The Cape May Lighthouse is located in Lower Township’s Cape May Point State Park in New Jersey (exit 0 on the Garden State Parkway).
The 157 foot high lighthouse is operational and is now owned by the state of New Jersey after ownership was transferred from the Coast Guards in 1992.
The light is visible 24 miles out to sea and flashes every 15 seconds.
Cool info: A lighthouse’s flash pattern is called its “characteristic” and its exterior paint scheme is called its “daymark”; every lighthouse has its own so that ship captains can tell them apart.
This is the third lighthouse built in Cape May. The first known lighthouse was built in 1823. By 1847 a new lighthouse was erected on high bank. Due to erosion and poor design, it was taken down a while later. The one you see and can climb today was built in 1959 and used the original bricks of the second lighthouse.
There are 217 steps from the ground to the top, with, thankfully for my under exercised leg muscles, 199 steps in the tower’s cast iron spiral staircase. I am proud to report I made it without too much whining! The view of the Cape May Peninsula from the top of the tower is quite breath taking (I’m not just saying that because I was trying to catch my breath!).
While you are up there, you may notice a strange structure on the beach. That building is a remnant of World War II. The bunker was built as part of the Harbor Defense Project of 1942; the park was once a military base. The gun turrets, located at the front of the bunker, are still visible at low tide.
For more information, you can visit the following sites:
Mid Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC): http://www.capemaymac.org/
And Cape May Point State Park: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/parks/capemay.html