Swim, Bike Explore Sandy Hook

The beautiful thin peninsula that is the Gateway National Recreation Area attracts millions of visitors every year thanks to its historic landmarks, recreational facilities and natural landscapes.

Located on a thin peninsula that juts into lower New York Harbor, the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Recreation Area is a park that draws more than two million visitors each year to enjoy its historic landmarks, natural areas and recreational facilities.

The National Park Service took over most of the 1,665-acre peninsula in 1975 after the U.S. Army deactivated Fort Hancock, which until then served as an active military installation. A primary mission of the fort was to defend New York Harbor. Over the years, a number of weapons were installed, including large mortars, artillery and, in later years, Nike anti-aircraft missiles. From 1874 to 1919, Sandy Hook also served as the Army's first proving ground for testing new weapons and ordnance.

Within the fort is the Sandy Hook Lighthouse. Built in 1764 to help prevent shipwrecks, it is the oldest operating lighthouse in America and a National Historic Landmark. In addition to the historic aspects of the park, Sandy Hook has expansive ocean and bay beaches for swimming, fishing, picnicking, scuba diving, surfing, windsurfing and bicycling. For nature lovers, the park has extensive hiking trails, bike paths, salt marshes, a holly forest and more than 300 species of birds.