Travel Destinations

Seaside Delights on the Jersey Shore

Mid-Atlantic
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July 2012
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By
Jeanne
Craig

Chances are you've taken in your share of cruising idylls over the years, from the silky shores of Florida to the quintessential New England ports of Connecticut and Massachusetts. But what about the New Jersey Shore? Occasionally, boat owners will limit their experience of the Garden State to a quick overnight stop while en route to another place, and you have to wonder if this is because some of us can't shake those pop-culture clichés: the Sopranos, Snooki, the spray tans. But the truth is, if you haven't yet spent time exploring the Jersey shoreline, prepare to be surprised. There are different flavors along the way, in ports large and small, from the high-rises and high stakes of Atlantic City to true beach towns with vintage ice-cream trucks, kettle fudge and retro flavor. Even with the bright lights of Manhattan just a day's ride away, there are great places to drop the hook or drag lines for the day. Let's assume you'll start your cruise from the south and explore New Jersey on your way north to New York waters.

CAPE MAY

Some New Jersey natives call their state the birthplace of the summer seashore escape. Among their most beloved beach towns is Cape May, one of the best-preserved Victorian districts in America, with crape myrtles sprouting from the sidewalks and American-flags hanging from gingerbread porches punctuated with rockers and wicker furniture. But there are also pockets of cool carved out around town, including the rehabbed Congress Hall, a rambling and glamorous hotel with a speakeasy-style club in the basement.What to Do: After a day at the beach, take a slow stroll through town before dinner along with the other tourists looking to satisfy cravings for sea critters and beer. Head to the Lobster House (906 Schellengers Landing Rd., 609-884-8296) and find a seat at the handsome bar, where a jacketed bartender will take your order for local oysters on the half shell. If you're up for a short cruise, check out Wildwood, with its famous boardwalk that includes rides to thrill the kids. Dock at Schooner Island Marina (609-729-8900, schoonerislandmarina.com).Where to Dock: Cape May has a nice, wide inlet for an easy approach, and there are several marinas nearby.Among the best full-service facilities are the Canyon Club (609-884-0199, canyonclubmarina.com) and South Jersey Marina (609-884-2400, southjerseymarina.com), which places you within walking distance of the center of town. Between these two marinas is the canal that leads to Delaware Bay. Both have floating docks.

ATLANTIC CITY

This is the spot for those with an appetite for big-city glitz and glamour. In Atlantic City, you can indulge your appetite at the casinos and resorts that lure visitors with everything from celebrity chef-run restaurants to sprawling spas and mega nightclubs, all of which are never so far away from a gaming floor that you can't hear the ka-ching.What to Do: If you're a fan of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire (filmed in Brooklyn, by the way) you may want to catch a glimpse of what Prohibition-era Atlantic City was really like. Get a quick fix at the Knife & Fork (3600 Atlantic Ave., 609-344-1133), a Flemish-style building constructed in 1912 that became a rowdy men's club during Prohibition. It was recently renovated as a steak house, so get a good meal and spend some time enjoying the intriguing collection of old photos on the walls.Where to Stay: The main game in town is the full-service Frank S. Farley State Marina (609-441-8482; atlanticcitynj.com). This state marina is managed by the Golden Nugget Hotel and boasts 640 floating slips for yachts up to 300 feet. It's a dock's walk away from the hotel's 74,000-square-foot casino and close to high-end retail therapy at the Pier Shops at Caesars.

MANASQUAN

The Manasquan Inlet area on the New Jersey coast is a popular summer stop for boaters, largely due to the fact that three casual and friendly waterfront towns are just inside: Manasquan, Brielle and Point Pleasant. Manasquan Inlet is wide and well- marked with a bell buoy one mile offshore and steel structures at the jetties. A bustling waterway, the inlet, which has a 5-foot tide fluctuation, is used year-round by recreational boats, charter fishing fleet and commercial vessels. For this reason, locals tell first-time visitors to stay 1,000 feet offshore before turning straight into the inlet. When the wind is against the tide, steep swells can build quickly at the mouth, where depth is about 20 feet. Overall, the inlet is safe, but it can be tricky, particularly with offshore winds.What to Do: Manasquan Beach is a good day trip, particularly if you're cruising with kids who will like the promenade with its arcade. Manasquan is a small town just over a mile from Brielle, where there are bike rentals and shops. Manasquan also has many historic Victorian homes in the center of town.Where to Stay: If you want to be close to the inlet for an early- morning departure, most dockage is on the Brielle side, including Hoffman's Marina (732-528-6160,hoffmansmarina.com), which is popular with overnight transients. Or farther up the Manasquan River is Crystal Point Yacht Club (732-892-2300, crystalpointyachtclub.com).

