Rain. Short of going the martyr route and stubbornly sitting on the beach anyway, or taking a long nap on the couch, or catching a movie, or bingeing on Netflix, or reading a book, there actually is plenty to occupy even the most bored-out-of-their-minds Shore vacationers. Here are some suggestions.
Don’t worry about mussing up the rental house or hotel room with a rainy-day art project gone awry. Just walk into Glazed Over Art Studio (704 Asbury Ave., Ocean City), where you and your little Picasso can create to your heart’s content. Without an appointment, all ages can choose from pottery (between $8 and $40, depending on the piece), painting on canvas ($25 to $40 for materials and 90 minutes of studio time), or putting together a mosaic ($8 to $40). 609-398-8880, glazedoverstudios.com
Start from scratch
Why not learn what the shoreline is really about — from an ecological standpoint? Sitting on a 6,000-acre protected wetlands — which is actually a kind of nursery for all sorts of baby maritime creatures and plants — Stone Harbor’s nonprofit Wetlands Institute (1075 Stone Harbor Blvd.) specializes in telling the story of the Shore’s fragile ecology with exhibits, programs, and research. The 50-year-old museum and research center features an aquarium, terrapin station, and salt-marsh trail, and is open daily in the summer. 609-368-1211, wetlandsinstitute.org
Climb a lighthouse
Though the view might not be picture-perfect on a rainy day, New Jersey’s seashore sentinels are impressive to visit in any weather. There’s one in each region of the coastline: Barnegat Lighthouse (“Old Barney”) at the northern tip of Long Beach Island, Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, Cape May Lighthouse at the southern tip of the Atlantic shore, and East Point Lighthouse along the Delaware Bay shore. Most are open daily in the summer.
Scoop up some shells
After the thunder and lightning have subsided is often the best time to find interesting shells, sea glass, and other treasures. That’s when the tide has churned up the depths and deposited its bounty on the beaches, including coveted Cape May diamonds, quartz pebbles unique to that spot. One great place for looking is the beachfront at the Higbee Beach Wildlife Management Area just north of Sunset Beach in Cape May Point. But if you prefer your stones tumbled and set in silver or gold, you can visit the Sunset Beach Gift Shops at the foot of Sunset Boulevard, Cape May Point, or the popular Discovery Seashell Museum at 2721 Asbury Ave., Ocean City. Both have vast selections of shells and other items from the beaches of New Jersey and beyond.
Take a drive up to what’s billed as the Shore’s “first public-access hot-glass studio,” Hot Sand (500 Cookman Ave., Asbury Park), to learn glass blowing, casting, fusing, and slumping techniques. Adults and children age 9 and older can learn how to work with molten glass and craft pieces of art to take home. Younger kids can learn quick-cast techniques. Prices range from $26 to around $65. 732-927-5475, hotsandap.com.
Soar in the rain
The Naval Air Station Wildwood Aviation Museum at the Cape May Airport (500 Forrestal Rd., Rio Grande), is a fun place to learn about local aviation in a deactivated World War II dive-bomber squadron training facility. The museum houses a variety of aircraft, engines, exhibits, and educational interactive displays that invite visitors to explore the Shore’s military aviation history within the 92,000-square-foot Hangar #1 is listed on both the national and state registers of historic places. The museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adults $12, ages 3 to 12 $10, under 3 free. 609-886-8787 or usnasw.org