A year ago May, many beaches had restricted access, events were cancelled and museums were closed. Today, the Jersey Shore is back and revved up to welcome visitors to all 51 beaches. Most attractions, museums and historic sites will be open, though some will limit capacity based on government rules.
This list of attractions comes via author R.C. Staab, who is walking the entire 139 miles of the Jersey Shore -- from Sandy Hook to Cape May -- this spring and summer.
SUMMER-LONG CONCERTS, BASEBALL & CRUISES
Jersey Shore Blue Claws, Lakewood -- Minor league baseball is back at the Jersey Shore in Lakewood at FirstEnergy Park, the home of the Jersey Shore BlueClaws, a Class A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies. Through early September, you can see future stars begin their professional baseball careers. The modern stadium with more than 6,500 reserved seats features a mini-golf course, a game area, and new picnic areas for families. and has plenty of space for social distancing.
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River Lady Cruises, Toms River -- Returning to Toms River after not cruising last year is the River Lady, whichtakes its passengers on a 2.5- to 3-hour cruise aboard a reproduction of a Mississippi paddle wheel riverboat. Many historic towns, yacht clubs and boardwalks line the river as you cruise toward Barnegat Bay. Most people buy a ticket that includes a full lunch or dinner during the cruise, but sightseers can opt for a non-meal cruise on the top deck. Through early October.
Concerts on the Green, Suneagles Golf Club, Eatontown – Presented by Red Bank’s Count Basie Center for the Arts, Concerts on the Green is a socially distanced pop-up venue that accommodates 500 people seated under a tent. Through the end of the summer, headliners include Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra Septet with Wynton Marsalis, Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers, Judy Collins, Indigo Girls and Dar Williams. Act quickly; many concerts are already sold out as of mid-May.
The PNC Bank Arts Center, Holmdel Park – Featuring nationally known recording stars and bands, this large outdoor venue off the Garden State Parkway opens with Steely Dan and Steve Winwood on Thursday, June 30. Other artists scheduled to follow are Chicago, The Black Crowes, Luke Bryan, Rod Stewart, Zac Brown Band, Jason Aldean and more. (Note: Because concerts have been cancelled and reschedule, read the website carefully.)
The Stone Pony Summer Stage, Asbury Park – Although the legendary Stone Pony has not announced any concerts indoors, the club’s outdoor Summer Stage has concerts starting with the punk rock band Rise Against on Saturday, July 31. A full schedule of events follows including Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes, Sad Summer Festival and Shadow of the City: Bleachers & more. All events are general admission. (Note: Because concerts have been cancelled and reschedule, read the website carefully.)
WHALE WATCHING, WALKING TOURS, ATTRACTIONS AND MUSIC
Whale Watching, Belmar, Highlands & NYC – For dozens of years, whale watching at the Jersey Shore was only available in Cape May. That continues. But on the northern part of the Jersey Shore, Jersey Shore Whale Watching in Belmar has expanded, offering daily trips starting in mid-June. After starting whale watching tours midway through the summer in 2020, Seastreak Ferry is offering three-times-a-week whale watching from its dock in Highlands. This summer, Seastreak makes whale watching at the Jersey Shore even easier for New Yorkers with roundtrips that leave Manhattan from either East 35th Street and the East River or the Battery Maritime Building.
“Thomas Eakins in New Jersey”, John F. Peto Studio Museum, Island Heights – For the first time, explore the history of one of America’s painters and his pursuits in New Jersey at this special exhibition that started May 1. While mostly known as a Philadelphia painter, Thomas Eakins spent important time in New Jersey using his brush and camera to present activities he enjoyed in the marshlands, as well as the work of the shad fishermen in Gloucester County in southern New Jersey.
Cape May Walking Tours, Cape May – Walking tours in Cape May made a big comeback last year because they are outdoors and people can easily social distance. Returning this summer is the Painted Ladies Porches & More Walking Tour. A new addition is Dr. Physick's Neighborhood Walking Tour & Brunch.All tours are offered by Cape May MAC, which offers trolley tours throughout the year. It also offers tours of the Cape May Lighthouse and the World War II Lookout Tower, which were closed for the part of the summer last year.
The ShowPlace Performing Ice Cream Parlour, Beach Haven, Long Beach Island – The beloved singing “Waitri” will be opening the theatrically based ice cream parlor with fun interactive service starting June 18. Reservations are available. ShowPlace is also offering the Sing A Gram -- singing telegrams that can be booked with 1, 2, 3 or 4 singers to serenade at the recipient’s home, yard, porch, roof, pool or restaurant.
Steel Pier, Atlantic City – The pier offers new music and food options aimed toward adult visitors. There’s Music Row Mondays, Live Music on Wednesdays and Island Time in North Beach AC on Thursdays.
Vintage Restaurant, Emlen Physick House, Cape May – After debuting mid-summer in 2020, Cape May’s newest outdoor restaurant has re-opened for the season serving brunch and dinner.
Asbury Ocean Club Hotel -- With views of Asbury Park and the Asbury Park Boardwalk, this new luxury hotel opens with a rejuvenating spa and wellness services and high-end culinary experiences. It’s right across Ocean Avenue from the Boardwalk.
Congress Hall and Beach Plum Farm Activities, Cape May – Guest staying at historic Congress Hall or Beach Plum Farm have a host of tours throughout the week including birding, gardening, hikes, croquet and scavenger hunts. Non-resort guests are welcome to sign up for archery and history tours through the hotel concierge.
FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
International Kite Festival, Wildwood, May 28-31 – Beginning with a 9 p.m. illuminated night kite fly on Friday, May 28, a “kite festival on steroids” flies over Wildwood. Saturday and Sunday, large inflatable kites fly over the beach. Experienced and novice kite flyers perform single line, dual line and quad line aerial acrobatics on the Beach. www.skyfestivals.com
The Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival, June 4-5 – On the former airport field not far from the beach, one of AC’s biggest event returns this year with 150 brewers, live music, food, plus the Hops Trot 5K on Saturday.
Independence Day Celebration, Historic Cold Springs Village, July 3-4 -- Celebrate all things American with a variety of patriotic family activities, programs and music. The Village’s restored historic buildings will be open, featuring demonstrations of Early American trades and crafts.
Storybook Land, Classic Car Show, Egg Harbor Township, July 11 – ‘50s-era classic car show with live music from Real Rock Drive band.
Barefoot Country Music Festival, Wildwood, August 20-22 – More than 30 of country music’s biggest stars are coming to Wildwood for a three-day event on multiple stages on 33 acres of the beaches of Wildwood. The current lineup for the fest includes Carrie Underwood, Zac Brown Band, Dan + Shay, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lee Brice, Billy Currington, Jimmie Allen, Jon Pardi, Chris Lane, Lindsay Ell, Ingrid Andress and Carolyn Miller.
Seafarers’ Weekend, Historic Cold Springs Village, August 28-29 -- Pirates, music and family fun as the Village buildings feature historically clothed interpreters demonstrating the trades, crafts, and lifestyles of Early America.
Disclosure: R.C. Staab is married to Valari Staab, the president of NBCUniversal Local, the parent group of the NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, which includes WNBC.