In Ocean City, many rides at Wonderland Pier have no height restrictions, making it perfect for the cotton-candy crew. Gillian’s Island, a compact O.C. waterpark, has Adventure Golf’s elaborate waterfalls next door. Point Pleasant is home to blocks-long Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, with sweet shops, nightclub, arcades, and rides including the Flitzer steel roller coaster. What sets “Jenks” apart is the aquarium, with its seals, sharks, alligators, and penguins. Seaside Heights, not seedy like it used to be, has Funtown Pier for tykes, Casino Pier for teens. Morey’s Piers in Wildwood spans six blocks, includes two waterparks, and combines ’50s kitsch with screamfests like the 140-foot free fall of AtmosFEAR. Jim Futrell’s Amusement Parks of New Jersey (Stackpole) has all the facts and history you’ll ever need.—Jon Coen
Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park is a must-go if you’re into high-quality American and European antiques. Dealers saw the potential five years ago, when people began looking for furniture and fixtures to grace the old homes they were renovating in town. Studebaker’s (actually on Main Street), the Antique Emporium, and Trillium Antiques are eclectic, multi-dealer depots. House of Modern Living caters to 1950s buffs; FS 20 specializes in industrial chrome and steel. Malcolm Navias, co-owner of Studebaker’s, opens Heaven’s Art & Antiques this summer. If you want still more, the hunting is excellent in Point Pleasant and Red Bank, too.—JC
Settled in your beach chair, you hear a familiar drone. Odds are it’s a nearly 50-year-old Cessna Bird Dog flying 500 feet above the shoreline, towing a 30-by-100-foot ad banner made of parachute nylon. The Bird Dog flies at an almost impossibly slow fifteen mph. (It was originally designed as a military spotter and served in both Korea and Vietnam.) “One advertisement can reach millions,” says Robert Squillare, owner of Aerial Advertising in Eatontown. Since 1971, Squillare’s fleet of about ten planes has towed banners from Sandy Hook to Cape May. “When you’re at the beach, there’s nothing you can do but watch the sky—you’re all mine,” Squillare says with a chuckle. “And I’ve never had somebody stiff me on the bill for a ‘Will you marry me?’ banner, either.”—Paul Drexel
With forests gradually rising 266 feet above the Navesink River in Middletown, Hartshorne Woods, the 741-acre pride of the Monmouth County Parks System, is that rarity—a Shore riding spot that isn’t flat. No natural setting in the state offers such a fine vista of the Atlantic Ocean. Mountain bikers of every skill level will find a suitable workout among the nine miles of single track. Adjacent Huber Woods Park, also in Middletown, is accessible from Hartshorne, if you happen to have a few more miles in ya (monmouthcountyparks.com). If quad-burn isn’t for you, look to the Rails-To-Trails Conservancy (railtrails.org), which helps communities turn abandoned railways into bike paths. The Ocean City trail offers a mile of easy peddling right in town. Barnegat Branch trail makes a great day trip, fourteen miles between Toms River and Barnegat.—JC
One of the world’s largest, featuring about 100 gaily decorated craft, takes place annually in Ocean City. The flotilla hugs the harbor as it cruises from Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue. Houses en route are bedecked and brightly lit to match. Night in Venice, as it’s called, began in 1901 as a showcase-on-water for Philadelphia debutantes. Now all are welcome. This year’s party will be held July 28.—Jen A. Miller
Brendan Borek was an avid surfer who died at eighteen of bone cancer in 1991. His friends and family started “The Brendan,” a surf competition in Wildwood that will be held this year on August 18. It’s part of an all-week event benefiting the High Tides Memorial Fund, which aids families who have lost a child or are caring for a sick child. Festivities include concerts on the beach in Avalon, a memorial concert in Wildwood on July 28, a skateboard jam, and a fashion show. 609-967-0100, brendansfund.org.—JAM
For tranquility it’s hard to top the Butterfly Garden Tour, which takes you through private butterfly gardens in Cape May County. Twenty-two gardens will be all aflutter this year. The weekend-only tours cost $25 for members of the Nature Center of Cape May, $35 for non-members. 609-898-8848, njaudubon.org/Calendar/calnccm—JAM
If you’re sick of high-priced shore rentals, you can save money and choose your level of roughing it at Avalon Campground in Clermont. Rent a log cabin or trailer (both with AC included) or a campsite for your own RV or tent. Only about twenty minutes from Avalon Beach. Activities include hayrides, craft days, and bingo, great for kids who might get a little restless. 1917 Rt. 9 North, 800-814-2267, avaloncampground.com.—JAM
Dr. Floyd Moreland’s love affair with the carousel at Casino Pier in Seaside Heights began in the 1940s with childhood summers riding the hand-carved, wooden horses. Twenty years later, the Passaic native took a job managing the ride and faithfully returned each summer, even though it meant a cross-country trek from graduate school at UC Berkeley.
