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It’s time to stop saying, “One day I’d love to…” and grab your car keys to head out on an adventure. For those of us who live and work here, we know: South Jersey is a hotspot of some of the most exciting, nerve-wracking, daring and sometimes truly bizarre once-in-a-life experiences. All you need is a few crazy ideas and a free afternoon, because so many must-have moments are right in our backyard. Want to make some awesome South Jersey memories? Here’s how…

Fly a plane
If you’ve ever thought, “They’d never let just anyone fly a plane,” you’d be oh-so-wrong. Turns out, you don’t need a pilot’s license to take to the sky. Flying W Airport in Medford offers flight lessons that will get you in the cockpit on the first lesson. We’re talking takeoff, a joyride over rolling South Jersey fields and landing, all in your very capable hands. Don’t worry – there’s a pilot with you at all times (who can take back controls immediately if it becomes too nerve-wracking), and you’ll get plenty of instruction before and during your flight.

 

Photo: Bertil Roos Racing School

Drive a race car
Ever dream of driving 200 miles an hour around a real racetrack? Head over to New Jersey Motorsports Park to earn your Sports Car Club of America License. Every year, they offer 4-5 day road and Formula One racing classes that will have you whizzing along the track and walking out as a licensed racer. Even if you don’t go pro, it’s definitely a unique way to pass a few vacation days – and talk about a conversation starter. And if you don’t want to wait until next summer, get the feel for it with 20 laps in a go-kart (Motorsports has a track for that, too).

 

Photo: Wheaton Arts

Blow some glass
It’s like your high school pottery class, but way more South Jersey. Glassmaking is a major part of SJ history (the first glass factory was opened in Millville in the late 1700s.) Today WheatonArts is passing on the beauty of glassblowing to local artists. Make your own glass pumpkin just in time for Halloween or glass ornaments for the holiday season.

Swim with the sharks
Get the best “Shark Week” experience along the Camden Waterfront at Adventure Aquarium. Get your wetsuit on and head into the 760,000 gallon ocean realm exhibit that just happens to be home to the largest collection of sharks in the Northeast. With their Shark & Ray In-Water Encounter, you’ll get right in the water with sandbar, sand tiger and blacktip sharks – we mean, so close you could touch them. (But please don’t.)

Dig for dinosaurs
The first completed dinosaur skeleton was discovered in Haddonfield in 1858 (hello, Haddy the Hadrosaurus foulkii), and there’s still loads more ancient artifacts to be found. Take a trip waaaay back in time at the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park at Rowan University in Mantua to help excavate fossils dating all the way back to the Cretaceous Period. Keep an eye on their social media pages for information about Community Dig Days or arrange a private event. Can you imagine how cool a real-life fossil dig birthday party would be? At any age, really.

Float into the sky
We talk a lot about great views – on a hike, by the ocean down the Shore – but nothing beats seeing South Jersey from the sky. Hopping in a basket to float into the clouds on a hot air balloon tour is the ultimate way to see the colorful autumn leaves across SJ’s more rural areas. Seriously how cool would those Instagram photos be?

Catch your crab feast
Grab a bucket, a boat, a trap and some bait and hit the water to go crabbing. No, it’s not too late – crabbing season goes from March 15 to November 30. Some of the best crabbing spots in the area include Patacong Creek in Somers Point, Barnegat Bay and The Cape May National Wildlife Refuge. Special licenses are not required, but the state limits each person to one bushel of blue crabs per day.

Take a brewery crawl
Going to a bar for an afternoon drink is one thing, but making your way through all of South Jersey’s cutest towns and tastiest pours? Now that’s something to write home about. Pull up your ride-share account or recruit a trusted designated driver for the ultimate sips of South Jersey tour. If you’re looking for suggestions on where to go, check out our Facebook page to see Klein & Elyse visit 5 local breweries in their video series. And we do mean some – there are so many great brewery pit stops to make! Just be sure to sneak a glass of water in every once in a while.

 

Bike down a railway
For all those outdoorsy folks who love the idea of a hike without actually loving to hike, we’ve got the path for you. Hop on a railroad bike with Cape May’s Revolution Rail Co. and their partner Cape May Seashore Lines to pedal through 4 miles of Cape May nature, including passing alongside a mile of the Garrett Family Preserve. The trail is good for all levels, so you’ll be able to explore local plants and wildlife at a leisurely pace.

 

See a real-life cowboy in action
Want to try your hand at cowboy life? Drive on over to Rockin’ J Ranch in Egg Harbor to go on a trail ride or take Western riding lessons like barrel racing, reigning and roping. (Check out Elyse & Klein’s experience at the ranch here.)

