Sure, the Jersey Shore is all about fun in the sun. But what can you do if the kids start hinting that they're a little bored with the beach - or if it rains?
Here are a few family-friendly activities you and the kids can enjoy.
Atlantic City Aquarium800 N. New Hampshire Ave., Atlantic City, 609-348-2880. www.atlanticcityaquarium.com
Camden's not the only town in New Jersey with a lot of fish on display. Atlantic City has critters from local waters and beyond, plus a live coral display and touch tanks. New this summer is a tropical rain forest exhibit, which re-creates three rain-forest habitats that are home to crested geckos, water dragons, Cook's tree boas, salmon-pink birdeater tarantulas, stingrays, tree frogs, and iguanas, among others. The aquarium is in Historic Gardner's Basin, so you can check out a crafter's village after your indoor sea adventure - no casinos allowed.
Shriver'sNinth and the Boardwalk, Ocean City, 877-668-2339.
Watch saltwater taffy being made at this boardwalk shop, which has been making the sticky sweet stuff since 1898. Taffymakers used to use hooks to pull the candy so it could be hand-cut and boxed. Now, two machines - young pups at 50 to 60 years old - cut and double-wrap the taffy at a rate of 200 to 300 pieces a minute. You can watch the entire process from the showroom floor. If you're still looking for something to do afterward, cross the boardwalk to catch a movie at the Strand 5, one of the few classic movie theaters left at the Jersey Shore.
Atlantic ParasailOne Drive Highway, Wildwood Crest, 609-522-1869.
What kid doesn't want to fly high above the ocean - or what parent for that matter? It might look scary, but parasailing isn't exactly a roller-coaster ride. There are no sudden drops that'll make your stomach flip, so this high-flying adventure can easily be a family affair. Still not into it? You can ride along in the boat while your kid - or spouse - takes flight.
Wetlands Institute1075 Stone Harbor Blvd., Stone Harbor, 609-368-1211.
Since 1969, the Wetlands Institute has been teaching visitors to Stone Harbor about coastal ecosystems. The kids will get a kick out of the Terrapin Station, which shows why there are "turtle-crossing" signs all along the causeway into Stone Harbor, and why the Wetlands Institute works to save these creatures that are so important to the wetlands. Everyone will enjoy bird-watching from the observation tower. It's one of the best spots around to watch the species that touch down at the Shore during the summer (though we bet no one calls them shoobies).
Radio Disney Concert SeriesMondays in July in Wildwood
Need to get Miley Cyrus out of your kids' heads - and off your car speakers? Then check out the Radio Disney Concert Series every Monday in July at Morey's Mariners Landing Amusement Pier. The free concerts start at noon. The headliner for the Radio Disney Concert on July 27 at the Wildwoods Convention Center has yet to be announced, but we expect a big talent. For updates, go to www.wildwoodsnj.com.
Nature Center of Cape May1600 Delaware Ave., Cape May, 609-898-8848
Yes, the Nature Center of Cape May is about education and natural fun, but it's also a hub of family activities, with events such as Earth Arts Fridays (June 27 through Aug. 29) and kayak camps for all ages and skills. The Nature Center also will be the hub to Cape May's Harbor fete June 21, an event that will include arts and crafts vendors, seafood stations, beer garden, live music, and book signings.
Jen A. Miller is author of "The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May." For information, go to downtheshorewithjen.com.