Many outdoor places and tourist destinations are found for stargazing in New Jersey. NJ is too close to the highways and is very close to the two big cities- New York and Philadelphia. It’s alluring because of the dark sky and glittering stars.
The outdoor stargazing sites of New Jersey, popularly known as the Garden State, offer an incredible view of the night sky without light pollution. These are the best if you plan a romantic dinner or a stargazing night out.
List of 13 Popular Places to Stargaze in New Jersey near me
- List of 13 Popular Places to Stargaze in New Jersey near me
- 1. The Island Beach State Park
- 2. The Long Beach Island
- 3. The Sea Isle City and Avalon
- 4. The East Point Lighthouse
- 5. The Batsto Village
- 6. Wharton State Forest
- 7. The Cape May Lighthouse
- 8. The High Point State Park
- 9. The Horseshoe Bend Park
- 10. The Bass River State Forest
- 11. The Penn State Forest
- 12. The Wawayanda State Park
- 13. The Jenny Jump State Forest
- About Stargazing
1. The Island Beach State Park
At night, the Island Beach State Park (IBSP) is a perfect place to stargaze in New Jersey and observe the milky way. Visitors and anglers can access the beach at night time with special permits.
The park is a narrow stretch of barrier island created by natural events like tides and storms. The IBSP is situated between the restless waves of the Atlantic Ocean and Barnegat Bay, and the beach is over Route 35.
Important things about Island Beach State Park
- The park is open from 8 am till 8 pm. Visitors need to pay entry fees of $20.
- Entry is provided only on a first-come-first-served basis.
- