In the spirit of the hit Fox thriller "24," we bring you a take-no-prisoners approach to making the most of a full day at the Jersey shore.
This summer, why not take a Jack Bauer approach to the shore?
Yeah, that Jack Bauer, the recently returned grim-visaged counter-terrorism agent fighting bad guys on the Fox thriller 24. This guy makes every moment count, with each episode counting down a 24-hour period.
Hopefully, you won’t have to fight any bad guys along the way, but taking a take-no-prisoners approach to enjoying the Jersey shore can make you feel like a hero … just for one day.
Sunrise Through Lunchtime
Birding by Boat
Cape May is a prime spot for observing birds in North America, favored by such celebrated naturalists as John Audubon and Tory Peterson. Board the Osprey for a “Birding by Boat” or a “Wetlands Safari” tour as you head to the beautiful Cape Island Creek Preserve, the state’s southernmost salt marsh and a critical migration stop. After checking the birding hotspots in Cold Spring Harbor, head to the vast tidal wetlands along the Intracoastal Waterway. Captain Bob navigates the calm coastal waters so you can concentrate on spectacular sightings of ospreys, peregrines, merlins and sharp-shinned hawks. birdingbyboat.com
Enjoy your first meal of the day at the Ocean View, a South Philly-style family-owned diner on the Cape May beach with rock-bottom prices and friendly atty-tood. Try any of the omelets or the chocolate chip pancakes. oceanviewrestaurant.com
Paddle the Cape
After breakfast, paddle the quiet waters of Cape Island Creek in a single or double sit-on-top kayak. Explore Cape May Harbor and the nearby salt marsh as you watch for turtles, ospreys, egrets and other marine life — up close and personal. Or take a kayak tour with an experienced guide to shepherd you through the hidden secrets of the creek and in and around the docks of scenic and historic Cape May Harbor. Be sure to ask about the sunset and full moon tours that are available in season. misschrismarina.com
Wild for Art
Although most visitors head to Morey’s Adventure Pier for the thrill rides and water park, there’s something else afoot at this popular destination. Shipping containers are now art, the latest in recycling at Morey’s Adventure Pier on the Boardwalk in Wildwood, a 10,000-square foot interactive artist colony with visual and musical art. The 11 brightly colored, repurposed shipping containers house artists’ studios where guests can watch handpicked regional artists at work and browse the paintings and handmade crafts. moreyspiers.com/play/artbox/about
An Early American open-air living history museum, Historic Cold Spring Village brings to life the day-to-day activities of villagers living in South Jersey during the “age of homespun” (1790-1840). Visit 26 restored buildings housing historically clothed interpreters who educate and entertain visitors about the lifestyles, issues, trades and crafts of the era. Stroll through the 22 acres of shaded lanes or enjoy the gardens where heritage crops are grown. Kids can try on costumes, make crafts and play games. The Village, between Seashore Road and Route 9 in Lower Township, is open seasonally. 609-898-2300; hcsv.org
A Munch at the Amish Market
The only thing that’s missing is the horse-drawn buggy. The Amish Market of North Wildwood brings the taste of Lancaster County to the Wildwoods with a partnership with Shady Maples farm market delivering fresh breads, pies, doughnuts, whoopie pies and other baked goods daily. Tuck into a gooey cinnamon bun or, if you’re feeling more like lunch, there’s a salad bar with 45 toppings and a barbecue pit cooking smoked brisket. Fresh-made juices and smoothies, Amish jams and pickled veggies complete the scene. amishmarketofnw.com
Talk Like a Pirate
After refueling, head to Ocean City for a trip on the Sea Dragon, a one-of-a-kind adventure through the back bay of Ocean City. This old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure comes complete with water cannons just in case you have to help defend the ship. For the littlest mateys, there is storytelling and face painting. If you’re really lucky and can decode the secret map, you might uncover hidden treasure. Argh, but there’s also the dreaded plank to walk. Reservations required. piratevoyages.com
Time for More Food
Stone Harbor and Avalon share the barrier island of Seven Mile Beach with opulent homes, trendy restaurants and a beautiful beachfront where beach tags from each town are honored on either beach. Tuck into some fresh seafood or a Black Angus burger at the newly renovated Rock n’Chair on Dune Drive. Relax on the outdoor patio over a munch of Caprese chopped salad or a brick-oven pizza — delish! rocknchair.net; indulgeinavalon.com
Or find your way to Fish Alley in Sea Isle City, a stretch of Park Road that has always been home to local commercial fishing boats. Enjoy great seafood at local restaurants like Marie’s Lobster House, with panoramic views of the fishing boats, the marina, boating businesses and more. An impressive archway sign has been erected so you really can’t miss it.
For cycling enthusiasts, the shore is as good as it gets — picturesque places with easy pedaling along the beachfront or quiet country roads. Many towns have designated bike paths, boardwalks and promenades, great for early morning exercise before the crowds arrive.
The Ocean City Bikeway stretches from 9th to 34th streets and there’s a designated bike lane on West Avenue from 32nd Street south. The Seashore Trail Line is a 10-mile gravel path from Belleplain State Forest to the paved Woodbine Bikeway on Route 550, which goes along for three miles. Another bike path goes for six miles from W. New Jersey Avenue in Somers Point through Linwood, Northfield and ends in Pleasantville. Check out the Cold Spring Bike Path that runs three miles from Sandman Boulevard to Sally Marshall Crossing or the Middle Township Bike Path with access to the county zoo, Atlantic Cape Community College, the Goshen Sports Complex and the 4-H Fairgrounds. Biking along the Atlantic City boardwalk or around town is fun for all ages. Rent a bike from 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily at B&K Bike Rental, North Carolina Avenue and Boardwalk or Iowa Avenue and Boardwalk. Remember to bring cash and a photo I.D.!
