Beyond the Beach: 15 Fun and Unique Things to Do at the Jersey Shore

There’s more to the Shore than just surf and sand.

Is the weather forecast rainy or cloudy? Have you had one too many days in the sun? Is there too much sand between your toes?

If you’re looking for a break from the beach for the day, here are some great places to go in the area for a day of fun. 

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Revolution Rail

Cape May

Revolution Rail bikers in Cape May

Experience Cape May in a new way, courtesy of Revolution Rail. Photo: R.C. Staab

Tour Cape May like never before on purpose-built rail bikes. Starting downtown at the Welcome Center, Revolution Rail offers rail-bike tours on former passenger railroad tracks through a wondrous marsh, past farmland, and, finally, to the Cape May Canal. On the return trip, there’s a walking tour of the Garrett Family Preserve. The bikes are easy to maneuver for almost anyone, from teens to seniors. —R.C. Staab 

Renault Winery

Egg Harbor City  

Opened in 1864, the Renault Winery Resort had fallen on hard times until 2019, when new owners expanded the resort to include a new hotel, upscale menus and more varieties of fine wines. Stop in any day for a wine tasting or book a historic tour (wine tastings are included) on a Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday. Family fun days are scattered throughout the calendar, and the last Saturday of each month features a car show. —RCS
72 N. Bremen Avenue

Lucky Snake Arcade and Raceway

Atlantic City

Bring out the kid in you—and bring the kids!—for an afternoon of fun and games. Packed with all the carnival favorites like Ramp-Roll-A-Ball and Whac-A-Mole, a full range of popular video games, pinball machines, virtual reality “rides” and retro go-tos like Pac-Man, hours will pass without notice. Try your putt at mini golf, and when you are ready to get your heart racing hop into a go-kart at the Raceway, where vehicles can speed up to 25 miles per hour. Since it is located inside the Showboat hotel, when you’re ready for snacks or cocktails, there are five venues to choose from, including the Surf bar, where margaritas are $5 every day, all day. —Deborah P. Carter
801 Boardwalk

Bell Works


Kids play at Bell Works in Holmdel

Bell Works boasts a diverse array of family-friendly activities. Photo: R.C. Staab

Inside the imposing Bell Works awaits a plethora of free activities for families, as well as artwork from local artists. Desks and lounge areas are available to spend the day remotely working with free WiFi. Visitors have access to a basketball court, table tennis, foosball, shuffleboard and foam play toys. Well-behaved dogs on a leash can go on a one-mile walk—the equivalent of two laps around the huge atrium. —RCS
101 Crawfords Corner Road

Rhythm & Spirits; Bar 32

Atlantic City

Eat, drink and be merry at this off-beach hot spot, offering a vigorous roster of live music and DJs jamming nearly every open night in June. Whether you come for the music or the food, you will leave satisfied on both counts. Choose from a tempting array of high-end pizzas; creative sharable small plates such as roast pork, broccoli rabe tacos and buffalo chicken sliders; entrées; and indulgent cocktails. Speaking of spirits, this summer the restaurant is introducing a marriage of cocktails with chocolate. To fulfill this swoon-worthy prospect requires the finesse of an expert. Enter mixology classes from the restaurant’s food and beverage expert, Lee Sanchez, who will help guests create their new go-to cocktail. Not feeling hands-on? Stop next door, where the restaurant’s sister spot, Bar 32, creates handcrafted chocolate, made on-site and paired with the perfect wines to elevate the taste of both. —DPC
129 S. Tennessee Avenue; 121 Tennessee Avenue

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum

Cape May

NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum

Adults and kids alike will love exploring the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum. Photo: R.C. Staab

With more than 26 aircraft on display, there’s a wow factor inside historic Hangar #1 at the Cape May Airport. Enthusiasts will want to investigate the Russian MiG-15 fighter plane and the TBM Avenger aircraft. Kids will likely focus on checking out the jet fighters, the helicopters and the Coast Guard patrol boat. Adults and kids can practice becoming a Top Gun pilot with a simulator. —RCS
500 Forrestal Road

