Outdoor markets, warmly lit downtowns, cozy restaurants, cheerful locals... there is something special about American…
Looking to spend a weekend at the Jersey Shore? Luckily, there are a ton of unique things to do that you might even want to extend that weekend to a week or more.
I’ve always enjoyed visiting this underrated area ever since I first came nearly two decades ago. On my visits, I’ve found locals in New Jersey absolutely love their home state, and what they love even more is proving all those negative stereotypes about the Jersey Shore wrong.
This region is absolutely massive and stretches along over 140 miles of coastline beginning from Perth Amboy and ending in Cape May Point. There’s so much to see that I think even if I moved my family here, we’d still be discovering new spots decades later.
If you’re in town for the weekend, here are some ideas on how to fill your days whether you’re looking for outdoor fun, some historical experience, or even a place to grab a drink.
Where to Go During Your Weekend at the Jersey Shore (By Destination!)
As the southernmost town along the Jersey Shore, Cape May is probably one of the most beautiful spots to spend your weekend.
Emlen Physick Estate
Cape May is home to hundreds of well-preserved Victorian buildings, making the town a fun place to walk around and see these dollhouse-like homes. The most famous among them is the Emlen Physick Estate.
Originally built in 1879 for the Physick family, the mansion is now a museum that offers a more detailed look at what it would look like during the Victorian era. Every year the estate also creates a theme for their tour. One year, the theme was “The Old House” which focused on the home’s restoration, and another year it was “Meet the Staff,” which focused on the many employees who kept the estate up and running.
Another fun option is combining a house tour with a trolley tour. The trolley tour takes you all around Cape May’s Historic District so you can see more unique Victorian stick-style houses in style.
Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey
Did you know Harriet Tubman once lived in Cape May? Neither did I! She actually lived and worked here in the 1850s so she could save money to fund her journeys helping escaped slaves. She’s not alone as the town actually played a huge part in the Underground Railroad and many famous figures spent summers in Cape May while they fought against slavery.
Today there’s now a museum to not only honor her legacy but to honor the Black community in Cape May, many of who are descended from freed slaves that settled here. Located in the Howell House, the Harriet Tubman Museum of New Jersey is full of artifacts and exhibits that allow visitors to learn more about Black history in both Cape May and New Jersey.
Be sure to reserve tickets on their website as capacity is still limited for safety and spots fill up fast.
Beach Plum Farm
I don’t think many people plan a weekend at the Jersey Shore and imagine visiting a farm. However, Beach Plum Farm will change your mind. Focused on sustainable agriculture, the farm is a countryside dream! Spend a leisurely afternoon exploring the property or even book a stay at one of their cottages. At the very least, grab a seasonal lunch or dinner at their Farm Kitchen.
Cape May Lighthouse
No visit to Cape May is complete without stopping by the famous Cape May Lighthouse. The current lighthouse was built in 1859 and is over 150 feet high. It’s still active and since 1988, visitors have been able to climb up all 199 spiral steps to reach the top and see views out to the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re curious, there are panels both on the ground and along the climb where you can learn more about the days when the lighthouse needed a Keeper.
This is another spot where you’ll want to purchase tickets online ahead of visiting. Also if your weekend at the Jersey Shore coincides with a full moon, see if you can book tickets for a special nighttime climb!
Located in Stone Harbor, the Wetland Institute is a lovely visit if you want to be outside but not necessarily at the beach. It was founded by Herbert Mills to protect the very salt marshes that help to preserve the Jersey Shore as we know it.
Take a stroll along the elevated walkway which loops through the marshes and allows you to get up close and personal with this underrated terrain. Within the main building, there are also a few different exhibits to learn more about the wildlife that calls these marshes home as well as an observation deck to take in the views from above. Before you visit, check at their various programs to see if there’s a fun event you can join in on.
There’s nowhere quite like the famous A.C. Known for its casinos and its beach, this city has been a playground for those on the East Coast for well over a century.
The Atlantic City Boardwalk & Beach
The Atlantic City boardwalk is probably the most iconic landmark along the Jersey Shore and one of my picks for the best boardwalks for summertime fun. As the world’s first boardwalk – having been founded in 1870 – it’s also still the longest at around five miles! All along this wooden walkway, you’ll see restaurants, eateries, casinos, hotel fronts, souvenir shops, attractions for kids, and so much more. It’s fun, lively chaos that must be experienced on any visit to the Jersey Shore.
Lucy the Elephant
On your way in or out of Atlantic City, you do not want to miss Lucy The Elephant in the town of Margate. Don’t worry, she’s not a real elephant but a six-story roadside attraction, the oldest surviving of her kind in the US. She was built all the way back in 1881 and in her lifetime has been a tavern, a summer residence, and a National Historic Landmark. Today she’s simply an attraction with many admirers from all over the world.
While visiting the grounds is free and open, you can also purchase a guided tour through Lucy.
Further north is the incredible Asbury Park. Having experienced a major revitalization since 2002, it’s one of the coolest places to visit in Jersey.
Asbury Park Beach & Boardwalk
A great alternative to the A.C. Boardwalk, Asbury Park’s vintage boardwalk is full of cool shops, attractions, and restaurants. One of its most unique features is its live music scene, which is one of the best in the world. Don’t miss all the cool murals while you’re strolling either!
The Stone Pony in Asbury Park
An absolute must is a live show at the Stone Pony! Hands down it has to be one of the greatest venues not only in Asbury Park or New Jersey, but in the entire world. It’s earned its spot in the vast history of rock n’ roll and some of the most iconic musicians have passed through its doors. Check their upcoming events, see who’s performing during your weekend visit, and get ready to rock out!
Transparent Clinch Gallery
Can’t make a live show but still want a piece of Asbury Park’s rock n’ roll culture? Head over to Transparent Clinch Gallery, which is both an art and music venue. The name comes from Danny Clinch, who is one of the most renowned rock n’ roll photographers out there. His work has appeared on album covers, magazine covers, and music videos. At the gallery, you can see his work and even catch a show depending on when you visit.
The Jersey Shore Roller Derby
For some more fun in Asbury Park, check out the Jersey Shore Roller Derby! This is an all-women, flat-track roller derby league that I had a chance to skate with many moons ago!
Your best bet is to check out their Facebook page for upcoming events as they often have “Fresh Meat” sessions for brand new skaters and a ton of other fun activities.
Colts Neck Township
The furthest north on this list and located in central New Jersey, Colts Neck is slightly inland and more of a bedroom community that feeds into NYC. It’s a great area to visit if you want to feel like a local at the Jersey Shore.
Source Farmhouse Brewery
Located in a former dairy barn, Source Farmhouse Brewery is a fantastic spot to grab a beer. Not only do they brew their drinks with the mindset of a sommelier – focusing on the flavors of their local environment – they also ensure a relaxing, friendly space for people to come, drink, and unwind. Spend an evening out on their rooftop terrace or in their beer garden while sampling their seasonal menu.
Monmouth Battlefield State Park
About a 20-minute drive from Colts Neck, Monmouth Battlefield State Park is a must-see for history buffs. Home to one of the longest battles of the Revolutionary War, the park is both a great place to learn more and to simply walk, hike, or bike around the rural landscape. Visit the restored John and Ann Craig Farmhouse as well as the visitors center, and then partake in a history hike to follow in the footsteps of the Continental Army of 250 years ago.
If you happen to come during the third weekend in June, you may just be able to catch the Monmouth Battle Reenactment to commemorate the battle’s anniversary.
And those are just the many ways you can spend an awesome weekend at the Jersey Shore. Remember this region is huge and there are a ton of incredible things to do and see, but hopefully, this guide gives you a starting point!