BELMAR

Yes, it's a nightlife hub for Jersey's many young and restless, but Belmar has many other things going for it, including walk-able jetties, many of which are friendly to the shore-bound angler, and a formidable fleet of party boats that regularly powers out to the reliable fishing grounds offshore. If you strike out in blue water, though, don't take it too hard. You're in Belmar. Food and fun are not far from the docks.What to Do: Belmar is host to the state's largest sand-sculpting contest to be held July 11, 2011 (njsandcastle.com), a town tradi- tion for more than 25 years. It's a huge draw for kids of all ages.Where to Stay: Shark River Inlet at Belmar has an approach that requires caution. In addition to multiple bridges, it's narrow and shallow and conditions can be bad when the wind is against the tide. The first bridge is immediately inside with 15-foot clearance. It opens on demand, but the current can run 3 to 4 knots at times, so mariners need to be careful they don't get too close before there is sufficient clearance, especially if there is a big party boat also waiting to get through. Once inside Shark River, Belmar Marina (732-681-2266, belmar.com/marina) has plenty of dockage and fuel and is walking distance to Belmar's downtown shops and restaurants.

SANDY HOOK

As you head north, you'll hit Sandy Hook, a seven-mile stretch of barrier island that's worth seeing before you plot your course northwest into New York waters. To tuck in here, round the point and head into Sandy Hook Bay, then travel south to find dockage in the Atlantic Highlands. Tie up and discover a place that's close to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan but very far away in spirit.What to Do: Rent a bike in Sandy Hook and pedal on the smooth tar multi-use path that wends it way along the scenic length of Sandy Hook. Make a quick stop at the historic Sandy Hook Lighthouse, built in 1764, which withstood canon fire during the Revolutionary War. Then, ride over the drawbridge at the southern end of the beach back to Atlantic Highlands and reward yourself with a waterside seafood feast in this small beach town nestled in the crook of Sandy Hook Bay.Where to Stay: Popular transient marinas are located in the Atlantic Highlands, which lies along Sandy Hook Bay and across from Sandy Hook. Sandy Hook Bay Marina (732-872-1511, sandyhookbaymarina.com), located near the historic village of the Highlands, and the Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina (732-291-1670, ahnj.com) are convenient options for transients.

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Cruise to Virginia's Historic Triangle
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Imagine you were Rip Van Winkle in reverse. You’ve nodded off for 400 years rather than 20. Now, you wake up to find yourself on the deck of a wooden sailing ship off the coast of Virginia. “Your first thought would be to look for a source of freshwater,” tells Steve Ormsby, administrator of The Watermen’s
Museum in Yorktown. “Then, it would have been protection, up a river, and at the same time finding deep water where you could tie up to the trees and row ashore. Your fellow passengers would have been tradesmen, merchants and craftsmen, skills needed to establish a settlement but not live in the wilderness. Still, you wouldn’t have gone hungry at first. Captain John Smith wrote in his journal that the oysters he found were the size of dinner plates.”


Fast forward to the historic triangle of Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown, which is among America’s first settlements and easy to reach by water. It’s a beautiful sail or motor from the Atlantic Ocean across the Chesapeake Bay to the James or York Rivers. Once here, explore ashore and offshore, too. Here’s a sampling of five top stops.

1. VISIT THE WATERMAN’S MUSEUM


Located on the Yorktown waterfront, upriver from the Riverwalk Landing marina, dining and shopping area, this nonprofit museum is a treasure trove of nautical history. Exhibits narrate how local watermen helped defeat the British in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Yorktown with their local knowledge to help pilot the ships, as well
as the local watermen’s way of life as commercial fishermen.

