While COVID-19 seriously impacted almost every business in our state in some way, not everything was negative. With beaches and public parks being temporarily closed, and most people confined to their homes, a few offbeat outdoor attractions still thrived.
We traveled to the Jersey Shore to find some of these unique activities that you may not have heard of!
We’ve all seen those old rusty train tracks alongside major roads and highways, collecting dust and weeds from years of unuse. Well, Revolution Rail Company, in partnership with Cape May Seashore Lines, has found the perfect way to repurpose them – let us introduce, railbiking!
A railbike is a bike fitted with special attachments that allows it to ride on railroad tracks. This particular railbike trek runs for four miles along the old Cape May Seashore Lines (formerly the Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines).
One thing I wasn’t expecting was the mini-history lesson that came along with the two-hour trip. As we started on our guided peddle-adventure we passed two rusted freight cars littered with graffiti and were told some of the history of the rail line and its many changes over the years. We learned that most recently Tony Macrie leased the tracks in 1996 and for a short while this particular track was up and running. After several unfortunate events, a ton of vandalization along with an assist from maybe the biggest culprit, Mother Nature, the track was unusable.
That is until Tony’s team collaborated with Revolution Rail Co. In 2020, they cleaned up this piece of New Jersey history and brought us Cape May’s hottest new attraction.
The ride was easy (at least with 3 of us peddling) and certainly family-friendly.
The first half of our trip ended at the Cape May Canal, which was constructed during World War II to provide a protected route to avoid German U-boats.
Our guide told us how disappointing it was that the draw bridge at the canal couldn’t be repaired. (If it had been, our tour could have gone on for many more miles!)
On our way back we were in for another treat – The Nature Conservancy ashnd The Garrett Family Preserve. Here we learned that Cape May is a hub for migration and marveled at the swarms of butterflies, birds, and bees around us. We had 15 minutes to soak in the beauty of Mother Nature and we didn’t waste a second.
That ended our first railbiking experience, and my only complaint is that I wish we could’ve crossed that draw bridge and continued on!
Now for the cutest stop on our Jersey Shore adventure – Jersey Shore Alpacas!
We were greeted by Tish, one of the owners, for our very own private tour…right in their BACKYARD! Yes, 18 alpacas living on the small farm behind their Cape May home.
She filled us in on the rules, instructed us to wash our hands (alpacas are sensitive to hand sanitizer) and filled our aprons to the brim with carrots.
The males and females were in two different sections, and the first up was the boys. Just like us, alpacas have their own personalities. We listened to Tish as she let us know which one doesn’t like to be petted, another that doesn’t play well with others and which ones can get aggressive and are prone to spit. (Did you know that alpacas spit to keep others from their food? Let’s just say I was targeted.) As cute as they are, these are big, strong animals weighing anywhere from 100-190 lbs. and some looking at you eye level, so we were sure to follow Tish’s instructions carefully.
I fell in love with Oliver at first sight. He looked like the movie star of the group with big brown eyes, long thick eyelashes, and the face of a stuffed animal – alpaca perfection.
Next, we met the females, fell in love a couple more times and doled out the rest of our carrot snacks. We then checked out their shop, which had authentic alpaca clothes, scarfs, and keepsakes (most of which do not come from their own alpacas). I’m not sure I’ve ever felt softer material.
If you’re an animal lover, Jersey Shore Alpacas is a MUST!
When COVID-19 halted owner Brian Toner’s event production job, he and his wife Jennifer decided to fulfill a dream of theirs: to own their very own tiki bar and spend their days cruising the Jersey Shore waters.
Pau Hana is a Hawaiian phrase meaning “finished work.” It generally refers to the practice of leaving work early on Friday to start the weekend.
After seeing similar tiki boats on Caribbean vacations, they knew they had to bring this concept to the Jersey Shore, and what better place than Ocean City, a dry shore town (although they are docked in Somers Point).
We visited with Brian, his two female captains and checked out the coolest ride in town.
This is not your typical water vehicle. A giant tiki bar sits in the center of the 26-foot boat and comfortably fits six guests (it looks like it can fit 20). You’ll need to supply your own booze but they’ll handle the rest, and you can even get it catered.
They offer over eight different cruises, most of which are two hours long, including a Secret Island Tour that you’ll have to check out for yourself!
The Pau Hana team considers “Every Day A Party” and it’s easy to see why.