Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Ocean County, NJ

  • Published 2022/08/07

The stunning Ocean County in New Jersey gives you the best of both worlds: the beach and the city.

You can enjoy everything from surfing to shopping to fine dining in the county’s top attractions.

Whether looking for a simple getaway or an exciting vacation, you’ll have the time of your lives here.

Ocean County is on the Jersey Shore, known for its beautiful beaches, perfect for swimming or sunbathing.

If you’re searching for an experience that’s a little more thrilling, you might want to think about paddling a board down the rivers or visiting one of the lighthouses.

If you’re searching for something more historic, visit the museums or join a guided tour through one of its historical sites.

Buckle up and discover these things to do in Ocean County.

Spot a Whale at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

Daytime view of Barnegat Lighthouse

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The Barnegat Lighthouse is the oldest working lighthouse in New Jersey and is a great place to visit.

Built in 1835, the lighthouse has served as a beacon for more than 170 years.

This lighthouse in Ocean County is one of the essential navigational sites for ships going into and out of New York Harbor.

Welcome sign of Barnegat Lighthouse State Park

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It’s right next door to the Atlantic Ocean.

If you visit during the summer or early fall, there’s a good chance you’ll see whales off in the distance.

You can also find a trail approximately a fifth of a mile long along the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park.

The top of the Barnegat Lighthouse

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Enjoy Quiet Time at the Ocean County Library

The opportunity to visit an almost century-old library is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.

If you’re in Ocean County, New Jersey, stop by the Ocean County Library, a hidden gem.

The Ocean County Library is an outstanding facility that provides its users with various resources and services.

This library has everything from free internet access to over a million volumes of books, audiobooks, eBooks, music, and more!

They have a massive collection of DVDs that both kids and adults can borrow.

In 1925, the Ocean County Library first opened its doors to the public.

Celebrate Milestones at Artisan’s Restaurant and Brewery

Have you ever heard of a brewery hosting parties and events for people from all walks of life?

This is Artisan’s Restaurant & Brewery in Toms River, a brewpub in Ocean County known for its excellent German, English, and American-style beers.

They also serve a wide range of menus perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, including steak, pizza, and seafood.

They offer a kiddie lunch if you’re bringing your kids, which includes chicken, pasta, pizza, and cheesy treats.

In 1997, Basil Togna initially launched the place as Basil T’s Brew Pub.

In 2009, they changed the name to Artisan’s Restaurant & Brewery.

The brewery produces 10,000 barrels annually.

It’s open for parties, birthdays, baptisms, anniversaries, private or corporate celebrations.

Stop by the Ocean County Courthouse

Exterior of the Ocean County Courthouse

James Welsh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Ocean County Courthouse is one of the best places to visit if you’re interested in learning about the past of Ocean County.

This historic building opened its doors in 1851.

In 1981, the New Jersey Register of Historic Places added it to the record.

Hudson County inspired the 1851 architectural style of this structure.

The structure of the courthouse is remarkable.

It is made of brick, has three stories, and has lofty windows and a flat roof.

Visitors can enter the Ocean County Courthouse and wander its chambers, adorned with historical relics and original works of art.

Go on a Nature Adventure at Bass River State Forest

Ocean County is home to several stunning state forests, including the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, known for its expansiveness and natural beauty.

Since you are already here, you might as well make a full day of it if you can.

The Lebanon State Forest, the second-largest state forest in New Jersey, was the previous name for this woodland area.

Many different hiking trails will take you through other plant communities, giving you a deeper understanding of each one.

The Mount Misery Track is a multi-use track that runs through the forest, and mountain biking is allowed on the trail.

Spend the day at the Bass River State Forest!

Enter the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest

Welcome sign of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest

Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ocean County is home to many stunning state forests, including the Brendan T. Byrne State Forest, known for its expansiveness and natural beauty.

This woodland area used to go by the name Lebanon State Forest, the second-largest state forest in New Jersey.

Forest trail at Brendan T. Byrne State Forest

Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Numerous hiking trails will lead you through a variety of plant groups, allowing you to have a better understanding of each one.

You can go mountain biking on the Mount Misery Track, a multi-use trail located in the forest.

The waters of Brendan T. Byrne State Forest

Famartin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spot Native Species at Cattus Island County Park

Cattus Island County Park is a passive recreation park with over 500 acres in Ocean County.

The Cooper Environmental Center on Cattus Island maintains collections of native species, including birds, reptiles, and aquatic organisms.

The center hosts educational programs and talks that are open to the general public and organized groups.

Even though Cattus Island Park is a maritime forest, it is home to many of the same native plant and animal species as Pine Barrens.

The Cattus Island County Park also features a freshwater wetland.

Hardwood trees, such as Red Maple, Black Gum, and many more, predominate in these marshy environments.

Another thriving habitat in the area is a sizable salt marsh with numerous Spartina grass types.

Follow the Nature Trail at Double Trouble State Park

Cranberry bogs at Double Trouble State Park

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There are many things to do in New Jersey.

However, the one that stands out is the Double Trouble Nature Trail.

The trail is a 1.5-mile loop in Lacey and Berkeley Townships in Ocean County.

