NEW JERSEY - The Garden State has not seen a lot of sun this week, but the calendar finally says summer. Today is the official first day of summer and the longest day of the year. While June 21 does not look terribly sunny so far on Friday, sunshine is on the way. Forecasters are predicting a dry weekend with sun in the upper 70s and low 80s. Here are some fun ways to celebrate summer this weekend that do not involve a long, stressful drive along the Parkway to reach the Jersey Shore.

  • Delaware Raritan Canal State Park Trail - Is there a better way to enjoy the inaugural weekend of summer than a walk, jog, hike or a bike ride along this 70-mile trail that runs in three segments between New Brunswick and Trenton, Trenton and Bull's Island and Bull's Island to Frenchtown? Some parts of the trail do allow horses, but motorized vehicles or ATVs are not permitted on any stretches. Princeton, Lambertville, Griggstown and Kingston are pictuesque spots to pick up the trail. Explore the trail by water by renting a canoe in Princeton or Griggstown. The trail is free and open from sunrise to sunset.
  • Kayaking is a relaxing activity that is ideal for singles, couples and families and you don't need experience to do it. A simple explanation from the rental guide is generally all that's neccessary to spend an afternoon of kayaking in some of New Jersey's prettiest spots. Since most folks do not own a kayak, there are plenty of places to rent a single of double kayak including Griggstown Canoe and Kayak Rental, Princeton Canoe Rental, Paddle Out in Manasquan and the Cranford Canoe Club.
  • Head to the Highlands to see one of New Jersey's majestic lighthouses. The Twin Lights provides stunning views of Sandy Hook Bay and the entrance to New York Harbor along with the Atlantic Ocean. Stop by the museum to get a history lesson about lighthouses and the Twin Lights before climbing to the top of one of the lighthouse towers. The surrounding park offers an amazing backdrop as well. The Twin Lights is closed on Mondays.
  • Mini golf is a summer staple and you can't visit a commercial boardwalk down the shore without running into one of more mini golf courses. Cape May boasts a few as does Ocean City and Point Pleasant. If you are looking for an exiciting mini golf outing without heading to the shore, it is possible. Mini Golf Safari in West Orange provides a 19-hole course against an African backdrop. Swingtime in Howell offers two challenging mini golf courses to pick from and also boasts batting cages and a small arcade. Farmer Brown's Golf Center has a driving range and a 19-hole mini golf course complete with sand traps and water hazards. Get a hole-in-one on the last hole and earn a free round. Hyatt Hills in Clark has an 18-hole course that is fun for a couples or a family outing.
  • Wine and chocolate lovers can check out the Wine & Chocolate Festival on Saturday at Monmouth Park in Oceanport from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Celebrate all things blueberry at the Whitesbog Historic Village in Brownsville from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the 36th annual Whitesbog Blueberry Festival. Admission is $5 per car load.
  • Catching fireflies is a summertime staple. Terhune Orchards in Princeton is showcasing fireflies on Sunday, June 23 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is free, but there is a $5 fee for craft activities.
  • Take a pedal boat ride in one of New Jersey's inviting parks. The Waterfront in the South Mountain Recreation Complex, Colonial Park in Somerset, Warinanco Park in Roselle and Turkey Swamp Park all have pedal boats for rent.
  • This weekend's weather will be ideal for a boat tour or dinner cruise and New Jersey has some top picks including Lake Hopatcong Boat Tours and Cornucopia Cruises in Perth Amboy.
  • Hop on a horse and enjoy a scenic trail ride. New Jersey offers a few places to commune with nature on horseback. Echo Lake Stables in West Milford, Legacy Riding Stables in Sayreville and Acres Away in Flemingston offer trail rides.