Summer at the beach is everyone’s picture perfect idea of fun. But did you know that the shores of New Jersey also house years of incredible history? Our shores are home to 11 unique lighthouses that are a perfect escape from the summer sun and a great educational trip for your family!
215 Lighthouse Ave., Cape May Point
The 157-foot-high lighthouse built in 1847 is still an aid to navigation. Visitors who climb the 199 steps to the top of the lighthouse are rewarded with a spectacular panoramic view of the scenic Cape May peninsula.
Hours of Operation: 10 am–4 pm
Admission: Adults: $10, Children (3–12): $5 Under 3: Free
A panoramic view of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay, and Long Beach Island awaits visitors at the top of Barnegat Lighthouse. Visitors can also catch the views from the top without climbing the 217 steps thanks to four cameras that transmit live images of the view to a display in the adjacent Interpretive Center.
Hours of Operation: Daily from 10 am–4:30 pm (weather permitting) from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Admission: Adults: $3, Children (6–11): $1, Under 5: Free
Twin Lights Historic Site
2 Lighthouse Rd., Highlands
Twin Lights in the Highlands of Navesink overlooks the entrance to New York Bay. Today, the thousands of visitors that come to see one of the country’s most unique lighthouses can climb the north tower, where a sixth-order Fresnel lens was in use until 2007, for a spectacular panoramic view of the area from 200 feet up.
Hours of Operation: Subject to change seasonally. Summer hours: 10 am-4:30 pm. Call for more information.
Sandy Hook State Park Entrance
2 Hudson Rd., Highlands
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States. It is located at the northern end of the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in Atlantic Highlands. Amazingly well preserved, this unique octagonal tower dates back to the 18th century and has been in service since 1764. Kids must be 48 inches or taller to take a tour of the Lighthouse Keepers’ Quarters.
Hours of Operation: Daily 9 am-5 pm lighthouse keepers quarters/visitors center, 1-4:30 pm lighthouse tours.
9 Ocean Ave., Sea Girt
The history of Sea Girt Lighthouse is a rich one, filled with numerous distinctions and achievements. The red brick structure with a tower rising 44 feet was the last live-in lighthouse built on the Atlantic Coast. Since its restoration, the lighthouse is in use some 200 days a year. Today, the Sea Girt Lighthouse preserves and proclaims its fascinating history through publications, special programs and guided tours of the building now filled with exhibits of rare photos and artifacts.
Hours of Operation: Tours conducted Sundays from 2–4 pm, except holiday weekends. Special group tours are conducted by prior arrangement year round.
120 West Main St., Tuckerton
Although the original lighthouse was destroyed in 1927, in the 1980s, a group of southern Ocean County sportsmen expressed concern that the old ways of bay life were in danger of extinction. This group’s vision led to the eventual creation of Tuckerton Seaport, where the area’s rich maritime heritage is captured through displays and demonstrations of boat building, decoy carving, and basket weaving. One of the many buildings at the seaport is a re-creation of Tucker’s Island Lighthouse. Located some six miles west of its original location, the lighthouse should be quite safe from the sea. The replica lighthouse looks quite authentic and even houses a Fresnel lens, though not in the lantern room.
Hours of Operation: Daily 10 am–5 pm, all year, rain or shine
Admission: Adults: $9, Seniors: $6, Children (5–12): $5, Children under five and members are free.
31 S. Rhode Island Ave., Atlantic City
Take an amazing journey into time and above it all as you ascend the 228 steps of the Absecon Lighthouse, one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. You’ll see breathtaking views of the Atlantic City skyline and up top you’ll come face-to-face with the original first-order Fresnel Lens, first lit in 1857. The lighthouse’s recent multi-million dollar restoration also includes a stunning replica of the Lightkeeper’s dwelling, an educational museum, charming gift shop, Fresnel Lens exhibit in the original Oil House and expansive grounds.
Hours of Operation: September–June: Thursdays–Mondays from 11 am–4 pm. July and August: 10 am–5 pm. Last climb is always half an hour before close. Special group tours are available upon request. Please call for more information.
Admission: Free parking and admission to the Keeper’s House Museum, Exhibits and Grounds. Cost to climb the lighthouse: Adults: $10, Seniors (65+): $9, Children (4–12): $6, Atlantic City residents with ID: $5, active military and children under 4 are free.
North End of Five Mile Beach
111 N. Central Ave., North Wildwood
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse is a working lighthouse as well as a museum. It is open to the public for guided and self guided tours. Visitors will learn about the history of Hereford and get a glimpse of the life of a lighthouse keeper in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Hours of Operation: March 5-May 9: Fri.-Sun. 10 am-2 pm; May 10-October 20: Daily from 9 am-5 pm; October 21-December 8: Fri.-Sun. 10 am-2 pm.
10 Lighthouse Rd., Heislerville
East Point Lighthouse is the second oldest lighthouse in New Jersey. Built in 1849, the lighthouse is located on the east bank of the mouth of the Maurice River. Its purpose is to guide fishermen, oystermen and other mariners into the river from the Delaware Bay. The light was extinguished at the beginning of WWII in 1941. The light was not re-lit after the war and was abandoned until 1971 when the Maurice River Historical Society was formed to protect and restore it. In 1980 the Coast Guard reinstalled a beacon and put the East Point Lighthouse back on the list of active navigational aids.
Hours of Operation: Dates and times vary, check website for more info
Supawna Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
197 Lighthouse Rd., Pennsville
Those visiting will be able to climb to the top of the lighthouse and view the surrounding wildlife refuge and Delaware River. The beacon in the 90-plus feet tall iron lighthouse was first lit in April 1877. A lighthouse keeper who lived in an adjacent house, tended to the light. The light was later automated and finally went dark in March 1950. In the late 1970s, a local group formed the “Save the Lighthouse Committee” which helped to save the lighthouse from destruction, enabled preservation work to be completed and got it placed on the National Register of Historic Sites.
Hours of Operation: Open every third Sunday of each month March through May and September through November, weather permitting.
Admission: Free. There is no fee to climb but children under the age of 12 are not allowed to climb the lighthouse. Children 13 and older must be accompanied by an adult at all times.
70 2nd St., Paulsboro
The Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse began operation on the evening of December 31, 1880. The lighthouse is a steel skeletal structure standing 85 feet tall with 112 steps leading from the neoclassical pavilion at the base of the tower to the lantern room.
Hours of Operation: Tours during the third full weekend of each month April through October. Special tours are available with advance notice. The lighthouse is also available for weddings and other special occasions.
Admission: A small donation is accepted to help support efforts.
New Jersey is also unique in that each year we host the New Jersey Annual Lighthouse Challenge! This year it is taking place on October 19-20. Visitors tour each lighthouse and work towards a souvenir given at each tour site to show your accomplishments! Support your local lighthouse conservation efforts and join in the fun!