Mountain bikers looking for ups and downs are out of luck, but the Shore abounds with bicycle trails for those who like to cruise on two wheels and take in the views. A good starting place is Long Branch, where DJ’s Cycles and Fitness sells or rents any gear you need (69 Brighton Ave, 732-870-2277). If you want to go north, DJ’s will point you toward the Long Branch bike path. It’s about eight miles of cruising to Sandy Hook, where a five-mile bike path to Fort Hancock takes you past beaches, marshes, and the lighthouse (npa.gov/gate). Heading south from Long Branch is a different experience. You ride twelve miles, mostly along the water on boardwalks and on Ocean Avenue, as you pass through nine different Shore towns on the way to Sea Girt.
Birders have spotted more than 400 species within the confines of Cape May. Literally millions of birds pass through the area each year, and dozens can be spotted flying or nesting about the beach on any given day. Even the untrained eye will note the broad variety. The New Jersey Audubon Society and Cape May Bird Observatory provide maps, bird lists, guided-walk schedules, and workshops. Birding forecasts are also available. (njaudubon.org, birdcapemay.org)
Cape May Harbor Safari
Though clams and turtles both have shells, the armor that protects clams (and other mollusks) is actually much different from the shells worn by our slow-and-steady four-legged friends. Sea shells are their host animal’s exoskeleton, made of calcium carbonate; turtle shells, on the other hand, are endoskeletons, made mostly of calcium phosphate. At the Cape May Harbor Safari, such bits of scientific knowledge are spoon-fed to nature enthusiasts of all ages. Led by naturalists from the Nature Center of Cape May, the Harbor Safari explores the area’s beach and marsh habitats. Safari tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children aged 3 to 12. The Nature Center also offers beachcombing, kayaking, and trolley tours. (1600 Delaware Ave, 609-898-8848)
There’s no fresher or more satisfying catch than one you make yourself. Sweet-tasting blue crabs are plentiful along the Jersey Shore and can be caught from bridges and piers, or by boat. You’ll need a shellfish license ($10), a collapsible trap called a crab pot (and a license for it—$2) or a dip net, and bait, such as soup bones or poultry. The fishing is family friendly and doesn’t take a lot of skill, but may require some patience. Early morning or late afternoon should yield the best catches. For more info, visit the Division of Fish and Wildlife at nj.gov.
Free Fishing Days
Skip the paperwork and fees. On June 6 and 7, the state holds Free Fishing Days, when anglers of all ages can cast at the water’s edge with rod, reel, and bait—and without a license or trout stamp. All other regulations, such as size and daily catch limits, are enforced, and smallmouth and largemouth bass caught over the weekend must be released. But take it as an opportunity to share this age-old pastime with friends and family. (state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ffd.htm)
Harvey Cedars Races
There must be something in the Harvey Cedars water that gets competitive juices flowing. The Ocean County town is known for its series of summertime races, starting this season on June 21 with the tenth annual Richard West Wheelchair Race, which runs from Harvey Cedars to Barnegat Light, starting at 9 am (609-296-1043). The Blue Claw Crab Race on the morning of August 15 will draw people (and their sideways-walking crustacean cronies) from all over, and the Anything That Floats Race will take place the same afternoon, both in Sunset Park (609-361-7990). On August 16, the 31st annual Dog Day Road Race, a fundraiser for the High Point Volunteer Fire Co., will bring in hundreds of participants for a five-mile run on Long Beach Boulevard and along Barnegat Bay inlets (609-618-2698, harveycedars.org). The season winds down with the 22nd annual Catboat Race out of Sunset Park on August 30. (609-494-8352 or 609-296-4549)
Summer Solstice Walk
June 21, Sandy Hook
Enjoy your own picnic supper on the sand with friends, and then join the American Littoral Society for its Summer Solstice Walk along the beach. In addition to a long, guided stroll and the latest sunset of the year, the evening will include a tour inside a gun battery. Call ahead to RSVP, and meet at 8 pm at Guardian Park for the walk. (732-291-0055; littoralsociety.org)
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)
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