This US State Park's Lighthouse Has A Breathtaking View Of The Atlantic Ocean

Across the U.S., dotting harbors, rocky shorelines, islands, and lighthouses have long served an important role in maritime navigation. On a practical level, lighthouses are strategic lifesaving structures to guide ships through rough waters. However, lighthouses have also become a beacon of intrigue over time. There's something magical and even hopeful about seeing a towering lighthouse appear on the horizon.

There are 779 lighthouses standing on shorelines across all 50 states. If you're an adventurer who loves adding lighthouse stops to every trip, breathtaking Atlantic Ocean views await you at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. Located on the far northern end of Long Beach Island in New Jersey, the Barnegat Lighthouse is an impressive testament to time in the Garden State with a history dating back to 1834. The cost to build the original 40-foot lighthouse was just $6,000, but the non-flashing light wasn't effective enough to guide mariners at the time.

A new and improved version of the lighthouse was built in 1855 and was officially lit on January 1, 1859. When you visit the Barnegat Lighthouse today, you'll have a blast at the second-tallest lighthouse in New Jersey, with options to climb to the observation deck and soak up amazing sights from a bird's eye view. Even from the ground, the lighthouse offers visitors options to explore the area and make the most of spectacular ocean scenery.

Enjoy incredible ocean views from above

If you plan to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean views from the observation deck of Barnegat Lighthouse at this state park, be sure to prepare for the journey ahead. The lighthouse stands 163 feet tall, and to reach the top, you'll have to conquer no less than 217 steps. If you're willing to climb, the reward you'll earn comes in the form of sweeping vistas out over the ocean and across Long Beach Island from a truly one-of-a-kind vantage point.

Visitors are invited to tour the Barnegat Lighthouse daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. You'll want to check the forecast before you arrive, as adverse weather can cause the lighthouse to close early. It's also important to note that if you're visiting the lighthouse with children, they will only be allowed to climb to the top when accompanied by an adult.

When you're hoping to pair your views with even more insight into the Atlantic coastline and the many habitats it supports, you can do so at the lighthouse's Interpretive Center during your visit. Once you're back on the ground, take some time to explore the historical exhibits that tell the story of how the lighthouse was built, its vital role, the life of a lighthouse keeper, and the essential coastal ecosystems in the area. The Interpretive Center is open from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. daily.

Lighthouse-adjacent activities with great vistas

There are lovely, on-land waterway views to be enjoyed at the Barnegat Lighthouse. Once you've explored the top of the structure, you can come back down and spend some quality time casting a line into the surrounding waters from the walkway leading up to the lighthouse. The saltwater species you have a good chance of reeling here range from summer flounder and black sea bass to bluefish and striped bass.

If the lighthouse climb has left you with an appetite, there are opportunities to settle in at the pavilion nearby to enjoy a waterside picnic. The pavilion is located near the sand, and the park's jetty provides options to relax, unwind, and relish your surroundings at your own pace. Scenic water views and birding go hand-in-hand at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. Spring and fall migrations bring in a variety of species, with the sands surrounding the lighthouse working as important nesting areas for birds. A visit this way often comes with sightings of harlequin ducks, red-breasted mergansers, and common eiders.

When you're looking for an immersive experience in maritime forested terrain, you're in the right place. Feel free to explore the surrounding lighthouse scenery further by walking along the Maritime Forest Trail. This .2-mile loop takes you through a rich coastal landscape that's well worth investigating when you visit.