The only way I can account for the negative reviews is that some come from off-season visitors. Don't go off-season. The place blooms, in many ways, during the summer, and is truly a wonderful alternative to conventional seashore-y pursuits. We found the guides to be excellent and the architectural "collection" unparalleled. While this won't satisfy those who aren't used to historical travel (or don't value it - it is, after all, not an amusement park), the traveler who wants their family to truly understand what makes the New Jersey coast unique, varied, and historically relevant will find it here. Case in point: HCSV's interpretation hewes closely to a narrative specific to New Jersey seashore people, which I found to be a refreshing change from living history sites that try to present themselves as representational of ALL early American societies. This was a very smart choice on their part, and shows they have good historians at work.
A couple last things. In my opinion, the guides are excellent because they're NOT in character. They're also not the patronizing kind who start by telling you "there was no TV; there was no internet..." You can engage them on your level and get intellegent answers. Also, the general store is a unique seashore shopping experience, not to be missed (be sure to get a bag of the locally-produced cranberry muffin mix).
Don't miss this place if you're at the South Jersey shore. They value visitors - adults and children alike - and you will leave feeling like you've done and learned something very worthwhile.
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