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Long Beach Island is an 18-mile-long barrier island, filled with white-sand beaches along its Atlantic Ocean coast. Wherever you are on LBI, as it’s called by the locals, you’re never more than half a mile from the water, making it the idyllic beach getaway. While Beach Haven may be the hub of the area’s attractions with its wealth of family entertainment options, each town has its own draw. Barnegat Light is all about calm, wide-open spaces, while Harvey Cedars is known for its walkable downtown and summer craft fairs. Ship Bottom and Surf City both attract daytrippers, since they’re near the single bridge to the island, but along with the crowds come all the conveniences, such as boat ramps and lively shopping and dining areas. The areas in between are part of Long Beach Township, dotting the island with their own beach vibes.
For those flying into the area, Atlantic City International Airport (ACY) is about a 45-minute drive from the southwest, Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) is about 90 minutes west, and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is 90 minutes north. Seasonal bus service is available directly to LBI from New York City, Philadelphia, and Newark. The closest train station is in Atlantic City Rail Terminal, about 45 minutes south. While many opt to rent cars to get to the barrier island, once you’re here, a trolley shuttle service runs the length from Barnegat Light on the north end to Holgate in the south. Just be sure to hail the shuttle, so the driver knows you want to board.
Located in the heart of the Jersey Shore, LBI follows the calendar markers of its surroundings, officially ringing in the season during Memorial Day weekend and closing it out Labor Day weekend. While there are some muggy summer days here, the beach breezes of its island geography offer some relief. Both the outdoor temperatures and the ocean temperatures remain pleasant in September through early October, making this a strategic time to visit without the crowds. The wind picks up in October, ushering in the LBI Fly International Kite Festival over Columbus Day weekend as well as the Chowderfest and Long Beach Island Sea Glass and Art Festival. As the weather gets colder, wetter, and windier, much of the area’s attractions shut down for the season.
Nicknamed “Beaming Barney,” the beacon at the northern tip of Long Beach Island was first lit in 1859 and served as an essential point for vessels to navigate a change of course along the New Jersey-New York coastline. From the top of the 217-step tower are views of Barnegat Bay and LBI, as well as Island Beach across the way. The park also houses a maritime forest trail along areas where migratory birds stop and feed during their spring and fall journeys.
Immerse yourself in the nautical history of the region at the Barnegat Light fishing village, where the old fishing shacks have been transformed into boutique stores, seafood eateries, and a coffee shop. Commercial dock tours are offered in the summer and celebrations are held year-round, from the Blessing of the Fleet in June to Santa’s Viking Christmas Village during the holidays.
Built in 1882 as an Episcopal church, the building was taken over by the Long Beach Island Historical Association in 1976, where it still stands in the historical section of Beach Haven. The museum features artifacts documenting the history, culture, and people of LBI.