If you ask me where one of my favorite places to go in New Jersey is, I’ll tell you it is the Tuckerton Seaport. We’ve been visiting for day trips and Tuckerton staycations for nearly ten years. My youngest was a toddler and now he’s almost a teen. His face can be seen in the pages of Tuckerton Seaport brochures and on the wall of the Visitor Center.
For me, Tuckerton Seaport is a home away from home. We’ve had picnics at the pirate ship campground. We’ve walked the boardwalk. We’ve enjoyed the creek from the ferry and kayaks. It’s a calm and peaceful place to be when you need to get away from it all, and yet it offers so many things to do.
Recently, the Seaport hired us to show off Tuckerton in a tourism video. Our mission was to show that despite what’s going on right now there are still safe and fun activities you can do. Summer is not cancelled and families looking for a New Jersey staycation, don’t need to look any further than Tuckerton.
We didn’t have to write this guide to Tuckerton staycations with your kids, yet there was no way I couldn’t because I need you to see what I see about this area of New Jersey. I know you’ll love the Tuckerton Seaport as I do.
Family-Friendly Things to do on Tuckerton Staycations
One of the things I love most about a Tuckerton staycation is you can really go at the pace you want and enjoy the things your family likes to do. You can take things slower and hang in the Tuckerton area or you can use the Tuckerton-LBI ferry to enjoy the tourist attractions in LBI.
If you’re a visual person, like me, and you need to see all the fun things you can do, watch the video we created for the Tuckerton Seaport, below. Then read for more details about each activity.
Ease into your Tuckerton Staycations with a visit to the Pinelands Brewing Company
Pinelands Brewing Company? How is that appropriate for kids? I’ll be honest I’m not a beer drinker. When Brooke from the Tuckerton Seaport suggested I check them out because they’re a sponsor of the Tuckerton-LBI Ferry I had my doubts.
Yes, my husband enjoys beer but I knew my kids wouldn’t be into it unless there was something for them.
Surprise! Pinelands Brewing Company offers homemade root beer and cream sodas for minors or those who want an alternative to beer. Drink up from the back porch as you listen to live music. It’s a great way to ease into a Tuckerton staycation. Learn more about Pinelands Brewing Company.
Put Put Put at Tuckerton Seaport’s Mini Golf
Unfortunately, this summer the Tuckerton buildings are closed, but the beauty of Tuckerton Seaport is that it offers so many wonderful outdoor activities. One of our favorite outdoor activities at the Tuckerton Seaport is playing miniature golf. Put, put, put your way through the course, but beware of the Sea dragon at the end. The Tuckerton Seaport has putters and golf balls available for guests’ use.
Walk the Tuckerton Seaport Boardwalk
The Tuckerton Seaport Boardwalk starts behind the Visitor’s Center but stretches out to the left and right. On the right side it wraps around the mini golf course, towards the Coast Guard boat, and ends near the Seaport’s stage. On the left side, it loops around the dock of the creek.
Right now, you can access the Tuckerton Seaport Boardwalk through a gate near the lighthouse. Admission is $5 and hours are Saturdays-Sundays-Mondays from 10 am to 5 pm.
As you walk along the Boardwalk you’ll pass farm animals, different houses, birds, ducks, and more.
Learn as you walk on a self guided tour
To enhance Tuckerton staycations, the Seaport has turned their property into a self guided tour. There are multiple locations with signage on the outside of the building to help you learn more about what the building represents and its role in Tuckerton’s history.
Take lots of photos during your Tuckerton Staycation
No Tuckerton staycation is complete without lots and lots of photos. The Tuckerton Seaport has created selfie stations for you to get those Instagram-worthy photos. On our visit we discovered these photo-taking spots:
- Near the Visitor’s Center front entrance
- With the birds between the Visitor’s Center and the Welcome Booth
- With the boat, in between the lighthouse building and the boat docks. You can stand behind the boat to make it look like you are in the boat.
- ‘Ride’ the surfboard at the end of the boardwalk on the side of the last building.
Keep your eyes out for new spots. The Seaport is always adding new ones. The day after we left they added this fun photo spot.
How many family attractions can say they have outdoor hand washing stations? The Tuckerton Seaport does. My teens had a little fun singing and dancing when he stopped to wash his hands.
Enjoy a cruise on the Tuckerton-LBI Ferry
The Tuckerton Seaport-LBI Ferry is running Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays, 8 am – 8 pm. It’s a great way to experience the best of Tuckerton staycations. You can have the calm and relaxation that comes with a boat ride into LBI. Then, enjoy all the touristy things to do in LBI, before coming back on a sunset cruise into Tuckerton Creek. You’ll love seeing the sunset onthe water and I think your kids will too.
Book a reservation for the Tuckerton-LBI Ferry at the Tuckerton Seaport website.
