This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Vacation
Seven Shore traditions to start this summer
By Erin Bell

The Shore is so much more than just daily trips to the beach and dinner at a different restaurant every night. Start planning now to mix it up this summer and create new traditions for you and the kids.

1. Learn a new water sport

We get it – you have your ritual when you get to the beach. Pick a spot, set up, go in the water, stay at the beach all day. But just playing in the waves is so 2015. Make it a tradition to learn a new water sport like surfing, kayaking or even stand-up paddleboarding (SUP), which is growing in popularity in SJ. Take a crash course in SUP and travel along the calm back bays of Ocean City. You can even make it a party with OC Paddleboard’s SUP & Sip tour – a guided paddleboard excursion for adults, followed by sunset drinks on the patio at Seaview Harbor Marina.

Take a break from the casinos of Atlantic City to stop by the AC Surf & SUP School, where classes are offered seven days a week. Beginner classes can get you surfing in three hours by teaching the basics of paddling, “popping up” and basic maneuvers for waves. Whether they’re new to surfing or young pros, the kids can go to surfing camp, like the five-day camps offered by Heritage Surf Shop in Ocean City (camp lasts from 8:30 to 11 am, so the only struggle will be getting the kids up in time).

And if the real waves aren’t letting you “hang 10,” try the simulated waves at Beach Haven’s Flow House Thundering Surf, where nearly 60,000 gallons of water creates constant, surf-able swells.


Ghost tours at the Physick Emlen Estate

Ghost tours at the Physick Emlen Estate

2. Get spooked on a ghost tour

Get ready for a creepy new tradition – there are tons of places to get your scare on at the Shore. Grab a candle and head out on a walking ghost tour of Ocean City to learn the tale of the doomed ship Sindia, which was wrecked on the beach at 17th Street in 1901.

Cape May’s rich heritage makes it a hotspot for history buffs – and ghosts. Pluck up the courage to visit Higbee Beach, where people have claimed to see a man in a white coat walking a black dog. Ghost hunters believe this might be the ghost of Thomas Higbee, who ran the long-gone Hermitage Hotel not far from the beach before his death in 1879.

Also in Cape May, medium Craig McManus leads walking and trolley tours, including the “Ghosts of the Lighthouse” evening tour, where you’ll have to brave the path to the lighthouse – and all of its 199 steps to the top. Then investigate the paranormal happenings at Cape May’s Emlen Physick Estate and Cherry House using EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) recorders and EMF (Electromagnetic Field) meters.


3. Travel back in time

The Naval Air Station Aviation Museum’s Hangar #1 at the Cape May Airport is 92,000 square feet and sees 30,000 visitors every year

The Naval Air Station Aviation Museum’s Hangar #1 at the Cape May Airport is 92,000 square feet and sees 30,000 visitors every year

There’s so much history at the Shore you couldn’t see it all in one summer – so make it a yearly tradition to visit a new historical spot each year. First on your list? Cape May’s Historic Cold Spring Village, which boasts 30 acres of early 19th-century buildings, like a blacksmith’s shop and general store.

Another can’t-miss spot is The Naval Air Station Aviation museum in Rio Grande, which will transport you back in time to World War II. See the museum’s Hanger No. 1, which served as a training facility for dive-bomber squadrons, and then fly an aircraft on your own using the flight simulator. You can also check out 26 massive helicopters, jets and airplanes.

The Jersey Shore’s rich sea history is painstakingly chronicled at Beach Haven’s Maritime Museum, showcasing data and items collected from the thousands of shipwrecks off the coast. If exhibits of N.J.’s shipwrecks don’t float your boat, check out the exhibit on the deadly shark attacks of 1916.

Then take a nifty trip through the 1950s in Wildwood – the town embraces its swinging heyday at the Doo Wop Experience Museum. Explore vintage architecture and rock ’n’ roll memorabilia by day and the bright lights of the neon sign garden by night.


4. Say “Om” on the beach

IMG_2933Breathe in the salt air and exhale your troubles away – beach yoga classes are a great alternative to your standard beach chair day. Start the morning off right with an early beach class, like the kind offered by Liquid Bliss Yoga in Harvey Cedars. Or, if you want to sleep in, try one later in the day (they’re just as relaxing). Long Beach Island’s Wellness Center offers classes both in studio and on the beach, including full moon sessions once a month, where you can practice yoga on the beach at night, under the light of the moon.

If you’re already an accomplished yogi and looking for a challenge, try doing your morning yoga session on water. LBI Surfing in Ship Bottom offers classes combining yoga, stand-up paddleboarding and surfing. Beginners can ease into the water during the Yoga & SUP class, starting with a yoga warm-up on the beach and continuing with poses on a paddleboard in the bay, where the calm water is less disruptive than the ocean. The class finishes with a warm-down session back on the beach.

You can also combine the calm of yoga with the thrill of surfing during the Yoga & Surf Workshop – start out with a warm-up on the beach, dive into the water to ride some waves and finish back on the beach with a warm-down session.


5. Watch a film under the stars

Bring your folding chairs, blankets and popcorn for a free summer movie series. Watch blockbusters like “Minions,” “Cinderella” and “Inside Out” at dusk at Sea Isle City’s Excursion Park starting June 28. Cape May offers free movies on the beach outside Convention Hall every Thursday in July and August at 8:30 pm. (Don’t miss their annual showing of “JAWS” – then try going back in the water the next day.)


6. Skip the beach and take a class

Make your pizza and eat it too at Tony Baloney’s in Atlantic City, where Mike, the founder and “head pizzaiolo” (that’s pizza maker) teaches a course on how to make pizza from scratch using fresh ingredients like hand-pulled mozzarella. Or learn a new skill that pays – literally – as you search for buried treasure as part of the guided beachcombing classes in Sea Isle City.

At Tuckerton Seaport, unique craft classes include duck decoy carving, chocolate making, basket weaving and printmaking. You can even put your new surfing skills to use by shaping and sanding your own wood surfboard.


7. Get artsy

Develop your artistic side and start a tradition of exploring new types of art and theater. Get up close and personal with the members of the Atlantic City Ballet at Boardwalk Hall, where dancers demonstrate technique and talk with audience members in an exclusive setting – only 25 tickets are sold for each event. (The company also performs “Swan Lake” at The Claridge Hotel in May.)

If you are feeling inspired by your serene Shore surroundings, paint, sketch or make a craft at the Ocean City Arts Center. They offer an open-studio policy for members, so you can work in the natural-light studio whenever the artistic mood strikes. Pick up some new art for your home at the juried photography show going on this month, or check out the AC Craft Market at Noyes Arts Garage in Atlantic City, where artisan vendors gather on the last Saturday of every month to showcase their crafts.

April 2016
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