Fourth of July Weekend: Ten Things to do in Long Beach Island
From end to end, Long Beach Island is a sun worshipper’s paradise. Stretching 18 miles with a lighthouse on one end and a nature reserve on the other, it’s long been a popular summer colony for those who live in both the Philadelphia and greater New York City areas. As such, it attracts a diverse group of vacationers, all of whom come to enjoy the soft sand, calm water, great restaurants, and fun activities that keep the island hoppin’ all summer long.
On Fourth of July weekend, there’s more than enough to keep visitors busy…and then some. Here’s a list of fun activities to make your 4th of July vacation memorable.
1. Visit Barnegat Lighthouse State Park – LBI – as the regulars call it – is home to one of New Jersey’s prettiest lighthouses. The red-and-white structure soars 172- feet into the sky and climbing it means you’ll get an amazing view. Even if you don’t climb, head to the area and enjoy the walkway that stretches out into the bay and the picnic tables set up for an enjoyable outdoor meal.
2. Enjoy the show! – The 65-year-old Surflight Theater in Beach Haven has long been offering vacationers a taste of culture while on their summer hiatus. On the Mainstage you’ll find popular Broadway-style shows but there’s also a children’s theater and a comedy club. And don’t forget to stop at the adjoining Show Place, where you might just have to sing for your ice cream!
3. Play Mini Golf – LBI has a huge concentration of mini golf courses up and down the main thoroughfare, including a spectacular course in Beach Haven. Work your way up (or down) the island and try them out. Some even have daily tournaments where you can challenge others to see who reigns supreme!
4. Visit Island Beach State Park – On the opposite end from the lighthouse is this bucolic state park, where you can check in with your RV or just enjoy visiting for a few hours. The flora and fauna here are magnificent and birdwatchers will spy countless species of winged friends as well. Hike the Discovery Trail System or do a little fishing.
5. Dance to the music – Concerts are offered all summer long at a number of locations up and down the island and most appeal to a wide variety of age groups. Check out schedules at Veterans Bicentennial Park in Beach Haven, Sunset Park in Harvey Cedars, and at the bayside between 10th and 11th in Ship Bottom.
6. Go Fishin’ – Book a boat charter on Barnegat Bay and try your hand at catching some of the local species. Outfitters offer everything from small fishing vessels to huge yachts that will accommodate you and 25 of your closest friends. Choose the one that suits you best and head out on a fun Fourth of July excursion.
7. Eat some Seafood – Long Beach Island boasts a bevy of fine restaurants, including many that serve fresh catch-of-the-day seafood dishes. Be sure to save some room for the Clam “Chowda” served in a bread bowl, offered at a number of spots on the island.
8. Stretch Out on the Beach – Of course, the beauty of LBI is the fact that you really don’t have to do anything at all, if you’d rather not. The expansive Atlantic coast beach stretches from one end of the barrier island to the other, and you can choose spots with lots of families and kids or other areas where there’s nary a soul. Just bring a chair, a towel, some sunscreen, and a good book and you’re set for the day…or the week.
9. Brush Up on your Island History – Take a few moments out of your 4th of July holiday to learn more about LBI with a visit to the local historical society’s interesting museum. Located in Beach Haven in a former church, it includes a huge collection of artifacts as well as a hands-on area the kids will enjoy. It’s a true piece of Americana! Special tours are offered on July 4th.
10.Fireworks, fireworks! – Did we mention fireworks? A red, white, and blue extravaganza originates at Beach Haven’s Bay Village at dusk, preceded by some special events for the kids at nearby Fantasy Island Amusement Park. It’s a great night of fun!