This weekend kicks off the unofficial start of summer and as we head toward the hot weather months, there's plenty for both residents and tourists to enjoy at the Jersey Shore.

If it's too hot one day or rain is pouring from the skies, Ocean County Tourism Director Dana Lancellotti says they've got plenty to do indoors.

"There are a lot of great indoor activities, from bars and restaurants to great museums as well as interesting and unusual places to visit where people can enjoy entertainment," Lancellotti said. "We have a planetarium (Robert J. Novins Planetarium at Ocean County College), and great county parks where if the weather is not the greatest you can still go there and enjoy their eco-centers. We also have an insect museum called 'Insectropolis' which is extremely unique and people will come from a long way to go to that."

She also cites Laurita Winery and the Tuckerton Seaport as other great places to spend some time this summer.

At any point during the summer, the fun is not far away in Monmouth County either.

"We have carnivals and 4th of July extravaganza's throughout different municipalities," MC Freeholder Director Tom Arnone said.

Arnone says they've got great beaches across the board like in Brielle or Manasquan.

"We just showcase all of the beaches and give people the opportunity who have a certain niche or need to go there," Arnone said. "When you go to Long Branch, it's a totally different environment than Asbury Park or Avon or Belmar, Spring Lake, Sea Girt or Bradley Beach. Every one is different."

He says every beach meets the needs of different people.

"Middle aged people seem to go to Avon, the young people go to Belmar, more families or elderly people who want quiet time go to Spring Lake and the people from New York or somewhere seem to gravitate to Long Branch" Arnone said.

But across the shore, there's more than just the beach.

"People don't just come to Ocean County just to sit on the beach necessarily but they certainly can if they want to," Lancellotti said. "But you can literally go from a sunny afternoon on the beach to a wonderful exciting concert or festival that's happening downtown."

Tourism continus to grow across the Jersey Shore and is a big draw of families from all over the U.S. and even Canada.

Ocean County Freeholder Joe Vicari, who is also the liaison to tourism in OC, credits the 44-miles of oceanfront as a big reason why so many people come back year after year.

"We have great sandy beaches, the water quality is clean and there's been major improvements made since the superstorm five-years ago," Vicari said.

He says there's plenty of indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy across Ocean County this summer.

In the five and a half years post sandy, Jersey Shore tourism has clawed it's way back to a thriving industry.

Lancellotti says it's been an even greater comeback for Seaside Heights and Seaside Park following the 2013 boardwalk fire.

"In Seaside Park they've now rebuilt the beautiful pavilions, they have a great tiki bar on the beach, they have wonderful new stores there like Playa Bowls and different shore fronts and other things people can enjoy," Lancellotti said. "On the Seaside Heights boardwalk, there's Casino Pier, the Hyrdrus and the beautiful new ferris wheel which lights up the sky from a distance and people just get excited that they're coming into Seaside Heights."

Another Ocean County destination destroyed by sandy, Berkeley Island County Park, has now officially re-opened for the first time since before the storm.

By next summer smoking on any beach in New Jersey could be a thing of the past with a bill advancing in Trenton.

Arnone believes a smoking ban on the beach may bring even more people to the shore during the summer.

"If anything it's more of an enhancement, it makes it a cleaner environment," Arnone said. "We can't be naive, we've all been on beaches and seen people smoking. What do they do with that cigarette butt? They don't walk all the way to a garbage. They dig a little in the sand and stick the cigarette butt in it. Then it surfaces up when people walk on the sand and now people are stepping on cigarettes butts."

Arnone hopes to see more towns implement a smoking ban on the beaches to create a cleaner environment.

Monmouth County Freeholders note that in 2017, tourists spent $2.5 billion in the county, which includes dollars spent on food, accommodations, recreation and entertainment, transportation and second homes.

That's an increase of $65,000,000.00 or 2.6 percent, over 2016.

Monmouth County has approximately 6 million visits each year.

Ocean County saw its tourism dollars grow 1.8 percent in 2017 bringing the amount tourism injects into the local economy to $4.76 billion, according to the Freeholders Office.

"I am happy to see our numbers continue to increase when it comes to tourism in Ocean County," Vicari said. "This almost 2 percent increase is what helps out our mom and pop businesses, our high school and college students and a host of other businesses and individuals. Tourism means jobs and it helps our economy."

According to figures provide by the Ocean County Freeholders Office they say the State, on average, spending from 310 travelers, supports one New Jersey job and, one out of every 14.5 workers in New Jersey is supported by tourism.

In addition, $1,515.00 in tax revenue per household in New Jersey was supported by tourism in 2017.

For a look at what's coming up in Ocean County this summer, click here.

For some fun events going on in Monmouth County this summer, click here.

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