion around 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on both of those days, when vacationers driving to the shore will meet regular daily commuters on the road.
For Memorial Day, Tidwell says 90 percent of travelers go by car. About 454,000 people were expected to travel from Philadelphia and surrounding suburbs around Memorial Day this year.
Keeping all that in mind, here are some of the best ways to get to the shore by car.
To Cape May and Wildwood: No matter what part of Philly you’re coming from, you’ll end up taking I-76 down to the Atlantic City Expressway (Route 42). From there, you’ll hop on the Garden State Parkway, which you’ll take south to Wildwood and Cape May.
Want to avoid the craziness of the Parkway altogether? Enjoy a more scenic drive by taking Route 55 until it becomes Route 47, which will bring you through Maurice River and the Belleplain State Forest before emptying out into Wildwood.
To Ocean City and Atlantic City: The main route to both of these spots is pretty much a straight shot down the Atlantic City expressway—about one hour and 40 minutes without rush-hour traffic.
That will probably be busy during prime vacation season, so if you’d like to take more local roads, cross the Ben Franklin Bridge and head down Route 30, where you’ll pass through several small towns until you hit Atlantic City.
To Asbury Park: Luckily, getting to Asbury Park by car is pretty uncomplicated: Either take the New Jersey Turnpike to Route 33, or head Northeast out of Philly to I-95 and take I-195 the rest of the way. Either way, the route takes around one hour and 30 minutes without rush-hour traffic.
To the rest of the shore: This part is easy: Once you’ve gotten to one of these shore towns, all you have to do is take the Garden State Parkway up or down the coast. The Parkway starts in Cape May and follows the spine of the state all the way up to Paterson.
To Cape May and Wildwood: Commuters and transit riders are in luck: New Jersey Transit’s Philly–Atlantic City Rail Line just opened back up, with a one hour and 30 minute route from 30th Street Station. Once you get to Atlantic City, catch the 552 New Jersey Transit bus, which has multiple stops in Wildwood and Cape May.
To Atlantic City and Ocean City: Again, grab the Atlantic City Rail Line and then take the 509 bus, which is about an hour’s ride to Ocean City.
To Asbury Park: There is no easy way to get from Philly to Asbury Park by train, but if you’re in New York (or willing to go up there), you can grab the North Jersey Coast Line out of Penn Station, which will take a little less than two hours to get to Asbury Park.
To the rest of the shore: If you’re going to the shore’s northern end, your best bet is the North Jersey Coast Line out of New York, which ends at Avon. If you’re going to the southern part of the shore, the Philly–Atlantic City Rail Line is a good choice. From there, you can take the 559 bus up as far north as Lakewood or the 552 as far south as Cape May.
To Atlantic City and Ocean City: The 551 NJ Transit bus has very few stops and is a straight shot from Philly to AC, and the route only takes about an hour and a half. Alternatively, you can take the Greyhound bus for $11, which has similar travel times. Take the 509 to get down to OC or Somers Point.
To Cape May and Wildwood: A bus might actually be the easiest way to get to these two southern Jersey towns. Both NJ Transit bus 315 and 313 leave Philly’s Greyhound Station, with stops in Wildwood and Cape May for up to $25, depending on how far down the line you travel. But watch out: These buses don’t run on a frequent schedule, so you’ll need to plan ahead.
To Asbury Park: Getting to Asbury Park by bus is similarly easy: NJ Transit bus 317 leaves Philly’s Greyhound Station every two hours and costs $22.
To the rest of the shore: If there’s one thing NJ Transit has planned for, it seems to be shore travel by bus. There are plenty of options once you get out there, like the 559, which heads along the shore north of AC, or the 319, which goes around the southern part of the state. You’ll find all of the bus schedules on NJ Transit’s website.