Lighthouses have played an important role in the maritime heritage of the United States in general, and the state of New Jersey in particular. They have been used to guide sailors home and help them navigate between ports. While there aren’t so many active lighthouses in use today, a visit to a NJ lighthouse is a great way to experience the Atlantic coast.
These are the amazing lighthouses in New Jersey you should visit.
If you enjoy great views and you are interested in catching a spectacular view of Atlantic City, you should visit Absecon Lighthouse. With 228 steps and at 171 feet, this lighthouse located at the north end of Atlantic City is the third tallest lighthouse in the United States and the tallest of all the lighthouses in New Jersey. Built in 1857, the Absecon lighthouse guided sailors to shore for close to a century till it was decommissioned in 1933.
Now a popular tourist attraction, you can tour the lighthouse and explore the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. You can also check out the museum attached to it, which houses artifacts related to the history of lighthouses and the maritime heritage of New Jersey.
If you are looking for great views, you should make the 10-15 minute climb up the 217-step winding staircase of one of the historic NJ lighthouses, Barnegat Lighthouse. At the tip of the 165-foot tower, you will get incredible views of the picturesque surrounding area, including a spectacular view of Island Beach State Park, a bird’s eye view of Barnegat Inlet from all angles, and the 18 miles stretch that is Long Beach Island.
Beyond the incredible views, Barnegat Lighthouse has an impressive history. It was originally built in 1835 to help with transatlantic navigation. It was later used as a lookout tower during the First World War. It was restored to its former state in 1988 and now serves as a major part of the state’s history.
Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May lighthouse is one of the most historic landmarks in Cape May. This is because of the important place the lighthouse holds in the rich history of Victorian Cape May. Built in 1959 under the impressive leadership of 1st Lt. George Meade, the lighthouse has helped guide sailors home for several decades. It continues to function in this way: flashing its easily recognizable beam, which can be seen from 24 miles out to sea, every 15 seconds.
Apart from serving as a lighthouse, it is also a popular tourist attraction. One of the things you can do at the lighthouse includes climbing its original stairs, which make you feel like you are a part of the history of the place. Be sure to check out the murals in the lighthouse, which tell the stories of its keepers as well as how it has functioned throughout its history. You can also visit the lighthouse’s museum shop, which is located in its original oil storage building.
East Point Lighthouse
This picturesque lighthouse that can be found on the shore of the Delaware Bay stands on its own and serves as a demarcation between the developed and undeveloped lands. Originally built in 1849 and known as the Maurice River Lighthouse, it was lit for the first time in 1911 and has provided guiding light to commercial fishermen and leisure boaters since its inception. You can go on group tours to the lighthouse and check out its beautiful exterior and the surrounding grounds that have impressive views.
Finns Point Rear Range Light
Located in Pennsville, the Finns Point Range Lighthouse is one of the most spectacular and historical New Jersey Lighthouses. It was originally built in Buffalo, New York, in 1876 and then moved to Pennsville by train and mule wagon. This huge lighthouse is 115 feet tall and has 130 steps leading to the top. It featured a powerful light that was deactivated in 1950. While it is no longer in use, you can still visit to enjoy the great view of the lighthouse.
It is also located close to Fort Mott State Park, a 104-acre waterfront park with buildings and relics from the Spanish-American War. You and your kids can go from checking out the lighthouse to learning more about the Spanish-American War in the state park.
Hereford Inlet Lighthouse
Easily mistaken for a gorgeous vacation home or holiday resort in Wildwood, this magnificent lighthouse with its impressive Victorian architecture is surrounded by several gardens. Apart from being picturesque, Hereford Inlet lighthouse has a vibrant history which has earned it a spot on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
While touring the iconic lighthouse, some of the things you will see include the beautiful living quarters of the keeper and his family, which have five lovely fireplaces. You will also get to see the beautiful flowers and herb gardens on the premises. The lighthouse also has a small museum and still serves as a working guide for ships.
Sandy Hook Lighthouse
Dating all the way back to the 18th Century, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse holds a prominent place in history as the oldest functioning lighthouse in the United States. It has been in use since 1764 and has only had its lights dimmed during the first and second world wars, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War.
This well-preserved lighthouse is one of the major tourist attractions at Sandy Hook and New Jersey as a whole, as people come to check out this over 250 years old lighthouse. You too should pay a visit to it whenever you are in the area. Beyond getting a look at the lighthouse, you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon in the park area surrounding it.
Sea Girt Lighthouse
Initially built in 1896 to bridge the 40-mile gap between the Twin Lights of Navesink and Barnegat Lighthouse, the Sea Grit is a major tourist attraction along the coast. This lighthouse, located in an L-shaped building from the Victorian era, helped sailors navigate and find their way before they got to the Twin Lights or Barnegat.
The lobby house does not have as many steps as most others, with its 42 steps from the bottom to the lightroom. The lighthouse became out of use in 1945 and is now a tourist destination where visitors can get tours of the keeper’s home attached to it and tours of the lighthouse with its interior decor that takes you back to the historic period when it was still in use.
Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse
Tinicum Lighthouse is one of the most visited lighthouses in the New Jersey area. Since it was first lit on New Year’s Eve in 1880, the lighthouse has remained in use, expertly guiding lots of ships heading north along the Delaware River. The lighthouse has helped ships find their way to the ports of Philadelphia and Camden.
The impressive structure is made from pure steel and stands at 85 feet tall. If you make it up the 112 steps to the top, you can get a spectacular view of the Delaware River from there. The lighthouse offers special events for climbing to the top and a video tour of the facility.
Tucker’s Island Lighthouse
Though a not-very-popular lighthouse, Tucker’s Island Lighthouse is one of the most important lighthouses in New Jersey. This is because of its history and how it stands as proof that people can rebuild.
The lighthouse currently at Tucker’s Island is a replica of the original lighthouse that was built in 1848. This lighthouse was taken by the sea in 1927, and the process of this was captured by Arthur Rider. Over the next 20 years, the entire island was consumed by water.
The current Tucker’s Island Lighthouse can be found in Tuckerton Seaport Village, across the water from the original location. Some of the things you can do at the lighthouse include getting a tour of the facility and seeing the exhibits that tell the history of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and the surrounding area. The lighthouse also has a museum you can check out.
Twin Lights of Navesink
Famous for its unique twin tower design, the Twin Lights of Navesink is a sight to behold. It is one of the most beautiful New Jersey lighthouses and plays a major role in the history of lighthouses in the United States. The first Fresnel lens in the United States was located at the original lighthouse in Navesink. It was also here that the first practical use of the wireless telegraph was demonstrated.
In 1898, Twin Lights of Navesink became the first electrically lit sea coat lighthouse in the United States. No longer in use as a lighthouse, Twin Lights currently houses a Seeing Stars museum, which shows the progress of the American flag, and a museum of lighthouse artifacts. You can climb to the top of the impressive towers of the lighthouse and see amazing views of the area.
Put on some comfortable shoes and go exploring the amazing lighthouses that New Jersey has to offer. Which one is your favorite?