If you're looking for a slower-paced weekend getaway, turn off exit 63 on the NJ Parkway to find yourself in Barnegat Light. Laid-back but full of activities, find your perfect variety of food, sun, and fun on “The Island."

The names of the beloved beaches of New Jersey are no strangers on the lips of New Jerseyans. Many summers begin Memorial Day weekend with a trip "down the shore" to the dozens of boardwalks, bars, and bright lights from arcade games.

NJ beaches were made a household name in 2009 from MTV's The Jersey Shore. Hurricane Sandy created such devastation when it hit the East Coast in 2012 that many businesses and homes were destroyed, and lives were turned upside down. But with countless hours of hard work and lots of love, the Jersey shore is back.  With so many beaches (130 miles of them!) to visit, you may wonder which one gives you everything. If you are looking for a slower-paced weekend getaway, turn off exit 63 on the NJ Parkway to find yourself on Long Beach Island (LBI) in Barnegat Light. Laid-back but full of activities, find your perfect variety of food, sun, and fun on “The Island.”

Google map

Courtesy of Google Maps

Barnegat Light has a long and rich history. Cool off inside the quaint Barnegat Light Historical Society Museum and Gardens. Once the old school building of Barnegat Light, it now displays some of the island’s history through replicas and artifacts. The lighthouse’s first lens has been long retired, but you can see it in all its glory inside the museum. Imagine yourself in the past with old photographs of the locals and pictures of two of LBI’s first hotels, The Oceanic and The Sunset. Both buildings met tragic ends in the early part of the 1900s (the replicas can be seen at Jen’s mini-golf).

Barnegat Light Museum and Gardens

Barnegat Light Historical Society Museum and Gardens, courtesy of Laura Monka

The blockbuster movie based on Peter Benchley book, Jaws, was influenced by the real-life shark attack of a college student in 1916. Viking Village, which opened in the 1920s, is another must-see stop. You can watch the commercial fishing ships set out early in the morning while you wait for the shops to open. Or ask a local fisherman about what is recommended as the best catch of the day. Though Barnegat Light doesn't have its own boardwalk, you won't even miss one. Let the kids play in the park with an ocean view while you take in the rich salty sea air. When you are ready to hit the beach, you can head towards one of many sandy entrances at the end of the streets.

If you are a foodie, there is a never-ending choice of good eats. For vegans and vegetarians, you can order up at the small but colorful vegan deli Living on the Veg. They have whole wheat hummus wraps, soups, and daily specials for anyone looking for a tasty and healthy meal. You can get some great, homemade cheese at The Cheese Shoppe. This store has shelves lined with unique sauces, teas, and delicious honey. The late Anthony Bourdain would often visit LBI where he would feast on freshly caught seafood at Kubel’s. Afterward, you can stroll down to the end of the road where you are greeted with the sea.

lighthouse

Courtesy of Laura Monka

Take a walk up “Old Barney,” the island’s beloved red and white lighthouse, which is nestled inside the state park. If you are up to climbing the 217-step spiral staircase, you can peer down to see messages spelled out in rocks below. Beyond the lighthouse is a perfect end to your day, watching the sunset as you walk along the jetty and listen to the Atlantic crash against the rocks.

sunset

Sunset at LBI, courtesy of Laura Monka

Whether you have come for the month, a weekend getaway, or just to spend the day, Barnegat Light has it all. LBI has so much to offer you and your family, or as a spur-of-the-moment fishing trip for two. Fresh food, sandy beaches, and specialty shops are all there waiting down the Jersey Shore.

Have any great memories of summer down the Jersey Shore? Tell us in the comments!