Plan a quick vacation around one or more of these great options.
By R.C. Staab
Almost any regular Shore-goer knows the Lobster House on Fisherman’s Wharf in Cape May. But what about the new Mayer’s Tavern right across the street? It’s run by the Lobster House folks and features a small but tasty summer menu available for takeout and outdoor dining. Order the beloved scallops, a holdover from the former owners.
Enhance your understanding of Cape May’s unique history and architecture with a Victorian Tour operated by the Cape May MAC. This summer, MAC debuted “Painted Ladies, Porches & More!” a walking tour that begins at the Emlen Physick Estate. Also new: “Vintage,” a culinary venture with the Kara Restaurant Group that features outdoor dining at the estate.
Set in a renovated 1908 storefront, the much-buzzed-about Scola serves innovative dishes in a hip setting, courtesy Ben Scola and his Jersey-bred partner, Jacklyn Buckingham. For lunch, you’ll find an interesting prix fixe menu and more. And it’s BYOB, so bring along your favorite beer or wine.
The wolf dogs and domestically bred wolves at Howling Woods Farm have been featured in music videos, TV shows and films like Disney’s The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. You can interact with these large, furry creatures during an hour-long tour. Open year-round Tuesday-Sunday; phone reservations required.
Closer to the Shore than you think, the Pine Barrens’ over one million acres are home to a few of the busiest outfitters in the region. Mick’s Canoe & Kayak Rental offers online video instruction and will point you to the best trails along the Wading and Oswego rivers. The more adventurous should check out Pinelands Adventures.
Quahog’s is unlike any other seafood joint at the Shore, with a unique menu that spotlights Brazil, Argentina and Costa Rica. Try the Pacu Pacu Fish Ribs cooked in Asian barbecue sauce. Through summer, they’re open Wednesday-Monday for takeout and pre-packaged beverages starting at noon, with sit-down dining in the evening.
Though it lacks ocean views and a boardwalk, Somers Point has a flourishing restaurant scene, in part because it’s a just short ride across the bridge from dry Ocean City. Now, with Marine Dock and Dine, you can get there by water using the new transient marina at Higbee Avenue and the bay. Boat parking is free. After tying up, hang out at one of the many bars and restaurants along Bay Avenue.
Run by the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, the JBJ Soul Collective showcases the unique restaurants in Toms River and downtown Red Bank. The set menu includes a salad, a choice of meat, seafood or vegetarian entrée, and dessert. You pay what you want, with a recommended $20-25 price range. You may even rub shoulders with the rock star and his family, or share a table with in-need customers.
Long before seasonal tourism was big, most people along the Jersey Shore worked in the maritime industry. At the Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen’s Museum, you can climb to the top of a reproduction of Tucker’s Island Lighthouse and delve into the lives of the boat builders, fisherman, decoy makers, fishmongers and volunteer sea rescue personnel.
Taking its name from the vintage rock sound of Chubby Checker and Bobby Rydell, the Doo Wop Motel District celebrates the mid-century (or Space Age) architectural style of that era. With their Vegas-like neon signs and plastic palm trees, the motels are still operating, with more than 50 in Wildwood Crest alone. Stop by the former Surfside Restaurant, now the Doo Wop Experience. It includes a retro-style malt shop and outdoor neon garden. New this summer, the Doo Wop Drive-In offers breakfast and lunch, with dinner and a movie in the parking lot two nights a week.
R.C. Staab is the author of the new book 100 Things to Do at the Jersey Shore Before You Die (Reedy Press, 285 pages).