BACKGROUND: Celebrate the exotic, historic and tacky by visiting Wildwood, home to some of the best doo-wop style motels in the state.
So what is doo-wop? In the 1950s and 1960s, builders created simple motels with exotic themes as a way to take average people to far away locales like the shores of Tahiti and beyond. Identified today as doo-wop motels, many of them remain today still enticing visitors with names like the Caribbean and the Royal Hawaiian.
The Doo-Wop Preservation League, a group that formed to both protect existing building and encourage new development with a doo-wop twist, explains "How to Doo-Wop" in a guidebook with that title. Start with a simple two or three-story bar of L-shaped motel, add an exotic or space age name, a bright neon sign and a kidney-shaped pool and you start to get the idea. Doo-wop design also makes use of angular roof lines, curvy railings, pastels and of course the summer-blooming plastic palm tree.
New construction in the Wildwoods has also adopted contemporary doo-wop with businesses like Wawa and Commerce Bank making use of neon, chrome and other design elements.
INSIDER INFO: Start your immersion into the age of Eisenhower by visiting The Doo Wop Experience and Neon Sign Garden, a museum of all that is cool and neon that opened in the old Surfside Restaurant building. The Surfside opened in 1960 and is a fine example of Doo Wop architecture at its best, so fine in fact that the Doo Wop Preservation League and city moved it to its present location to serve as the museum. The Neon Sign Garden is a collection of classic signs from motels that are now closed.
WHERE: The Doo Wop Experience and Neon Sign Garden are located on Ocean Avenue between Burk and Montgomery avenues, across from the Wildwoods Convention Center. CLICK HERE FOR DIRECTIONS.
The museum is also the place to catch the Doo Wop Preservation League's Doo Wop Back to the Fifties Tour. The tour takes passengers past some of the city's doo-wop landmarks while the guide - dressed in the best of 1950s fashions - recounts information about the doo-wop era.
HOURS AND COST: Tours run Tuesday and Thursday evenings, June 22 through September 2, 2010, and Saturday evenings, July 24 through August 14. Tickets are $12 adults, $6 children. Call 800-786-4546.