Visit: Barnegat Lighthouse

by Cate on July 23, 2012

BL - full view
When the kids and I were down the shore for Spring Break, I took them to some of my old stomping grounds.  Light sightseeing gave way to a stop at the Cape May Point Lighthouse (that picture and its accompanying beautiful sun flare is at the bottom of this post here).  Madeline was enamored.

Like love at first sight.

I didn’t know about her infatuation with lighthouses before then.

Otherwise I would have timed it so we arrived there while the lighthouse was still open.

Unfortunately, I didn’t.

And it wasn’t.

And she has reminded me I promised her a lighthouse visit.  Politely.  Nearly every day since.

And this weekend, I made good on it.  Albeit a different lighthouse.

We were down the shore for the weekend, and on Saturday afternoon, I told the kids we were going out for awhile.  A million questions, and a few select clues later, I left it at “it’s a surprise.”

Good luck doing that with kids.

Because it only makes things worse.

Mostly for you.

When we were within eyesight of the Barnegat Lighthouse, I told them I could see the surprise.  And then I told Nick to keep his trap shut so he didn’t spoil it for his sister.

Nobody apparently had any idea what I was talking about.

Which is pretty much normal.

And then as we pulled into the gravel parking lot, she looked up.

And saw it.

And gasped.

BL - sun flare

And said it was the best surprise ever.

Oh how I love that child.

It was the perfect day for climbing lighthouse steps.  Blue skies.  Moderate (low 80s) temps.  217 steps to the top.

BL - details

Pretty much a bargain and a half for four bucks and the amount of happiness it gave my kids, especially Madeline.

BL - massacre plaque

As a side note, on the way home, they told me their three favorite things about our weekend, and climbing the lighthouse steps was one of them.

So here’s the thing.  The staircase is weird.  Spiral, no surprise there.  But it’s split in half.  Originally I thought “awesome, one side to go up and one side to go down.”

But, yeah, not so much.  Only half the staircase is usable.  The other half is closed.  Permanently.  Like with soldered bars and such.  Which leaves about a three foot wide passageway for everyone to go up and down the same steps.  Fine for the kids.  But every time you pass an adult, you have to turn sideways, hug the wall or the railing, and get super-comfortable with complete strangers.  Weirdness.

BL - staircase

BL - still cilmbing

BL - halfway up

There are landings every 25-30 steps or so.  For you to catch your breath.  Take a picture of your kid. Admire the view.  Let a crowd pass.  Change your mind and go back down.

We got to the top.  Nick went right out onto the landing deck viewing thing.  Madeline was not so sure.

BL - unsure

And, of course, I took a picture to memorialize that.

I politely wasn’t going to let her go back down all those steps without stepping out to see the view.  She was a little apprehensive, but I knew if she missed out on seeing it, she would be sorely disappointed.  It took a minute or two of gentle coaxing and she stepped out.

And, of course, is super glad she did.

BL - feeling good

And got even closer to the edge.

BL - look ma, no hands

Much happiness.

We looked straight down to the ocean.

Found our car in the parking lot.

And took oodles of pictures.


And when they were ready, we began our descent down. As soon as we reached the ground, they both asked to go back up. I didn’t want to go back up, and with the steps the way they were, didn’t feel comfortable with them going back up themselves.

So I bribed them with the next best thing.

A stop in the visitor’s center.

BL - the facts

A postcard. A map. And a certificate commemorating their climb.

BL -signing certificate
(signing their certificate, which is a perfect $1 addition to our summer journal)

BL - history lesson

BL - history lesson

For our lighthouse fans and/or New Jersey readers, there is a lighthouse challenge in October, where you can visit 11 lighthouses, including several that will be allowing special nighttime viewing.  Funds raised during this weekend will go to lighthouse and maritime preservation.  I need to get in front of a calendar, but I think we’re going to shoot for doing it.

Barnegat Lighthouse and State Park
208 Broadway
Barnegat Light, NJ 08006
(609) 494-2016

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanne July 24, 2012 at 6:35 am

I can’t say that I’ve ever spent much time thinking about or looking at lighthouses..actually I’m not sure I’ve ever been in one at all even after going to Montauk and the Hamptons almost every summer of my childhood. I should probably get on that.
Joanne recently posted..Recipe: Butternut Squash Agnolotti with Thai Peanut Sauce…and a GIVEAWAY!


Meg July 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

How fun! I love lighthouses as a kid, too. Most trips down to the Outer Banks included heading out to Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island, though I can’t say I’ve climbed any of those in quite some time.
Meg recently posted..Book review: ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce


Ramona July 24, 2012 at 10:59 am

a great memory


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