For generations, the Jersey shoreline has welcomed families looking for a memorable vacation at the beach. Avalon sits in the heart of all the fun and excitement, yet manages to maintain a small town, a coastal atmosphere that can’t be beaten. Located in Cape May County, along with Seven Mile Beach, the town offers everything from fishing and sunbathing to thrilling amusement park adventures and educational opportunities. With many Avalon vacation rentals in Avalon situated just steps from the shore, your family vacation begins from the moment you pull up in the drive.

1. Enjoy the Sun and Sand

Drop your bags, put on your swimsuit and head out to the beach. Avalon is home to several guarded beaches, ensuring safe play, and there are designated beaches for water raft fun if you’ve brought one along. Rent a few beach chairs, and sink your toes in the soft sand as the kids search for shells and build sandcastles. Many of the beaches along Avalon’s coast offer public restrooms for your convenience.

2. Learn to Surf

Many don’t realize that the East Coast is home to some wicked curls, and a vacation in Avalon is an ideal time to take up a new family sport. Whether your family wants to master the boogie board, or you’ve got your eye on dropping into a perfect wave, the area is home to several businesses that offer surf lessons and day camps for people of all ages. Take a one-day lesson, or perfect your form with hourly offerings every day. Most surf camps and shops provide boards and wet suits ranging in sizes that fit everyone from toddlers to adults.

3. Take a Family Fishing Trip

Charter a boat the Miss Avalon fishing yacht, and spend the morning fishing in the Atlantic with your family. Sea bass and flounder top the list of desirable catches — and some charters even offer to crab. Charter fees generally include bait, rod, and tackle, and the required saltwater fishing license. If hanging out on land is more your family’s speed, learn how to dig for clams along the shore instead. During clamming season, bait and tackle shops post lists of hot spots daily.

4. See a Turtle Hatch at the Wetlands Institute

From watching an endangered terrapin turtle hatch to taking a horseback ride, the Wetlands Institute in nearby Stone Harbor — also part of Seven Mile Beach — offers a day of educational exploration for your whole group. Fall visitors can embark on self-guided tours throughout the Institute’s property, while spring and summer days feature naturalist-led boat rides, horseback rides, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Walk the dunes with your guide to learn about the flora and fauna that inhabit the Jersey Shore.

5. Visit the Cape May County Zoo

Located just on the other side of the Garden State Parkway, the Cape May County Zoo is home to over 550 native and exotic animals. Hang out with the big guys — lions, tigers, and bears, oh my! — before spending some time with giraffes, American bison, and bald eagles. Admission to the zoo and parking are free, although donations are always welcome.

6. Go Whale Watching

Jump aboard a whale-watching boat, and head out onto the Atlantic to watch dolphins play and whales breach. Awe at the size of a humpback whale as it breaks the surface, and delight in the hilarity of the bottlenose dolphins jumping in your wake. Choose from pirate-themed tours ideal for little ones and all-day charter tours that include fresh seafood for lunch. If birdwatching is your thing, select a cruise that’s geared toward several of the migratory species inhabiting the Avalon and Cape May area.

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7. Swing or ZipLline from Tree to Tree

Right next door to the zoo in Cape May, Tree-to-Tree Adventure Park beckons families of thrill-seekers with rope climbing courses and zip line trails that offer breathtaking views of the area. With color-coded courses based on age and ability, as well as safety nets, this fun adventure offers a unique way for your family to bond. This activity is ideal for children ages seven and up, and older teens and adults can choose the zip line-only option.

8. Get Your (Mini) Golf On

Choose your ball color and your course. Then, head to the trees at one of the Avalon area’s several miniature golf courses for 18 holes of laughs and competition. Several miniature golf courses set along the resort boardwalks and in popular tourist areas, giving you easy access to an activity sure to entertain your kids for a couple of hours.

9. Take a Trolley Tour

Ride a bright-red trolley through Cape May County to learn more about the surrounding area. Choose a tour that teaches your family about local superstitions and New England old wives tales, or takes a trip through the Historic District to see the area’s stunning architecture and learn about local history. If you have young kids, take the children’s tour — a trolley tour designed specifically for children between the ages of three and seven. Trolley tours leave from Ocean Avenue but reserve your tickets in advance if possible.

10. Fill up on Fun at Buccaneer Ice Cream and Candies

Top off a day lazy, beach-filled day with a visit to Buccaneer Ice and Candies on Dune Drive in Avalon. Share a Shipwreck Sundae — 12 scoops of homemade ice cream with every topping served in a souvenir pirate hat — or sample a couple scoops of ice cream in a homemade waffle cone. This Avalon favorite has been in business since 1968, and it often features live music, juggling acts, and magic acts to enchant your entire family. Photographs of past ‘Shipwreck Survivors’ line the parlor’s walls, giving you something to aspire to as your family digs in.

11. Stroll the Wildwood Boardwalk

The Wildwood Boardwalk sits about a 30-minute drive north of most Avalon vacation rentals. The historic boardwalk has delighted visitors since the early 19th century with rides, shops, and restaurants. Spend the day at Morey’s Piers and Water Parks, a large amusement complex at the north end of the boardwalk. It’s filled with spine-tingling thrill rides and children’s rides, as well as multiple water slides and splash pads. The boardwalk itself is home to a bevy of carnival games, souvenir shops, and concession stands, creating a pleasant way to while away the day.

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