Visiting Long Beach Island: Your Starter Guide

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Long Beach Island (LBI) has long been a beloved summer colony on the Jersey Shore. There are several family-friendly activities to keep kids entertained all day long, including mini golf, go-kart racing, and arcades.

With miles of pristine white sand beaches, quaint towns that offer their unique personality and flavor, plenty of outdoor activities and water sports, and classic shore houses that overlook the Atlantic, you’ll find yourself on island time! 

This comprehensive guide will cover the most exciting activities and attractions, the best places to eat, and the most comfortable accommodations for extended stays. Stick around for our expert tips on navigating the most worthwhile things to do for an unforgettable trip to LBI. 

How To Get To Long Beach Island

Regardless of where you’re coming from, there is only one way to travel to LBI — Exit 63 off the Garden State Parkway.

After exiting, you’ll reach the island’s center with modest and luxurious accommodations, shops and restaurants, ice cream parlors, and local businesses. 

Of course, you can’t forget the shimmering blue turquoise waters of LBI’s beaches that beckon to be discovered just beyond!

Jump To Town

Long Beach Island, NJ: Top Attractions

You’ll notice plenty of things to do in Long Beach Island when you arrive. Here are some of our favorite attractions and unique experiences you can’t miss:

Parasailing

Parasailing in LBI? Count us in! Tours leave from Lighthouse Marina in Barnegat Light.

Enjoy a Local Brew

Head to Ship Bottom Brewery after a long day at the beach to enjoy a handcrafted brew, right from LBI! More info here.

Take Photos

Take photos of the most Insta-famous lighthouse in New Jersey. The Barnegat Lighthouse is a treasured historical landmark that’s extremely popular among locals and tourists alike.

Grab a Bite

LBI has plenty of delicious restaurants to choose from that are worth the hype. From casual takeout to fancier sit-down restaurants, there’s a variety of cuisine on the island to suit every palate.

Get Some Ice Cream

There’s mini golf and ice cream galore for visitors to Long Beach Island. You can stop almost anywhere on your drive up or down the island for a sweet snack and a quick round of putt-putt!

Visit an Amusement Park

Long Beach Island is also home to an amusement park and a seasonal waterpark. If you are in the area during peak season, you can experience both on the same trip!

Get a History Lesson

Long Beach Island’s rich historical past provides plenty of educational opportunities. Stop by one of many museums for interactive exhibits and unique artifacts on display.

A seagull flying on the shores of Long Beach Island in New Jersey with a sunset sky behind it
Credit: Jeff Glass

Best Beaches on Long Beach Island

Public Beach Access Points With Restrooms Adjacent to Beach

There’s no doubt Long Beach Island’s best attraction is the beach. Here are the most straightforward public beach access points with restrooms nearby. 

Bayview Park Beach

Bayview Park Beach is a family-friendly bay beach with calm surf and a playground offering peace of mind for parents bringing their children to the beach. A parking lot is adjacent to the park, with seasonal food trucks serving up gourmet favorites from time to time, including fish tacos, lobster rolls, chicken fingers, and burgers. The restrooms are next to the parking lot. (Google Map Link

Long Beach Township Beach

For Public Beach Access on East Meade Avenue, you can purchase beach badges at the badge office at the entrance or just outside Borough Hall. Badges daily are $7, and seasonal passes (weekly or monthly can range from $20-$50, we recommend purchasing those in advance!) 

The restrooms are adjacent to the beach and are air-conditioned, clean, and updated. (You can find parking on East Meade Avenue, East Dayton Avenue, or at the adjacent Bayview Park Lot for a small fee – See Google Maps).

Beach Haven Beach

Public Beach Access can be found on Nelson Avenue, with beach badges available for purchase on the beach upon arrival. (Metered parking is on Nelson Avenue).

Harvey Cedars Beach

86th & 80th Streets offer public beach access, and beach badges can be purchased for daily prices of $7 at Harvey Cedars Borough Hall before your arrival. (Parking is available on either street, metered, or at town hall for a small fee – See Google Maps).

Barnegat Light Beach

Barnegat Lighthouse State Park is a great place to hang out (free for the day) and enjoy public beach access with no badge required. The restrooms are located next to the beach and in the park. (You can find free parking at the state park lot or closer to the beach in the outer lots.) 

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Next, we will give our insight into the best places to stay, what to eat, and what to do along the island. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!

