Summer unofficially starts at the Jersey Shore over Memorial Day weekend. That’s when the traffic and beach fees start, not to mention the parking headaches. If you're hoping to avoid that, take note: Springtime at the Jersey Shore is a real treat. Visitors are spared those hassles. So, whether you're searching for something to do on spring break or just a lovely spring weekend, take a ride down the Garden State Parkway or along Route 34 to check out one or more of these Jersey Shore treasures that are ripe for a spring day trip.
Be sure to bookmark our Jersey Shore Family Guide for all-season fun down on the Shore.
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For something a bit different, head down the Parkway toward Cape May and Jim and Trish Carpinelli’s alpaca farm. The alpaca farm is open on Saturdays for fence line feeding tours and Monday, Thursday, and Friday for private mingling tours. Appointments are required for both. Fence line feeding tours are FREE and can be booked a week in advance. The tours are for groups of six or fewer and last for 30 minutes. Private mingling tours start at $25 for groups up to four and increase with group size. Private mingling tours last 30 minutes, and carrots are provided to feed the alpacas. The farm also features a store with cozy alpaca wear, toys, and cool gift items. Time in the farm store is included in each of the farm tours available. Jersey Shore Alpacas also hosts craft workshops for older teens and adults.
Sandy Hook may be known for its summertime beach crowds and inviting sands, but spring is the ideal time to pedal around the Gateway National Recreation Area. The paved path is perfect for kids because it’s relatively flat. Sites to visit along the way include the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Fort Hancock, and historic Coast Guard houses, plus you can enjoy the stunning views. Comfort stations offer clean restrooms and air pumps to top off bike tires if you’re running low. Another plus: Parking is FREE in the spring. Don't forget to pack snacks, water, and a picnic lunch.
Wesley Lake is sandwiched between the quiet calm of historic Ocean Grove and the urban hum of Asbury Park. Stop by the Asbury Park Pedal Boats and hop in a swan, flamingo, or one of the other fun pedal boats and enjoy an hour on the lake. Pedal around or float and enjoy the sights. The Asbury Park Pedal Boats are seasonal and open Easter weekend. When you’re done, walk over the stone bridge to explore Ocean Grove or head into Asbury Park to check out its family-friendly hot spots.
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Catsbury Park lets you cuddle its resident cats—and even adopt one! Photo courtesy of the venue
A purr-fect way to end a spring day in Asbury Park is to stop by Catsbury Park to pet and play with the resident kitties. These felines are up for adoption, though, so be prepared for the kids to beg for an application to take one home. Unlike Catsbury’s original cat café on Cookman Avenue, the new location only offers petting hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Appointments can be booked on the Catsbury Park website. The new location doesn't have a cafe.
As long as you’re in Asbury, take a short walk down to the boardwalk to check out the Silverball Museum. It’s a tribute to the video arcades of yesteryear, where kids used to hang out before they could game from the comfort of their bedrooms. Kids have a blast playing vintage pinball machines, air hockey, video games, and skeet ball. Some games date back to the 1930s. Parents enjoy the photos on the wall of celebrity visitors like Jersey rock icon Bruce Springsteen. There’s also a snack bar and restroom on the premises. The Silverball is open daily. Passes start at 30 minutes and can be purchased in advance on the Silverball Museum website or upon arrival.
This popular bike path stretches from downtown Manasquan to Allaire State Park in Farmingdale. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy a spring afternoon pedaling the 5.4-mile stretch to Allaire State Park. There is convenient parking right on Main Street in Manasquan across the street from the path’s entrance. The path is paved and popular with bikers, runners, and walkers. While not exceptionally hilly, there are slight inclines. Once in Allaire, refuel with a picnic lunch before checking out the park’s historic village, or one of its family-friendly events. If kids need a bit of encouragement for the 5.4-mile trek back, Norton’s Main Scoop in Manasquan has yummy ice cream that hits the spot after a day of biking.
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Shipwreck Island Mini Golf is open year-round, so get your putt-putt in before the crowds arrive. Photo courtesy of the venue
Mini golf is certainly a summertime favorite, but Shipwreck Island Mini Golf in Bradley Beach is open all year. Spring is a perfect time to check out the course, which is challenging for older kids and accessible for younger ones. The course is set right on the boardwalk, which means the views can’t be beaten. If you’re looking for something different for a spring birthday party, Shipwreck Island Mini Golf hosts parties and events, too.
A day at Pier Village offers a little bit of everything, including good eats, shopping, and fun on the beach. There are tasty, kid-friendly places to dine as well as classic Jersey Shore shops just steps from the beach and boardwalk. Since it's spring, the beach is FREE and kids have a blast running around and playing in the sand unencumbered by crowds. Parking is always a challenge in Long Branch, but there is a nearby parking deck and metered spaces within a reasonable walking distance.
One of New Jersey’s smaller lighthouses, the Sea Girt Lighthouse is just the right size to explore with kids who might not be able to make the Sandy Hook or the Cape May Lighthouse climb. Currently, the lighthouse tower is closed, but house tours are available. The historic lighthouse is a piece of Jersey Shore history and a fun outing for the whole family. Sunday tours begin on April 24. The lighthouse is just steps away from Sea Girt’s picturesque boardwalk and beach.
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Revolution Rail Company makes for a fun, family-friendly destination in the springtime. Photo by Lisa Warden
The Revolution Rail Company took over the abandoned tracks where the Cape May Railroad used to run, and now passengers pedal their way on a four-mile round trip excursion, which takes 90 minutes. Rail bikes are available in doubles (two seats) or quads (four seats). Each rail bike has a basket to secure personal belongings. The rail bikes are attached like a train that pedals along the rails. Rail bikes are ideal for all family members, even little ones. Babies and kids under 25 pounds ride in a Baby Bjorn-inspired harness. Kids heavier than 25 pounds are strapped into a five-point harness attached to their own seat.
This oft-overlooked museum is a Jersey Shore treasure. A visit is an ideal activity for a rainy spring day, especially if your kids are into tanks and planes. The museum highlights the history of New Jersey’s militia and National Guard from the time the Garden State was colonized through today. It’s also the home of the Center for United States War Veterans Oral Histories. Admission is FREE, though donations are welcome, since the museum is run by volunteers. The Lawrenceville Armory is an additional branch.
Another piece of Jersey Shore’s history is this inviting spot in Tuckerton. The seaport is open from 10am-5pm Saturdays through Tuesdays. Admission is $5. Children under 5 enter for FREE. A day at the Tuckerton Seaport includes creek and boat tours, a ferry ride, a museum, an artisan alley, a nature trail, and more. Food is available on-site. Come early: The last visitors are admitted at 4pm.