Tuckerton Seaport Welcomes the Changing Seasons

Decoy carving, Jersey Devil doings highlight the coming weeks.

Photo courtesy of Tuckerton Seaport

It’s a seaport without the sea, a Shore town without the shore, but Tuckerton Seaport is surely a place you should see. Several upcoming events make this a good time to plan a visit.

The again, there’s always plenty to do in the Ocean County borough of Tuckerton—for a few hours, or an entire weekend. The centerpiece is Tuckerton Seaport and Baymen’s Museum, 40 acres of maritime- and craft-oriented attractions on Tuckerton Creek, an inlet off of Manahawkin Bay. The Seaport, now in its 18th season, celebrates the traditions of the Shore through festivals, exhibits, aquatic displays, craft demonstrations and classes.

Situated across Manahawkin Bay from Long Beach Island (roughly due west of Beach Haven), the Tuckerton area was first settled in the late 17th century. Once known as Clamtown, it was for generations a busy fishing port. Tuckerton Seaport, a cluster of 17 restored or recreated waterfront buildings, tells the story of the area’s heyday as a commercial fishing center.

A family-friendly day at the Seaport includes an initial stop at Tuckers Island Lighthouse, a reproduction of the 19th-century light that tumbled into the encroaching sea in 1927. From the top of the lighthouse tower (41 steps up) you can get a good overview of the entire Seaport.

Photo courtesy of Tuckerton Seaport

After stopping at the Lighthouse, stroll through the Seaport from building to building, following the waterfront boardwalk. Be sure to visit the Blacksmith Shop and Jay C. Parker’s Decoy Shop for demonstrations of their respective crafts. There’s also a sawmill, a boat works and the Crest Fishery, which documents New Jersey’s once-thriving pound fishing industry. Perhaps the most fun is the NJ Surf Museum, with its collection of surfboards, gear and memorabilia from over the years.

Fall events at the Seaport roll out with the 36th Annual Ocean County Decoy & Gunning Show, 7 am-5 pm, September 29-30. The event includes crafts and decoy carving demonstrations, vendors, food and music. Admission free.

On October 10 at 9:30 am and 12:30 pm, a Jersey Devil Lunch and Learn will explore the legend of South Jersey’s own demon, said to be a fire-breathing monster with the head of a horse, bat wings and the body of a kangaroo. Admission $2-$8.

And October 18-21, the Haunted Seaport celebrates Halloween with frightful attractions on the boardwalk from 6-9 pm each night. Admission is $10 for adults; $5 for kids 5-12; and free for kids under 5. Hayrides are $10 for all.

Where to stay: The J.D Thompson Inn, a short walk from the Seaport, has seven air-conditioned rooms, all with TVs, some with four-poster beds. Current owners Lorenzo and Catherine Lauro have restored the 1823 building—originally a private home—filling it with antiques, including the player piano in the formal parlor. Lorenzo, an Italian-born artist and chef, creates a full breakfast for guests (daily, April 1-October 15) using fresh ingredients from the inn’s garden. In-season rates: $199 for a standard room to $279 for the two-room suite, a good family option. (149 E. Main St.; 609-294-1331).

Where to eat: Tuckerton is a small town with plenty of dining options. At the Seaport, the Union Market & Gallery (120 W. Main St.) serves creatively composed sandwiches, smoothies and spritzers. Enjoy breakfast or lunch in the art-filled dining room or on the outdoor deck. For Greek fare, try Kosta’s (161 E. Main St.), in the small shopping area next to the J.D. Thompson Inn. For a romantic repast, the innkeepers recommend Antoinetta’s (609-978-9785), on the waterfront in nearby West Creek.

Beyond the Seaport: Tuckerton is less than a half-hour drive to Historic Smithville, with its many shops and eateries; Batsto Historic Village, a restored Pine Barrens settlement with sawmill, blacksmith shop and other period buildings; and Wharton State Forest, with miles of hiking trails. Back in town, the Tuckerton Emporium (2 E. Main St.) features antiques, gifts and seasonal crafts.

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