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Things to do in Tom's River

    Ocean County Historical Society Ocean County Historical Society Tom's River, New Jersey
    The Ocean County Historical Society in Tom's River, New Jersey began in 1950, when some of the residents who had a strong interest in creating a museum, got together and formed the society with Dr. Joshua Hilliard being selected as the first president. The society started holding meetings wherever they were welcome, throughout the county, gathering ideas and information that could be used for their society. It would be Pauline S. Miller, a local historian in Tom's River that proposed a need for the society to have a museum to preserve as much historical memorabilia and information as they could possibly gather, and soon, the museum became a reality with Pauline becoming the first director. More than half a century later, that museum is housed in a marvelous old Victorian house in Tom's River, the society today, continues with the original mission that was started so long ago; which is simply, telling the stories of Ocean County. The society's museum and research center would grow in numerous stages, with the first beginning sometime before 1820, when the historical house that is resides in was first built, with one room on the first floor that is used to hold the kitchen and curator's office, and the upstairs room used for storage of the collections of relics. In 1840, the owners decided that they needed more space for their family, so an addition was put on, which was a big room downstairs and another upstairs, with the downstairs room being used today as a Victorian dining room and the upstairs room being used as a craft room and museum's workroom. In 1868, Captain Samuel V. Pierson, a ship's captain, bought the house and the next year he would add the front part of the house, which was divided into 3 bedrooms upstairs, a front and rear parlor and a marvelous grand stairway. The downstairs rooms have become the music room and parlor, with the upstairs rooms being used as the Jeffrey childs room, the Haywood-Brown bedroom and the Morris schoolroom. The society had outgrown the space it had in the old courthouse, so the board of chosen freeholders decided a new administration building should be constructed on the east side of Hooper Avenue, by the corner of Washington Street. That would necessitate the removal of three houses, but one of those was the Pierson-Sculthorp House, which was owned by the Sculthorp sisters, although sold to the society at auction for just $1. John Birdsall had a piece of land, directly behind the house, donated the land, and so plans were made to move the house from the auction there. In 1973, the museum was dedicated, a prayer offered and music played by a band dressed in Colonial clothing. Over the years, the museum and the society have continued to grow and receive donations and other artifacts and memorabilia that has improved the status of the museum and today it is well worth visiting and learning about the history that has changed the county and city.

    Insectropolis, The Bugseum of New Jersey
    Insectropolis Tom's River, New Jersey
    The Insectropolis in Tom's River, New Jersey is filled with thousands of bugs, both beautiful and bizarre from all across the globe, where visitors can learn, discover and view these interesting and hard working insects as they move about doing what they need to do to survive and thrive in a world filled with gigantic monsters. You can come here and play bug games on their interactive touch screens, watch termites as they go about demolishing anything wooden, or ants running in all directions, seemingly lost, although after some period of watching, a disciplined routine is discovered. Get up close to a beehive and watch their antics or just walk around spying at the lives that these tiny creatures enjoy. You are invited and encouraged to touch the bugs available, like the millipede, cockroach, tarantula and scorpion, with more than a dozen exhibits that will bring you and your family a surprising joy. Their exhibits include; the insectropolis zoo, Bug University, the mud tube, unique physique, hive airport, caterpillar cafe, battle zone, creepy tavern, rock state prison, bugseum, WBUG radio and the rubber tree power plant. It is a fun time for the whole family, one that won't be soon forgotten and one where you can learn to appreciate the many marvels and contributions that bugs do for us in "our" world.

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Tom's River Budget Car Rentals - 1639 Hwy. 37 E. 
Budget Car Rental Howell - 4594 Rt. 9 S.
Wall Budget Rental Cars
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Budget Car Rentals Ocean - 3320 Doris Ave. 

