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A Winter Weekend at the Jersey Shore

Take in a family holiday show in Atlantic City, see the decorations in Cape May.

Jingle: A Magical Holiday Spectacular at the Tropicana in Atlantic City, NJ

You can’t get much further from peak Jersey-shore season than December and January.

Fall has its beach fans who squeeze in a couple more days of sun before it turns cold. In early spring, some of us with cabin fever rush the season with a trip to scope out a vacation rental and stroll the boardwalk.

But what about those who head toward the beach in the heart of winter? The question popped up when Tropicana offered to host us for an overnight stay, along with dinner and a breakfast, so we could see its holiday show Jingle: A Magical Holiday Spectacular. It seemed like a chance to see what winter-shore visitors do.

It turns out that many of them went to see Jingle. The Trop’s 2,000-seat showroom was nearly at capacity Saturday night and many of the seats were filled with kids, from teens to those young enough to sit on a parent’s lap.

What they got to experience was a big-stage show of holiday songs, magic acts, aerial performances and Santa — a whole chorus line of Santas in fact.

The elaborate, hour-long production brought together enough high-kicking dancers and popular seasonal duets to keep parents as entertained as their kids. There was even a set of sing-alongs to get everyone involved and two of the performances were so dramatically staged, the audience gasped at the sight.

It is the 18th year the Tropicana has produced a holiday show. This year, it runs through Dec. 21. If you enter through the box office entrance at street level, it’s only two short escalator rides up to the showroom, which allows you to bypass most of the casino floor.Atlantic City Christmas Parade 2018

Earlier Saturday, the Second Annual Atlantic City Christmas Parade rolled down the boardwalk with a marching band, dance groups, dogs, mascots and decorated tram cars. If kids were in need of a snack or a souvenir, there were enough shops open along the route to satisfy them.

If you decide to visit other shore towns, know that not all of your favorite summer spots will be open; their websites might not always be a good indicator, so if you have your heart set on a sticky bun or pancakes, call to make sure you won’t be disappointed.

Traffic is light, so you can explore the coastal routes from town to town, a luxury you might not enjoy in July or August. Keep in mind, though, that winter is a good time for highway projects, so be prepared for lane closures along the Atlantic City Expressway or the fact that the Townsend Inlet Bridge between Sea Isle City and Avalon is closed until summer.

If you do make it all the way to Cape May, however, you’ll find a town that embraces the holiday season like few others. Almost all of the businesses Congress Hall Holiday Decorationsalong the Washington Street Mall are open and the town goes all out with winter decorations, as do many of the hotels and bed and breakfast inns.

You can take trolley or horse-drawn tours, including at night to appreciate the light displays. One of the largest hotels in town, Congress Hall, aside from being stunningly decorated inside, has an outdoor Winter Wonderland that includes a carousel, train and vendors in tents.

Maybe best of all, for the parent used to a shore weekend that ends with a three-hour car trip, the ride home should be so quick, you might arrive before the kids’ “FIVE. GOOOOOLD. RINGS” gets old.

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