Below you can find where to stay, what to eat, and what to do along the whole island. Did we miss your favorite? Let us know!

Exploring Barnegat Light, LBI

Barnegat Light is a casual residential community located on the island’s northernmost tip, facing both Barnegat Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, that offers marina amenities, and white sand beaches. It is home to the Barnegat Lighthouse (New Jersey’s most famous lighthouse — on Instagram, at least). It’s a notable historical landmark guiding ships safely to shore since 1859. Once you drive north on Long Beach Boulevard, you’ll see the tip of “Ol Barney” and know you’ve reached the island’s north end! When visiting the park, you can climb to the top of the lighthouse to experience the most breathtaking views, ranging from the Atlantic Ocean to Barnegat Bay and several marshes nearby.
An aerial view of the end of Long Beach Island and the Barnegat Light area
Credit: Tom Tornegard

What To Do at Barnegat Light

Visit Barnegat Lighthouse, the island’s oldest lighthouse and state landmark on the Jersey Shore, offering sweeping views of the Atlantic and Barnegat Bay from the top. You can climb to the top for $1 during the summer season (details here, weather permitting). Keep in mind it can get windy up there!
A sunrise view of the Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Credit: Christopher Mondie
You can also explore Viking Village, a shopping and dining destination located on the marinas of Barnegat Bay. If you’re looking for a new shore outfit, decor for your summer home, a gift for back home, or a cup of coffee, this is your spot to unwind and relax. We highly recommend How You Brewin’ for an excellent iced coffee or frappe! If you want to get into a little more of the area’s history, visit the Barnegat Light Historical Society and Museum. The museum “features artifacts, replicas, and photographs depicting the history of Barnegat Light and Long Beach Island.” And if you’re up for an adventure, go parasailing around Long Beach Island with LBI Parasail. It’s one of the most unique things you can do at the Jersey Shore!

Where To Stay at Barnegat Light

The North Shore Inn is a classic motel located two blocks away from the beach and an affordable property if you’re looking to snag a deal on the island, which is hard to come by come peak season! Rooms are classic to the shore style of the island. Sand Castle Bed & Breakfast is an updated modern property located on the inter-coastal waterways of Barnegat Bay offering views of the bay and Lighthouse Marina. Here you can find an outdoor pool at the center, free onsite breakfast, and free WiFi. To avoid peak prices, book in advance.
A view of the Milky Way with a boardwalk path leading to it on the beach on Long Beach Island, New Jersey
Credit: Jim Abels
Want to see the Milky Way here? Use our guide!

Where To Eat at Barnegat Light

Mustache Bill’s Diner (W 8th St, Barnegat Light, New Jersey 08006)

Mustache Bill’s Diner is an island classic! It’s a retro-style diner serving comfort foods from breakfast to lunch and is cash-only BYOB, and opens Fri-Sun from 6 am to 3 pm.

Daymark (404 Broadway Barnegat Light, New Jersey 08006)

Daymark is a newly renovated island restaurant offering classic American dishes and fresh seafood fare. You can grab a seat at the bar and taste the local craft beers, or dine in facing modern decor and seaside digs!

Kelly’s Old Barney Restaurant (208 Broadway, Barnegat Light, New Jersey 08006)

When planning a visit to “Ol’ Barney,” grab a bite at Kelly’s Old Barney Restaurant, a longtime island favorite in Barnegat Light, serving up classic comfort foods in vintage retro digs!

Exploring Harvey Cedars

Harvey Cedars is an upscale residential community with elegant beachfront summer homes and a small downtown with a few stores, two restaurants, a pizzeria and ice cream parlor, and a local supermarket and liquor store. The town’s history is rich, and most of its architecture is hundreds of years old, dating back to the 1900s. Harvey Cedars is famous for its beautiful and charming atmosphere. The beaches here are mostly private to summer residents and year-round residents, however, you can find a couple of public beach access points and locations on two sides of the community.  You can spend your day in this city relaxing on the sandy shores, swimming, and wandering around the streets lined with quaint shops and unique restaurants. The town comes alive at night with various entertainment options, from live music and theater performances to beach bonfires. If you’re looking for a peaceful, serene spot on the island, this is definitely your place!
Credit: Harvey Cedars Shellfish

What to do

Harvey Cedars Marina has jet skis, boat rentals, and water sports for beginners and experts who want to explore the island from the water. There are tons of recreational activities to enjoy in the area, from Sunset Park to outdoor yoga and a tennis club! 

