Best Beaches for Families in Ocean County (South--Long Beach Island)
Growing up as a girl in the Garden State, I looked forward to going to the Jersey Shore every summer. Now, as a mom, I enjoy taking my family to visit the same great beaches, and to share the same fun experiences. We spend our summers on Long Beach Island, frequenting the hidden gems that make it such a wonderful place.
My family always has a good time here, so it’s no surprise that readers feel this is a good choice for a fun, kid-friendly beach. In addition to the beach by the ocean, a bay beach with a playground is located at 15th Street, and it’s a good spot for families with young children. For non-beach fun, a fishing and crabbing pier is located at 25th Street and the Bay, and the John J. Guld Jr. Recreation Area and Ball Field, located at West 5th and 6th at Barnegat Avenue, also has family outdoor activities such as bocce ball, shuffleboard, tennis courts, and horseshoes.
In a place called Surf City of course there has to be surfing—designated as the area between North First and North Third streets. There also is a fishing beach from North 23rd to North 25th streets, and a kid-friendly bay beach at 15th Street and Barnegat Avenue. A public rest room is located at the municipal building on Ninth Street, which is also where you can purchase beach badges (you can buy them on the beach too).
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Illustration by Bridgette Blanton.
A very popular choice for readers, Beach Haven is a kid-friendly beach community that has a little something for everyone. Kids will enjoy boogie boarding and skim boarding at one of the many guarded beaches (11 locations spanning from 12th Street to Leeward Avenue), and you can also rent bicycles from The Boardwalk Bike and Beach Rentals on South Bay Avenue. Accessible rest rooms, places to eat (such as the popular “The Chicken or the Egg” on North Bay Avenue), and nearby downtown shopping at the Bay Village Shops also account for its popularity. Beach badges are required; you can buy them at the Borough Hall beach badge office, at Bay and Engleside avenues.
Home to wide, smooth beaches and plenty of open ocean, it’s no surprise that Brant Beach is described by moms as clean, pleasant, and good for boogie boarding, body surfing, and skim boarding. All of the town’s beaches are patrolled by lifeguards daily from 10am to 5pm through Labor Day. There is a parking lot for beach visitors (and a public rest room) at BayView Park, 68th Street and Long Beach Boulevard.
Barnegat Light, a small, peaceful community at the northernmost tip of LBI, is great for collecting seashells and sea glass. Something special that Barnegat Light offers is a “kiddie beach,” called Bay Beach, at West 25th St. and Bayview Ave. It features a more shallow swimming area and a playground built just for kids. Barnegat Light, the red and white lighthouse at the northern tip of Long Beach Island, and the surrounding Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, are a unique destination for children and adults alike, open daily from 10 am to 4:30 pm through Labor Day.
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Tips on Trips
Affectionately nicknamed “Old Barney,” this is the second-tallest lighthouse in the world. Opened in 1859, the Barnegat Lighthouse was once regarded as one of the most important and helpful beacons for guiding sailors traveling to and from New York and New Jersey. Today the Lighthouse is open for a walking tour to the top, where you can see a panoramic view of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay, and Long Beach Island. You can experience the same view by visiting the Barnegat Lighthouse Interpretative Center next door, where live cameras showcase the amazing seascape. There’s a picnic area on the grounds, as well as self-guided walking tours and opportunities for fishing.
The Black Pearl (shown below; left)Centre St. and the Bay, Beach Haven
If you’re feeling adventurous, board The Black Pearl for an interactive sail to hunt for pirate treasure. As they set out to sea to find Pirate Pete and the stolen keys to the treasure chest, children will have fun dressing up in true buccaneer fashion, having their faces painted, and learning how to talk like a pirate. Kids can even fire the 12 water cannons on board, so be prepared to get wet; a rest room and safety equipment are on board.
Long Beach Island’s only live theater venue had its beginning as a tented stage in the 1950s. The theater presents Broadway shows all year; during July and August this year, the Children’s Theater has scheduled multiple performances of Peter Pan and Captain Hook, The Tale of the Little Mermaid, the Wizard of Oz, and Snow White.
Both residents and visitors know about the yummy treats at Skipper Dipper, a local gem on LBI. An iconic (and delicious) destination, this famed ice cream shop is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
Watch hand-whipped fudge prepared at the Country Kettle Fudge Shop, snack on some of Crust & Crumb Bakery’s famous elephant ears, or check out one of the other 23 terrific shops and restaurants here. The large sidewalk areas, wheelchair- and stroller-accessible ramps, and rest room facilities, make shopping ideal for families with children.
Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer living in New Jersey with her husband and 2-year-old daughter, who loves playing in the sand and splashing in the water at Long Beach Island.
Surf City sign photo and Surf City beach photo by Ryan Morrill Photography.