Bring on the Night
Have a Drink (or two)
The AC beach boasts fun al fresco venues, from the newest at Margaritaville (Resorts) and the Steel Pier Pub to Boardwalk Beer Garden (Caesars), Bikini Beach Bar (Bally’s), Worship Surf Bar at Showboat, The Deck at Golden Nugget and the sizzling Beach Bar at Trump Plaza. Yes, you want a drink with an umbrella in it, why not? Margaritaville is ideally situated next to its sister establishment, LandShark Bar and Grill, the Boardwalk’s only year-round full-service sand-side restaurant.
With a flash of leg and the staccato sound of rhythmic clapping, two flamenco dancers break into a foot-stomping flurry of movement and color. It’s a sultry sight, and one that is perfectly matched with the swoon-worthy experience of sipping Almodovar-themed cocktails and eating tapas at Amada, Iron Chef Jose Garces’ spectacular Spanish restaurant at the Revel. The Chicago-raised son of Ecuadoran parents brings an unflinching commitment to authenticity and stellar ingredients to the table. He even has his own 40-acre sustainable farm outside Philadelphia that supplies much of the produce for his growing restaurant empire. revelresorts.com
AC for the Evening
Take a stroll on the Boardwalk, where you can pop into James’ Candy, a family-owned sweets business that sells some 600,000 pounds of their famous salt-water taffy annually, with about 50 percent of that going to customers walking the Atlantic City Boardwalk. Bring home some of their kosher macaroons for a coconutty surprise. jamescandy.com
Louise Esposito’s banana cream pie is so good that Frank Sinatra used to order one whenever he came to town. Esposito, her husband Michael and sons Michael Jr. and Louis own the iconic Chef Vola’s restaurant in Atlantic City. The James Beard Award-winning restaurant is one of the best loved spots in town, and Louise’s pie is to die for. Chef Vola’s, 111 S Albion Pl., 609-345-2022
Catch a Show
Live music and entertainment has been a hallmark of the Atlantic City scene for more than a century. Top-name headliners, from the Rolling Stones to Beyoncé amp up the star wattage at venues including Borgata, House of Blues at Showboat, Revel and Boardwalk Hall. atlanticcitynj.com
Up All Night
The Real Deal
It’s all about the poker at the massive poker room at the Trump Taj Mahal. More than 80 tables deal one of the most diverse selections of games and limits in town. For swank, head to Borgata’s poker room — the biggest in AC — for daily tournaments and big payoffs. atlanticcitynj.com
Into the Wee Hours
Entertainment is nonstop once the sun goes down in AC. If you can go the distance, start with the retro ’70s and ’80s scene at Boogie Nights at the Trop — complete with roller girl and the occasional streaker. Then head to Harrah’s for a dip into The Pool after Dark, which morphs from a daytime oasis into a lively club scene with DJs, celebs and a sassy, adults-only vibe. Still motivating? Show your moves at Borgata’s duo of sizzling nightclubs, mur.mur and Mixx, where the crowd is beautiful and it’s definitely “dress to impress.” Finally, head back to Revel to one of the sexiest clubs in town, Royal Jelly by Ivan Kane. Sassy burlesque dancers, great music and a styling crowd all add up to one uninhibited nightlife experience. atlanticcitynj.com
The Irish Pub is open 24/7, upholding a longtime tradition of serving rib-sticking fare to inebriated revelers. Have one last drink — maybe an Irish Coffee? as the sun peeks up over the horizon. theirishpub.com
If you have time
A Dose of Culture
Located just 15 minutes inland from Sea Isle City, The Sam Azeez Museum of Woodbine Heritage is a living memorial to the history of Woodbine. Housed in a synagogue constructed by early Jewish settlers in the 1800s, the museum has a wealth of history, personal accounts, documents and artifacts. It’s named for Sidney “Sam” Azeez, who grew up during the Depression in Woodbine and was one of the pioneers of the Internet and cell phone technologies. Now partnered with The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, the museum is a designated teaching center for Holocaust education and is recommended by the Jewish Travel Guide of the United States and Canada. thesam.org
Furl the Sails on a Tall Ship
Help furl the sails aboard New Jersey’s Tall Ship, the A.J. Meerwald and enjoy the scenic Delaware Estuary from the deck. Home-ported on the Maurice River in Bivalve, the 115-foot, authentically restored 1928 Delaware Bay Schooner teaches visitors about the rich maritime history and fragile ecosystem of the estuary. From April to October, the schooner sails from ports around the state with family sails, sunset sails and many other special events and activities. bayshorediscovery.org
Leopards, Zebras and Tigers, Oh My!
They are doing something very right at the Cape May County Zoo, a wooded park area in Cape May Court House that is home to nearly 200 different species of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles. Special exhibits include the World of Birds, a Reptile and Amphibian House and an African Savanna. The park area includes pavilions, a spacious playground area and biking trails. Admission is free but donations are gratefully accepted. Note: the traditional way to get to the zoo, Exit 11 off of the Garden State Parkway, is closed for construction this summer, so be sure to use alternate directions available on the zoo’s website. capemaycountyzoo.org