Where to stay

We highly recommend finding a vacation rental in the Harvey Cedars area. There are plenty of beautiful properties to choose from. Check out Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, and Vacation Rentals LBI to find the best place to live your summer vacation dreams! 

Where to eat

Black Eyed Susans (7801 Long Beach Blvd, Harvey Cedars, New Jersey 08008)

Black Eyed Susans is a contemporary spot for seasonally-sourced American dishes, local catch seafood, and organic varieties for health-conscious individuals. Here you can dine among summer residents and locals alike and take in the comfort and relaxation of being on an island with upscale elegance and gourmet choices!

Exploring Surf City

Driving north, you’ll find Surf City, a quaint little town similar to Ship Bottom but quieter. There are lovely local businesses selling beachwear and sundries, ice cream parlors, pizzerias, and seafood restaurants! Classic summer homes line both sides of the town, from the intercoastal waterways of Barnegat Bay to the shimmering shores of the Atlantic on the other.

Surf City is another one of Long Beach Island’s many picturesque towns. Named after its prime location on the Atlantic coast, it’s perfect for surfing, swimming, and other water sports. The town has a laid-back atmosphere, making it an ideal getaway destination for those seeking a relaxed beach vacation. There are many boutiques, seafood restaurants, and art galleries to take advantage of while visiting this spot.

Credit: @wildlife_by_terry

What to do

Surf City Marina offers opportunities for exciting and adventurous water sports, from jet skis to parasailing to fishing.

Also, out Route 72 Waverunner & Kayak while you’re there. It’s a canoe and kayak service where you can relax and unwind with the sea while getting lessons if you’re a beginner!

Surf City Yacht Club offers sailing and water sports for beginners and experts alike and a chance to get out on the water and take in the views of the island and Barnegat Bay.

The Long Beach Island Historical Museum in Surf City is also worth visiting. It’s dedicated to preserving the island’s Native American, colonial, and beach resort heritage. 

Where to stay

The Surf City Hotel is a classic 19th-century building with up-close beach access and unbeatable views. It’s the perfect accommodation for families, offering quick travel time to nearby amusement parks and nature experiences.

The historic landmark hotel is one of the best places to stay on LBI for great prices and excellent service. 

Where to eat

The Big Dipper (1501 Long Beach Blvd, Surf City, New Jersey 08008)

The Big Dipper, a classic vintage ice cream parlor offering a vast array of flavors and desserts, is your go-to stop for ice cream on a hot summer day. Stop by this spot if you’re looking to cool down and take in the salty breeze of the Atlantic.

Exploring Ship Bottom

Ship Bottom is a must-see when you visit LBI. The coastal town is famous for its vibrant downtown area. The borough has several popular attractions for travelers of all ages, including the Marine Mammal Stranding Center, which serves as a rescue and rehabilitation center for sick and injured marine animals.

What to do

Visit Ron Jon Surf Shop as you enter LBI, a local favorite for all your beach apparel and anything else you’d need for your beach vacation. The possibilities for mini golf are endless! Tee it up at Hartland Miniature Golf & Arcade, Flamingo Mini Golf Course or Sand Trap Mini golf. After you’re done, stop by Haymarket to pick up a game or toy for your stay on LBI. If the waves are more your style, take a surf lesson or stand up paddle board class at LBI Surfing Academy. Be aware that classes fill up fast, so we recommend booking ahead! 

Where to stay

A popular accommodation located right on the beach and has been serving vacationers to LBI for over a decade is the Drifting Sands Oceanfront Hotel, where you can book a room facing the ocean or overlook Ship Bottom. Relax here in a beachy “down the shore” style while maintaining modern comforts and conveniences of Free WiFi and an outdoor swimming pool. Be sure to book your stay at least six months in advance prior to your departure as rooms here can reserve up very quickly especially in peak season which runs from the end of June to early September. A new addition to the island is the Hotel LBI, a contemporary resort overlooking Ship Bottom, Barnegat Bay, and the rest of the island. It prides to be the purveyor of comfort, luxury, and convenience. The hotel offers large rooms and suites offering splendid views of the marina and the bay and are ideal for catching sunsets during golden hour from the rooftop bar & lounge. The hotel also offers an onsite salon & spa, dining, a fitness center, and an indoor pool (open year-round).
Credit: Spencer Daly

Where to eat

Woodies Drive-In (509 Long Beach Blvd, Ship Bottom, New Jersey 08008)

A longtime favorite on LBI, Woodies Drive-In offers a casual assortment of mouthwatering burgers, crispy fries, hot dogs, and even homemade crab cakes, a classic shore delight! Located on Long Beach Boulevard in the heart of Ship Bottom.

