After school wrapped up in June, my family (me, my wife Sue, our 15 year-old son Eddie, and our 11-year-old daughter Lee) began scouting locations for our summer vacation.


We established three key criteria to follow in the choosing of our destination.  It needed to...


1.  Offer easy access to a combination of fun as well as relaxing activities.

2.  Be a top-rated, well-established resort facility in a beautiful location.

3.  Be situated within a three-hour drive of our northern New Jersey abode.


We took a look at Google Maps, approximated a three-hour wide perimeter around our hometown, and checked out the choices.


The Options


Crystal Springs Resort in Hamburg, NJ looked promising.  It’s in a gorgeous country setting and the facilities looked great, with lots of activities to choose from.  The only problem was that the majority of the offerings – especially the ones outdoors - were similar to what we had already experienced the summer before at Smugglers Notch.  We were looking for something new and unique, and Crystal Springs, while an attractive choice, didn’t have enough of either to keep us or our kids engaged.


I then came across info about Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway, NJ.  The property had great reviews, and it seemed to be a popular destination for vacationers and golfers.


Seaview was founded in 1914 by Philadelphia industrialist Clarence H. Geist as a luxurious country escape for the upper crust.  Its facilities, which include 297 guest rooms and 39,500 square feet of modern conference center and special event space, sit on 670 wooded acres, and are only 8 miles (!) from Atlantic City attractions.  Along with being home to two of New Jersey’s oldest and most prestigious 18-hole golf courses, Seaview also offers a 22-acre driving range, a fitness center, a game room, tennis and volleyball courts, basketball courts, a running trail, two pools (indoor and outdoor), and a satellite of a historic local art gallery, Noyes Museum, which features exhibits by area artists.



The more we learned about Seaview, the more appealing it was – so we came up with a plan.  We’d use Seaview as a strategic base of operations from which we’d make daily (and possibly several daily) jaunts to activities in Atlantic City.  This would give us the best of two worlds:  the “ooh!” of A.C.’s energetic entertainment options and the “ahhh…” of Seaview’s lovely locale.


(As much as possible, we planned to take advantage of the many physical activities available at Seaview, as a way for Sue and I to grab some exercise and also to keep the kids moving.)


The Seaview Experience


After a very direct sub-two and a half hour drive, we pulled into a graceful, curved driveway that led to the entrance of Seaview’s main building.  The structure was originally built in 1915, and its stately exterior and original early 20th century ambiance are still intact.  Beautifully manicured lawns, a stylish dining terrace, and colorful foliage surround the building – along with a sleek 9-hole practice green and a mini-golf area for kids.  Inside, the lobby is wide and immaculate with classic décor and plush furniture, and it’s a great place to sip, chat, or unwind.



We had two adjoining rooms in the main building, and they were just right.  Each had a comfortable living room-type area, desk, and mammoth flat-screen TV.  An elegant dressing alcove with a sink, magnifying mirror, blow dryer, and huge closet/storage space led to a magnificent, marble-floored bathroom with a separate bathtub and standalone multi-head shower stall.  The beds looked comfortable and turned out to be outstanding:  they gave each of us the deepest, most relaxing vacation sleeps that we ever had.


The service at Seaview was superb, specifically from the engineering department and housekeeping.  When we had a question about how to operate our air conditioning system and also to report a stuck door, a technician was up at our room and solving the problem within minutes.  Requests to housekeeping for extra pillows, plastic laundry bags, and other items were also delivered quickly.



(The team at the front desk was also really organized, pleasant, and eager to resolve any issue/question/dilemma that we had.)


An especially noteworthy aspect of the Seaview experience was the food:  it wasn’t just appetizing, it was truly memorable.  Seaview’s chefs grow many of the herbs that they use in their delectable creations, and much of the kitchen’s produce, meats, and fish are sourced from local growers/producers.   The wholesome freshness shined through at all of our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, with everything that we ordered looking and tasting delicious.



The many activities available to us at Seaview didn’t disappoint:  the kids spent hours playing billiards in the game room and burning up energy in the two pristine pools; Eddie and I both got some runs in on a gorgeous and peaceful nature trail, which gracefully weaved through and around the Pines Golf Course; I worked up a sweat in the clean and well-equipped fitness room; and Eddie and I divvied up a couple of ball buckets on the driving range (we’re both sub-novices, so while our mutual flailage was unattractive, we had a blast).



Speaking of the links, Seaview happens to be a popular and highly respected golf resort:  its courses were favorites of Presidents Warren G. Harding and Dwight Eisenhower, and have been graced by such greats as Ben Hogan and Sam Snead, who captured his first major there at the 1942 PGA Championship.  We saw golfers aplenty during our stay, including guys who were taking breaks from corporate meetings at Seaview’s conference center as well as families from around the country whose kids were competing in the 2013 U.S. Kids Golf Open (hosted by Seaview).  Along with their legacy course choices, Seaview also offers comprehensive golf lessons and family golf packages.



A.C. Bound


9008793693?profile=originalWe had an eclectic slew of activities planned in Atlantic City, and given how close and convenient it was to get there, we ended up heading over each day during our trip.


The drive to A.C. was around 12 minutes from Seaview, and parking near the boardwalk cost $5 for the day at any of the casino lots.  Access to the wide, clean beaches was FREE, and there were shower facilities along the boardwalk to wash off salty skin and sandy feet.


