Once again I wanted to enjoy the shore, without shore prices, and checked into Turtle Run Campground in Egg Harbor City, NJ. It was a half hour drive to Long Beach Island, which beat my over 2 hr commute from home. I knew that I would be able to find other things to do in the area to make it worth the trip, so I booked one of their “blast to the past” campers and made the best of it. No bathroom in the trailer, but the walk to one was short, and I was grateful for the air conditioning. The campground also offers tent sites, cabins, a pool, and a grill/deli for about $90/night, but I had scooped up a Groupon offer for maybe $65/night, which may also explain our old camper.
Our time on the beach was pleasant because we chose a non tourist spot close to Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, which also meant it was free. We couldn’t swim in the ocean, unless we wanted to die, but we were o.k. with that. It was a relaxing afternoon filled with the sound of the waves, a packed lunch, and a few naps. I was happy we got to see “Old Barney”, a historic lighthouse in the park located on the tip of Long Beach Island. On it’s 150th anniversary, the lighthouse activated its beacon for the first time since before World War II. It now runs from dusk til dawn, and is open to the public from Memorial Day through Labor Day for $3/person 12 and up…if you can climb the 217 steps to the top you are rewarded with vast views of Long Beach Island, Barnegat Bay, Island Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean. The park also offers a picnic area, bird watching, fishing, and a Interpretive Center with maritime history displays.
The next day we stopped by Historic Smithville. The original Smithville Inn was built in 1787, but the 60 shops in town were built only within the last 60 years. It’s a quaint setting along Lake Meone, offering a variety of goods, places to eat, and amusements for all ages. There is a small train and a carousel to ride, both for $2/person…and paddle boats with a pretty view of the surrounding shops at a steep $15/half hr. No idea why, but there are free roaming chickens, which somehow add to the charm of the prettily landscaped grounds. Cobblestone pathways and a footbridge bring you back in time, while The Fan Cave and Totally Tiki plant you firmly in today’s world.
On the last day I looked up “alpaca farms” in the area, since I am slightly obsessed with them, and was rewarded with the gem Silver Fox Farms. I called ahead to make sure someone would be there, and the owner Ralph told us to come on over. He was so sweet, letting us feed and pet the “Pacas” to our hearts content. I explained we had been to over a half dozen alpaca farms so far, and his was one of the best, with some of the friendliest fur babies we had the pleasure to be around. He had a small shop set up with home made goods, and told us about a few events he attends in the area, as well as hosting their own Barn Fest on site. I would visit them every week if I could, and secretly wish I could have my own alpaca farm one day.