Blue jays and brown thrashers flit noisily overhead. You watch them soaring through the sky and abruptly landing on holly trees, and then you spot it: a great blue heron. Regal in its posture and color, the long-legged bird lifts its limbs and flaps off across the marshland. The Stone Harbor Bird Sanctuary has exceeded your expectations. And you suspect that Stone Harbor hotels will do the same.
But perhaps the best way to discover a new city is to avoid making any assumptions about it, and instead, simply experience it as it comes. And so armed with a stack of your favorite novels and a cooler full of refreshments, you head toward the beach with no greater plan than reveling in the sunlight. Stashing everything inside of one of the Stone Harbor rental cars, you pull up to the pristine sand and pause for a moment to take in the scene; the Atlantic Ocean makes the ideal backdrop to white-sailed boats and colorful inner tubes floating about. You sidle up to a sunny patch of sand and lay out your towel, thankful for the warming rays beating down upon you. You didn’t let yourself become preoccupied with preconceived notions of Stone Harbor, but its quiet beauty has surpassed anything you could have dreamed up. Once your skin feels tight and evenly toasted by the sun, you head downtown. Quaint shops beckon you inside and friendly locals wave—they’re always eager to introduce themselves to a new face. An ice cream shop catches your eye and you end the day with a scoop of coffee ice cream laced with caramel ribbons. The cooling confection counteracts the hours spent in the sun, sending you into a state of bliss. Back at hotels in Stone Harbor, NJ, you’ll continue dreaming of the decadent flavor, as well as scenic views of the Atlantic.
Sometimes the best journeys don’t consist of major events, but several happy milestones. You slide a postcard featuring a great blue heron into your suitcase; hotels near Stone Harbor had some for sale in the lobby. Although you’re not sure you’ll find the impressive bird anywhere near Atlantic City hotels, you load up your binoculars and decide you’re willing to find out firsthand. Migration patterns, like expectations, can sometimes be unpredictable after all.