Crush the lighthouse challenge
Gear up, because this one is coming up this month. The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is an annual event that invites people to visit 10 lighthouses, 3 lifesaving stations, 1 museum and 1 virtual site, all within the 3rd weekend of October. You’ll go up and down the Jersey shoreline, hitting up towns like Cape May, Delaware Bay Coast and Paulsboro. Check it out at lighthousechallengenj.com

Gaze into the Devil’s eye
Hidden deep within the Pine Barrens is a beautiful crystal-blue pool of water that’s the subject of some seriously local folklore. Located in Winslow Twp. on the border of Gloucester and Camden Counties, it’s said that the Blue Hole is bottomless and devoid of life, except for one frequent visitor – the famed Jersey Devil. Think the urban legends might be true? Head out on a hike to see for yourself. Just be careful and be smart – swimming is illegal, and hidden whirlpools make the water unsafe.

See wildlife getting a second chance
The Pine Barrens is home to more than just native wildlife. When abused, neglected and injured animals from all over the world can’t be released back into the wild, they find a home in Popcorn Park. This animal sanctuary takes in any animal in need – from exotics like lions, wallabies and monkeys to wildlife like bears, alligators and cougars, and even farm animals. It’s the perfect outing for any animal lover.

Go on a ghost tour
It’s spooky season, so if there was ever a time to cross this off your list, now would be it. South Jersey is filled with haunting histories, but none more so than Victorian Cape May, whose pastel-colored 19th-century homes are rumored to be overflowing with spirits. A number of local tour companies give ghost tours of the city, so take a deep breath and hope the spirits are friendly.

 

Dive a shipwreck
There are almost 5,000 known shipwrecks off the coast of New Jersey, and some of the best
shipwreck diving on the East Coast is right here off our shores. Earn your scuba certification and take specialty diving classes inland or down the Shore. Head underwater and explore wrecks like the torpedoed Gulf Trade oil tanker by Barnegat Inlet or Boston
Lightship, which sunk off the coast of Atlantic City in 1994.

Travel the wine trail
People may not think of South Jersey as a winery hotspot, but they should. Make your way through the South Jersey wine trail for wines that rival those from major wine
regions around the world in international competitions (seriously!).

Step inside a painting
Ever get the urge to step right into Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party? Or maybe Van Gough’s Starry Night? Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton hosts nearly 300 life-sized (and even bigger!) sculptures over 42 acres of meticulously kept gardens. Visitors can put themselves right in the middle of some of the most unique and interactive artwork you’ll find anywhere. The photo-op never disappoints.

Walk on water
It’s like a thing of the future – strap on a jetpack to fly over the ocean like you’re Iron Man. Jet Pack New Jersey in Beach Haven lets you soar through the air on a jetpack or jetboard for 30 minutes of uninterrupted sci-fi worthy airtime.

Get your zen on
Nestled in the Pinelands is Pine Wind Zen Community Monastery, where you can find your spirituality with these South Jersey monks. The monastery offers retreats to learn authentic Zen training, and the grounds are open for meditation and visits with the monks from 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday.

 

But don’t just take our suggestions…

We’ve spent 21 years finding the best, coolest and most fun experiences in South
Jersey. We’ve chronicled them in print and on social media, named them “Best of SJ’s” and showed them off in video projects like our Facebook series “It’s a South
Jersey Summer,” and our TV show, “This is South Jersey.” But we’re always looking for more can’t-miss adventures. So we asked people what they think everyone should have on their bucket list – and recommendations came pouring in.
Here are some of the most popular answers:

· Watch the sunset from Cape May Lighthouse
· Go canoeing on the Batsto River
· Ride every ride on all 3 piers in Wildwood
· Walk or bike the Ben Franklin Bridge
· Kayak around the entire Cape May Coast
· Climb the tower at Apple Pie Hill (Just make sure there’s an official firewatcher present when you do!)
· Walk into a fairytale at Storybook Land
· Pet animals at Funny Farm Animal Rescue
· Go tubing in Mays Landing
· See the horseshoe crabs spawn down the Shore
· Go camping overnight in the Pine Barrens
· Eat everything on the Atlantic City, Wildwood & Ocean City boardwalks – we’re talking pizza, monkey bread, saltwater taffy, funnel cake and soft-served ice cream all in one day.
· Spend a night gambling in Atlantic City. (And hopefully winning.)
· Be front row at a concert at the BB&T Pavilion.
· Ride the PATCO/Riverline/AC line from one end to the other
· Go on a dive-bar crawl through South Jersey
· Picnic on the Camden waterfront

October 2021
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