The Barnegat Bay Lighthouse affectionately known as “Old Barney” was built in 1859 and is the perfect spot for your next day trip. Nestled at the top of Long Beach Island, the 32-acre Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is a beautiful nature sanctuary and an ideal spot to enjoy the outdoors while socially distancing.
The inside of the lighthouse and interpretive center are currently closed to visitors due to COVID-19, but there’s still plenty to see. Start by standing under the towering lighthouse which stands at 163 feet tall and shoots a beam of light that can be seen 22 nautical miles away.
Then you can walk out on the jetty, which trails along the Bay and offers gorgeous views, and a chance to see some pretty cool seabirds. Walk the length of the jetty and you’ll end up at a rocky beach, where you can put your feet in the water or watch the seagulls chasing the waves.
This beach is the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, but be mindful that the park is carry in/carry out, so there aren’t trash cans around.
Stroll back either along the rocky jetty or walk on the sandy shore protected by the jetty. Be careful not to interfere with the nesting birds, as there are plenty of signs and ropes marking off their habitats.
Keep in mind that the jetty’s big stone rocks might be too challenging for your smaller family members. Make sure everyone is sporting sturdy shoes with a solid rubber sole. Flip flops could be dangerous, especially when it gets slippery.
You can also walk through the maritime forest and see if you spot any other unique birds or creatures in the brush.
Masks are required at the park when you can’t keep your social distance. You’ll definitely need them as you enter, walk around the lighthouse and on the paved path out to the jetty, since that’s crowded with visitors and fishermen. But as you venture further out into the jetty or walk along the sand on the inside of the jetty, there’s lots of room to socially distance.
The park is limiting capacity and currently free to the public.