“One of the focal points at the museum is the Windmill. Built in 1711, it was used to grind corn, but after that it stood as a waymark for ships sailing the York River,” says Ormsby. In April, the museum re-opened for the season with six new 10-foot by 10-foot kiosks in the Windmill Lot. These interactive displays feature ropemaking, pottery, candle making, boatbuilding and woodwork, sail making, and blacksmithing. The museum also runs an award-winning summer camp, with a pirate-themed environmental camp for kids in grades K to 5, and hands-on camps for those in grades 3 to 8 focused on boatbuilding, an archaeological beach dig and maritime trades. watermens.org

2. SET SAIL ON THE SCHOONER ALLIANCE

Cast off from Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing Pier on this 105-foot gaff-rigged schooner. There are three two-hour sightseeing cruises daily. Along the way, see the historic Victory Monument and Battlefield, working watermen plying their trade as they did years ago, and perhaps a modern naval ship or school of dolphins. The Alliance’s sails are set traditionally with block and tackle, and passengers are welcome to help. The crew provides narration
and sea stories along the way. sailyorktown.com/schooner-alliance.html

3. TAKE A WALK ON THE RIVERWALK SIDE


You’ll find many historical markers along Yorktown’s Riverwalk Landing, a mile-long pedestrian path from the Battlefield to the American Revolution Museum, making this
an educational and entertaining stroll. “Many of the markers involve the water, specifically the Battle of Yorktown and the Middle Passage,” says Gail Whittaker, public information officer for York County, VA. “If you’re lucky, you might see an opening of the Coleman Bridge that crosses the river and joins Yorktown with Gloucester County. It is the largest double-swing-span bridge in the United States and the second largest in the world! The Naval Weapons Station Yorktown is just upriver from our waterfront. It’s awesome to see the bridge swing open as one of our marvelous Navy ships glides by.” visityorktown.org/153/Riverwalk-Landing

4. SHUCK INTO A SEAFOOD SUPPER

You might not find oysters the size of dinner plates, but you can fill your dish with fresh seafood in Colonial Williamsburg. Try Berret’s Seafood Restaurant & Taphouse Grill, located in Merchant’s Square. There’s she-crab soup for starters, seasonal specialties like lemon pepper-crusted grouper fillet and seared sea scallops, and signature entrees such as The Original Blue Plate: sauteed backfin crabcake, baked oysters Rockefeller and grilled shrimp. The oyster bar features shucked Victory Point
York River Oysters on the half shell. berrets.com

5. SETTLE BACK IN JAMESTOWN

There is likely nowhere better for colonial history buffs to spend a day indoors and outdoors than in the living history museum that is this settlement. Films and exhibits portray the lives of Virginia’s Native Americans, the first English settlers, and the initial arrival of West Africans, all three here in the early 17th century. The most fun is to climb on board replicas of the three ships on which the first English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607 — the Susan Constant, Godspeed and Discovery — and imagine you’re onboard. historicjamestowne.org

CELEBRATE THE 4TH OF JULY

European settlers planted roots in the Yorktown, Williamsburg and Jamestown over a century before the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 up north in Philadelphia. Yet, it’s the wealth of national history and its preservation that makes this area one of the best places to celebrate this summer holiday.

Independence Day Celebration

Riverwalk Landing & Historic Yorktown
8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Early birds start the day with a 5K walk or 8K run. The patriotic parade follows with the best viewing spots along Water and Main Streets. Bring your flags to wave and toe-tap to the Fifes & Drums corps beat. At 1 p.m., a hot dog eating contest is hosted by Toby’s Dog House in Jamestown, with a satellite location in Yorktown’s Water Street. Patriotic concerts start after dark, culminating in a firework display over the York River. Watch from the Yorktown Waterfront & Victory Monument at 803 Main Street or anchor out and see the sparklers reflected in the water.

July 4th Celebration

Colonial Williamsburg
9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Immerse yourself in all things independence during a day-long of activities. Stand at the Capitol West Balcony to hear Thomas Jefferson read the Declaration of Independence. A special military muster in Market Square, concert of celebration at the Play House Stage, historical reflections re-enacted throughout the day, free ice cream, and live music on the Lawn of the Art Museums culminate in the Lights of Freedom Fireworks Display at 9:20 p.m. The best places for viewing are the East Lawn of the Art Museum, the Palace Green and Market Square.

Regional Marinas

Riverwalk Landing Piers
Yorktown, VA

The heart of Yorktown’s waterfront is within walking distance of historic sights, shops and dining. There are no individual slips here, but all piers are dedicated to transient and temporary stay boaters. Facilities include shore power in 30, 50 and 100 amp, pump-out and private key coded boater restrooms with showers. No fuel is available. The busiest times are May-June and September-October. To reserve docking, email dockmaster@yorkcounty.gov or call 757-890-3370.