Jersey Shore Whale Watch


Whale in ocean

Board a boat with a whale-watching expert this summer. Photo: R.C. Staab

With cleaner waters off the coast, whales have been returning in record numbers—one reason for so many whale incidents this winter. There’s no better chance to see humpback whales and dolphins this summer and fall than with naturalist Danielle Brown (@NJwhalegirl), the head researcher for Gotham Whale. Join Danielle aboard a boat chartered by Jersey Shore Whale Watch leaving from Belmar Marina—and help spot whales for research. —RCS

[RELATED: More Spots to Whale Watch at the Jersey Shore]

Fridays at Monmouth Park


On Saturdays and Sundays, Monmouth Park racetrack has a busy calendar of festivals and events. To hang out without the crowds along the track, or above the track in the voluminous grandstands, head out on Friday afternoons for a full schedule of live horseracing through mid-September. It’s an affordable alternative to the boardwalk, with free parking, a $6 general admission fee, and a minimum bet of only $2. —RCS
175 Oceanport Avenue

June 2023 cover of New Jersey Monthly

Buy our June 2023 issue here. Cover photo by Ann Coen

The Osprey Boat

Cape May 

Motoring through the busy, commercial Cape May harbor is a modest 25-passenger pontoon boat offering a unique tour through the dense, shallow salt marshes behind Cape May and the Wildwoods. Led by low-key but knowledgeable Captain Bob Lubberman, the Osprey boat offers daily, two-hour morning and evening tours to witness the flights and wanderings of ospreys, bald eagles, falcons, herons, egrets and other Shore birds. Free binoculars are provided, and there’s a restroom on board. —RCS

Popcorn Park Animal Refuge

Forked River

Here’s a place with lions, tigers and bears. But it also has horses, cattle, goats, pigs and free-roaming peacocks. Established by the Associated Humane Societies in 1977, Popcorn Park is a sanctuary for animals who faced desperate circumstances and/or death, but found a friendly forever home. Visitors learn about the journeys of more than 200 animals who have found their way to a new place in the Pine Barrens, west of Toms River. —RCS
1 Humane Way


Atlantic City

A dining mainstay in Atlantic City, Girasole has been luring patrons off the Boardwalk for 30-plus years with upscale Mediterranean flair. Fan favorites include an inventive variety of carpaccios, Wagyu meatballs, lobster risotto and tacos, which are all being offered this year in the restaurant’s new Fashionably Late Lounge. The late-night menu is offered from 9 pm-1 am Thursday-Sunday throughout the summer. Live music and DJs will keep the beat while patrons enjoy signature drinks in the Versace-pillowed indoor space or the outdoor lounge. Stop by on your way out for a pre-game mood-lifter or on your way in to wind down. —DPC
3108 Pacific Avenue

Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum


Explore the life of a boat builder, fisherman, decoy maker, fishmonger, or lifesaving volunteer who rescued people and boats capsized or stranded by ocean storms. Climb to the top of the reproduction of the Tucker’s Island Lighthouse. Explore Tuckerton Creek on a guided boat tour or take a ferry ride across Little Egg Harbor to Beach Haven on Long Beach Island. —RCS
1 W. Main Street

[RELATEDUnder-the-Radar NJ Museums]

Doo Wop Experience Museum


Packed with cool artifacts, fascinating history and bright neon lights, this Wildwood museum is a celebration of the Doo-Wop architectural style the city was famous for in its 1950s and 1960s heydey. Inside, check out memorabilia, as well as the retro-style malt shop; outside, experience the Neon Sign Garden, a display of fully restored and reassembled signs rescued from classic motels that have since been demolished. The museum also offers bus tours of the area. —Jacqueline Mroz
4500 Ocean Avenue

The John F. Peto Studio Museum

Island Heights

In the charming Victorian town of Island Heights along Toms River sits a restored 19th-century home where American art is celebrated. In its gardens, home and studio, the museum recreates the world of artist John Peto, whose works can be seen in major museums. In the past half-century, Peto has been given his due for his trompe l’oeil still life paintings of letter racks, shelves of books, tabletops and doors with hanging musical instruments. —RCS
102 Cedar Avenue

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