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Senior Citizen's Guide to North Jersey

The Jersey Shore
Nice to Visit With or Without the Youngsters

The Jersey Shore offers a wide array of activities and events that you can enjoy with or without the children and the grandchildren. Being at sea level, it is a great place for leisurely strolls or bicycle rides.

What makes the shore attractive is the diversity of the towns that are sprinkled along its shore. Depending on who is on your trip you might chose different communities.

In Ocean County, where shore towns are as easy drive from the Garden State Parkway exits, there are three major resort areas, each with a distinct personality.

Off Exit 98 at the northern end is Point Pleasant Beach that borders the Manasquan Inlet and Atlantic Ocean. While the town has a mile long boardwalk and a vibrant nightlife, it tends to be more laid back than most because there are no thrill rides in its amusement area. During the week there are concerts and movies on the beach where palm trees are imported at the start of each season. A commercial fishing fleet ensures fresh seafood in the local restaurants. If you have ever wanted to own a sleek sport fishing boat, you can do it for a day, by chartering the one you wished you owned. Most captains can take up to six passengers and sharing the cost makes the adventure affordable. Every more fun is for three couples to pack a picnic hamper to celebrate a special occasion and to set sail on the sheltered Barnegat Bay with an experienced captain at the helm. For landlubbers, the downtown is an antique seekers dream with one store, Johnson’s Antique Emporium featuring 100 dealers under one roof. This isn’t a place where everybody is selling the same collectables. There one vendor who specializes in restoration of trunks. another sells vintage clothing, another antique eyeglasses and fourth, estate jewelry. Famous personalities have shopped here as have movie producers looking for items from a certain era. If you do not drive this in the ideal town for you as you can reach it be train from Penn Station in New York and the community is very walkable. If you have the youngsters along, take a ride on the River Belle paddle wheeler to catch the weekly fire works, visit Jenkinson’s Aquarium, one of the few places you’ll see New Jersey’s cold water fish alive. Be sure to catch the penguin and shark feedings.

About ten miles further south off of Exit 82, you will find Seaside Heights. One of the reasons that Seaside Heights perennially is named the best shore town in which you can “people watch,” is that its boardwalk is lined with benches where you can sit to relax and either enjoy the ocean view or turn inward to watch what is happening on the boardwalk. This is one of the few places where for a few dollars you can walk to the end of a pier that stretches out into the ocean and fish. Arcades are interspersed along the boardwalk and you can play games of chance for prizes. All the games you enjoyed in your younger years can still be found there - Skillo, slot machines, claw machines, wheels and more. If you recall the carousels of your youth, stop by to admire the Floyd L. Moreland Dentzel/Looff model. A genuine antique you can still catch a ride on this one and your little grandchildren will adore it. Seaside Heights attracts teenagers and young adults like a magnet. The boardwalk is wall-to-wall activity. Interestingly enough Seaside Heights is flanked by two residential/vacation rental communities that are its opposition: Lavallette/Ortley Beach and Seaside Park. To the south is Island Beach State Park, which has no amusements, but does offer life guarded beaches, self-guided walking trails and even during the busiest seasons, a change to walk in solitude on the beach front.

Long Beach Island is on the southern end of Ocean County, reachable by Exit 63 of the Garden State Parkway. Having no boardwalks, it tends to be more laid back, attracting artists and artisans, boutique shops and gourmet restaurants. It does have Fantasy Island Amusement Park, but again, not thrill rides. There’s adventure miniature golf, a favorite island pastime, which the entire family can enjoy. There’s Thundering Surf Waterpark with its new surfing Flow-rider. The New Jersey Maritime History Museum on the bayside in Beach Haven has a display of artifacts that SCUBA divers have found off the Jersey Coast and a room is dedicated to telling the story of the Morro Castle tragedy, a ship sinking that is New Jersey’s version of the Titanic. At the northern tip is Barnegat Lighthouse with its interpretative center and behind the scenes dock tours at Viking Village. Nearby is a new environmental edition, the ReClam the Bay folks are raising baby clams in nurseries called upwellers. You can stop by and learn about the project, and volunteers are always welcomed to pitch in and help with maintaining the upwellers.

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