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Dust off the flip-flops – it’s time to head down the Shore for some summer fun. Hold on to this handy guide of Shore happenings and hot spots that can make your summer the best ever. See you at the beach! (Or on the boardwalk, or at a seaside restaurant, or at an amusement pier…you get the idea.)

Take the kids – off the beach

There’s no better place for family fun than the Shore. When you need a break from the beach, you can still find plenty to do. Find out what it was like to live in SJ over 200 years ago at historic Cold Spring Village in Cape May. The kids will get a kick out of the historically dressed guides found inside the 26 historical buildings. (The guides are really called educators, but you might not want to mention that to your kids.) There’s also an area where kids can try on the period costumes and play games from the era. Make sure to stop by the Village Country Store where you can purchase handcrafted pottery and ironware – all created by the artisans in the village.

Lucy The Elephant

If you want to stay on a beach but do a little more than boogie boarding, take the drive to Ship Bottom, where you can get hands-on eco experiences at the Alliance for a Living Ocean. On Mondays and Wednesdays, take a one-hour kayak tour with an environmentalist. (Cost is $25 for a single, $40 for a double. Book your kayak 48 hours in advance.) On Tuesdays and Thursdays, families can seine the bay with a naturalist. (Seining is placing a net into the water to see what comes up.) It’s a hands-on experience, and all critters are returned to the sea. (A $5 donation per person is suggested.)

And don’t forget old-time kid favorites like Lucy the Elephant in Margate or the Cape May Zoo. Lucy is six stories high, and you can climb all the way to the top for an awesome view, hear about her unique history and then have a picnic outside. At the Cape May Zoo, check out over 550 animals. On the weekends, go on the Night Out with the Critters tour and see what animals do when the sun goes down. Admission to the zoo is free, but the tour costs $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

Get a sitter – AC style

One of the ways casinos attract guests is to open top-notch restaurants with well-respected chefs. Take the Borgata, home to restaurants by Bobby Flay and Wolfgang Puck, or Revel, where Jose Garces and Marc Forgione have opened eateries. Outside the casinos, Knife & Fork, which opened in 1912, remains a fine-dining staple. (In the early days, the restaurant was a private men’s club – women had to stay in a side room adjoining the main dining room.)

When you’re ready for some retro dancing, stop in at Boogie Nights at the Tropicana on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night (it’s closed during the week). Call ahead and reserve a VIP booth, like the Love Shack or Swingers’ Circle. These decked-out private areas have dollar minimums but fit 10 to 30 people.

For a somewhat calmer evening, have a pint at Ra Ra Irish Pub or try karaoke at Planet Rose; both are inside The Quarter at the Tropicana.

Don’t miss some super summer concerts: Boardwalk Hall will host Beyonce on July 26 and Journey and Rascal Flatts on August 4. Sting appears at the Borgata on June 14-15 and David Cassidy sings at The Tropicana on July 26. For a few laughs, head to the Borgata. Kevin James headlines there on July 13 and Jerry Seinfeld appears on July 20.

Day Tripping

The dock at Viking Village

Load the kids in the car for a mini-excursion just outside of your favorite beach town. For more than 50 years, Storybook Land in Egg Harbor Township has entertained kids of all ages – especially preschoolers. Guests can visit fairy tale characters’ miniature houses and hop on rides with a fairytale theme. Admission for adults and kids over 2 is $23.50, but on Tuesdays in the summer, tickets are 25 percent off. Don’t miss the pirate and princess adventure weekend on July 27 and 28.
Channel your inner Viking with an educational journey to Viking Village in Barnegat Light. The weekly tour (Fridays at 10 am) gives a fisherman’s view of the commercial seafood industry, including scalloping, gillnetting and long lining. Tours are geared more toward older kids and adults. Parking is free though not always easy to find during the busy season.

If you prefer to soar to higher heights, the Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum might be your ticket. Located at the Cape May Airport, the station served as an active dive-bomber squadron training facility during World War II. One admission fee – $10 for adults, $8 for kids 3-12, and free for children under 12 – gets visitors into the regular museum and special exhibits. Sit in the cockpit of a real plane, check out the flight simulator firsthand and visit the Coast Guard exhibit area.

Journey back in time to learn about farming in the year 1900 at the Howell Living History Farm in Lambertville. On Saturdays, kids can help crush, cook and can tomatoes; make soap; churn butter and pick corn. They can also pitch in to care for the sheep oxen and horses. On weekdays and Sundays, visitors can take self-guided tours but there aren’t interactive programs. (The farm is closed on Saturdays, July 16 and 23.) And best of all, admission is free.

