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All along New Jersey’s coast, there are bike paths on which to pedal and boardwalks on which to stroll (or jog) and the ocean, of course, in which to swim. Here are some of our favorite spots.
Work off your pork roll on the peaceful 5.4-mile Edgar Felix bike path (shown above) between Manasquan and Allaire State Park. Ride inside the park—though be warned its twisty singletrack and drops would prefer you take a mountain bike—or proceed on foot along its network of hiking trails. On the Manasquan end, you can bike all the way to the beach if you don’t mind pedaling two miles on the road; follow the “Capital to Coast” trail signs to get there. Need wheels? You can rent a bike just off the start of the path from Manasquan Bicycle Shop (128 Main St., map).
Threaded between the ocean and Barnegat Bay, 10-mile-long Island Beach State Park, just south of Seaside Park, is one of the Northeast’s few undeveloped barrier beaches—and a stark contrast from the bright boardwalk lights, rides, and games of its northern neighbors. If this park’s rolling dunes, salt marshes, maritime plant communities, bird-watching, and miles of protected beach aren’t enough reasons to visit, there are eight miles of bike path, which can be followed by beach hiking to reach the island’s southernmost tip, with views to Barnegat Lighthouse across the inlet. Excellent 24-hour surf fishing (and four-wheel-drive vehicle permits for fishermen) is another big draw here.
The southernmost part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, the sandspit peninsula of Sandy Hook boasts 12 miles of smooth bike path that unfold past the beach and bay, historic forts, a lighthouse, and bird observatories, with northern views extending to Manhattan’s skyline. Beaches are vast and beautiful, including the locally famous nude beach, Gunnison. Ferries are available directly from lower and eastern Manhattan for $43 round-trip.
The Atlantic Highlands, sandwiched between Sandy Hook Bay and the Navesink River (and also reachable via ferry from New York), has more than 19 miles of hiking trails in its Hartshorne Woods County Park, plus great views: It boasts one of the highest elevations on the Atlantic coast. And when you’re done you can rent a little 15-foot boat at Schupp’s Landing (12 Bay Ave., map) and tool around the river for $80 a day.
It won’t burn many calories, but it WILL get your heart pumping! If you’re interested in skydiving around here, look no further than Skydive Jersey Shore (Monmouth Executive Airport, 171 Rte. 34, map) in Farmingdale. You’ll get ocean, parkland, and even Manhattan skyline views on a clear day, and a super fun staff who puts safety first (but then come the jokes). EYW has jumped twice with these guys and wholeheartedly recommends them. Tandem jumps from $205 (score a small discount by paying in cash).
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