Long Beach Island, NJ
Lighthouse, copyright John
County Chamber of Commerce.
When LBI regulars refer to "Old Barney," they aren't talking about a big purple dinosaur, but rather the historic lighthouse. Located in Barnegat Island State Park on Long Beach Island's northern tip, the 165-foot lighthouse was decommissioned in the 1920s.
Today you can climb its 217 steps to the top for magnificent sea, bay and island views (the winding medal staircase has landings with porthole windows and written commentary, where you can pause for a breath along the way).
The park also offers covered picnic areas, a beach for sunbathing (swimming is not allowed) and a 1,033-foot concrete jetty where you can catch more views, fish for bass and flounder, or watch brown pelicans land and take off. (The jetty's a great place for older kids to rock scramble.)
On hot summer days, cool off on the park's shaded, 1/5 mile Maritime Forest Trail. The self-guided loop takes you through one of the last remaining patches of maritime forest in New Jersey, where you can view sassafras plants and yellow-rumped warblers, to name a few species that call LBI home.