Fitness Favorites

It’s easy to stay fit at the beach as most towns have basketball and tennis courts, as well as biking and jogging paths. In Ocean City, ride on the boardwalk – 2 ½ miles long – every morning between 5 am and noon. Another path, the Haven Avenue Bike Boulevard, runs North-South from 9th to 34th Streets. The West Avenue Route runs from 12th to 55th Streets and is designed for advanced bikers who are comfortable riding alongside traffic and parked cars.

A four-mile bike path along the coast of Avalon

Avalon has a four-mile bike path on both sides of Avalon’s Dune Drive from 7th to 80th Streets. For ambitious bikers, Cape May offers a 46.4-mile route where you’ll pass lighthouses, Victorian architecture, the bay, boardwalk and the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. Begin and end your tour at the Cape May Lighthouse parking lot. Flat terrain makes the ride relatively easy and a detailed map allows you to personally tailor the journey.

Stay in bikini shape with a boot camp class for women in Stone Harbor on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 8 am. Meet on the basketball court at the 80th Street Rec Center for an hour of sweating into shape. If you’ve got a guy who wants to come, there’s a co-ed boot camp on Saturday and Sunday mornings at 8 am. Classes are held rain or shine and cost $15 per class or 10 classes for $100.

If yoga is more your thing, there’s no better place than the beach to strike a pose. In Margate, you can find your zen on the Granville Avenue Beach on Saturdays at 8:15 am. In Long Beach Island, weekend classes begin at 8:30 am on 26th Street in Spray Beach. During the week, look for yoga classes at JFK Boulevard Beach in Sea Isle City on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:30 am. Be sure to bring a mat and water.

Foodie Fun

CHEFS AT THE SHORE

June 20
This fundraiser with a flavorful twist will showcase local food while funding educational programs at the Atlantic City Aquarium.
609-348-2880
oceanlifecenter.com

SEAFOOD AND MUSIC FESTIVAL

June 22-23
Enjoy everything from local seafood to music, family activities and decoy carvers at the Tuckerton Seaport.
609-296-8868
tuckertonseaport.org.

NORTH WILDWOOD ITALIAN-AMERICAN FESTIVAL

June 28-30
Taste authentic Italian dishes while enjoying live entertainment.
609-780-2563
kofc2572.org.

JAZZY SCALLOP & SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

June 29
Sample fresh seafood cooked by local chefs as jazz musicians perform at Viking Village in LBI.
609-494-0113
vikingvillage.homestead.com

NEW JERSEY STATE BBQ CHAMPIONSHIP

July 12-14
Mouthwatering barbecue, cooking demonstrations and blues come to North Wildwood.
609-523-6565
njbbq.com

NEW JESEY CRAB FESTIVAL

July 20
Catch a bite of crab delicacies and enjoy family-friendly fun at this Wildwood festival.
609-522-0033
njcrabfestivalicehouse.com

ATLANTIC CITY FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

July 25-28

Cape May Craft Beer & Crab Festival

Enjoy dining, wine and culinary demonstrations from renowned chefs.
609-449-7154
acrestaurantweek.com

CAPE MAY CRAFT BEER & CRAB FESTIVAL

August 10
Wash down favorite picnic foods with local brews at the Emlen Physick Estate.
609-884-5404
capemaymac.org

 

 

Super Sand Castles

(Bet you never built a sand castle like this before)

Walk along the Atlantic City Boardwalk between June 13-30, and you’ll be blown away watching professional sand sculptors compete in the World Championship of Sand Sculpting.

This is the first time the championships will be held in this part of the country,
but Atlantic City has an interesting history with sand sculpting: From the late 1800s to 1943, Atlantic City was host to numerous professional sand sculptors who entertained huge crowds by building spectacular creations. Unfortunately, after decades of these popular exhibitions, a handful of con artists took advantage of the huge crowds and caused a pick-pocket panic that lead to the outlawing of sand sculpting exhibitions along the boardwalk in 1944 – a law that is actually still on the books to this day.

Luckily, local officials have made an exception to the law for the competition, which means you can watch the carvers create their sand masterpieces from 11 am to 6 pm on weekdays, and 10 am to 7 pm on weekends. The pros will also teach kids how to work magic with sand during lessons beginning at 7 pm on June 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23.

The winners of the solo competition will be announced at 5:30 pm on
June 16, and the double competition awards ceremony will be held at 5:30 pm
on June 23.

