Lighthouses can usually be found by coasts or islands. Luckily in this part of New Jersey, Barnegat Light is surrounded by water and it makes the perfect spot for a red lighthouse that stands out. If you were picturing an area of a lighthouse with beautiful glistening blue-green water, then visiting the Barnegat Lighthouse should be a stop you should make down here in southern New Jersey.
Barnegat Lighthouse, located in the Barnegat Lighthouse State Park in the city of Barnegat Light and the north end of Long Beach Island, is a 40-foot-tall lighthouse that has 217 steps. Be prepared to take those steps, the stairs can be steep and quite a walkthrough but it will lead to beautiful views up there! This lighthouse is part of the US National Register of Historic Places since January 25, 1971, and attracts half a million visitors year-round each year.
Visiting the museums
I visited this lighthouse last summer with two of my girlfriends, Leslie and Aryana. The first thing we did when we got to the Barnegat Lighthouse is to check out the nearby museum called the Barnegat Lighthouse Interpretive Center.
It is only a few steps away from the actual lighthouse as it’s around the vicinity and over here, you can look at historic photographs of the lighthouse over the years and read a little more into its history with stories of Lieutenant George G. Meade and efforts of the federal and local community to protect the lighthouse from erosion and then you can read about the natural environment around there.
A few blocks away, you can visit Barnegat Light Museum, which we didn’t have the opportunity to see but it’s still worth checking out. The Barnegat Light Museum will give you an insightful introduction to the history of the lighthouse.
It takes place in a restored schoolhouse from the last over hundred years and it is also part of the US National Register of Historic Places like the lighthouse itself. You can look at historic photographs, the First Order Flashing Lens from the lighthouse that had the capability to throw light at 20 miles or so before its removal in 1927, furniture from two major hotels that took place by the lighthouse, and other artifacts that are displayed from around the history of the lighthouse.
Admiring the views from below the lighthouse
Before we climbed up the lighthouse, just like we did it, you may want to walk around outside the lighthouse area first. It’s a sight to admire for sure. You can walk through the 1,000 feet long concrete walkways guarded with rails alongside the shore and inlet and take a clear look at how clear the water will look! You could also catch glimpses of the sea life and boats from outside the walkways. You can take pictures by the benches and green spaces next to the lighthouse. You will also see trails connecting around the area, but I suggest doing that after your lighthouse visit!
Climbing up the lighthouse
As you enter through the lighthouse, make sure you have drunk some water and have some water in hand and you’re wearing sneakers. New Jersey’s hot weather is often triggered by humidity that can be uncomfortable to withstand during summer.
As I mentioned, this lighthouse has 217 steps! It may not sound so much but it’s going to essentially feel like a hike. You will be climbing up these yellow-painted staircases, which can be narrow to walk up through when a lot of other people will be walking by you too. Make sure to stop and be kind and give space to some people.
Once you get to the top, you will end up in a small room that leads to a door opening to the observatory deck. You can get out there and you will be protected with a fenced-in exterior.
The views are going to be so beautiful to see with 360-degrees of the sea and overlooking Barnegat Light. You can see sandbars from afar at the green-blue sea and you may get a glimpse of a boat or two sail by.
Exploring the trail
After climbing up to the top of the lighthouse and getting back down, don’t forget to take the opportunity to explore the trail right by it.
The Maritime Forest Trail leads to a maritime forest and can give you views of the ocean in the distance, but mainly this is a walkthrough of the forest. It’s a short ⅕ mile long, self-guided tour and it contains some boarded walkways you can walk onto. This trail gives you the perspective that it’s one of the only forested areas of Long Beach Island.
Other things to do by Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
There’s access to the beach where you can see the Atlantic Ocean and for you to enjoy a day by the shore and get your sandy feet on. Birdwatching is fantastic around here, especially during the spring and fall migration (May and October are considered the best months). Fishing along the bulkhead of the picnic area is also an activity you can choose to do in the state park. You can do picnics by the picnic tables along the Barnegat Inlet (there will be two picnic shelters).
Find a place to stay near the Barnegat Lighthouse
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