What comes to mind when you think about the Jersey Shore? Boardwalks? Sand? Ocean? Pizza, fries, and lemonade? How about lighthouses? Of course, most New Jerseyans are familiar with the Cape May Lighthouse or even the Absecon Lighthouse along the Atlantic Ocean. Did you know that New Jersey is home to 23 lighthouses? Lighthouses wrap around the state from the Barnegat Lightship along the Delaware River all the way north to the Robbins Reef lighthouse in the Upper Bay. The whole coast is lined with these iconic resources!  

Experiencing many of these lighthouses is a breeze because of the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey! The Lighthouse Challenge takes place the third weekend in October each year. This year, the event is taking place on Saturday, October 21st and Sunday, October 22nd. Through the challenge, participants will be able to experience 10 land-based lighthouses, 3 lifesaving stations, 1 museum, 1 virtual site, and the Lighthouse Society of NJ. “The challenge route covers the Atlantic Coast from Sandy Hook to Cape May and the Delaware Bay and River Coast from Cape May to Paulsboro.” There is no pre-determined starting point, so you can plan your own route! Pre-registration is not required, so you also can go at your own pace!

The goal of the challenge is to visit all 14 stops (and 1 virtual) before the end of the weekend and to learn more about the history of these brilliant resources along NJ’s coastline. For a small fee of $5, challenge participants will be able to collect souvenirs from each location they visit. Participants may also climb the lighthouses (for an additional fee)! Some night climbs are even available! If participants complete the challenge, they will receive a special sticker and will be entered to win 1 of 3 prizes! The grand prize is worth more than $500, this year!

For a sneak peek of the Journey Through Jersey sites located along the Challenge route, check out the brief descriptions below, 

  • The Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City was built in 1854, with its light first lit in 1857. At 171 feet tall, it is New Jersey’s tallest lighthouse and the third tallest in the country. The Absecon Lighthouse is now owned by the Inlet Public/Private Association (IPPA), which purchased the property in 1996, and works to preserve, interpret, and operate the landmark. If you are not interested in climbing this historic resource during the challenge, take a stroll through the community garden located at the base of the lighthouse or walk through the Keeper’s House to see some rare historical photographs! 
  • Barnegat Light Museum is one of the few, non-lighthouses included in the Lighthouse Challenge, but stands in the shadow of the Barnegat Lighthouse—an additional Challenge site. The Museum is a former one-room schoolhouse that was converted into a museum in 1954. The museum features the original 1859 Fresnel Lens from Barnegat Lighthouse which could throw its light 20 miles or more to the horizon! The Museum also holds many historical records, pictures, and videos depicting life in Barnegat Light and the surrounding areas. Embark on a treasure hunt around the museum, climb the lighthouse, explore the gardens, and experience the history the Museum holds! 
  • Cape May Lighthouse was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1859. It is the last in a series of lighthouses to occupy this site and is one of the country's oldest lighthouses in continuous operation. The lighthouse apparatus was electrified in 1933. The original first order Fresnel lens can now be view at the nearby Cape May Museum. Climb to the top of this popular tourist attraction during the Challenge or visit the museum located in the old Oil House! 
  • East Point Lighthouse is an active lighthouse built in 1849, situated on the picturesque Southern Bayshore in Cumberland County. This fully restored and furnished lighthouse is the second oldest in New Jersey and the only remaining land-based lighthouse on the Delaware Bay. Its distinctive red roof and Cape Code architecture mark the mouth of the Maurice River. The lighthouse serves as both an active navigational aid for the United States Coast Guard and a year-round museum managed by the Maurice River Historical Society. In addition to its architecture, the lighthouse is known for its scenic grounds and its abundant wildlife. 

With the summer days in the past, we are all searching for a way to keep the Jersey Shore alive just a little bit longer. The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is one of the solutions! Are you ready to participate? 

To learn more about the Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey including directions and site hours, check out their website: https://lighthousechallengenj.... 

Let us know if you joined the Lighthouse Challenge by tagging #JOURNEYTHROUGHJERSEY in your social media posts!