Visiting the Jersey Shore this summer

As a lifelong NJ resident and avid lover of the Jersey Shore, the approaching Memorial Day weekend is my favorite time of year – the beaches are officially open again! For anyone staying on campus this summer who wants to visit the beach, here are my personal recommendations for shore destinations within one hour drive of New Brunswick:

  • Asbury Park Boardwalk – Made famous by “The Boss,” Bruce Springsteen, the Asbury Park boardwalk is an iconic Jersey Shore highlight. The old Convention Hall and grand arcade give the boardwalk historical grandeur and there are many newer features like a small water park for kids, shops and places to eat. I recommend the Crepe Shop.
  • Jenkinson’s Boardwalk – Another boardwalk I recommend is Jenkinson’s at Point Pleasant Beach. It has a large amusement park with rides, lots of boardwalk games, shops and mini golf. The Jenkinson’s Aquarium is a nice retreat in case of a passing thunderstorm or to escape the heat. Also, there are fireworks every Thursday night in July and August – a longtime Point Pleasant Beach tradition.
  • Sandy Hook National Park – If you are looking for a beach with lots of options for outdoor activities, then I would recommend Sandy Hook. In addition to very nice beaches with a view of the New York City skyline, Sandy Hook has biking and hiking trails, camping and picnic areas, boat launches and historical landmarks like Fort Hancock and the lighthouse. Keep in mind, however, the park is very popular on weekends and they stop letting people into the park when they reach their maximum capacity of visitors. So, I would recommend getting there early or going later in the day. On another note, if you plan to do any hiking, watch out for ticks and poison ivy which are common here.
  • Traditional family beaches – Just a short drive or bike ride away from the busy boardwalks are quieter, more relaxed beaches. If all you are looking for is to relax on the beach with a book and take a dip in the ocean once in a while to cool off, then I would recommend Bradley Beach or Manasquan. Bring a towel, a beach umbrella, a game to play on the beach, and a cooler for food and water and enjoy the day.

Take a Break and Get Out!

For those of you new to Rutgers you may not be away of all the cool opportunities students can take advantage of with Rutgers Recreation.  Each semester they have numerous non-credit classes open to both undergrad and graduate students.  They also organize day trips for local recreation activities like hiking, yoga, whitewater rafting in addition to trips to visit local cities like Philadelphia and New York.

My most recent involvement was on Friday 9/30/13 when I participated in the RU Muddy 5K obstacle race.  It was a chance to get out and have some fun running through the Ecological Preserve on Livingston Campus while completing obstacles and crawling through a giant mud pit.  Luckily the weather was pretty warm because I was coated from head to toe in mud by the end of the race.  Although I did end up a bit bruised and battered from the obstacles it was a lot of fun and a nice change from the daily grind.

Tomorrow, 10/9/13, I am participating in Illuminate the Knight a 1.5mi run through Livingston campus that culminates in a dance party.  The course will be lighted with black lights, strobes, neons, laser and more.  It is suggests racers show up in neon and white to help light the course.  The after party at the finish line will have a DJ and more Rave lighting.  Registration is still open for anyone interested.

Visit Rutgers Recreation Facebook page to see tons of pictures of recent events, you’ll even see some muddy ones of me.  Hope to see some of you out there tomorrow and at other future events!

The Garden State

New Jersey’s nickname of ‘The Garden State’ always seems to be a surprising one for people who haven’t heard it before. New Jersey is not known for its acres of agriculture and natural beauty but for the refineries and decaying industrial areas that line the Turnpike. However, there is much more to the state than is immediately obvious, especially if you have only seen the state from the freeway. If you take the time to put some distance between yourself and the Turnpike, you’ll find that New Jersey offers quite a bit in terms of landscape and natural beauty.

The nickname ‘Garden State’ is tenuously attributed to Benjamin Franklin. There is a clearer connection to a man named Abraham Browning, who in 1876 described New Jersey as a barrel full of good food, with New York and Philadelphia indulging themselves from both ends. It was added to the license plate in 1954 and has been the cause of surprised faces and remarks of ‘no kidding?’ ever since.

Though officially enshrined above the bumper of every car registered in New Jersey, the agricultural aspect of New Jersey has long since been surpassed by pharmaceuticals, finance, and technology. However, if we are to trust wikipedia (and honestly, who doesn’t these days), New Jersey remains a significant producer of agricultural products. It is the second largest producer of blueberries, the third largest producer of cranberries and spinach, and is fourth in the production of bell peppers, peaches, and head lettuce. In addition to its crops, Jersey also has a significant amount of woodland. Half the state is wooded, with oaks in the north and the (in)famous Pine Barrens in the south.

There are 52 state parks, forests, and historic sites covering over 375,000 acres, many of which figured prominently in the Revolutionary War. The Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park runs through New Brunswick and provides a beautiful place to ride your bike or go for a run. Riding your bike from New Brunswick to Princeton along the canal path is a great way to spend a spring day. Or, you can visit Island Beach State Park and get a taste of what the shore was before the boardwalks went up. Wharton State Forest is the largest of the parks at over 122,000 acres, and features a historic village that gives you a sample of what early 19th century industry was like.

There is much more to New Jersey than its status as the ultimate bedroom community, and much more to do than simply taking the train into the big city of your choice. Spending a little time away from the freeways can be very rewarding for anyone looking to escape the concrete jungle of Philadelphia or New York. It’s a beautiful state, trust me. You just have to know where to look.

Green Scenes

With a heatwave hitting the northeast and summer underway, I find myself just a bit nostalgic for this year’s cooler spring. But only a bit.

I took these on a beautiful afternoon this past semester when I still needed to do some reading for class but wanted to get outside of the library. I stumbled upon this oasis, complete with benches, shady trees, and even a couple of ducks swimming around as I ate my lunch and finished up some research. Next time you’re on Cook campus on a nice day, head over to Passion Puddle, where you can enjoy the greener side of Rutgers.