    Cattus Island County ParkCattus Island County Park Tom's River, New Jersey
    The Cattus Island County Park in Tom's River, New Jersey is one of those beautiful natural environments located along the Jersey coastline that invite visitors to come and enjoy the many outstanding opportunities to become involved with all the natural resources, wildlife and birds that live and thrive in this magnificent place. Sitting on 500 acres, with many miles of trails, and the marvelous Silver Bay, it is where the Cooper Environmental Center is located, where visitors of all ages can come and view the many interesting and exciting exhibits of reptiles and snakes. There are many opportunities to partake of educational classes and presentations that include the Junior Naturalist that inspires young people to become more involved in their surroundings and try out the numerous hands-on activities. The park has just recently finished their butterfly garden that is always a most enjoyable and peaceful environment allowing visitors the chance to watch these beautiful creatures in a natural habitat. There is fishing, nature trails, crabbing, birding, playgrounds, outstanding scenic overlooks, a boardwalk through the elaborate wetlands, a conservation area, cross country skiing in the winter, restrooms and an environmental site.  The longest trail, is the island loop that follows the interior track along parts of the coastline and is 2.2 miles, a great way to enjoy the natural sights and scenes and enjoy some excellent outdoor exercise. The shortest is a .4 mile jaunt that is called the Swamp Crossing short cut and offers excellent views of the swamp flora and fauna that can be found on the island. The secluded park is one of those less congested areas along the coast that offer many quiet opportunities to enjoy nature in all her splendor with swamps, pine forest and salt marshes that remains mostly undisturbed by human traffic. It is mainly a pedestrian area, with over five miles of marked trails, and many places for those that would rather travel by bike. The environmental center contains more than 5000 square feet of exhibits and displays, along with a library, 80 seat meeting room and the park's restrooms. The exhibits are regularly updated so that if you come very often, you'll always learn something new. The island is mostly a jutting peninsula that flows out into the bay waters of central Ocean County. 

    New Jersey Wildlife and Game Refuge Area
    New Jersey Wildlife and Game Refuge Area Ocean County, New Jersey
    The New Jersey Wildlife and Game Refuge in Ocean County, New Jersey is home to a magnificent recreational area that encourages the region's citizens to come here and enjoy the outstanding opportunities to enjoy nature and its wildlife in a naturally protected refuge. It contains areas for camping, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, rafting, nature viewing, beaches, horse trails, mountain biking, salt and fresh water fishing, historic sites, children's activities, off-road vehicles, big game hunting, boat launch and boating, kayaking, canoeing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowboarding and much more. The area is full of gorgeous trails that showcase all the flora and fauna, as well as outstanding areas of natural forests, swamps, wetlands, forest, and more.

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Local Restaurants in Tom's River

    Island Cafe
    Entrees; parmesan & garlic encrusted rack of veal over sautéed broccoli rabe & roasted potatoes; manicotti stuffed with mushrooms, spinach & cheese topped with melted mozzarella & alfredo sauce; veal osso bucco is veal shank simmered in housemade gravy over fettuccine; vegetable lasagna is broccoli, peppers, onions, mushrooms & zucchini layered with 3 cheeses & pasta in housemade red sauce; surf & turf is 8oz. sirloin steak topped with sautéed mushrooms & onions & fried jumbo shrimp w/FF; chicken sautéed with portabella mushrooms, roasted red peppers & artichoke hearts topped with melted mozzarella in brandy cream sauce over pasta; shrimp, lobster, Maryland lump crabmeat, scallops, artichoke hearts, spinach & roasted red peppers in creamy pink sauce over pasta; pork tenderloin stuffed with sautéed broccoli rabe & sausage stuffing served with gravy, mashed potatoes & green beans; seafood manicotti is pasta sheet layered & rolled with chunks of lobster, shrimp, scallops, lump crabmeat & 3 cheeses topped with creamy pink sauce & baked; basa pescatore is basa, a delicate white fish sautéed with asparagus, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers & pignoli nuts in a lemon white wine sauce over pasta. 

    JaRock Restaurant
    Appetizers; garden salad, jerk chicken salad reggae wrap, cocktail patties (3), buffalo wings. Soups; peas, red or gungo, chicken, beef, mannish water, fish tea. Entrees; served with choice of 2 sides; curry goat oxtail; fricassee chicken; curry chicken; stew peas & rice; stew beef; escoveitched fish; curry shrimp; steamed fish is snapper with butter; jerk grill salmon; jerked foods is chicken, pork, ribs, shrimp.