Learn as you sail in a the Floating Classroom
As you sail between Tuckerton and LBI a knowledgeable intern will lead your cruise with an interesting and engaging lesson. You can expect to learn about Tuckerton’s history, the wildlife of the area, and more.
Collect tickets and prizes in the Fantasy Island Arcade
Who doesn’t love collecting tickets? At the Fantasy Island Arcade you can rack up the tickets without overflowing your pockets. Tickets are stored on a Fantasy Island game card that you can reload to earn even more tickets. Skeeball, Wheel of Fortune, and Deal or No Deal are just a few of the arcade games offering tickets.
Plan on it being hard to get your kids to resist the crane games. But I wouldn’t worry too much. As hard as those crane machines can be, my boys still managed to collect 4 Pop figures in less than 30 minutes time. My husband won a plush.
Test your luck at Boardwalk-style Games
When you’re on a Tuckerton staycation you don’t need a boardwalk to play boardwalk games. Outside of the Fantasy Island arcade are boardwalk games. To keep things safe and avoid money having to exchange hands, guests can load up credits on a Fantasy Island game card and use that to play classic boardwalk games like Balloon Race, Hot Shot, Knock ‘Em Down, and more.
Want a little tip? Have your kids all play the Balloon Race against each other, when no one else is playing. This way you’re guaranteed someone from the family will win. ;-)
Ride the rides
Fantasy Island Amusement Park has just enough rides to fill a late afternoon or evening of fun. Ride hours are daily from 5 pm to 11 pm. If you’re taking the Tuckerton-LBI Ferry, you can ride the rides for an hour or so before heading back to catch the 7 pm ferry back to Tuckerton.
We found most of the rides were best for younger children, but there were still some that my teens found enjoyable. Sea Dragon, bumper cars, Hang Ten, and Lighthouse Launch were among their favorites.
I especially appreciated the efforts by staff to keep guests safe. When there were lines, guests maintained a safe distance between each other and staff took time between rides to clean used seats.
Shop Bay Village
Want to shop a candy store for old fashioned candy? Perhaps cool off with homemade ice cream? Shop Bay Village, right in the center of town, and as you come off the Tuckerton Seaport-LBI Ferry. Support small local businesses while picking up some great souvenirs from your Tuckerton staycation.
See how fudge is made
Yummy! Yummy! If you’re craving fudge on your Tuckerton staycation stop by the Country Kettle Fudge Shop. If you time your shopping right you may even see the employees making a fresh batch.
Take home a hermit crab
For some families it’s not truly a trip to the Jersey Shore unless you bring home a hermit crab. If that’s true for your family the toy shop in Bay Village sells hermit crabs and shells for hermit crabs that have outgrown their current shell.
Fly a kite
Across from the shops of Bay Village is a decent-sized field that would be perfect for flying a kite. Don’t have a kite? Pick up one from the toy store in Bay Village. On the second floor, they have a great collection of kites with all kinds of beautiful designs.
Play on a playground
Both Tuckerton and Beach Haven offer playgrounds for kids. In Beach Haven, there’s a playground at Bay Village. It’s located right between the water and the parking lot.
While the Tuckerton Seaport playground is closed there are two other playgrounds open in Tuckerton. The closest playground to the Tuckerton Seaport is the Stanley H Tip Seaman County Park off of Main Street. You can read our Stanley H Tip Seaman County Park review.
Not too far from the Seaman County Park is the Bass River Park. You can also read our review of Bass River Park. Both parks offer playground equipment, plenty of parking, and walking trails.
Fish off a Tuckerton Pier
Catherine, our host at the J. D. Thompson Inn, pointed us to a few different places residents and guests can go fishing in Tuckerton. One of those fishing spots in Tuckerton is the South Green Street Park located at the end of South Green on the Great Bay. It’s been recently renovated to include a 60 feet fishing pier extending out into the bay and 60 feet across for a great fishing experience. There’s even a small playground for kids or areas where you can sit along the water.
Even if you’re not into fishing, stop by for a bit. There were so many birds to see and watch that I would have been disappointed to miss it.
Swim at the beach
Tuckerton isn’t known for its beaches but they do exist. Ask the locals or your host where you stay for their recommendations and directions. Catherine pointed us to this beach. I believe it’s Parkertown beach on Dock Street in Tuckerton.
Parkertown beach was quiet on our visit. We didn’t see any lifeguards, but the few guests we did see had beach tags. If you’re staying at a bed and breakfast ask if they include beach tags with your stay. J. D. Thompson Inn does.
Hike a nature trail
Part nature trail, part scavenger hunt, take a walk through the Tuckerton Seaport Nature Trail. It’s a short little hike that kids will enjoy. In addition to catching nature in action hikers will also see unique things like this snow family. Check with the Tuckerton Seaport to get a copy of the scavenger hunt.
