Come Get it All on the Barnegat Peninsula
Along a slightly more than 20-mile stretch of coastline, you’ll find a long list of must-sees, surprising attractions, ocean adventures, tasty bites and cheap (or free!) things to do. The Barnegat Peninsula truly has something for everyone—from the pulsing action of glittering boardwalk amusements to the quiet natural dunes of unspoiled beaches. And New Jersey Travel & Tourism has all the insider tips to point you in the right direction.
Located in the northernmost destination on the Peninsula in Point Pleasant, families flock to Jenkinson’s Aquarium every summer. Although you usually don’t want to mentally pair “shark” and “beach,” the aquarium’s toothsome Atlantic and Pacific sharks are popular residents, along with Lucy—a blind seal-ebrity that was saved by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. Of course, the aquarium is just one of the attractions on Jenkinson’s Boardwalk. Other highlights include a ropes course, amusement park, arcades, mini golf and more. At the other end of the Peninsula, you’ll find another classic boardwalk in Seaside Heights, where the whole family can find thrills on Casino Pier (more on this under “On the Cheap”), make a big splash in Breakwater Beach Waterpark and play Skee-Ball and games of chance until you nab that prize that makes their eyes light up.
Shore to Surprise
Most towns frown on bringing Fido to the beach on summer days, but not Island Beach State Park! Just drive south of the park’s two ocean swimming beaches and you can enjoy the sun and surf with your (on-leash) pet along this quieter stretch of sand. Feel the need for speed? Head to Seaside Scooters, offering the only motorized scooter and trike rentals in Ocean County. Vendors selling frozen treats at the beach are no surprise, but The Music Man Singing Ice Cream Shoppe in Lavallette certainly is! Not only do you get to feast on yummy ice cream—you’re treated to a vaudeville-style Nightly Broadway Cabaret show where audience interaction is the cherry on top.
Soar to exciting new heights (literally 500 feet up!) with Point Pleasant Parasail. If your idea of ocean adventure has your feet firmly planted on the ground, you can fall for surf fishing in Island Beach State Park—hook, line and sinker. Anglers can even purchase a Mobile Sportfishing Vehicle Permit (details here) to drive their geared-up ride directly onto this tranquil beach showcasing stunning natural dunes. Looking for another fun option to catch your own dinner? Give crabbing in Lavallette a go.
If you’d rather have someone else handle the catching, cleaning and cooking, then the Festival of the Sea in Point Pleasant is for you. Held this year on September 21, the event will feature local restaurants and vendors serving up crab cakes, shrimp skewers, paella, bisques and even more seafood specialties—all accompanied by live entertainment. For every other summer day, we recommend Red’s Lobster Pot Restaurant, Joe Leone’s Italian Specialties, Poached Pear Bistro and Hoffman’s Ice Cream (all in Point Pleasant) as well as Kohr’s Frozen Custard, The Original on the Seaside Heights boardwalk—each of these hotspots was featured in The Jersey Shore’s 26 Essential Restaurants.
On the Cheap
For Roller Coaster Day (August 16), plan to hit Casino Pier in Seaside Heights to get half-off your rides on Hydrus (a thrill coaster), Pirates Hideaway (a family coaster) and Hot Tamales (a kiddie coaster). How does “free” sound? You can watch movies on the beach and catch live concerts throughout July & August in Seaside—go here for weekly listings and lineups.
In New Jersey, every new day brings a brand-new destination…like the Barnegat Peninsula! Plan a day trip or stay over to experience everything the area has to offer. Go to visitnj.org for more ideas and accommodations, or to download a free NJ travel guide and sign up for e-news.