York River Yacht Haven
Gloucester Point, VA


This Suntex Marinas property is located at the mouth of Sarah Creek, opposite Yorktown, in a 14-acre rural storm-protected area. The full-service facility boasts 280 slips accommodating boats up to 160’. Transients can enjoy amenities including fuel, laundry services, free Wi-Fi and a freshwater pool.

Kingsmill Marina
Williamsburg, VA


Along the James River, the marina at Kingsmill Resort offers a tranquil getaway with activities on-site. Enjoy everything from lush golf courses to upscale amenities and lodging at Cottages on the James or The Estate at Kingsmill’s private mansion. The marina offers annual slip leases for vessels up to 80’ depending on beam width.


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Explore the Spirited Lakefront of Burlington, VT
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A vibrant, compact city hugging the eastern shoreline of Lake Champlain, Burlington abounds in scenic beauty, four-season recreation, a college town vibe, arts and culture, and a quirky character all its own.

Burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Eclectic shops named Anjou & the Little Pear or Common Deer, and restaurants called Zabby & Elf 's Stone Soup or The Skinny Pancake dot the urban landscape. A local artist's satirical comment on the bureaucracy of urban planning called File Under So. Co., Waiting for..., consists of 38 filing cabinets welded together to a 40-foot height. Birds frequently nest in the upper chambers.

History buffs stroll through the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum or the Fleming Museum of Art's multi-era artifact collection while hikers trek the 12.5-mile path at Burlington Waterfront Park, which offers bicycle, rollerblade and kayak rentals. In season, the path connects to the Lake Champlain Islands via bike ferry.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Bike Path | Michelle Raponi on Pixabay

Since the 1800s, the Old North End has been the city's melting pot, and global cuisine from Nepalese dumplings to the African Market can be found here today. Between munches, stroll over to historic Elmwood Cemetery, whose residents include Revolutionary War soldiers. Hear their stories and perhaps have a chance encounter with a local spirit on a Queen City Ghostwalk Tour. Liquid spirits rule when the internationally famous, regionally beloved and hidden gem breweries line up for the annual Vermont Brewers Festival. Year round, enjoy homemade bratwurst and drafts at Zero Gravity Craft Beer. At acclaimed Foam Brewers, the patio faces Lake Champlain waterfront and the Adirondack Mountains. Hop on the Sip of Burlington Brew Tour for a dozen tastings and the sights of this dynamic, energetic city.

Where to Dock

Burlington Community Boathouse Marina

802-865-3377

This full-service marina is the centerpiece of a growing waterfront. Amenities include 105 slips up to 65 feet, Splash Café and a fantastic sunset over the Adirondacks.

Burlington Harbor Marina

802-540-6869

With 160 slips (60 transient slips up to 80 feet), this new marina's tranquil harbor setting is convenient to downtown amenities and recreational activities.

Where to Dine

Honey Road

802-497-2145

Savor sophisticated Mediterranean small plates, cocktails and creative desserts in a comfy tavern setting.

burlington - destinations - marinalife
Burlington Church Street | Needpix

The Farmhouse Tap & Grill

802-859-0888

This farm-to-table gastropub dishes up local burgers, charcuterie and innovative specials. Sip on local brews in the beer garden.

RíRá

802-860-9401

According to Irish playwright Brendan Behan, The most important things to do in the world are to get something to eat, something to drink and somebody to love you. RíRá fuses classic Irish with pub grub to satisfy the first two.

Leunig's Bistro & Café

802-863-3759

Step inside the lush garden courtyard to watch fresh local fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood transform into classic French dishes. Come enjoy a romantic evening meal.

Hen of the Wood

802-540-0534

Enjoy a true Vermont dining experience in a romantic, rustic atmosphere adjacent to the Hotel Vermont.

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Discover the Island Charm of Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts
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Ever wish you could hop in a time machine and go back 50 or 60 years to experience a less frenetic pace of life? It's not as far-fetched as it might sound. There's a place off the coast of Massachusetts where you can do just that ... at least for a weekend.

Cuttyhunk Island - destinations - marinalife
Cuttyhunk Island | tkesner1 on Flickr

"It's like 1960 --you're stepping back in time," notes Captain Jono Billings, who owns and operates the Cuttyhunk Ferry out of New Bedford, about 18 miles north of Cuttyhunk Island, a 580-acre arc of stone and sand that's the westernmost of the Elizabeth Islands that lie between Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound.

