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The Jersey Shore isn’t anything like what you might have seen on the reality TV show. This top destination in New Jersey is home to fabulous beaches, boardwalks with all sorts of entertainment, family-friendly attractions and charming historic towns. While you’re here, be sure to put some of these top things to do on your list.
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The most obvious thing to do is to spend time at the beach. The Jersey Shore refers to the coastline with its wealth of beaches, all offering something unique of their own. Point Pleasant is a popular beach in New Jersey with its clean, soft sand that’s ideal for sandcastle building along with non-stop excitement. If you’re looking for something more tranquil, Spring Lake offers two miles of peaceful shoreline and the longest non-commercial boardwalk in the state. No matter where you go you’re sure to enjoy a fun day of sunbathing, swimming, boogie boarding, tossing a Frisbee around and more.
Wildwood is a 38-block long boardwalk that truly offers it all. Enjoy live entertainment, fishing on the pier, all sorts of decadent foods and much more. There are frequent daily events hosted here and the beach requires no admission unlike most during the high season. Arguably the top draw is Morey’s Piers and Raging Waters Water Park. Not only is it a fun place to splash around on a hot summer’s day, but it hosts over 100 rides and attractions, including heart-pounding roller coasters and multiple thrill rides along with plenty of options for smaller kids. The water park features more than 50 slides and attractions like a lazy river, Hydroworks and Shipwreck Shoals water play areas with cannons, rope nets to climb, spray showers and more.
Atlantic City offers a wide range of entertainment, perhaps most famously, casino gambling, but visitors can also enjoy a variety of performances, including the Atlantic City Ballet and frequent concerts. Look forward to shopping along the boardwalk and convenient access to nearby outlets for bargains too. The boardwalk tram is a great way to get around, navigating the length of the shore. There are even wineries for tasting and a lighthouse to visit.
While you may not equate the Jersey Shore with whale watching, there are boat tours available from Wildwood and Cape May to take you out to see the majestic creatures in their natural habitat, and dolphins make a frequent appearance too. Boats travel into the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay Estuary, a sanctuary for many different marine life species thanks to the unique confluence of fresh and saltwater that make it an incredibly nutrient-rich area, though humpbacks are often the star of the show.
Barnegat Lighthouse is located on Long Beach Island, serving as a popular attraction among history buffs and lighthouse enthusiasts of all kinds. The area where it stands was regarded as one of the most important navigational points for ships bound to and from New York Harbor. Originally built in the mid-19th-century it sits at the northern tip of the island, providing magnificent views from the light keeper’s catwalk. Set within a set park, visitors can also enjoy picnicking and bird watching in one of the only remaining crops of maritime forest in the state. It sits on both spring and autumn migratory routes for many different species.
When you want to escape the sun for a while, one of the best attractions in the area can be found at Point Pleasant Beach. Head to Jenkinson’s Aquarium to get up close to Atlantic and Pacific sharks, penguins, seals, coral reefs and more. The touch tank is always a popular attraction, allowing visitors to touch everything from a stingray to starfish. Luseal, a harbor seal and local celebrity is a favorite. She’s been at the aquarium for nearly 30 years, rescued as a pup after being injured by a boat or shark. While Luseal is blind, she’s managed to thrive by using her other senses to compensate and seems to enjoy showing off to visitors who can watch her feedings three times a day.
While you might equate Maine with lobster, the Jersey Shore has plenty of great options for feasting on this mouthwatering treat. Indulge in everything from lobster rolls and lobster chowder to lobster mac ‘n’ cheese at Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls to the Angry Lobster at Rooney’s Oceanfront Restaurant, a 2 or 3-pound lobster pan-roasted in its original shell, finished in an olive oil and roasted garlic sauce sprinkled with hot pepper flakes and fresh basil. Bradley Beach hosts a Lobsterfest just after the start of summer every year that might be worth planning a trip around too.
Wine enthusiasts can even look forward to wine tasting on the Jersey Shore. Head to Cape May, home to the area’s only vineyards to sample wines that include syrah, riesling, chardonnay and many other varietals. Willow Creek is a Napa-style vineyard that offers a tasty menu of tapas and an extensive list of international cheeses for pairing while Hawk Haven Vineyard offers live music on Saturdays throughout the summer, complete with wine-tasting, cheese and charcuterie from its Barrel Room Cheese Shop.
Visitors to the Jersey Shore can take part in all sorts of water sports, but parasailing might be the highlight of your time here. It’s offered everywhere from Belmar to Cape May, with multiple outfitters available to get you soaring above the Atlantic with flight times as long as 15 minutes. With some, you can enjoy the activity in tandem or even triple parasails, experiencing it with friends or a loved one for an especially unforgettable time.