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A collection of tips for enjoying a visit to the New Jersey shore.

* When you get to the beach, don't park and walk. Drop off a few people and all your stuff at the edge of the beach. Then one person can park the car and walk to the beach while the others carry the goods and set up your spot.

* The shore has more than salt water. There are rivers perfect for tubing, something every kids loves. And it's less complicated or intimidating than a canoe or kayak. Try the Mullica, Wading, Oswego or Great Egg Harbor rivers.

* Buy your beach chairs and umbrellas on the mainland instead of waiting to get to the beach. At a discount store you'll find the backpack chairs are about $25 instead of $50 on the boardwalk.

*Live in the region? You can have a great vacation and feel like you have traveled much farther, by spending a long weekend either camping in Belleplain State Forest (where there is wonderful lake swimming and great hiking/offroad biking trails) or in a hotel or rented house in any of the beach communities. When we spend a weekend in Cape May City in a hotel, we feel like we've really gotten far away - then only have a half hour to drive home. Most people think it will feel too familiar, but when you stay overnight, somehow it doesn't.

* Have young children? Skip the ocean and take advantage of the numerous bay beaches around the area. They are usually less crowded and the lack of waves makes them more kid-friendly.

* Overdo the sun? Check out beach town shops and museums. The best time is from 1-3 p.m., when everyone else is at the beach.

* Want to know if greenhead flies are coming to a beach near you? Check a nearby flag or banner for the wind direction. If the wind is coming from the mainland to the ocean, greenheads come with it. If it's an ocean breeze, you're in luck.

* Stop the itch from a greenhead welt. Old-timers say to make the impression of a cross with your thumbnail.

* Having problems with mosquitoes? Put a bounce dryer towel on you belt loop, cleaner and less icky than sprays. Plus it works! This is great for children.

* Always keep a bottle of Avon Skin So Soft in beach bag. It wards off all pesky insects (and smells good too)!

* Homemade bug spray. Mix Orange Listerine and water together in a spray bottle, spray on to keep greenheads away.

* Does it work? There are two schools of thought about keeping greenheads away. One school believes that killing a greenhead and leaving it by your beach chair will scare the others away. Another believes the greenhead corpse sends an odor that attracts every other greenhead in the vicinity.

* Parking in Longport: If you go to the beach before 10:30 a.m., you usually can park right in front of the tennis courts on Atlantic Avenue at 33rd Avenue. There are bathrooms and the lifeguard shack, as well as a controlled intersection for crossing.

* Water temperature tip: Wind from the ocean helps keep the water warm. Wind from the land usually results in a drop in water temperature.

* Follow the breeze: Children lost on the beach tend to wander downwind.

* Don't waste sunscreen. Instead of slathering big globs of the stuff on your children, cover them with dots of the stuff straight from the bottle, then rub the sunscreen in.

* Another sunscreen saver: Dressing your children in a rash-guard shirt means less skin that needs sunblock.

* Cover it all: When applying sunscreen, don't forget the lips.

* Going crabbing? Hot dogs are cheap and effective bait.


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