SKEE-BALL’S FROM NJ
The staple game of the Shore where you roll a heavy ball up a slope to get it into targeted buckets for points was invented by Joseph Fourestier Simpson, a Vineland resident at the time, in 1907 (patented in 1908). First seen in South Jersey, the game got its name for its resemblance to ski hills and jumps. You’ll find Skee-Ball at nearly every arcade, but we highly recommend the newly
redone 12,000-square-foot arcade at Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven.
BOARDWALK BEACHES with AMUSEMENT PARKS
If your family’s idea of a fun day trip or vacay involves funnel cake, a Ferris wheel and a water park, there are a bunch of NJ Shore towns that check all the boxes. The Wildwoods are home to five miles of free beaches, plus Morey’s Piers amusement park. The park covers three separate piers with more than 100 rides (from kiddie to downright terrifying) as well as two beachfront water parks (Ocean Oasis and Raging Waters). Level up your vacation with Breakfast in the Sky on the 156-foot tall Ferris wheel, or head to the beach for Monster Truck rides, parasailing, mini golf or go-karts.
In Point Pleasant, you’ll need a beach badge to get onto the sand. This bustling area has public parking and lifeguards as well as surfing spots and swimming. The kids will love exploring
Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, with dozens of fun rides, including some that cater to your youngest family members. If it’s rainy, or too hot in the sun, take a break inside the aquarium where you can book a special up-close animal encounter with penguins or Wally the sloth. There’s tons of boardwalk food, mini golf, arcades and even a ropes course to tackle.
Seaside Heights, Keansburg and Atlantic City also have boardwalks with rides, but if you’re looking for something a little more low-key try Ocean City. The town is dry, so there’s no alcohol sold anywhere, which keeps the partying crowds away for a more family-friendly vibe. Explore Gillian’s Wonderland Pier and Playland’s Castaway Cove for rides, OC Waterpark for a spot to cool off, or try mini golf, parasailing or tiki boats. Have pizza at the famed Manco & Manco, seafood at Ike’s Famous Crabcakes and make sure to try the next-level fries at JiLLy’s French Fry Factory.
STATE AND NATIONAL PARKS
New Jersey has no shortage of beautiful state and national parks that line the shore. And the best part? Entry is free to all state parks for the 2022 season! Ocean County’s Island Beach State Park is known for its pristine mile-long beach, where swimmers, surfers and windsurfers can enjoy the brisk Atlantic waters. The narrow barrier island has 10 miles of area to explore. With wetlands, tidal marshes and dunes, it’s home to the state’s largest osprey colony.
Cape May Point State Park has more than 240 acres of meadows, ponds, forests, dunes and beaches and is known for its stellar bird watching. It’s also home to the famous Cape May Lighthouse, a 157-foot structure that has panoramic views from the top (only 199 steps up!). Visitors can tackle one of three short trails with viewing platforms for some prime wildlife observation. While in Cape May, stroll its historic downtown for a wide variety of cuisine, charming shops, trolley tours and access to whale and dolphin cruises. Don’t forget to stop at the always free Cape May Zoo.
The massive Gateway National Recreation Area is run by the National Park System and spans both New York and New Jersey. The New Jersey portion is known to most residents as Sandy Hook in Highlands, and the six-mile stretch of park known as a barrier spit, has beaches, a gorgeous multi-use pathway perfect for smooth bike riding, and historic spots like Fort Hancock and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. It’s $20 per carload for parking from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
MORE CHILL SPOTS
There are so many beautiful Shore communities that have it all—amazing dining, shopping and events. Hit the beach in Long Branch (kids under 13 are free) and make time to wander charming Pier Village. It’s filled with upscale oceanside restaurants like Avenue Le Club or McLoone’s Pier House, and cute spots like Coney Waffle for sweet treats or Beach Bee Meadery, where you can have a drink just a short walk from the village. There’s a traditional carousel and an upscale arcade, and plenty of unique boutiques. Book a stay at Wave Resort for some R&R with pampering treatments at its spa, epic views from the swim-up bar and terraces, a playroom for the kids and fire pits for nighttime relaxing.
If you want to eat and drink your way through a Shore town, we highly recommend Asbury Park. Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten has a German-themed menu (think schnitzel and wursts) and a rooftop garden, The Bonney Read has seafood and a raw bar and Langosta Lounge is perfect for a casual meal on the beach. For pizza, you can’t go wrong with Talula’s or Porta. For a classic experience, get a drink at the Wonder Bar or go upscale and book a room at Asbury Ocean Club Hotel, with free champagne, a pool terrace and private balconies. Don’t leave before taking in the art scene, strolling the boardwalk or catching a concert at The Stone Pony, one of the Shore’s most legendary spots.
If you’re vacationing on Long Beach Island, you won’t run short on things to do or see. The 18-mile barrier island is made up of a series of towns like the quiet Surf City and Loveladies to the hopping Beach Haven and Ship Bottom. You’ll want a car (or a bike) to navigate your way around. Head to Parker’s Garage, Mud City Crab House or Black Whale Bar & Fish House for seafood, Raimondo’s for Italian and grab breakfast at The Chicken or the Egg. Head off island to Tuckerton Seaport for more food and shopping and stop at the north end of the island’s Barnegat Lighthouse State Park to see the historic Old Barney lighthouse.
Most NJ beaches charge for admission (and often have parking fees) or require beach badges to enter the sandy shores but these spots are free to access.
CAPE MAY POINT STATE PARK
Cape May Point
OCEAN COUNTY PARK
WILLIAM MORROW BEACH
Somers Point Cape May