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Top 10 Lighthouses to Visit on Long Island and in New Jersey

Top 10 Lighthouses to Visit on Long Island and in New Jersey

Find out the best lighthouses in NY and NJ to explore with your crew this spring.


Now is the perfect time to visit one of New Jersey and Long Island’s incredible lighthouses and learn about their role in America’s maritime heritage and history. Many offer free admission, too. Plan a fun trip for the whole family; most are near state parks or beaches. So, you’ll have plenty to do when you’re done. Just always check with lighthouses in advance for their COVID protocols.

Lighthouses in New Jersey

1. Sandy Hook Lighthouse

84 Mercer Road, Highlands

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Distance from NYC: About a 1-hour, 20-minute drive from NYC

The oldest lighthouse in operation in the U.S., it’s located at the northern end of the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area in Atlantic Highlands and on the grounds of Fort Hancock. This well-preserved octagonal tower goes back to the 18th century and has been in service since 1764. It was only darkened during the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II. Climb the 95 steps and nine-rung ladder to the lens room at the top.

Why we like it: No car, no problem. A ferry can take you right to Sandy Hook Beach from Manhattan.

2. Absecon Lighthouse

31 S. Rhode Island Ave., Atlantic City

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Distance from NYC: About a 2½-hour drive

Journey back in time as you climb 228 steps to the top of the state’s tallest lighthouse, first lit in 1857. At 171 feet tall, Absecon is the third tallest in the country. Check out the breathtaking views of Atlantic City from the top. After you descend, explore an educational museum and gift shop on the expansive grounds.

Why we like it: You’ll find a live selfie cam atop the outdoor watch room. Give loved ones a shout out from high above.

3. Barnegat Lighthouse

208 Broadway, Barnegat Light

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Distance from NYC: About a 2-hour drive

Climb Old Barney’s 217 steps for spectacular panoramic views of Island Beach, Barnegat Bay, and Long Beach Island. (If you dislike heights, four cameras transmit live images to a display in the Interpretive Center.) When you’re done, hike along the Maritime Forest Trail, a self-guided loop through a forest featuring various types of trees and migratory birds.

Why we like it: It’s an ideal spot to be near the ocean while avoiding beach crowds.

4. Cape May Lighthouse

215 Lighthouse Ave., Cape May Point

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Distance from NYC: About a 3-hour drive

This tower, located on the southern tip of New Jersey, is the third documented lighthouse. Climb 199 steps to the top and be rewarded with amazing views of the Cape May peninsula. The grounds also house an orientation center and gift shop.

Why we like it: When you’re done with the lighthouse, explore Cape May. It’s a quaint and charming family-friendly beach town.

5. Tucker’s Island Lighthouse

120 W. Main St., Tuckerton

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Distance from NYC: About a 2-hour drive

Explore the Jersey Shore at this lighthouse, located within the Tuckerton Seaport. It’s actually a reproduction of the original from 1868 that fell into the ocean in October 1927. From the second floor, climb 42 steps for a breathtaking view of the Tuckerton Seaport and Lake Pohatcong.

Why we like it: After you climb to the top of the lighthouse, explore Tuckerton Seaport. It’s home to a boardwalk, charming shops, museums, and restaurants.

Lighthouses on Long Island

1. Huntington Harbor Lighthouse

Huntington



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Distance from NYC: About a 1-hour, 15-minute drive

The lighthouse was scheduled for demolition in the 1980s, but a nonprofit group saved it from being torn down. It’s just a short boat ride from Huntington’s Goldstar Battalion Beach to the lighthouse. Once there, you’ll get a guided, educational tour as you take in the lighthouse and Huntington Harbor.

Why we like it: All tour proceeds go to the ongoing restoration and preservation of the Huntington Harbor Lighthouse.

2. Horton Point Lighthouse

Southold Hamlet

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Distance from NYC: About a 2-hour drive

This lighthouse was built in 1857 and is one of the seven historic lighthouses in Southold Township. The 58-foot tower was repaired inside and out, reopened, and relit in a 1990 restoration project.

Why we like it: Combine your lighthouse trip with a visit to any of the villages in Southold Township. Greenport, for example, boasts restaurants, ice cream shops, and fun stores.

3. Bug Light

103 3rd St., Greenport

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Distance from NYC: About a 2-hour drive

Formerly called Long Beach Bar Light Station, it’s one of a few offshore U.S. lighthouses that allows visitors. It was lit in 1871, it burnt down in 1963, and In 1990, it was fully restored. The East End Seaport Museum holds trips via boat.

Why we like it: The 2-hour cruise to Bug Light is narrated by the great-grandson of the last keeper of the lighthouse.

4. Montauk Lighthouse

2000 Montauk Highway, Montauk

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Distance from NYC: About a 2-hour, 40-minute drive

Located on the eastern tip of Long Island, this is the oldest lighthouse in the state and the fourth oldest in the U.S. It was commissioned by President George Washington in 1792 and finished 4 years later. At the top, you’ll find a Long Island map with small models of many lighthouses, on which kids can push buttons to light up each lighthouse.

Why we like it: Daredevils and the adventurous will have fun in the narrow stairwell. (Kids shorter than 41 inches can’t climb the lighthouse).

5. Fire Island Lighthouse

Field 5, Robert Moses Causeway, Bay Shore

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Distance from NYC: About a 1-hour, 20-minute drive

It’s Long Island’s tallest lighthouse at 168 feet tall. It was one of the first landmarks that visitors saw when traveling from Europe on a ship. It’s 182 steps to the top, but you can only climb to the lower balcony and service room. (Note that kids must be at least 42 inches to climb the tower).

Why we like it: You can’t get here by car, but kids will likely love taking a ferry to get there.

 


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Stacey Feintuch

Author: Stacey Feintuch is a freelance writer for print and online publications. She has written for ReadersDigest.com, BestofNJ.com, K health, The Boca Raton Observer magazine, The Bump, Care.com, Healthline, Highlights for Kids, HealthyWomen, and other outlets. She has a BA in journalism from The George Washington University and an MA in magazine journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She grew up in Morris County, NJ, and currently lives in Bergen County, NJ. A mom to two boys, you'll find her at the baseball diamond on the weekends. See More

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