If you ask me where my favorite beach is, my answer is always the same: Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Why? It has camping, history, culture, big open beaches, sandy marshes, coastal birds, the best bakery, and more. Not to mention the only cost is $15/car to park in the beach lots (and those who get there before 7am get a free pass!) with no silly beach tag charges.
Mike & I took a quick getaway at the beginning of August to Sandy Hook and we had such a good time! Usually we would camp at the small 20-site campground in the park, but because we planned this trip on short notice, there were no sites left. Instead we stayed at an adorable AirBnb in the Highlands for two nights.
After a fun day at the beach, we walked around a nature trail at sunset. We also explored the old U.S. Life Saving Station which was previously used as the park visitor center. Unfortunately, it was damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and has not been restored yet.
We also walked around Fort Hancock and learned a bit of history surrounding the old buildings in the fort area. The fort was built in 1857 and was in operation as an active military fort for over one-hundred years until it was decommissioned in 1974. Many of the old buildings (specifically along Officer's Row) also took a rough hit during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but the NPS is working on slowly restoring them.
The beautiful Sandy Hook Lighthouse is another reason I love this place so much! The lighthouse is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the United States. It was built in 1764 and is still operated by the Coast Guard today. The NPS offers free tours daily, and the top has a great view of the fort, the Hook, and the NYC skyline!
Sandy Hook is also home to many feathered friends and is considered a premier place for birding in New Jersey. There are at least half a dozen Osprey nests on the Hook that come back each year. It's not hard to find them - just look up on the chimneys of the houses on Officer's Row. You'll be sure to spot an Osprey in no time!
One of my favorite parts about Sandy Hook is the gorgeous views of the New York City skyline. On a clear day you can see the Verazanno Bridge, One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, Coney Island & more!
Our sweet little AirBnb was located right under the Twin Lights and just a short drive to the beach - it was perfect!
We ended the day with a beautiful bayside sunset, then we went off to get dinner at a local favorite, Moby's. Check back soon for a second post on this beautiful park! :)