Time to enjoy close-to-home attractions and get ready for summer

A pre-beach season walk on the beach is a treat at Seven Presidents Oceanfront Park in Long Branch.

FREEHOLD, NJ – If Memorial Day is the official start of summer, then May is the dress rehearsal in Monmouth County.

Prepping for the first farmers’ markets, looking for migrating birds, enjoying outdoor flea markets and warm weather road races makes May a month of activity in the outdoors. Visitors to town-wide yard and sidewalk sales are more likely to wear t-shirts, shorts and sandals as they make their costume change out of winter coats and boots.

Outdoors or in, the Monmouth County Division of Tourism details the many events on its Calendar of Events. The list is updated daily at www.visitmonmouth.com. Most attractions are linked to Web sites and provide details. Or, if you prefer, you can request that a packet of information, including the calendar, be mailed to you by calling 1-800-523-2587.


May begins with a bang as runners from around the world and thousands of spectators hear the start of the Jersey Shore Marathon. Then there’s the two-day, self-guided “Weekend in Old Monmouth,” a tour of more than 30 historic sites: lighthouses, farms, factories, churches, museums and more set for May 1 and 2. Brooklyn’s Doll and Toy Museum lends more than 50 relics of the 1960s and 1970s for viewing at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Center in Holmdel beginning in May.

Historic Monmouth Park opens for the season May 22 with some exciting new changes in schedules – live racing Friday, Saturday, Sunday and holiday Mondays through Labor Day. The track’s Family Fun Day, with pony rides, live music and clowns, is every Sunday beginning May 30.

Sandy Hook/ Gateway National Recreation Area readies for summer on May 2 with three tours of Revolutionary War attacks. There are bird-watching tours every Thursday and an open house at the American Littoral Society headquarters May 1.

Red Bank’s Count Basie Theatre and Two River Theater, Asbury Park’s Paramount Theatre, Algonquin Arts in Manasquan, Ocean’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Monmouth University and the Center Street Playhouse in Freehold are booked throughout the month with plays, concerts, readings that are included in the county tourism’s Calendar of Events at www.visitmonmouth.com.

Many county historic places are hosting events throughout the month. Historic Ocean Grove has a music and arts festival May 8, a women’s weekend getaway May 15 and an antiques auction May 29. Historic Allaire Village in Wall will hold its big spring flea market May 1 and show everyday life in the early 19th century on May 16.

Keeping with history, the Monmouth Civic Chorus will perform American folk music on May 2 at the Count Basie Theatre, Red Bank. “The Basie” also presents guitarist Mark Knopfler, Kenny Loggins, Diana Ross, country music pianist Phil Vassar, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and a night of Doo Wop. Check the Web site for details.

May 14-16 will be a big weekend. Start with the Wall Stadium Friday Night Cruise Night. Then hit the sidewalk sales in Manasquan and Fair Haven. The 12th Annual Step Up for the ARC walk in Tinton Falls features food, crafts games and music. Then there is the Belmar Kite Festival, the Outdoor Adventure Expo at Turkey Swamp Park, Freehold, and for the first time in the region, the 2010 Mrs. New Jersey Pageant at Monmouth University.

Runners, add Spring Lake’s annual 5K race May 29, which has the annual sidewalk sale that weekend. Kayaks and canoes lead the Manasquan River race and tour May 8.

There are plays, concerts, walks, flower arranging, family outings and so much more. All leading up to opening weekend at the New Jersey shore – when Memorial Day weekend will open the beaches, host parades in Keyport, Ocean Township, Bradley Beach and elsewhere, and shoot off fireworks in Asbury Park. You also should check out Art in the Park in Long Branch’s West End Park and the 10th Annual Seaport Craft Show in Highlands on May 30.

Remember that many towns will host services for the men and women in whose honor Memorial Day is dedicated.

May really is a busy month when restaurants, hotels, stores and more will be getting ready for a great summer season for residents and visitors to Monmouth County. Whether you are looking to the east or west in the county there is something for everyone. You never know what will stir your summer soul and opening night is just around the corner.