Every year locals at the Jersey Shore look forward to September. The throngs of shoobies start to taper off, the oppressive heat eases up a bit and the peaceful, uncrowded beaches become ours once again. Many refer to it as “locals’ summer” and everyone keeps their fingers crossed that the warm, sunny weather sticks around throughout it.
But this year, regulations and general concern about indoor activities due to COVID-19 have made the concept of an extended summer not just something to hope for, but an absolute necessity. That means continued outdoor dining options, beaches with lifeguards on duty well after Labor Day and a focus on activities that will allow you to enjoy the warm fresh air while we still have it. Because once the frosty clutches of winter take hold, social activities will be limited and riskier overall. Here is a list of ways to keep summer going as long as possible.
Go back to the beach
Though many people venture into the water each year after Labor Day, it’s always a risky concept without lifeguards on duty. Luckily this year many of the best beaches in South Jersey have extended the presence of lifeguards well into September. In Brigantine and Margate, select beaches remain open through Sept. 20, while Atlantic City will have most beaches open through the end of the month. Some beaches in Ocean City will have lifeguards present through Sunday, Sept. 27. In Ventnor and Longport, select beaches will be guarded daily through Sunday, Sept. 20, as well as Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27. Not all beaches in all towns will be guarded at all times though, so if you do plan to head to the beach, we recommend you check the specific town website or social media page for details on which spots will be protected that day.
Head out to sea
One of the best ways to enjoy a late summer day is to hop in a vessel and head out on the water. And that leaves lots of options, from relaxing sunset cruises to heart-pounding jet boat rides. But wait — you don’t own a boat, and you don’t have a boater’s license. No problem! There are plenty of ways to get your float on while you leave the steering to the captain.
“Wild Thing” is the name of one of Atlantic City’s newest and most exciting boating experiences. A high-powered jet boat, this 10 passenger vessel will take you and your friends zipping around the back bays of America’s Playground at high speeds, offering up thrills — and probably a few chills — thanks to the sprays of water that are sure to douse you from time to time on this wild adventure. The boat is a 2012 Smoky Mountain Jetboat powered by an LS3 Corvette engine. So yeah, it goes fast. A 30-minute ride will cost you $50 per person. For more info and to book an excursion, go to FunJetBoat.com.
Those seeking a more relaxing cruise will likely prefer a traditional charter boat. The Metamorphosis is just that — a 40 foot luxury charter boat based out of Atlantic City that offers guests a variety of cruising options, from back bay excursions to full trips around Absecon Island and beyond. Captain Stu Rosen books private charters from May through November and is as passionate and knowledgeable about the waters as you would hope. Cruises can be booked for up to six passengers, a low number that ensures plenty of space for everyone to stretch out and enjoy the comforts that the Metamorphosis offers. Guests are welcome to bring beer and wine, and trips start at $150 per hour with a two-hour minimum. Charters depart from either Farley State Marina at Golden Nugget Atlantic City or Gardner’s Basin. Farley State Marina is located at 600 Huron Ave. in Atlantic City. Gardner’s Basin is located at 800 N. New Hampshire Ave. in Atlantic City. For more info go to MetJourneys.com.
If a boat is the equivalent of a car on water, a waverunner has got to be the motorcycle of the sea. Anyone who has had the pleasure of carving up a wake on one of these can tell you it’s an exhilarating experience, as these things were clearly built for fun. But they cost thousands of dollars to buy one and then you have to worry about having a place to keep it during the winter. Who needs the hassle?
An easier option is to rent one right here at the shore. Wet-N-Wild Waverunners in Ocean City is located on the bay, is open through September and offers rentals at $65 for a half hour and $110 for a full hour. Waverunners hold up to three people, but be aware that the more people you add, the more likely you are to tip over. Less-experienced riders may wish to ride on their own Waverunner. Wet-N-Wild is located at 244 Bay Ave. in Ocean City. For more info go to WetandWildWaverunners.com.
