Shore Things: Family Fun

Where should you go for a little family fun this summer? Well, pretty much anywhere. Check out our list.

Morey's Piers in Wildwood.
Photo by Colin Archer/Agency New Jersey.

Family Fun:

Allaire State Park
The Historic Village at Allaire recreates a day in 1836 through costumed interpreters and craft demonstrations. Summertime special events include an 1830s wedding reenactment (June 7), an Independence Day celebration (June 28), a craft market (July 11), and a mock court trial (July 19). Just steps away, the New Jersey Museum of Transportation offers vintage-train rides through the state park aboard the Pine Creek Railroad from noon to 4:30 pm July 4 through September 5 (weekends only in May and June). (County Rt 524, Farmingdale, allairevillage.org)

Baby Parade
August 6, Wildwood
The Jersey Shore’s cutest tradition, Wildwood’s annual Baby Parade celebrates its 100th anniversary on August 6. Line up along the boardwalk to watch a bevy of babies and larger tots pass by in decorated strollers and floats. The parade begins at the Wildwoods Convention Center and makes its way to Sixteenth Street in North Wildwood, where awards will be distributed to the winners. Registration begins at 5 pm at the Wildwoods Convention Center; the parade starts at 6 pm.

Barnegat Bay Festival
June 7, Island Heights
Get immersed in the ecosystem at the twelfth annual Barnegat Bay Festival. Forget funnel cake and carnival rides—this celebration of the environment features canoe ecotours, pontoon-boat rides on the Toms River, seining, crabbing, and a marine-life touch tank. Situated on the Island Heights waterfront, the festival (which will run from 10 am to 4 pm, rain or shine) touts scavenger hunts, fish printing, face painting, seedling planting, sand-castle building, music, hands-on demonstrations, and artisans selling custom fishing rods, jewelry, marine art, photography, and other environmentally themed works. (Wanamaker Municipal Complex, Island Heights, bbep.org)

Morey’s Piers
Wildwood
The family-owned and operated Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Waterparks combines 18 acres of excitement, with six beach blocks, three amusement piers, two beachfront waterparks, and more than 100 rides and attractions. Morey’s celebrates its 40th birthday this summer with a lineup of special events, including a Monday concert series with Radio Disney artists, the Beach Ball Dance Expo, and Coastin’ by the Ocean. For a great aerial view of the Shore, don’t miss the Giant Wheel at Mariner’s Landing; it’s one of the tallest Ferris wheels on the East Coast. (3501 Boardwalk, 609-522-3900, moreyspiers.com)

New Jersey Seafood Festival
June 13-14, Belmar
Have a hankering for some conch fritters, alligator sausage, or seafood paella? Throw on a bib and dig in at the 23rd annual New Jersey Seafood Festival, which will be serving up all kinds of pelagic provisions, including lobster, shrimp, sushi, and other favorites created by master chefs from local restaurants. The festival also features live entertainment, arts and crafts, wine tasting, and a children’s tent with storytellers, art activities, and demonstrations. A trolley loop will help move festivalgoers around the town, and it’s needed: Last year, an estimated 150,000 people joined the party. Admission is free; hours are 11 am to 7 pm, rain or shine. (Silver Lake Park, Ocean Ave between Fifth and Sixth avenues, 732-681-3700, ext 214)

Pirate Island Golf
Avalon
There are endless places to play mini-golf down the Shore; Pirate Island Golf is a standout. Designed as a fantasy journey through pirate territory, Pirate Island has wild waterfalls, creepy caves, and a final destination aboard a giant replica pirate ship. There are additional locations in Ocean City and Sea Isle City, and business partners Pat Croce and Mark Benevento also operate Congo Falls Adventure Golf in Ocean City. Pirate Island is open 9 am to 11:30 pm in season. (27th St and Dune Dr, 609-368-8344, pirateislandgolf.com)

Sand Castle Contest
July 15, Belmar
As Jimi Hendrix observed, “Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually”—but not before they wow spectators at 18th Avenue Beach in Belmar. Last year more than 3,000 people participated in the contest. This year, registration (free) and castle construction begin at 8 am. Judging takes place from noon to 1 pm. There are several children’s categories, plus prizes for most elaborate and most creative. For inspiration, watch professional sand-castle builder Chuck Feld as he plays Donald Trump of the Belmar strand. (732-681-3700, ext. 214)

Sea Gypsy Pirate Ship
Brick
“Mini Mates” dress up like pirates, drink Pirate Pete’s grog, and learn to speak like Jack Sparrow aboard the Sea Gypsy, a pirate ship helmed by Captain Scurvy (a.k.a. Coast Guard-certified boat captain Rob Corring). The Jersey Shore Pirates launch their first season of treasure hunting on the Metedeconk River, giving wee mateys a chance to sail the high seas and learn about pirate history. The kid-oriented cruise lasts an hour and 45 minutes and includes a treasure-map adventure and a battle with an enemy pirate (complete with water cannons). Regular ticket prices are $18 per person, pirate limbo lessons included. (281 Princeton Ave, 732-899-6100)

Weird Contest Week
August 17-21, Ocean City
Everyone has a special talent; this may be just the place to showcase yours. If you can sculpt a mean french fry or turn a wad of taffy into a mini Eiffel Tower, consider entering this year’s art with food competitions. There will also be artistic pie eating, wet T-shirt tossing, and superhero impersonations. (Boardwalk and Moorlyn Terrace, 609-525-9300)

West Cape May Strawberry Festival
June 6
Strawberry shortcake, anyone? South Jersey strawberries star in the annual West Cape May Strawberry Festival from 9 am to 5 pm at Wilbraham Park. Along with all-you-can-eat berries (get them quick because the Jersey strawberry season lasts only two to three weeks), this family-friendly event also features seafood, kettle corn, fresh barbecued meats, antiques, arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, live entertainment, and, of course, the crowning of the new Strawberry Queen and King. Free parking and admission. (609-884-9325, westcapemaytoday.com)

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:

Entertainment

Food

Shopping

Great Outdoors

Destinations

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 (Of 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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