Beam in on the brightest event of the fall season: New Jersey’s Lighthouse Challenge

  • Barnegat Lighthouse in New Jersey

Looking for a fun and active way to tour New Jersey this fall? Accept the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey on October 15-16, 2016. Learn about New Jersey’s rich nautical history, help preserve these beautiful beacons for future generations and participate in an awesome test of fitness. Are you in?

Two days, 14 locations

New Jersey is home to some of the oldest and historically noteworthy lighthouses in the U.S., and the state’s 11 lighthouses and three select museums are the “spotlight” of the annual Lighthouse Challenge. Your goal: to visit (and hopefully climb!) each one over the two-day event. As you traverse the state, you’ll earn a souvenir at each site to demonstrate your accomplishment. Geographically, you may want to start north (Sandy Hook) and go around the tip to the Delaware River (Tinicum) or vice versa. But to get a quick look at what’s on the horizon, check out an alphabetical rundown of the state’s beacons.

From the state’s tallest to the nation’s oldest

The state’s tallest lighthouse is Abescon, which boasts a stunning view of Atlantic City’s glittering skyline. At the affectionately nicknamed “Beaming Barney,” you’ll look out over Barnegat Bay and Long Beach Island. (This site also features a stop at the Barnegat Light Historical Museum, formerly the one-room schoolhouse for Barnegat Light.) Ascend the 199 steps of the Cape May Lighthouse for vistas of the Atlantic and the Delaware Bay. And be sure to get off the beaten path to visit the remote East Point Lighthouse, a red brick beacon on the Delaware Bay.

If you think all lighthouses look alike, don’t miss Finns Point Rear Range Light, an unusual open-frame lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In North Wildwood, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse is a working lighthouse that showcases a beautiful Victorian garden. Of course, Sandy Hook, lit for the first time in 1764, is a must-see as the nation’s oldest standing lighthouse. At Sea Girt, you’ll experience the last “live in” lighthouse in the U.S. The Tinicum Rear Range Lighthouse in Paulsboro offers a panorama of Philadelphia’s skyline and airport. Tuckerton features a replica lighthouse (the original fell into the sea in 1927) in a working maritime village that brings the Jersey Shore’s seafaring history to life. And, for an amazing Manhattan view atop medieval-looking towers, check out the Twin Lights of Navesink in Highlands. Also on the tour are U.S. Life Saving Station 30 in Ocean City and the Tatham Life Saving Station in Stone Harbor, recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

On your mark, set, climb!

From Sea Girt’s 42 steps to Abescon’s 228 steps, you’ll get a great workout and calorie burn as you support lighthouse preservation efforts. To get the most out of the Lighthouse Challenge, start early, dress comfortably and take advantage of the evening climb. Yes, you read correctly! Abescon, Cape May and Tuckerton lighthouses will be open for night climbs on Saturday from 6 pm to 8 pm Most sites will be open both days from 8 am - 6 pm, giving you ample time to hit them all, and food will be available near each lighthouse. Consider planning breakfast or lunch around a stop at Tinicum, where Uncle Pig’s BBQ will be serving breakfast sandwiches and pulled pork. And make a weekend out of it—New Jersey’s accommodations range from cozy cabins to charming B&Bs.

Gain a new perspective of New Jersey—from atop one of the state’s beloved lighthouses. Find more information about New Jersey’s lighthouses you can download a free NJ travel guide or sign up for e-news from New Jersey Travel and Tourism.