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How to enjoy the New Jersey coast without actually being there

How to enjoy the New Jersey coast without actually being there
How to enjoy the New Jersey coast without actually being there

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Can’t make it to the New Jersey shore this summer?

Maybe you don’t have a vacation. Or maybe you want to save money. Or maybe you’re just fed up with traffic.

Whatever the reason, just because you’re not on the coast doesn’t mean you can’t feel like you’re at the beach.

There are many ways to relax at the beach in North Jersey, from relaxing on the lakeshore to having a Netflix party on the beach. Here are some of our favorites.

Swimming in a lake

Many state parks and forests in North Jersey offer beaches where you can relax, unwind, and swim on a beautiful summer day.

Wawayanda State Park

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can swim on Wawayanda Lake’s beautiful white sand beach. The lake is open for swimming and recreation Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. You can also enjoy boating and fishing on the 255-acre lake; boats are available for rent near the beach. There is a picnic area on the north shore of the lake.

Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends and holidays for New Jersey residents; $10 and $20 for non-residents. Facilities are partially handicap accessible.

Go: 885 Warwick Turnpike, Hewitt; 973-853-4462, www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/wawayandastatepark.html

Hopatcong State Park

Hopatcong State Park is home to Lake Hopatcong and Lake Musconetcong. The stunning park also offers a picnic area with grills – perfect for a barbecue.

During the summer, swimmers can enjoy the 2,500-acre Lake Hopatcong while lifeguards are on duty. The lake is also open for fishing and boating. Many different boats are permitted on the lake, including jet skis, powerboats, and sailboats. Boats can be rented from the many private marinas on the lake. Lake Musconetcong is also popular for boating and fishing.

Fees: $6 weekdays, $10 weekends and holidays for New Jersey residents; $10 and $20 for non-residents. Facilities are partially handicap accessible.

Go: 260 Lakeside Blvd., Landing; 973-398-7010, www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/hopatcongstatepark.html

High Point State Park is a national park with a population of 1,600 and an elevation of 1,200 m.

Located at the top of Kittatinny Ridge in Wantage, High Point State Park is the perfect place for swimming and picnicking. Swimmers can enjoy Lake Marcia in the summer months, with picnic tables and charcoal grills located next to the beach. Boats are not permitted on the 20-acre Lake Marcia, but can be used on nearby Sawmill Lake and Steenykill Lake.

Fees: $5 weekdays, $10 weekends and holidays for New Jersey residents; $10 and $20 for non-residents. Facilities are partially handicap accessible.

Go: 1480 Route 23, Wantage; 973-875-4800, www.nj.gov/dep/parksandforests/parks/highpointstatepark.html

Bahama Breeze (multiple locations)

From Paramus to Wayne, Bahama Breeze brings the beach to many different North Jersey towns. The chain offers a variety of tropical cocktails and Caribbean cuisine with occasional live music. The decor of these restaurants transports you right to the beach.

Try this: The beef empanadas appetizer consists of four crispy pastries filled with spicy beef and potatoes, served with spicy sour cream and pineapple chutney.

Go: Several locations

Lola’s Waterfront Tex-Mex Restaurant

This lakefront restaurant in Hopatcong, NJ serves authentic Mexican cuisine with stunning views of Lake Hopatcong. With regular live music, Friday night karaoke, and delicious food, Lola’s is the perfect place to relax on a summer evening.

Try this: Lola’s Combo offers a satisfying mix of flavors: The combo includes grilled flank steak, chicken breast and garlic shrimp with Mexican rice and beans.

Go: 300 Lakeside Ave., Hopatcong; 973-264-4231, www.eatlolasnow.com

Surf City

This waterfront bar and grill in Jersey City offers beautiful views of Manhattan amidst a beach-themed decor. With its own tropical frozen drink bar and a menu filled with seafood, Surf City is a great restaurant to enjoy a warm summer night.

Try this: Both the hot and cold lobster rolls are highly recommended for their generous portion of fresh Maine lobster and their sweet, yet slightly salty flavor. The cold lobster roll is served with celery and herb aioli; both dishes come with coleslaw and French fries on the side.

Go: 1 Marin Blvd., Jersey City; 201-516-9000, surfcitybar.com

Take a towel or a beach chair out to your backyard or a local park and top up your tan on a sunny day while enjoying a beach read. There are plenty of beach reads set in New Jersey to choose from, including In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume and Palisades Park by Alan Brennert. Other popular beach reads this year include Beach Read by Emily Henry and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

The warm lighting and coastal setting of shows like Outer Banks transport viewers straight to a beach vacation, all from the comfort of their own home. Popular beach-themed shows include The Summer I Turned Pretty, The White Lotus, and The Durrells. All of these shows are available on streaming services. The following shows are a great way to de-stress while enjoying the Jersey Shore scene on screen.

‘Jersey Shore’

The infamous long-running reality TV show Jersey Shore is perfect for a relaxing evening at home. Seasons one, three, five and six are set in the bustling seaside town of Seaside Heights and follow the lives of eight dysfunctional roommates as they work, party and fight with each other. You can watch the show for free on Pluto TV.

“Boardwalk Empire”

Set in Atlantic City, this historical crime drama tells the story of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, a historical figure who rose to notoriety as a major political power during the Prohibition era. The five-season series stars Steve Buscemi and is produced by Emmy Award winner Terence Winter, who also produced The Sopranos. You can stream the series on HBO Max.

Take part in local water sports

Paddling, jet skiing and kayaking are popular coastal activities that can be enjoyed for free or for a small fee in North Jersey. In addition to state parks, these activities can be enjoyed in many other places in North Jersey.

Hoboken Cove Community Boathouse

This nonprofit community boathouse in a protected cove of the Hudson River offers free kayaking, paddling, and canoeing, including short lessons, on select days during the summer. It also regularly hosts longer boating lessons, kayaking tours of the Hudson River, and environmental education events. Minors must be accompanied by an adult and basic swimming skills are required.

Go: 1100 Sinatra Dr. N., Hoboken; 917-426-4652, hobokencoveboathouse.org

Cost: Free

Overpeck County Park

Paddling on the calm Overpeck Creek is a perfect choice for beginners. The Hackensack Riverkeeper rents paddleboards, kayaks and canoes and offers paddling lessons from mid-May through October; the park has a boat ramp for people who own their own boats. The Hackensack Riverkeeper also hosts special boating events at other locations throughout the summer, including moonlight and equinox boat tours. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Aside from water sports, Overpeck County Park, which spans five Bergen County communities, offers beautiful scenery and is the ideal place for fishing, biking or picnicking.

Go: County Rt. 33, Leonia; 201-957-3085, hackensackriverkeeper.org/paddling

Cost: $30 per person for 2 hours; additional $10 for each additional hour

Monksville Reservoir

Paddlers on Monksville Reservoir enjoy a large, tranquil paddling area surrounded by partially flooded forest. Flatwater Paddle Co. offers kayaks and paddleboards for rental on the reservoir. Minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to rent. Additionally, boat ramps are available for those who own their own boat. The reservoir is also popular with anglers due to the large and diverse fish species that live there. Monksville Reservoir is also occasionally used by the SEAS Bergen Chapter, which offers a free one-year membership that includes basic sailing lessons, and the US Sailing Association.

Go: 1081 Greenwood Lake Turnpike, Ringwood; 347-878-7304, flatwaterpaddle.co/monksville-reservoir/rentals/

Cost: Varies by hour; $25 per boat for one hour

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