When fall comes, the tourism season in coastal New Jersey ends, but on one October weekend, hundreds of people flood shore towns from Sandy Hook to Long Beach Island to Cape May to make a unique pilgrimage — to their favorite New Jersey lighthouses.
The Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey is a two-day event celebrating the iconic lighthouses of the Garden State. The goal for participants of the Challenge is to visit, and hopefully climb, all of New Jersey’s publicly-accessible lighthouses, learn about local nautical history, and simply enjoy taking the scenic route through the gorgeous Jersey Shore region and beyond.
Want to participate? The Challenge this year will take place on October 20th and 21st, so get planning! There are 13 sites to visit (10 lighthouses, two lifesaving stations, and one maritime museum), as well as a myriad of other attractions along the way. The challenge runs from 8am to 6pm on both days, but some lighthouses offer night climbs. You probably won’t be able to finish in one day; so will you return home or stay overnight somewhere?
Participating in the challenge costs $2, and a few sites require small fees to climb the lighthouse. All of this money goes to maintaining the lighthouses and keeping the Challenge going. You can pick up special challenge souvenirs at each site to show everyone how many of the sites you’ve been to! Past souvenirs have included puzzle pieces, trading cards, and pins.
It’s not just lighthouses you’ll be visiting at these sites. You’ll also find food trucks, restaurants, museums, trails, historic sites, craft demonstrations, and scenic roads and views.
My favorite part of the Challenge has always been getting to experience the Jersey Shore in autumn. The beauty of the changing landscape paired with the quietude of emptied streets is so soothing! I always look forward to driving down picturesque Sandy Hook and taking a hike in the Pine Barrens at Tuckerton Seaport.
The Lighthouse Challenge is an amazing way to learn more about NJ marine history, meet other lighthouse enthusiasts, and explore the lesser known parts of this beautiful state. For more information, visit the Lighthouse Challenge website and be sure to follow along on Instagram on October 20th as we make our way down the shore!
Want more adventures? Visit our lighthouse and bridges of New Jersey map.