After one or two visits, you should begin to feel very much at home in Point Pleasant. Many of the main attractions are grouped together at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, an entertainment hub that hosts everything from “free weekly events to yearly festivals.” Though there’s a lot to do, there’s little of the sprawl that you’ll encounter, say, at Seaside Heights.  You’ll still find all the Jersey Shore staples—Kohr’s Ice Cream, vinegary boardwalk fries, arcade games—but this time, they’ll all be in one place.

Yes, it only takes one visit to experience a lot of what Jenkinson’s and Point Pleasant have to offer—and only one visit to make you yearn to come back soon.  The beaches are pristine and (boardwalk snacks aren’t really your thing) the nearby restaurants offer a diverse selection of dishes.  Intimate though it may be, Jenkinson’s gives you plenty of room to find shops, diversions, and a spot on the sand that suit you perfectly.  Sprawl or no sprawl, Point Pleasant does family-friendly entertainment right.

The Point Pleasant boardwalk offers a delightful array of rides, games, and attractions, including an old-fashioned funhouse.  Jenkinson’s Aquarium is also nearby.  Here, you’ll find almost any aquatic animal you can name, from stately sharks and seals to smaller, stranger creatures such as nautiluses and octopuses.

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The Aquarium is great low-key fun; for something that’s more likely to set your pulse racing, head south to the Jenkinson’s Dark Ride.  This brand-new feature is a little like a first-person-shooter arcade game, but with a whole new level of sound, movement, and intensity.  The Dark Ride allows its visitors to choose from one of two adventures: a kid-friendly, robot-themed escapade; and a kinetic, trigger-happy spin on the Zombie Apocalypse.  Needless to say, the second geared to mature audiences—which means that fans of The Walking Dead, World War Z, and everything in between will be thrilled.

For fans of miniature golf, there are a couple very different choices right near Jenkinson’s Pavilion. At the pirate-themed Castaway Cove, two eighteen-hole courses “are intertwined inside and outside a mock shipwreck and cove.” Jenkinson’s other mini-golf option—the new Lighthouse Point Mini Golf—has fewer frills, yet the course’s refined and peaceful atmosphere more than compensates.  No loops or slides or windmills: just a flawlessly kept course and a grand-total of thirty-six rewarding holes.

Golf, sunbathing, bumper cars, zombies—you might need a drink (or two) after all this.  Look no farther than Martell’s Tiki Bar.  Stretching far down to the Point Pleasant shore, Martell’s endured some of the worst of Hurricane Sandy.  But today, not a single sign of damage remains.  Visitors can order cocktails at any of the various tiki huts on the Martell’s Tiki Bar pier, enjoy live music, and find the perfect spot to watch the waves as night draws near.  Popular drinks like the Tiki Tea and orange juice-infused margarita tend to be sweet, yet sophisticated.  Even the Martell’s Creamsicle has a bitter kick to balance it out.

Head inland, and you’ll discover that Point Pleasant is also great for gourmet seafood. For instance, there’s the nearby Shrimp Box, a restaurant that combines fine cooking, a casual atmosphere, and a lively view of Point Pleasant’s harbor district.  The Shrimp Box had its origins as “a small take-out seafood stand” that opened in 1953.  Over the years, that one seafood stand evolved into today’s deluxe waterfront bar and grill, complete with a salad bar and an outdoor patio.  The atmosphere invites you to sit and savor, and there’s a lot to savor.  The lobster bisque is expertly crafted, and the pan-seared bay scallops with sautéed spinach (a house specialty) are simply phenomenal—a small masterpiece of subtly varied textures and tastes.

Another Point Pleasant restaurant with a down-to-earth name and a ravishingly good menu is Jack Baker’s Lobster Shanty.  This is Point Pleasant dining at its upscale best—Oysters Rockefeller, flaky and flavorful branzino, dense grilled swordfish with mango salsa.  It’s all served in a dining room that would be perfect for the top floor of a Manhattan skyscraper, though you’d have to give up the wrap-around walkway and the placid bay view.  If you’d like something a bit less formal, head next door to Jack Baker’s Wharfside.  But formality isn’t a bad thing here, and thanks to its well-appointed Sunset Ballroom, the Lobster Shanty has become a destination for wedding parties and receptions.

As I said, you’ll yearn to come back to Point Pleasant.  You could be tying the knot.  Or you could simply fall in love with the area itself.