Veal Osso Bucco Island Cafe Tom's River, New Jersey

Seafood Manicotti Island Cafe Tom's River, New Jersey

Curry Goat Oxtail JaRock Restaurant Tom's River, New Jersey

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Hertz Rental Cars Tom's River- 1772 Hwy. 9
Lakewood Hertz Car Rental - 1093 Ocean Ave.
Hertz Rental Car Ashbury- 1015 Ashbury Ave.
McGuire AFB Hertz Car Rental - 3452 Broidy Rd. BX PX

    Vintage Automobile Museum-NJ Vintage Automobile Museum-NJ Beachwood, New Jersey
    The Vintage Automobile Museum in Beachwood, New Jersey is really a unique museum in the state, since all it showcases are vintage cars, both for public viewing and the education of today's youth so that they will have a special place to visit and learn more about the early automobiles of this nation, as well as touch, sit, feel and enjoy the many differences between those old magnificent machines that had definite lines and features that are very different from the autos of today. The museum participates in the Vintage Automobile Club of Ocean County, New Jersey's yearly car show and their crafts/flea market to showcase their vintage autos for enjoyment and education, and to encourage and inspire the conservation and restoration of antique automobiles everywhere. They also participate in parades and celebrations throughout the county, as well as educational programs that will enhance the community's knowledge and enjoyment of these vintage cars that will never be the same in the world of automobile manufacture today. They publish newsletters, research, acquire and continue to maintain historical records about the vintage automobiles of yesterday, with many people offering centuries of expertise. The museum is almost 25,000 square feet of space dedicated to highlighting 50 cars, with an auditorium, offices, library and retail store where you can purchase many exciting memories of the past and the auto industry in this nation.

    Lakehurst Historical Museum
    Lakehurst Historical Museum Lakehurst, New JerseyThe Borough of Lakehurst Historical Museum in Lakehurst, New Jersey, is located on the oldest Roman Catholic church in the county, established in 1874, and the museum opened in 1993 as well as the old jail cell and the replicated Jersey devil that have become youngsters favorites. There are numerous photographs and many relics that showcase the awesome railroad years with an authentic running model of the Blue Comet train. There are many displays that include the old gramophone from 1900 and the magnificent music box that is from 1864, but the main exhibit is about the Hindenburg disaster that occurred here during the 1930s. It houses many pictures, newspapers, books and relics that pertain to that terrible disaster that shocked the world as the huge blimp exploded on takeoff and plummeted to the ground like a burning explosion.  Not too far from the museum, the crash site of the Hindenburg is located, and where the huge zeppelin, the pride of the Nazi airship fleet, and also the biggest aircraft ever built; spanning 804 feet long, and containing more than seven million cubic feet of combustible hydrogen. That fateful May 6 day in 1937 would have the Hindenburg landing at the Navy base in Lakehurst, New Jersey, since it was the closet place to Manhattan that could handle the huge blimp's landing, since it was big enough and empty enough to handle any mishaps, just exactly like the horrific event that happened, killing 37 people. And it also destroyed the popularity of the zeppelins that were growing around the world. That site is still empty, almost in memory of that terrible event, filled with crumbling asphalt and scrub weeds. For those of you that are interested in seeing the site, you must contact the Navy base that is still there, weeks in advance, so you can properly be screened. The day of the crash, the majority of the site was just sand, which helped those that jumped from the burning zeppelin, and the exact spot is marked by a metal wind-turned silhouette of the Hindenburg that sits high on top of a pole and an anchor-chain outline of the zeppelin on the ground.

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Tom's River Avis Car Rental  - 248 Rt. 37 E.
Avis Car Rental Point Pleasant Beach
- 224 Hawthorne Ave.
Spring Lake Avis Rental Cars
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Avis Car Rental Freehold - 414 Hwy. 9 S.

    New Jersey Museum of BoatingNew Jersey Museum of Boating Point Pleasant, New Jersey
    The New Jersey Museum of Boating in Point Pleasant, New Jersey was created to celebrate and showcase the state's rich history in boating, by presenting, interpreting and preserving boats, materials constructed and used in the state, and the marine equipment that pertained to it. It is the only museum in the state that is dedicated to giving the history of boats and boating in the state, is sits on the NJ Coastal Heritage Trail in Point Pleasant's Johnson's brothers boat works. This had been one of the state's premier boating building companies and facilities that has grown into a premier boatyard and marina that is filled with all the necessary amenities. The outstanding collection contains cross-sectional hull drawings, scale modes and samples of classic and famous New Jersey constructed boats, vintage print advertisements and outstanding displays that celebrate the role of boats and boating in the state's defense, commerce and recreation; that began with the Lenni Lenape.  Their collections include; boats, relics, clothing, fine art, memorabilia, photographs, Native American, maps, books, tools and diaries about this marvelous venue. 

