Every year, vacationers flock to southern New Jersey in search of sunshine and sandy beaches. But when Mother Nature opposes those travel plans, rainy weather does not have to ruin your escape. Although renowned for its boardwalks, outdoor recreation and water sports, the Jersey shore has much more to offer its visitors, rain and shine.
Climb a Lighthouse
When the weather gets too stormy for the beach, take refuge in one of New Jersey's 11 historic lighthouses. Absecon Lighthouse located at Pacific and Rhode Island avenues in Atlantic City is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse and the third-tallest in the country. Climb its 228 steps for the breathtaking view of the Atlantic City skyline. Towering atop the Highlands of Monmouth County, the Twin Lights Lighthouse proudly stands. Its beacon has led sailors to safety for longer than a century. The museum routinely sponsors historical presentations by guest experts on the area's maritime history. Guests may climb both lighthouses as well as enjoy their museums, exhibits and gift shops. Both sites are open year-round but check with each lighthouse for its seasonal schedule.
Visit an Aquarium
When the sea gets too rough, adjust your course to an aquarium and head underwater. Jenkinson's Aquarium on the boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach is home to Atlantic sharks, Pacific sharks, coral reefs, penguins and seals. Guests may watch and enjoy feeding time as well as experience numerous touch tanks. The Atlantic City Aquarium on the waterfront in Atlantic City includes tropical shark and stingray touch tanks among its exhibits. It also offers the interactive "Live Diver Feeding Show." Visitors may ask questions of the diver as he hand-feeds the residents of the 25,000-gallon Fish of the Mid-Atlantic tank.
Hit Up an Indoor Arcade
The Jersey shore is known for lively and colorful boardwalk amusements, but when the rain starts, it's time to head into the arcade. Mariner's Arcade on Mariner's Landing Pier in Wildwood is known for its large, progressive, easy-to-win jackpots. Offering poker and skeeball specials, Mariner's has a multitude of machines from state-of-the-art video games to old-fashioned cranes. Lucky Leo's has been lighting up the boardwalk at Seaside Heights since 1953. With 40 modern game machines, Lucky Leo's is known as the best arcade to play skeeball -- a Jersey favorite. Both arcades have VIP programs.
Hunt for Buried Treasure
For hardier souls who don't mind getting wet, the rougher surf associated with stormy weather churns up the sand, which can uncover treasures claimed by the sea long ago. There are approximately 5,400 shipwrecks documented between the New Jersey shoreline and the continental shelf as well as countless undocumented shipwrecks waiting to be discovered. During inclement weather, these wrecks can shift with the sand and underwater currents, depositing their bounties upon the beach. Additionally, rumors abound of buried pirate treasure on Jersey shores. A metal detector is a great tool to uncover these finds, but never underestimate a keen eye. Be sure to obey all local metal-detecting laws and take cover if lightning moves into the area.