Our schedule through our week at Seaview included stops at a variety of family-oriented Atlantic City attractions, including:


ATTRACTION:  The Steel Pier

9008794477?profile=originalWHAT IT IS:  America’s oldest boardwalk amusement center.

WHY IT’S GREAT:  First opened to the public in 1898, the historic Steel Pier should be the first stop on any visit to Atlantic City.  Packed with arcade games, indulgent samplings of classic boardwalk delicacies, and rides with appeal to visitors ranging from toddlers to adults (including helicopter tours and the insane Slingshot thrill ride), Steel Pier offers families a ideal taste of the classic A.C. boardwalk experience.


ATTRACTION:  James Candy Company factory tour


9008795099?profile=originalWHAT IT IS:  A mouth-watering look at the production process behind one of America’s premier family-owned candy manufacturers.

WHY IT’S GREAT:  For five generations, the brands of James Candy Company - which include Bayard’s Chocolate, Fralinger's Salt Water Taffy and James Candy - have been delighting sweet toothers of all ages across the U.S. and around the world.  James Candy’s legacy offerings are crafted by experienced artisans, a number of whom have worked at the factory for dozens of years (the factory employs over 200 workers from the Atlantic City area).  Many of the company’s original (and delectable) chocolate, taffy, fudge, and macaroon recipes that were devised at the beginning of the 20th century are still being used, as are a number of the machines that are used in the production processes.  Levi Fox, an adjunct professor at Stockton College and Rutgers University, leads the James Candy factory tours during the summer, and manages to combine bonbons of history (American and regional), science, cooking, geography, business, and industry into his fun and fascinating presentation.  The tour delights the brain and thrills the senses:  the aromas on all four floors of the factory are mesmerizing, and the tastes are incredible (there are samples aplenty during and after the tour).  Eddie, Lee, and I were blown away by this unforgettable experience, and the sugar rush afterwards was way cool.


ATTRACTION:  Ripley’s Atlantic City Odditorium

9008795295?profile=originalWHAT IT IS:  A museum featuring amazing relics from the journeys of world explorer Robert Ripley, along with a wide assortment bizarre, astounding, and amusing “oddities”.

WHY IT’S GREAT:  The Ripley’s Odditorium is pure, straight-up fun.  It includes strange artifacts that Ripley collected in his early 20th century adventures, multimedia presentations of unusual phenomena, brain teasers/quizzes, optical illusions, eerie exhibits, and a whole lot of surprises.  The displays offer lots of history and fascinating facts for both kids and adults, and each of us had a great time taking it all in.  Expect lots of conversations and questions to result from this entertaining and unusual tour.


ATTRACTION:  Atlantic City Aquarium

WHAT IT IS:  A small yet excellent collection of marine life displays and memorable interactive exhibits.

WHY IT’S GREAT:  Located in the historic Gardner’s Basin district - a maritime park that offers concerts, artisan crafts and antiques, a farmer’s market, fishing charter boats and themed cruises, and rustic eateries - the modern and colorful A.C. Aquarium lets families get a close-up look at exotic aquatic creatures and local nautical history.  The little ones will be wowed when a diver gets in a 25,000 gallon “Fish of the Mid-Atlantic” tank to feed black drums, sea bass, cownose rays, smooth dogfish sharks, a loggerhead sea turtle, and more - and everyone will LOVE the 900 gallon touch tank of baby stingrays, which enjoy getting petted and actually pop their heads out of the water to say hello!


ATTRACTION:  Blue Man Group at Caesars Hotel & Casino

9008795456?profile=originalWHAT IT IS:  A multimedia stage show featuring music, comedy, and and dazzling technology.

WHY IT’S GREAT:  Sue and I had seen Blue Man Group’s original stage show in New York in the early 90s, and it was fantastic.  The most recent version of their performance combines slapstick, zany gross outs, boisterous percussion, rock n’ roll energy, social commentary, and cutting edge technological effects - all rolled into a celebratory party vibe.  The otherwordly Blue Men take the crowd on a joyous, unpredictable trip that’s ideal for both adults and kids.  Unsuspecting audience members are selected by the Blue Men throughout the show to be a part of their onstage exploits, and if you’re lucky enough to be a victim - I mean, participant - you should absolutely leap at the chance to join the fun.


So what were the takeaways from our week long jaunt to Seaview and Atlantic City?


1.  Atlantic City offers a diverse selection of fun, unique, and affordable family-friendly activities and attractions.  We could have stayed in the area for another entire week and still not gotten to many additional A.C. experiences that we would have enjoyed.

2.  Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club is an exceptional escape for families (or couples) looking for a fall getaway, spring retreat, or summer vacation, with plenty of activities to satisfy those seeking activity or relaxation.

3.  Seaview is an ideal home base for area visitors who want to enjoy all the pizzazz that A.C. has to offer, but also want a break from the city’s high energy vibe.



To express our collective satisfaction with our Seaview/Atlantic City vacay using gratuitous casino lingo, the trip wasn’t exactly a blind bet - thanks to the wildcard of many positive online reviews, we knew that our roll of the dice would yield some big payouts.  What we didn’t realize was how much of a winning streak we’d be on:  our top shelf Seaview experience made us feel like true MVGs, and our daily visits to the action of “America’s Favorite Playground” delivered a royal flush of memories, excitement, and fun.