Snag a table
So with outdoor dining becoming the big summer trend for 2020, many of the more exclusive restaurants in the area have been fairly tough to snag a seat at for the last few months. But one of the benefits of the extended summer is the smaller crowds, which results in more tables. Now is the perfect time to indulge in a top-notch meal at that spot that you couldn’t get into in July. Here are a few of our favorites.
Fish & Co. If you are looking to splurge a bit on some stellar seafood, Fish & Co., the new al fresco dining experience at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City is the way to go. Sporting gorgeous views of the Atlantic, this seafood-heavy restaurant works perfectly as a can’t-miss spot for date night, with a menu packed with elegant options such as the wood-fired octopus served with salt-crusted potatoes, roasted peppers, Romesco sauce and Marcona almonds; and the Maine lobster pot, a treasure chest of an entrée packed with lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels, andouille sausage and corn in a spicy seafood broth. Hard Rock is located at 1000 Boardwalk in Atlantic City. Go to HardRockHotelAtlanticCity.com.
The Knife & Fork Inn For a classic Atlantic City dining experience, why not hit up The Knife & Fork Inn? Old-school charm is the name of the game here, and the historic building has been a symbol of the city for decades. Now that indoor dining is allowed at 25 percent capacity, you can choose to sit inside or out, while enjoying such legendary dishes as their corn and crab chowder or the famous lobster Thermidor. Reservations are recommended. Knife & Fork Inn is located at 3600 Atlantic Ave in Atlantic City. Go to KnifeAndForkInn.com.
McGettigan’s 19th Hole Those in the mood for a more casual meal would do well with a trip to McGettigan’s 19th Hole in Galloway. This golf-side spot has been here for years, but it’s recently been the source of a lot of buzz, as it is under new ownership, and the quality of just about everything has greatly improved. The same folks who own Costello’s Pizzzeria and Wings in Historic Smithville bought the tavern and revamped the entire menu, much to the delight of just about everyone. Gone are the bland, uninspired dishes and drinks. In their place are delicious, Instagram-worthy bites like mac & cheese eggrolls and buffalo chicken nachos as well as a list of summery cocktails like the raspberry tequila lemonade and their house-made sangria, which comes in 11 different flavor options. McGettigan’s 19th Hole is located at 500 S. New York Road in Galloway. Go to McGettigansTavern.com.
Keep on puttin’
A perfect way to socialize, exercise and still avoid big crowds is to play a round of golf. And with most courses open well into the fall, it’s a no-brainer as far as Indian summer activities go. In fact, South Jersey has so many world-class golf courses that it’s been referred to as “Myrtle Beach North” by golfing enthusiasts. And of course, the mini golf scene is top shelf too, if you prefer a bit of whimsy in your hole-in-one.
McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links has always been a great course to play at, but this year they have made some great updates which make it even more enticing including the addition of Vagabond EHT, a fantastic spin-off of the popular Atlantic City gastropub. As for the golfing itself, McCullough’s offers an Irish-Scottish golfing experience complete with wide open fairways, tricky powerful winds, grass mounds and bunkers, vast natural waste areas, and true undulating greens. McCullough’s Emerald Golf Links is located at 3016 Ocean Heights Ave. in Egg Harbor Township. Go to McCulloughsGolf.com.
Twisted Dune Golf Course A truly stunning landscape of rolling hills, sparkling ponds and endless greens, Twisted Dune Golf Course in Egg Harbor Township has been ranked as one of the three best courses in the state by Golfweek Magazine. Though not an easy course, the challenges on the links at Twisted Dune have made it popular with golfers since its opening in 2001. Twisted Dune is located at 2101 Ocean Heights Ave. in Egg Harbor Township. Go to TwistedDune.com.
Haunted Golf In case you are looking for an excuse to head to the Boardwalk in Ocean City, let Haunted Golf be just that. Part mini-golf course, part Disney-style spook house, this macabre take on miniature golf makes for a fun time for the whole family. Test your skills while you experience the chills of 5,000 square feet of haunted putt putt. Paintings have eyes that follow, skeletons dress in formal wear and everyone (both the living and the dead) will have themselves a frightfully good time. Haunted Golf is located at 824 Boardwalk in Ocean City. Go to HauntedGolf.com.