Editor’s note: This article was published before the coronavirus pandemic, and may not reflect the current situation on the ground.

When she first arrived in Wildwood, Adventure.com photo editor Nicola Bailey wasn’t exactly enamored by it. But as she spent more time there, she began to fall for the charms of this very real, very proud, and very neon place.  

There was a time, not so long ago, when I was nearly a reality TV star.

I was living in New York, and the show was about myself and a colleague secretly photographing people’s marriage proposals. We filmed a bunch, but the show never made it to TV for one reason or another. In one fell swoop, my dreams of fame, fortuneand becoming a D-list celebritywere shattered. Life clearly had grander plans for me.

But it wasn’t all bad news. During some of the filming, we were whisked off to Wildwood. On the coast of New Jersey and on a barrier island facing the Atlantic, Wildwood has a population that usually sits around 5,000, but can swell to 250,000 in the summer. Yes, it’s one of those towns.