For such a small place, Cuttyhunk has a long, colorful history. In 1602 --nearly 20 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock -- Bartholomew Gosnold sailed from Falmouth, England to establish a colony in the New World, explored the areas near present-day Kennebunkport, Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, and built a small fort on what he christened Cuttyhunk Island.

A 70-foot stone tower was constructed in 1902 commemorating the 300th anniversary of that historic landing. After passing through the hands of several English earls and dukes, Peleg Slocum purchased the island in 1693, and her family continued to live on Cuttyhunk for the next 165 years.

In 1865, a group of Rhode Island fishing enthusiasts bought a large portion of the island and built the Cuttyhunk Club and a few fishing stands, enhancing its reputation as a prime spot for sport fishing. In fact, two 73-pound, world-record striped bass have been caught off Cuttyhunk in 1913 and more recently in 1967.

Local fishermen know all the qualities and quirks of the area's waters, offering their services to visiting anglers and acting as expert navigators for ships sailing into New Bedford Harbor, piloting them through the dangerous Sow and Pig Reef on the west end of the island.

Cuttyhunk Island - destinations - marinalife
Cuttyhunk Island | Ben McLaughlin

Fishing isn't the only way to interact with nature on Cuttyhunk. Half the island is a nature preserve, home to a variety of birds and mammals, as well as wildflowers, sweet peas, bayberry and a host of other flora. Plenty of hiking trails wind through the landscape that's largely craggy and reflects Cuttyhunk's glacial origins. It's covered with the same kind of rocks and stones found in the mountains of New Hampshire and Vermont.

Although largely a day-tripper destination, visitors can overnight on Cuttyhunk with some advance planning. Most boaters prefer to stay aboard their own craft if properly outfitted, but limited accommodations are on land as well. Avalon, the Inn on Cuttyhunk Island, offers seven rooms, while Cuttyhunk Fishing Club has eight. A few cottage and house rentals are also available through Pete's Place Rentals.

Where to Dock

Cuttyhunk Marina

508-990-7578

The marina offers 50 transient slips that can accommodate vessels up to 110 feet and have freshwater hookups and 30- and 50-amp electricity capability. About 50 moorings accommodate vessels up to 50 feet. Pump out, ice, picnic area and restrooms are available.

Frog Pond Marine Moorings

508-992-7530

This mooring field is located in the outer harbor off the port side of Bell 6 upon entering Cuttyhunk. Bright white balls mark the moorings, which are first-come, first-serve. Tie up to any mooring that doesn't say PRIVATE, and the mooring collector will come to your boat to collect a $45 rental fee.

Jenkins Moorings

508-996-9294

Located in the outer harbor to the right of the channel's entrance, moorings are first-come, first-serve during the high season. If you spend the night, call and they'll deliver fresh oysters and raw-bar items to your boat.

Where to Dine

Cuttyhunk Café

508-802-8633

This coffee shop is located on the town fish dock. Start your day with coffee and pastries, pick up chowder and sandwiches for lunch, and finish the day chowing down on fresh lobster boils with corn, potatoes, onion, chorizo and steamers.

Cuttyhunk Fishing Club

508-992-5585

Just south of town on Cemetery Road, this B&B offers the best breakfasts/brunches on the island, and you don't have to be a guest to enjoy it. They don't take reservations, so grab a cup of coffee and an Adirondack chair while you wait for your table and enjoy the porch with a million-dollar view.

Cuttyhunk Island Market

508-538-1218

Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., this rustic spot offers all the essentials: dry goods, sundries, bread, dairy, fresh veggies, plus 10-inch subs with a bag of chips. We may be small, but we have it all.

Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms

508-990-1317

This floating raw bar provides fresh Cuttyhunk oysters and clams, along with stuffed quahog and hot clam chowder to boaters during the summer, delivered right to your boat. Call them on VHF Channel 72 or stop in at their shack on the fish dock during the day to place your order.

Soprano's Pizza

508-992-7530

The only sit-down restaurant on Cuttyhunk, this in-season eatery serves gourmet brick oven pizzas and seafood specials. Think a pizza oven held hostage in a garage, four picnic tables in a driveway lit by tiki torches, and a croaking bullfrog in the pond! Can't beat that kind of ambiance.

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