It gets its name from the Double Trouble company town that once occupied this space.

Cranberry farming and processing once thrived at what is now known as the Double Trouble Historical Village.

Due to its importance in agriculture and industry, the National Register of Historic Places added it to the record in 1978.

Cedar Creek runs through the Double Trouble State Park, providing water for cranberry culture and wildlife animals that live there.

Catch a Glimpse of the Bayville Dinosaur

The Bayville Dinosaur is a historical landmark in Berkeley Township in Ocean County.

The Bayville Dinosaur has sat in front of the Heritage Square Building since the early 1930s as a prominent roadside landmark.

Even after more than a century, it is still an imposing statue that exudes noble pride.

After seeing the Bayville Dinosaur, head to other Berkeley attractions offering many different activities for guests.

You can even check out some local restaurants or grab a bite at one of the many diners and cafes that line Route 9 South.

Join a Street Party at the Asbury Park Boardwalk

Shops at Asbury Park Boardwalk

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What comes to your mind when you think of Ocean County?

The Asbury Park Boardwalk should be at the top of that list.

This is the go-to venue for once-in-a-lifetime entertainment, local and international shopping, restaurants, and refreshing drinks.

Welcome sign of Asbury Park Boardwalk on top of the convention hall

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It offers fantastic food, shops, nightlife, and one of the best musical performances in the world.

You can enjoy all these things while admiring the sea scenery and vivid artwork.

You will never have time to grow bored at the boardwalk because there is always something exciting to see or do.

Due to the abundance of shops and eateries along the Asbury Park Boardwalk, you can spend the entire day exploring everything.

Asbury Park Boardwalk's iconic carousel

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Join a Mini Cruise with Pirate Adventures Jersey Shore

It’s time to set sail and explore Ocean County!

Since 1991, Pirate Adventures has led groups of people of varying ages on thrilling expeditions.

Dressing up and getting one’s face painted are two activities on their fleet of family-owned children’s party boats.

These boats take children of all ages on short rides.

Prepare yourself for treasure-hunting activities while the ship is at sea.

Once you step off the ship, you will leave with an experience of a lifetime.

Bask in the Sun at Island Beach State Park

People enjoying the sun at Island Beach State Park

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visiting the serene Island Beach State Park is essential if you’re seeking to unwind in Ocean County.

The beach in New Jersey lets get your feet wet in various ways.

It has become a popular destination for people who enjoy the water.

In addition to paddling a kayak, you can also try swimming, fishing, and surfing at Island Beach State Park.

Boardwalk of Island Beach State Park

Famartin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tens of thousands of species, including falcons and wading birds, make their home in this state park.

The park is the most extensive natural barrier island reserve in New Jersey and is among the most comprehensive in the United States.

The beach offers a variety of amenities, including restrooms, a changing room, and a first aid station.

Campers at Island Beach State Park

Gaurav Pandit, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Adopt a Pet at Popcorn Park Animal Refuge

When you think of Ocean County, you probably don’t think of a safari.

However, Popcorn Park Animal Refuge is more than just an animal shelter.

Founded in 1977, this massive sanctuary provides a permanent home for abandoned animals and birds.

Later, they turned it into a sanctuary home for over 200 species of animals and birds.

These animals receive enough living space and care for their whole lives.

It soon became home to exotics and farm animals who suffered abandonment or abuse at the hands of humans.

Today, Popcorn Park Animal Refuge is open to the public for tours every day and hosts special events throughout the year.

While looking for a new pet to adopt, you can also stop by their gift store or cafe.

Appreciate Local Wine at Laurita Winery

The Laurita Winery in Plumsted Township, New Jersey, may not be the first place you think of when looking for a fun day trip.

But it should be!

This vineyard was once a dairy farm, but now it has become one of the largest wineries in New Jersey.

This winery in Ocean County welcomed customersfor the first time in 2008.

The Laurita Winery grows around ten grape varieties, including Cabernet Franc and Pinot Gris.

Since they are the only winery in New Jersey that creates dairy-based wines, they also specialize in making fruit wines from strawberries and milk.

In addition to its natural splendor, this paradise also allows guests to dine and ride horses.

Go Kayaking at Lavallette

Aerial view of Lavallette

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You may find a little village called Lavallette north of Seaside Heights.

If you are looking for a seaside village famous for its peace and magnificent surroundings, this is an excellent place to go.

This little village is home to a stunning beach and bay, both of which are within easy walking distance.

Gorgeous sunset over Lavallette

Tetyana Ohare /

Visitors during the summer months have the opportunity to fish, kayak, swim, and even boat while they are here.

Besides allowing space for strolling, jogging, or bicycling, the Lavallette boardwalk offers stunning landscape vistas beyond the dunes.

Scenic sunrise at Lavallette

Tetyana Ohare /

Final Thoughts

Ocean County is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking areas in New Jersey.

This part of Ocean County is home to several lakes, sandy beaches, and forested areas.

Both its people and the food have received a lot of praise for their exceptional attributes.

Make this place your next travel destination.

Book your trip today and discover the best things to do in Ocean County!

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