Jayson’s Pancake House (500 Long Beach Blvd, Ship Bottom, New Jersey 08008)

Looking for a delicious breakfast? How about scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes, and home fries? Something to start the day before a day of adventure awaits! Head on over to Jayson’s Pancake House, a cash-only breakfast and early lunch joint where you can have your favorite comfort foods and dine in classic digs! Open from 7:30 am to 1:30 pm (in-season).

Exploring Beach Haven

Last but certainly not least, Beach Haven is perhaps the most famous town on the island! It’s a quaint seaside community dotted with magnificent summer homes, a happening town center, shops and restaurants, an amusement park and waterpark, marinas and bay vistas, and the famous beaches of LBI!

Credit: @jessbtravelin

What to do

Head to Ship Bottom Brewery after a long day at the beach to enjoy a handcrafted brew, right from LBI!

Didn’t bring a bike? No problem! Head down to Surf Buggy Bike Shop and rent one, year round. Locations in Surf City and Beach Haven.

Bay Village is another notable attraction. The seaside outdoor shopping mall has many shops, boutiques, and one-of-a-kind dining on the marina.

Enter the Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Beach Haven for over 20 moderate thrill rides, a vintage-themed Ferris wheel, and attractions suitable for all ages. There’s also an indoor arcade on the property to give you a break from the heat. 

Or head next door to experience epic water slides and pools at the neighboring Thundering Surf Waterpark. The seasonal destination features water rides, outdoor entertainment, and an on-site mini golf course.

If you want to get into history a little more, head to the NJ Maritime Museum, where you can “explore the most extensive collection of maritime history and artifacts in the entire state of New Jersey!” The museum presents exhibits featuring ship models and photographs for a rich educational experience. 

Surflight Theatre is one of LBI’s most beloved cultural institutions. It’s best known for its high-quality productions of classic and contemporary plays and musicals. There’s also a children’s theater program for families to enjoy during their visit. The theater is in a gorgeous building with comfortable seating and state-of-the-art professional sound and lighting systems.

Where to stay

The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club is an island-themed hotel set on two acres of oceanfront located steps away from the center of Beach Haven and has spectacular views of the Atlantic. Rooms are tastefully decorated in a tropical island theme and a beachy “down the shore” vibe, and the palm tree-lined pool overlooks the ocean.

The Engleside Inn & Restaurant is a famed historic hotel that has been on the island since the turn of the 20th century. The hotel offers updated rooms and suites in a well-appointed contemporary coastal elegance.

Coral Seas Oceanfront Motel is another option. It’s a modest accommodation offering splendid ocean views and is just steps away from the beach — an excellent choice for families.

Summer rentals are also highly recommended here, especially if you’re traveling in larger groups or are looking for a homey getaway!

Credit: Stefanie Flodmand

Where to eat

Uncle Will’s (3 S Bay Ave, Beach Haven, New Jersey 08008)

Uncle Will’s is a classic island eatery and diner in the heart of Beach Haven, steps away from the beach. They are a cash-only, comfort food and casual joint. They are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner starting at 5 pm.

The Chicken or the Egg (207 N Bay Ave, Beach Haven, New Jersey 08008)

The Chicken or the Egg is a famed 24-hour restaurant and the only one on the island offering chicken varieties and a signature dipping sauce. Be sure to head there during an off-time as lines can escalate to almost two hours long during peak season —a true island favorite!

Plan Your Visit To Long Beach Island 

Long Beach Island has a range of activities for both families and solo travelers, making it the perfect destination for a getaway or vacation. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, try your hand at a new outdoor activity, or spend quality time with loved ones, the island has something for you. With a range of restaurants, shops, and other amenities across its small villages, it’s easy to plan a fun, stress-free day by the water at LBI! 

We all know LBI as a summer destination with everything for the perfect getaway with family, friends, and loved ones. Here, you can make memories that last a lifetime and return home relaxed and pampered, waiting to plan your next trip. Long Beach Island will always be shore to please!

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