By the 1980s, vintage carousel horses were being auctioned for $60,000 to $120,000 each. When Moreland heard that the owners of the Casino Pier carousel were thinking of selling it, he wrote to them. “They were like my second family,” he says. The owners gave him permission to restore the dilapidated carousel. By then a professor of classics at City University of New York, Moreland began driving to Seaside each weekend in the winter to restore the carousel himself. Occasionally, he towed students along for lectures. Media attention eventually persuaded the owners to save the much beloved ride.
Now retired, Moreland runs a gift shop across from the renamed Dr. Floyd Moreland Carousel. He never tires of the spirited jangle of the carousel’s organ, which operates like a player piano. “Most carousels no longer use them, but I have hundreds of rolls for ours,” he says. “I even buy them on eBay.” He also has carousel organ music on CD, so the jaunty melodies keep him company as he drives home. Other notable go-rounds include the English-built carousel at Six Flags that rotates clockwise (makes sense—the Brits drive on the left) and Ocean City’s 1926 Wonderland Pier carousel, which maintains the 1800s brass-ring tradition. —A. V. Neglia
Christmas in July
Holiday ornaments are never out of season at Winterwood, which stays open all year. Its Wildwood and Cape May locations may be better known, but the best of its stores is tucked away at 3137 Route 9 South in Rio Grande. The shop was once a house, so you walk from room to room, passing Yankee candles and beachy décor along the way. 609-465-3641, winterwoodgift.com.—JAM
Teach your littlenecks about the ecosystem by taking them on the Clam Trail, an interactive treasure hunt. Download the map at reclam-thebay.org, then track down the six or more 5.5-foot-high fiberglass clams, elaborately painted by local artists, that have been placed throughout Ocean County. Each mega-clam has an educational “clam fact” printed on the back. The clues help kids learn what they can do to help the real clams do their job of filtering impurities out of the water—in this case, Barnegat Bay.
The trail is run by ReClam the Bay, an outreach of the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Project. The group aims to boost clam stocks in the bay and educate the public about how ordinary actions, such as fertilizing your lawn or not picking up after Fido, can hurt the ecosystem through runoff. According to marine agent Cara Muscio, 1.8 million baby clams were raised and released into the bay from 2005 to 2006, many of which grew to adulthood.—JC
Catch your own crab feast at Ludlam’s Landing on your way into Sea Isle City. Just before you enter the heart of the Isle on Sea Isle Boulevard, you’ll see the boat-launching areas where Ludlam’s Landing splits from the boulevard. Named after Joseph Ludlam, who first owned the island, Ludlam’s Bay is a crabbing hot spot. The Landing has a bulkhead on the bay where you can crab from shore or use the boat launch ramp to get some more space. Either way, you can drop your crab trap—or, for purists, raw chicken parts on a weighted line with a net—to pull in your own dinner for the night (just don’t forget the sanitary wipes if you work with raw chicken). If you’d like advice on how to cook your catch, or feel like grabbing a spot of lunch, or just need a bottle of water on a hot day, a quick walk up to Larsen’s Marina will set you right. Keith Larsen has all of your crabbing needs. “And,” he says, “crabs always taste better when you catch them yourself.”—JAM
Doo Wop Tour
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm, June 19 through August 30, you can catch the Doo Wop Back to the ’50s Tour ($10 adults, $5 children). It’s a trolley ride through Wildwood showcasing the town’s role in music history as well as its ebullient mid-century architecture. Tours start at the brand new Doo Wop Experience, across the street from the Wildwood Convention Center. Part museum, part restaurant, the Experience is also a place to catch Doo Wop music.—JAM
The drive-in was born in Jersey, in Pennsauken, in 1933. After the Delsea in Vineland closed in 1987, followed by the Route 35 Drive-In in Hazlet in ’91, the phenomenon was dead here. But a group of Vineland businessmen bought the 17-acre Delsea property for $1.8 million in 2003, and reopened it the next year (minus alcohol). Order food and beverages from the snack bar or pay a $7 fee to bring your own. Don’t grouse—you always get a double feature. 609-696-0011, delseadrive-in.com.—Eric Levin
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