Don’t end your Tuckerton staycation without taking some time to walk around town and explore. There’s gift shops and eateries located along Tuckerton’s Main Street. We even found this fun mural outside one of the businesses.
Drive a scenic drive
I had no idea the Tuckerton area had a wildlife drive. It was one of the nuggets Catherine from J.D. Thompson Inn shared with me and I am so glad she did.
Great Bay Boulevard is a narrow two-lane road that was the beginning of a never-built causeway to the shore to connect to Atlantic City. The road provides access to a great sweep of salt marsh, with opportunities for fishing, bird-watching or just staring at the expanse of grass and water. On a good day you can see sandpipers, willets, plovers, yellowlegs, oyster catchers, black skimmers, and ospreys and more.
Great Bay Boulevard is not far from the Tuckerton Seaport. It is at an intersection with Route 9 in Tuckerton. The drive goes down for a few miles, crossing over several bodies of water, before ending at the Rutgers University Marine Field Station. Learn more here.
Where to eat in Tuckerton
Kids get hungry, so do adults. You can’t run from activity to activity on your Tuckerton staycation without fueling up. Here are a few places we tried with our kids and feel we could recommend. Staff at all of these restaurants wore masks and kept tables 6 feet or more away from each other. These Tuckerton area restaurants also offered outdoor dining.
Family-friendly restaurants in Tuckerton
The Union Market
When it comes to a quick meal it doesn’t get any easier than the Union Market. The Union Market has outdoor dining and take out options. Grab some somethings and snacks and bring them with you for your Tuckerton-LBI Ferry ride. You can even order online and have it ready when you get there. Check out The Union Market menu for breakfast, lunch, or anything in between.
The Grapevine Restaurant
The Grapevine Restaurant, just down the road from the Tuckerton Seaport, is located at 364 East Main Street in Tuckerton. They offer outdoor dining, take out, and delivery. With everything from pizza to lobster there’s sure to be something on the menu everyone will enjoy. Learn more at The Grapevine Restaurant website.
Family-friendly restaurants in LBI
Bird & Betty’s Restaurant
Bird & Betty’s Restaurant is located at 529 Dock Road in Beach Haven, a few blocks down from where the Tuckerton-LBI Ferry docks. It’s available for meals from breakfast to dinner and with outdoor dining that overlooks the water you just can’t beat the views. Check out the Bird & Betty’s Restaurant menu on their website.
3 Places to stay on your Tuckerton Staycation
On our most recent Tuckerton staycation, we stayed at J.D. Thompson Inn, a bed and breakfast. On previous trips we’ve camped in cabins at Tuckerton campgrounds.
J.D. Thompson Inn
The J. D. Thompson Inn Bed and Breakfast is located in the heart of Tuckerton. It’s so close to the Tuckerton Seaport you can walk to it and that’s just what we did. We left our car in the Inn’s lot and walked back and forth to the Seaport during our Tuckerton staycation. It was wonderful to have a cool, comfortable place to come back to after a particularly hot weekend in Tuckerton.
While most of the J.D. Thompson Inn’s rooms are designed for a romantic getaway, they do have a suite that’s perfect for families. There were two beds in the bedroom and one of my teens slept on one of two couches in the living room space. There’s even a pack and play in the closet for families with little ones.
Stays at the Inn include homemade breakfast in the morning and snacks are available during the day in a community fridge. Not only is the property beautiful with plenty of common space for guests to relax and socially distance, but Catherine (one of the owners) is extremely knowledgeable about the area. It was Catherine that clued me into the beach and wildlife drive.
Learn more about the J. D. Thompson Inn and book your visit through their website.
Sea Pirate Campground
We last visited the Sea Pirate Campground during a Tuckerton Staycation in 2013. It was the perfect place to experience camping for the first time. We stayed in a deluxe cabin which offered a bit of the comforts of home while also the setting of a campsite. You can learn more about our experience in our Sea Pirate Campground review.
Bakers Acres Campground
In 2014, we stayed at the Bakers Acres campground for another Tuckerton staycation. During this camping trip we stayed in the two floor, Blue Cabin. The extra space gave us more room to spread out.
The downstairs level has a minikitchen, living room, and small room for the kids. The upstairs area is a spacious loft with a queen mattress. Cooking can either be done in the microwave or outside on the gas grill or campfire, so no matter how you want to cook (if you want to cook) you have options. Learn more in our Bakers Acres Campground review.
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Want more ideas for NJ Staycations?
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Monday 3rd of August 2020
Within walking distance of the Seaport you can also visit the Tuckerton Emporium, a fine shop filled with antiques and newer items such as women's clothing, and some very good eating options including the Dockside Cafe! A very pretty town!