When it rains at the shore…

Gloomy weather can’t stop you from discovering what lies at the bottom of the ocean at the Discovery Seashell Museum. It’s been a popular Ocean City attraction since 1968 for good reason – you’ll find more than 5,000 species of shells from around the world, including a cool 200-pound shell from a man-eating clam in the Philippines and teeth from an ancient, 60-foot megalodon shark. Spend some time making your own jewelry from shells, and learn about local butterflies, plants and other wildlife. Admission is free, and the museum is open daily from 9 am to 7 pm.

For more underwater fun (in the rain!), head over to the Atlantic City Aquarium. Walk through the 40-foot shark tunnel surrounded by a 550,000-gallon tank holding more than 20 sharks and 850 ocean creatures. At the Touch Tank, you can handle sea urchins and stingrays. There’s also a tank showcasing fish of the New Jersey coast, an interactive sailing exhibit and educational sessions. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm every day and is located at Historic Gardener’s Basin, which is also home to fishing boats, restaurants and antique shops. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, and $5 for kids ages 4-12. Kids under 3 are free.

If you’re looking for a quieter way to spend a rainy day, the Noyes Museum of Art in Oceanville is the place to be. The gallery has expertly curated painting, photography, sculpture and film exhibitions for display all summer long. Every Thursday evening in June and July, the museum holds special programs such as kids’ movie nights and artist talks. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday from noon to 5 pm, with extended hours on Thursdays until 8 pm. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and students. Kids under 6 are free.

 

Look Who Else Loves the Jersey Shore!

Great Britain’s Prince Harry proved his mettle by winning a ball toss game on the Jersey Shore boardwalk last month. Though he handed the prized stuffed animal over to an excited child, most of his visit to Mantoloking and Seaside Heights leaned toward the serious. Accompanied by Governor Chris Christie, the charming prince shook hands with construction workers furiously trying to get the boardwalk into shape for the tourist season. He greeted first responders from October’s Superstorm Sandy and met residents who lost their homes.

Prince Harry saw firsthand the devastated coastline, washed-out dunes and destroyed homes and businesses. Harry also got a final glimpse of the iconic roller coaster washed into the ocean that has symbolized the fierce power and destruction of the storm. Just hours later the ride was demolished. The governor showed Prince Harry the spot where the Atlantic Ocean had cut Mantoloking in half, creating a channel to the backbay and wiping out houses and a bridge. All 521 of the wealthy town’s homes were either damaged or destroyed and many remain as piles of rubble.

Throngs of visitors lined the path with Union Jack flags and welcome signs under the watchful eye of a large police presence. During the 10-mile route between Mantoloking and Seaside Heights, residents, including classes of school kids, lined the streets with shout-outs to their famous visitor.

The prince chose to visit the Shore towns after meeting an N.J. native in Afghanistan who lost his home during Hurricane Sandy. In true Governor Christie fashion, Prince Harry left with a parting gift – a navy-blue fleece.

 

Tour the Shore

Steel Pier Helicopter Tours

Get a bird’s-eye view of the sites of Atlantic City
Tours run 1 pm to midnight on weekdays; noon to 1 am on weekends
Shoreline tour costs $44 per person. City tour costs $69.
You can also customize your tour.
steelpierhelicopters.com

Ocean City Ghost Tour

Candlelight walking tour takes you through the historic town center of Ocean City.
Tours run nightly at 8 pm. Meet outside City Hall at 9th Street and Asbury Avenue.
Tour costs $14 for adults and $10 for kids ages 4 to 12
ghosttour.com/oceancity

‘50s Neon Nights Tour

Guided bus tour highlights doo-wop landmarks and architecture in Wildwood
Tours run every Tuesday and Thursday at 8 pm from the Doo Wop Experience Museum on Ocean Avenue.
Tickets cost $12 for adults and $6 for children.
doowopusa.org

 

Ocean City on the Big Screen

Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening in “Girl Most Likely”

Next month, look for Kristen Wiig’s new movie “The Girl Most Likely,” which has scenes filmed in Ocean City. In the comedy, Wiig plays the not-too-together daughter of Annette Bening who is forced to move into her mom’s house in Ocean City.

Wiig and the other actors never filmed in Ocean City. Production crews came three years ago to shoot locations that are used as background shots. Look for these well-known spots in the film: Gillian’s Wonderland, Mack and Manco’s Pizza and even the Welcome to Ocean City sign on 34th Street.

June 2013
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