Strolling through Wildwood, New Jersey is like stepping back in time, to an era when neon lit up the night and kitsch was king. The beach town’s Doo Wop Motel District (which also goes by the less exciting name of the ‘Wildwood Shore Resort Historic District’) is loaded with vintage signs, colorful paint jobs, beautiful popluxe/Googie architecture, and forests of fake palm trees. As you can guess based on the aesthetic, most of these motels were built in the 1950s, with construction peaking in 1958 and winding down in the early 1970s. Most were designed by Lou and Will Morey, local brothers who pioneered the style, marked by an L or U shape, pools, adjacent parking, sun decks, neon, and, of course, plenty of plastic palm trees (which are the official tree of Wildwood.)
Even though over 50 of these gems no longer exist, there are still dozens left. There’s even a Doo Wop Experience Museum, founded by the Doo Wop Preservation League, which is dedicated to keeping the retro kitsch alive in Wildwood. Of course, the very best way to help keep the Doo Wop spirit alive is to book a room in one of the motels to experience the fun for yourself. Here’s a guide to some of the kitschiest and coolest old-school motels and motor courts in Wildwood, for photo ops and overnight stays!
For the full doo wop experience in Wildwood, here’s a tour of some of our favorite retro hotspots!