New Jersey June 03, 2017
The Lighthouse Road Trip On The New Jersey Coast That’s Dreamily Beautiful
New Jersey is home to some truly spectacular lighthouses; we’ve got architectural gems loaded with rich history dotted all along our coast. While one of the best ways to see them all is by taking the 2-day lighthouse challenge, held annually in October, you can still enjoy a select few over the course of a summer road trip. Take in some of our most notable lighthouses while enjoying the beach along the way!
Lighthouse Road Trip Route
This trip totals 170 miles and can start at either Cape May Lighthouse or the Navesink Twin Lights. Over the course of two days (three lighthouses each day), you'll enjoy six lighthouses and the surrounding attractions.
Sandy Hook Light
Sandy Hook Light is part of Gateway National Recreation Area. It is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States and was built all the way back in 1764. It has survived several attacks over the years including a brief occupation by British troops. In 1990, it was featured on a postal stamp. In 2000, it underwent significant renovations. You can now visit visit daily and enjoy free tours every half hour from 1:00 p.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Navesink Twin Lights
This architectural masterpiece sits 200 feet above sea level and offers sprawling views of Sandy Hook, New York City and the New Jersey Coast. Open from Wednesday-Sunday, visitors can enjoy free admission and a fantastic little museum. The Twin Lights made front-page news in 1893 when the site was selected as the location for the first official reading of the Pledge of Allegiance. In 1899, it served as the site for Marconi's first major demonstration of his wireless telegraph, changing the communication industry forever.
Sea Girt Lighthouse
At just 44' high, this is one of the smaller lighthouses on our list but it still has historical significance; it hosted the first radio beacon mounted in a shore installation in the United States. During WWII it served as a Coast Guard dormitory and it is now open for tours. Tours are available on Sundays and take you through to every room, from the keepers quarters to the top of the tower. First lit in 1896, it was the last live-in lighthouse built in the United States. Notable keepers include Major Abraham Wolf, a spy for the Union Army and Harriet Yates, one of the first female lighthouse keepers in the country.
Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Atlantic City's boardwalk, Absecon Lighthouse is New Jersey's tallest. At 171', it is also the third tallest masonry lighthouse in the United States. It was first lit in 1857 and still shines today, though it is no longer an active navigational aid. Visitors can climb to the top or enjoy the museum below, offering exhibits on local sea life, shipwrecks and more.
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse
This lighthouse was built in 1874 and offers award-winning gardens. It is the only Swiss Gothic residential lighthouse on the East Coast. You'll find a charming museum and gift shop here along with DVD tours for those who can't make the climb to the top. Visit on June 17th or 18th for a Maritime Festival with free admission and live demonstrations.
Cape May Lighthouse
Opened in 1859, this is still a working lighthouse and it is open to the public. A popular tourist destination, it can receive over 100,000 visitors per year. Surrounded by a beautiful state park, I highly suggest a stroll after your visit.
For the route, locations, directions and an interactive map,
click here. Do you have a favorite lighthouse in New Jersey? Not every lighthouse is featured on this road trip as it’s meant to be a manageable drive and easy to do in terms of time. For more lighthouses to explore, check out this list. One of the great things about Garden State lighthouses is that many are very affordable or even free to visit. For other free summer fun ideas, check out this list.