TUCKERTON — Now in its 21st year, the Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen's Museum is continually seeking to improve its list of family-friendly, educational, and hands-on offerings for the Barnegat Bay area.

Yet with "hands-on" becoming something of a buzzword to avoid in the past year, much care has been taken to figure out how to move certain exhibits outside or online.

Executive director Brooke Salvanto said the most important thing at the Seaport these days is that visitors are able to enjoy everything the destination has to offer at their own individual comfort level.

So the staff has been busy putting in new outdoor signage that makes a "selfie-guided" tour and scavenger hunt easier than ever. Patrons can stay outside for their entire visit if they wish, Salvanto said.

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She said the Seaport has always been thought to be a bit off the beaten path, but more new families are now coming to check it out, and their curiosity goes to prove that the Jersey Shore is not just about the beach and the ocean.

"We've seen an increase in families visiting for the first time, to really explore and learn together, and I think when people are planning family vacations, visiting the beach and arcades and boardwalks, all those are great things, but you're really looking for something else to round out the week," Salvanto said.

In fact, she said the scavenger hunt is not something that can be completed in a one-hour visit, so many families are now buying yearlong memberships and returning for an hour at a time, every week in some cases.

Tuckerton Seaport is one of only five designated Folklife Centers in New Jersey, and works to preserve much of the heritage of the region of the state from the Barnegat Bay through the Pinelands.

That includes information and lessons on the art forms of decoy carving and basket making, in addition to boating, clamming, and oystering.

There's an inherent environmental aspect as well.

"All of the Seaport's programming tie-ins, the connection between art history and the environment, we don't think it's possible to just learn about one in isolation," Salvanto said. "When you learn to appreciate the environment, you then become a future steward of the environment."

As far as getting out on the water, Salvanto said families can reserve private boat tours if they would like something a bit more guided.

And for lighthouse chasers, Tuckerton Seaport also features a recreation of the Tucker's Island Lighthouse, which was originally located at the southern end of Long Beach Island before falling into the ocean in 1927.

For more information and hours of operation, visit tuckertonseaport.org.

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