Most people think the Jersey Shore is all about beaches and boardwalks (let’s not mention the traffic on the Parkway and the long waits at your favorite restaurants).

The Shore is a nonstop experience; I’ve spent nearly half my life there and can’t imagine living anywhere else. This list offers 35 essential experiences beyond the beaches, boardwalks, and traffic jams. From seafood festivals and lighthouses to sandcastle contests and barbecue competitions. Trolley tours, miniature golf, and the Intelligent Whale. A hermit crab beauty contest and the United States Froth Blowing Championship. Yes, those are real events.

Consider this your Jersey Shore summer bucket list. How many can you fit into your schedule this summer?

Silverball Retro Arcade, Asbury Park

Pinball machines live on at the Silverball Retro Arcade on the Asbury Park boardwalk. “The coolest place on earth!” proclaims the website, and it’s certainly the coolest place at the Jersey Shore. Scores of vintage pinball and arcade games are there to play — a 1976 “Capt. Fantastic,” 1980 “Atari Battlezone,” 1981 “Donkey Kong,” 1993 “Twilight Zone,” 1995 “Attack from Mars,” and more. A half-day pass is $20, an all-day pass is $25; no coins are required.

LGBTQ+ Pride Celebration, Asbury Park

Jersey Pride, the state’s largest and oldest LGBTQ celebration, is a fun, festive occasion highlighted by a parade through Asbury Park with floats, decorated vehicles, marching bands, and enthusiastic marchers. Don’t forget the outdoor music festival on the rally stage. This year’s event will be held from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, June 2, rain or shine.

Absecon Lighthouse, Atlantic City

New Jersey’s lighthouses are often overlooked travel destinations. They’re not just historical landmarks but great for exploration. And exercise, when you climb to the top! Barnegat Lighthouse — Old Barney — is N.J.’s best-known lighthouse, but my favorite is Absecon Lighthouse, the state’s tallest and the nation’s third tallest. It’s a mere 228 steps to the top, where you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking 360-degree view of the beach, ocean, and city.

Atlantic City Air Show, Atlantic City

The loudest event at the Jersey Shore every summer is also the most dramatic. The Atlantic City Air Show, billed as “a salute to those who serve,” is a thunderous display of aircraft streaking over the ocean. Watch from the beach or boardwalk. It will be held Aug. 13 and 14.

Mt. Mitchill Scenic Overlook, Atlantic Highlands

About the last place you’d expect to find the highest natural elevation on the Atlantic seaboard (not counting islands) is New Jersey, right? But it’s true, at the Mt. Mitchill scenic overlook, with its jaw-dropping view of Sandy Hook, the Atlantic Ocean, the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, and the New York City skyline. Most people I mention it to have never heard of it, much less visited. The site is named after naturalist and botanist Samuel Mitchill, known for his circumnavigation of Long Island. The 12-acre park is also home to Monmouth County’s official 9/11 Memorial.

Visit the Shore’s best diner, in Barnegat Light

That’s Mustache Bill’s diner, at the north end of Long Beach Island. The property was put up for sale last year, and its future is unknown, but as of this writing, the stainless steel beauty will be open this summer. Owner Bill Smith started working at the diner (then known as Joe’s Barnegat Light Diner) when he was 12, washing dishes; he bought it in 1972. The pancakes, omelets, and cinnamon raisin French toast are excellent. Seafood and sandwiches are also on the menu.

New Jersey Sandcastle Contest, Belmar

One of the Shore’s great summer spectacles, the New Jersey Sandcastle Contest, draws dozens of amateur and professional sand sculptors to create works of beach art using sand, shovels, water, food coloring, and abundant imagination. Elaborate, fanciful creations include everything from mermaids and fish to battle scenes and miniature cities. The event will be held on July 10.

A cruise aboard the A.J. Meerwald, Bivalve

Quick — what’s New Jersey’s official tall ship? That would be the A.J. Meerwald. The restored 85-foot oyster-dredging schooner was one of hundreds built on the Bayshore in the 1920s. The A.J. Meerwald can be found at the Bayshore Center at Bivalve; the Cumberland County town was once the booming center of the state oyster industry. The schooner is no mere exhibit — cruises are held throughout the spring, summer, and fall.

