For as long as many Philadelphians can remember, going “down the shore” has been an important summer tradition—right up there with getting water ice and taking in a Phillies game.

And it makes sense: The shore has a ton to offer. There are its bustling, activity-packed boardwalks, in places like Atlantic City and Ocean City, and the opportunities it offers to swim at quieter beaches, like the ones in Long Beach Island (affectionately called LBI by locals) and Strathmere.

But there’s more to the Jersey Shore than its beaches and boardwalks. At least part of the allure for both visitors and residents is the history and diversity along the 127-mile stretch of coastline, which runs south from the Atlantic Highlands and Sandy Hook Bay to Cape May.

If you’re looking to get out into nature, there’s Galloway, which offers 47,000 acres of protected, wildlife-filled coastal land to explore. If you’re a history buff, head to Cape May and learn about the two devastating fires in 1869 and 1878, which forced the town to rebuild with a brand-new look: colorful Victorian homes constructed at the turn of the 20th century.

There’s even a chance to follow in the footsteps of the 18th U.S. president, Ulysses S. Grant, who loved Long Branch, New Jersey, so much that he dubbed it America’s “summer capital” and started a trend among future presidents, many of whom vacationed in the town.

And yet when a destination is as diverse and packed with sights as the Jersey Shore, it can be a little tough to sort out what to see and where to go first. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to visiting the shore, from the essential shore towns to cute vacation rentals up and down the coast. Wondering how to get to your preferred beach? We’ve outlined the best ways to travel by car, train, and bus. Even if you’re familiar with the shore, we’ve got some spots you might not have checked out yet. Dive in.

(Looking for good spots to chow down? Eater Philly has you covered.)

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