    Toms River Seaport Society
    Tom's River Seaport Society Tom's River, New JerseyThe Tom's River Seaport Society in Tom's River, New Jersey houses a spectacular collection of forty antique wooden boats that include; surfboats, sneakboxes, catboats, garvey, Seabright skiffs, blackjack, A-Cat and a wonderful collection of marine engine, that includes a Joseph Francis lifecar. It is dedicated to the maritime history of Barnegat Bay and the state, sponsoring a yearly Wooden Boat Festival held every July.  The society is a nonprofit and is dedicated to preserving the marvelous maritime history of Barnegat Bay and began in 1976 to preserve where possible and recreate when needed, the special history of the region when schooners, catboats and special purpose small craft sailed around the state's waters. The bay and intracoastal waters of the state have been able to produce many different and significant types of boats that is considered indigenous to the shallow estuaries and bays that have given refuge to the area's blue crab, the elusive bay scallop, sweet cherrystone clams and flat face flounder. The state has produced such unique watercraft as the Class A catboat, Barnegat Bay sneakbox, the Egg Harbor Melon See and the gunning skiff that were part of the evolution of those crafts that include the jersey sea skiff, hay scows, sneakboxes and garveys that have become such important crafts in the region's history. Just recently, the Anna and Charles Hankins museum in Lavallette, New Jersey has been sold and will be moving to the museum in Tom's River soon.

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    Peto Museum & StudioPeto Museum & Studio Island Heights, New Jersey
    The Peto Museum and studio is the house of the former painter, John F. Peto and located in Island Heights, New Jersey, and the magnificent abode had been used for many years as a bed and breakfast. At the back of the house, was a large studio where Peto surrounded himself with many various utilitarian items that would be used in his best works, including a lard oil lamp, musical instruments, rusted horseshoe, pipes, mugs, exquisite china pitcher with matching cup and saucer, umbrella, and more that still adorn his walls and rafters. His granddaughter continued to keep the place pristine, as if Peto had just gone out for a walk, along with three palettes that he used for mixing oil paint to be used in his works. Peto, who had been often referred to as the American Rembrandt, constructed his Queen Anne style house and studio in 1890, and the two and a half story abode with hipped roofs, tower and gables and dormers would become the home for his family. Peto went to art school in Philadelphia in the mid 1880s, and to help supplement his income, he moved to Island Heights after 1887 to play his coronet at the local camp meetings. This camp meeting place had been constructed by Philadelphia department store owner, John Wanamaker, for his employees to come and spend their vacations; and is still located in the town by the municipal complex. It had become a very popular area for crowds of Philadelphians arriving by the Philadelphia and Long Branch Railroad. Peto discovered the quiet scenic area of Island Heights to be the perfect place to create his artworks, spending the remainder of his life here, continuing to paint until his death. All through his life and the beginning of the 20th century, he would be unknown in the art world, and were considered imitations of William Michael Harnett, one of the well known Victorian still life masters that had been a fellow art student with Peto in Philadelphia, that actually forged his name on Peto's works. Peto had been one of the masters of rack paintings, who had juxtaposed numerous unrelated objects like portraits, tattered newspaper clippings, postcards, railroad tickets and torn theater tickets, that had become the trademark of the American trompe de l'oeil school of painting during the years between 1870 and 1900. The National Gallery in Washington, DC. hosted a number of exhibitions dedicated to American artists of great importance and presented a one-man show of Peto. It was titled, "Important Information Inside: The Still Life Paintings of John F. Peto and ran for five months; and the first complete show in almost three decades that honored him. The heights would become a mecca for rising artists, with its outstanding bluffs, lovely Victorian homes, yacht club and boats on the river, with the small camp meeting houses giving artists many subjects to put their paint to canvas.

    Robert J. Novins Planetarium
    Robert J. Novins Planetarium Tom's River, New JerseyThe Robert J. Novins Planetarium in Tom's River, New Jersey has just finished adding the Novins Planetarium Sky theater that contains the latest projection technology that will offer visitors the universe in a new and innovative way, with a virtual 3-D video projected onto the planetarium's dome that allows you to journey into the universe. The new fiber optic star projector gives viewers a cleaner, crisper view of the night's stars and galaxies, from the smallest spec to the biggest planets in the universe. The planetarium is located on the Ocean County College that instructs students, visitors and teachers about the magnificent universe that we belong to with more stars, galaxies and planet than ever before. Astronomy is related in many ways to literature, math, science and art offering students and visitors a much better understanding of our place in the cosmos. There are many programs available to help you or inspire you to become more informed about the beautiful night skies and universe that we live in. Some of the programs offered include; Day and Night, Seasons, Sun, Moon and Stars, Working and Living in Space, Marvelous Moon, Exploring the Solar System, Discovering the Universe, The Sun and Other Stars and the New Solar System. They have a great gift shop with all kinds of wonders available there, astronomy classes at the college, the Astronomy Club, astronomy news, school programs, events and special events. The planetarium is one of the biggest and most active in the state, with constantly new technology providing the staff with new and better ways for visitors to come and enjoy the marvelous wonders of our solar system.