Festival of the Sea, Brant Beach

The Festival of the Sea is one of the Shore’s best summer fairs and festivals. Rides, food, and nonstop fun mark the event, held from July 2 to 6 in the St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Center parking lot.

Trolley tours, Cape May

Cape May leads the Jersey Shore in trolley tours — there’s the Historic District Trolley Tour, Roots of Cape Island Trolley Tour, and the Spirits and Oddities Trolley Tour, among others. On the Underground Railroad Trolley Tour, you’ll learn how the Underground Railroad guided slaves toward freedom, visit a cemetery where the town’s earliest free Black settlers are buried, and learn about Harriet Tubman’s presence in Cape May in the 1850s. The tour is held at 10:30 a.m. Saturdays and leaves from the Washington Street Mall information booth on Ocean Street.

The U.S. Froth Blowing Championship, Cape May

Easily the silliest item on this list, the United States Froth Blowing Championship, is held every year at the Ugly Mug bar. It’s just what it sounds like — contestants see who can blow froth on a glass of beer the farthest. The winner is crowned the U.S. froth blowing champion. It will be held in early September.

Clam Fest, Highlands

Clam Fest, held since 1994, is one of the state’s best food festivals, with an 80-foot-long food court; a beer, wine, and sangria garden; food trucks; games and children’s rides, the Highlands Fire Department’s BBQ tent, and live music. It will be held Aug. 1 to 3 at Huddy Park. Admission and parking are free.

A cone at Kohr’s/Kohr Bros

A Jersey Shore summer would not be complete without a soft-serve cone from Kohr’s or Kohr Bros., descendants of the five Kohr brothers who opened an ice cream stand on the Coney Island boardwalk in 1919. On their first weekend, they sold nearly 20,000 cones at a nickel apiece. There are locations in Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Ocean City, Wildwood, and elsewhere.

Ride the Party Bus, Nardi’s Tavern, Long Beach Township

You can’t miss Nardi’s party bus; it’s a pink bus that cruises up and down LBI, taking patrons, probably none of them sober, home. The bus begins at 9 p.m. and operates until closing time. The best thing about it: you can leave your car overnight in Nardi’s parking lot. The bus runs from Holgate to Division Street in Surf City.

Oceanfest, Long Branch

The biggest Independence Day celebration anywhere in New Jersey? That would be Oceanfest, which attracts tens of thousands of people to the oceanfront promenade every summer. It’s part music festival, part food festival, part street fair, and overall an essential Jersey Shore experience, capped off with spectacular fireworks.

The Great Auditorium, Ocean Grove

The Great Auditorium is the state’s most wondrous wooden structure, soaring and sweeping, alive with the sound of music. It was the work of boatbuilders, which accounts for its ship-like interior. It was built in 1894; one rule in its construction was that no profanity could be used, according to the Camp Meeting Association. The pipe organ is one of the 20 largest in size in the country. Sunday worship services are held from mid-June to September, and there are various concerts.

Gunnison Beach, Sandy Hook

“Get naked or get lost” is the unofficial slogan at the state’s only legal nude beach. Most Jerseyans would be surprised to hear there is such a thing; since it’s part of the federal Gateway National Recreation Area, it’s not subject to local ordinances or pesky state shutdowns. Gunnison is tucked at the north end of Sandy Hook; parking lot G is 4.5 miles from the park entrance. If you’re expecting Brazilian supermodels or rock-hard abs, you’re in the wrong place; it’s mostly the average American body on display, with lots of flab and sag. I’ve only been there twice (I swear), both on assignment. Here’s the account of my latest field trip to the nude beach.

The Giant Wheel at night, Wildwood boardwalk

It’s as obvious as rainbow-colored cotton candy, or a mountainous powdered-sugared funnel cake, but the 15-story high Giant Wheel on Mariner’s Pier in Wildwood (not technically a Ferris wheel since it wasn’t made by Ferris) is one of those Shore attractions that fall into the “let other people do it” category. The best time to ride it is at night when you float above the neon-lit magnificence of New Jersey’s greatest boardwalk, far above the madding crowd. It may be the coolest thing.