Shore Things: Destinations

If you haven't been to these Jersey Shore destination spots yet, hop in the car and head down.

Jenkinson's Aquarium in Point Pleasant Beach.
Photo by Colin Archer/Agency New Jersey.

Destinations:

Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor
Atlantic Highlands
With views of Manhattan to the east and the terraced Victorian homes to the west, the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Harbor is a worthy and picturesque destination nestled on the north shore of Sandy Hook. It has a 24-hour public launch ramp, hundreds of boats along its docks, a lamp-lined walkway, a gazebo, a fishing pier, playgrounds, and tennis courts. Ferry rides to New York City are available, but with so many downtown restaurants and shops a short walk away, there’s no reason to leave this verdant, hilly spot at the northern end of the Shore. (2 Simon Lake Dr, 732-291-1670)

Barnegat Lighthouse
Long Beach Island
“Old Barney,” first lit 150 years ago, began shining again this year for the first time in 82 years—a result of the extensive fundraising efforts of the Friends of Barnegat Lighthouse. The beacon, whose beam now extends 22 miles, is a state park open for tours daily from 9 am to 4:30 pm, weather permitting (hours are cut back from November through March). An interpretive center offers information about the coastline and Barnegat’s history­, and a trip up the 217 stairs offers spectacular views (Broadway and Central Ave, 609-494-2016, njparksandforests.org/parks/barnlig.html). Barney isn’t the only bright spot: The Jersey Shore twinkles with plenty of lighthouses and light stations, and eleven of them are open to the public, including those in Sandy Hook, Absecon, Cape May, and Sea Girt.

Doo Wop Experience Museum and Neon Sign Garden
Wildwood
It’s no surprise that Chubby Checker introduced the Twist at Wildwood’s Rainbow Club in 1960. The city known as Little Las Vegas has a colorful past, much of it captured at the Doo Wop Experience Museum and Neon Sign Garden.  Made possible by the Doo Wop Preservation League, the ’50s- and ’60s-themed museum features pop culture and historical artifacts and brilliantly illuminated neon signs from the Wildwoods’ mid-twentieth century heyday. Sip a shake at the Jitterbug Cafe and Malt Shop, or take a “Back to the ’50s” bus tour. (Ocean and Burk avenues, 609-729-4000, doowopusa.org)

Jenkinson’s Aquarium
Point Pleasant Beach
It’s the next best thing to an underwater adventure. At Jenkinson’s Aquarium, you can get up close and personal with a juvenile shark in the touch tank, watch seals during feeding time, and even “adopt” a penguin. Located on the boardwalk and open all year, the aquarium offers a perfect setting for the whole family. (300 Boardwalk, 732-899-1212, jenkinsons.com/aquarium)

Marine Mammal Stranding Center
Brigantine
Seals and dolphins and whales, oh my!  Since opening in 1978, the private, nonprofit Marine Mammal Stranding Center in Brigantine has responded to about 3,500 strandings of sea creatures that have washed up on Jersey beaches. In addition to witnessing the care and rehabilitation provided by staff and volunteers, marine-life lovers can “adopt” a seal through the center’s website to help with the cost of food and medical care. During the summer, kids can visit the Sea Life Educational Center to get hands-on with a sperm whale’s jawbone or learn about the impact of ocean debris on marine life.  There’s also a 1,000-gallon observation tank, kept stocked in summer months with unusual local fish. (3625 Brigantine Blvd, 609-266-0538, marinemammalstrandingcenter.org)

Museum of New Jersey Maritime History
Beach Haven
History buffs and sea lovers will enjoy perusing the research library of rare books and naval journals, along with Shore-centric postcard collections and prehistoric fossils found off the coast. There’s also a trove of antique diving gear and navigational equipment, recovered artifacts from shipwrecks (see story, page 71), and a U.S. Life Saving Service exhibit that includes authentic station logs and other documents. (Dock Road and West Ave, 609-492-0202, museumofnjmh.com)

Renault Winery
Egg Harbor City
By the looks of the Renault Winery, you would think you were in Tuscany—not on the Jersey Shore. Founded more than 140 years ago, Renault has an old-world European vibe and features thirteen different types of grapes in its orchards, a medieval champagne glass and wineglass collection in the antique glass museum, and the Vineyards Golf Course, with views of the winery’s 1,500-acres. (72 N Bremen Ave, 609-965-2111, renaultwinery.com)

Strathmere
Nestled between tourist-heavy Ocean City and Sea Isle City, the tiny town of Strathmere is one of the Shore’s best-kept secrets. Formerly known as Corson’s Inlet, the town has a population of less than 200; its 1.5-mile-long stretch of serene beach provides a getaway for undisturbed surfing, fishing, and kayaking.

When you do decide to head to the beach, consult our 2009 Summer Beach Guide for beach badge prices, parking information and exit numbers (if you don’t know them by heart). Click here to view the beach guide (PDF format)

Click on the links below to read the different categories of our 100 Shore Things Guide:

Family Fun

Entertainment

Food

Shopping

Great Outdoors

Atlantic City’s Shore Things

Asbury Park’s Shore Things

Click on the links below to read more in-depth articles about Shore destinations and developments:

Will Tough Times Yield Good Deals? A Gaming Resort Tries to Look Beyond the Recession

Touching All the Bases: Lakewood’s Minor League BlueClaws Have Become A Major Hit

Wave Master: Brian Wynn Is The Go-To Guy For Custom Surfboards on the Shore

Boardwalk Into Controvesy: Wildwood’s Apparent Use of Rain-Forest Wood Irks Environmentalists

Wrecking Crew: Seeking Sunken Treasures (Or Just a Few Fish) in Jersey’s Chilly Coastal Waters

Cape May’s Sparkling Stones: Cape May "Diamonds"?

Come As You Are Bars: Flip-Flops and a Bathing Suit Are Not Problem At These Hot Spots on the Beach

Greetings From Asbury Park (Again): Amid Economic Slowdown, A Legendary Shore Town Awaits the Fruits of Redevelopment

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