When Frank Wheaton Jr. first visited the Corning Museum of Glass in the early 1960s, it caught his ire. On display were many marvelous works of glass—treasures forged of sand, wood, soda ash, and silica that represented the dawning of the American glass industry. Frank's problem? Those shiny, fragile masterpieces were being exhibited in New York and not where they were birthed: New Jersey.
As the grandson of glass magnate Dr. Theodore Corson Wheaton—whose glass pharmaceutical bottles were instrumental in giving rise to the Millville glass monarchy of the Wheaton company—Frank claimed his birthright and created Wheaton Village now known as Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center. The organization has a mission to engage artists and audiences in an evolving exploration of creativity, and has appealed to audiences of all ages for over four decades with its diverse traditional and contemporary arts programs, classes, workshops and exhibitions. Also on-site is The Museum of American Glass, housing one of the most comprehensive collections of American glass in the country, from the first glass bottles made in America, to celebrated works by Dale Chihuly and other contemporary artists who work with glass. Visitors can also experience the art of glassmaking, ceramics and flameworking in the Artists Studios, and the museum stores offer traditional and contemporary art in a variety of mediums.
It's a child's paradise in the Garden State Discovery Museum, where pint-size patrons can climb up rock walls, cavort with wildlife, and imagine themselves as vets, doctors, and news anchors in hands-on exhibits. Red-eared turtles lounge in the wildlife area, inviting kids to gaze upon their slimy shells, and science displays teach guests about gravity, lava, and light.
One of the world's leading live-entertainment companies, Live Nation connects millions of fans to thousands of performances across the globe. Today's deal can be used for any Live Nation concert at the open-air Cruzan Amphitheatre, providing fans with aural stimulation of all stripes, filling ears more pleasantly than the aggressively atonal orchestras that roam the countryside. Upcoming concerts at the venue include such diverse performers as Rascal Flatts, Lil' Wayne, and Maroon 5, giving listeners a cornucopia of euphonic options.
Imaginative play and exploration blossom in the natural world of Camden Children's Garden, where families encounter 20 gardens, educational exhibits, and rides. Inside the 4-acre horticultural playground, visitors walk among an imagined version of Ben Franklin's workshop and spot monarchs and black swallows inside the tropical environment of the butterfly house. Outside, an apatosaurus looms over the dinosaur garden, watching as mini archeologists uncover dino bones and the broken lamp he hid from his mother 80 million years ago.
At Adventure Aquarium, patrons can not only look at sharks in a tank, but be surrounded by them. Guets can see as a hammerhead shark, swims through a 760,000-gallon tank, its 7-foot body passing all around onlookers in the 40-foot shark tunnel.
Of course, Adventure Aquarium also houses a wide variety of marine animals. Their two Nile hippos each weigh in at approximately 3,000 pounds, and their mouths can open up to four feet—enough to swallow most wedding cakes in a single bite. At the aquarium's Hippo Haven, visitors marvel at these hippos as they plunge into the water and swim right up to the glass. The Jules Verne Gallery, meanwhile, houses a Giant Pacific octopus. This cephalopod stretches out eight tentacles, each covered in some 280 suction cups.
In 1881, arriving by water or rail, visitors to the Jersey Shore met a rather startling sight: an elephant, trunk lowered in a feeding position, towering six stories high. The elephant–shaped building, nicknamed "Lucy," was designed to attract prospective real-estate buyers to Margate, New Jersey. The brainchild of the elephant, James V. Lafferty Jr., actually had designed three gigantic elephants, but by 1969, only a derelict Lucy was left. Thanks to the dedicated Save Lucy Committee, which formed in 1970, the landmark—now listed on the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks—reopened in 1974.
Constructed from wood and metal, Lucy weighs 90 tons; her ears each weigh 2,000 pounds alone. Every 30 minutes, guided tours enter the spiral stairway in her hind legs, which climbs through her insides up to the howdah on her back. This perch affords a stunning 360-degree view of Josephine Harron Park and the surrounding shore, where beachgoers sunbathe, splash in the water, and struggle to pay the mortgage on their sandcastles.