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Newark Intl. Apt. Dollar Car Rental
 Bldg. #36 Station #P2 36 Carson

Dollar Rental Car E. Brunswick - 215 Rt. 18 S.
Lawrenceville Dollar Car Rentals  - 2062 Brunswick Ave.

    Barnegat BayBarnegat Bay Ocean County, New Jersey
    Barnegat Bay rests along the coastline of Ocean County, New Jersey, and is about 30 miles long, being called a brackish arm of the Atlantic Ocean, but actually is a long estuary that was formed by the Barnegat peninsula, a barrier peninsula, that also sits by the north end of Long Beach island. It is constantly fed by numerous rivers, that include the Toms River and the Metedeconk River that eventually are emptied into the bay by various small estuaries along the inner shore. Those cities that can be found in the bay area include; Tom's River, Forked River and Silverton, all resting along the estuaries that lead into the bay. It is part of the Atlantic intracoastal waterway that was described by Henry Hudson in 1609 as, "a great lake of water, as we could judge it to be...the mouth of the lake hath many shoals, and the sea breaketh on them as it is cast out of the mouth of it." It had originally been named, Barendegat or Inlet of the Breakers by Dutch settlers, and used by the Americans as a refuge for American privateers. There are three bridges that span the bay from the mainland to the peninsula, the Mantoloking Bridge from Brick township to Mantoloking and the Thomas A. Mathis and J. Stanley Tunney Bridges from Tom's River to Ortley Beach. It has become a wonderful center for commercial fishing, and Tom's River had become a significant whaling port in the 19th century.  The bay was immortalized by E. B. White, that used the area for his short story's setting in The Family That Dwelt Apart, as well as being in his collection of Preposterous Parables. It is also mentioned in Frankie Valli's song, My Eyes Adored You, that has now become one of the top 100 hits of 1975.

    Barnegat Lighthouse
    Barnegat Lighthouse Barnegat Light, New JerseyThe Barnegat Lighthouse in Long Beach, New Jersey is well known locally as "Old Barney" and sits in Barnegat Lighthouse State Park on the northern end of the island, in the borough of Barnegat Light, New Jersey. The original lighthouse started construction in 1834, with $6000 from Congress, and the 40 foot lighthouse would be finished the next year. It had a non-flashing fifth-class light, that was thought to be inadequate by the mariners that used the bay, and since it had to be built some 900 feet away from the water's edge because of the strong currents that ran against, it was realized that it wouldn't be too useful for too long. Within ten years, it would only be 450 feet from the shore, and in 1855, Lt. George G. Meade, an army engineer and eventually general in the army by the Civil War, was assigned the task of building another. He had been chosen because he had just designed an Absecon light, making the plans in the same year and construction starting in 1856. Since the location of the old lighthouse had seen such terrible erosion, it was built 100 feet south of the old one, which site is now below the water line. While the new lighthouse was being constructed, the old light was moved to a temporary wooden tower close to it and had been done since the water kept getting closer, and within a year, the old lighthouse tumbled into the seas. It was commissioned on January 1, 1859 and stood 165 feet above sea level, making it four times taller than the first, with a new first-order flashing Fresnel lens that stood another 12 feet higher. That cost was $40,000, but the lens cost some $15,000 itself. The present lighthouse has two towers inside it, with the exterior conical tower covering a cylindrical tower on the interior. It would stay a first-class lighthouse until 1927, when the Barnegat Lightship was anchored 8 nautical miles off the coast, which caused the next stage of automation and the replacement of the light to a gas blinker that caused the tower's light to be reduced by 80%. So, a number of weeks later, that light would be replaced by a 250 watt electric bulb and then deactivated in 1944. The government gave it to the state, and the local town renamed Barnegat Light, with the lens being placed in the local museum called Barnegat Light museum. It would be added to the list of the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. There are 217 steps to the top where you can get a panoramic view of the beautiful bay and coastline, that still attracts thousands of visitors year round.

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May 12, 2011