Happy May, everyone! Time is really flying by. The temperatures are now rising in my home state of New Jersey and you know what this calls for? More summer adventures and more exploration! Last year, I found it amazing and refreshing to be by the Highlands area, which is a borough in Monmouth County built on top of hills that overlooks Sandy Hook, a barrier split. These areas are all surrounded by the body of the Atlantic Ocean and I truly do think that it’s one of my favorite parts so far in living in New Jersey for almost my whole life. It’s been a longggg time since I’ve gone to re-discover the beauty of Sandy Hook as I remember taking a trip over there during a rainstorm during my elementary school days learning about the wildlife along the coast.
I arranged a little trip for my friends and I (I am usually brainstorming a lot of adventurous things that my friends and I do!) to a drive to the Sandy Hook area. My original plan was to go at the top of the lighthouse to see the views overlooking the harbor in the Gateway National Recreational Area. Unfortunately, due to construction under maintenance, we were not able to walk to the top of the lighthouse. We did, however, go into their little museum and gift shop inside the building beside the lighthouse.
This lighthouse is interestingly the oldest operating one in America. It was built in 1764 by a stonemason from New York named Isaac Conro. Inside the museum and gift shop, you can find more interesting artifacts and National Parks souvenirs.
After, we walked around towards the Fort Hancock area. This is an historic site that played an important role in history where it served as a base to defend the Atlantic Ocean and the entrance towards the New York Harbor. Surrounding the lighthouse are many yellow and green painted buildings that resemble a house, these houses are historic buildings that once housed Army families and also serve as home rentals.
We explored down the road from the lighthouse and found tunnels that were used for part of the harbor’s defense systems. Along these pathways, there are a lot of warnings to hazardous conditions.
Just a short drive, we saw more abandoned buildings around Fort Hancock, one with two huge warnings with hazardous conditions but we still saw two risky people exploring inside the abandoned building.
We went by the Battery Potter and it was constructed from 1890 to 1890. This was a place that was a gun carriage using the steam hydraulic lift system but because it was outdated, it no longer became a place for guns to fire shots and its operation ran until 1906. The 20-foot thick concrete walls and gate really showed the age of this gun carriage upon a close up look at it. We did not get to tour inside of it but tours are available when you contact the National Park Service.
We passed by more defense system buildings in Fort Hancock.
Overview of Gateway National Recreation Area
Area: 26,607 acres
Declared as National Recreation Park: 1972
State(s): New Jersey & New York (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island)
Closest City/City Location: Highlands, New Jersey
When we drove towards the Sandy Hook lighthouse earlier, we passed by miles of the shoreline where there were entrances to the beaches. We found this boardwalk pathway that requires you to park and walk across the busy highway. This boardwalk led us to an overlook view of the houses and restaurants on the Highlands hills, the Sandy Hook beaches, and wildlife habitats that are protected with a closed entrance.
I had to take a little photoshoot here, of course haha. This place is perfect for photos and just a fresh breath of air outside the busy rush hour traffics and industrial atmospheres of New Jersey.
The rest of the day was spent having Happy Hour drinks and coal-fired pizza in Tommy’s Tavern, a restaurant located in the beach town of Sea Bright, and having fun in the nightlife of Asbury Park (can’t you tell we LOVE being by the beaches?!).
Here were some awesome shots I took there: