Best Mini Golf on the Jersey Shore
It’s harder than it looks.
Around 40 miniature golf courses dot the Atlantic coastline between Atlantic City and Cape May. And let’s be honest: there isn’t much variety when it comes to mini golf.
But the mission is to identify the best mini-golf courses on the Jersey Shore, so I’ve laid down some ground rules.
I look for courses that provide wholesome fun for the whole family: affordable links that offer creativity in course layout and cup obstacles, and provide an overall enjoyable vibe. I’m skipping a few that are based on cartoonish cultural depictions that…have not aged well. And if there are solid ice cream options at the end of the round, great.
After weeks of bad putting on greens of varying degrees of quality, I’ve narrowed down the unmatched top five.
I’ve been playing this course since I was a kid. The nearly 50-year-old Wildwood Institution’s miniature golf course is framed by an impressive facade meant to resemble a traditional European fishing village, with a row of worn clapboard houses that includes three singing and talking animatronic pelicans that welcome golfers (and constantly offer positive reinforcement). It’s a wonderfully Wildwood-kitschy 18-hole course that leans into its sea adventure theme, including blues (not greens) that are littered with tricky obstacles including rocks, hills and bridges . And golfers can earn a free round on the last hole, but beware, it’s guarded by a Finding Nemo-like shark housed in a wreck. And after a quick round, you can visit an attached restaurant, gift shop, and amazing homemade ice cream shop, which has some of the best sundaes in town.
🎟️ $8 per person before 6 p.m.; $9 after 6 p.m.
The medieval course sticks well to its theme: wrapping its walls in castle-patterned ensembles, dragon heads serve as hole ornaments, and several holes are played in dark-lit rooms (which are also air-conditioned) for a glow-in-the-dark effect that really ties the course together. The cup obstacles weren’t too special, and although most of the holes are rectangles, numerous slopes make an easy shot a challenge. The entire course is covered, located on a perch on the second floor between 13th and 14th streets and the boardwalk. And the best part is novelty golf balls which include cool characters and logos, ranging from Star Wars to Pokemon, and you can purchase your favorites separately.
🎟️ $9 before 6 p.m., and $10 after 6 p.m.
The new kid on the block, which just opened May 7, has turned heads. The Intrieri brothers built a two-level mini-golf course (and bike rentals) on Euclid Avenue, one block from Absecon Lighthouse and adjacent to Altman Playground. And they added a terrace connected to the boardwalk. The hope is that the new development will help reinvigorate the Inlet area of Atlantic City. Although that remains to be seen, the actual course is off to a promising start. Its beach setting, wood-lined holes, and minefield of shore-themed decorations create something unique for Atlantic City: a fun activity for the whole family. Seriously. And garlands of bistro lights that really add depth at night.
🎟️ Early risers can save a few bucks, but otherwise it’s $12 for adults and $10 from 11 a.m. to closing.
Located directly across from the famous Wildwood Sign, these three affordable courses span two stories and beautifully combine beach and ocean themes to create an exceptional beach town vibe. Courses include the incredible Beach Course, with a large man-made sand dune and castle; the Ocean Course, with water fountains and sea monsters; and the Boardwalk course, with plastic palm trees, iconic Wildwood symbols, and a few Wildwoods trivia on each hole for added local flavor. Multi-colored greens (blue, red, yellow, etc.) add a nice pop of color, and netting helps if you succumb to water traps.
🎟️ For adults, it’s $12 for 9 holes, $17 for 18 holes and $20 for 27 holes. For children (12 and under), it’s $10, $14 and $18. And kids under 2 play for free.
It’s been family owned and operated for 45 years, and at $5 for 20 holes, it’s still one of the best deals on the Jersey Shore. It’s kitschy in the best way, too, with replica Lucy the Elephant and Flintstones, and 15 mechanized and movable obstacles that are fun and unique challenges. It’s not always the toughest course, but it hits all the right nostalgia notes. And it’s at a key location on the boardwalk, next to Wonderland Pier, and has great ocean views. And for hot, humid days, stationary umbrellas provide glorious shade.
🎟️ $5 per person