Summer weekends can be very busy and if the parking lots get full, you will not be allowed to enter the park. Getting there early is best. There are lifeguarded beaches during the summer. 10am until 6pm.
Even during our fall visit many of the lots were full. Fall brings out the hikers and artists.
Fort Hancock was a defense post for New York Harbor from 1895 until 1974. Defenses included concrete gun batteries, anti-aircraft positions, and advanced Nike missiles. Today the fort is just a place for visitors to roam around. It is maintained by the park service. Many of the batteries and other buidings are closed to the public because of safety concerns. Many of the usable buildings are occupied by educational and environmental groups. (The National Audubon Society for instance.)
The lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in America with continuous operation. It has been in operation since 1764. During the American Revolution it was defended by British Loyalists. Revolting colonists tried (unsuccessfully of course) to blow it up.
Next to the lighthouse is a building that shows a continuous video of the lighthouse's history.
The bad news is that you can not go into and up the lighthouse steps in the fall or winter. Tours are only in the summer months. boo hoo. The pamphlet says, " Tours on weekend afternoons spring through fall." BUT, that's not what the sign AT the lighthouse said. It indicated tours were only held July and August and you had to sign up for them ahead of time. So, if you are very keen about getting INSIDE the lighthouse, I would call ahead and see what's what...
We came for a hike to see migrating monarch butterflies. At this time of year they are traveling south to Mexico and should be stopping here to fuel up on the nectar of the many goldenrod plants located here. How many did we see? ZERO! It has not been a good year for monarch sightings...
Sandy Hook is a very narrow peninsula. At times you can stand in the middle of the land and look at the Atlantic Ocean to one side and the Bay on the other. You can hike along the ocean, bay, through salt marshes and and even a holly tree forest.
Sandy hook hosts free concerts every summer. Around these concerts are other activities like these stands where you can buy some juwelery....
And when you get hungry you can always get some butterfly fries...
Open daily from 10 am till 5 pm. Exhibits and a book store. Trails begin here. We came to take a ranger guided hike. The visitor center has pamphlets of activities.
Beautiful spot to peer over Sandy Hook and the Atlantic Ocean with NYC as a backdrop. Sandy Hook is that white stretch of beach in the photo.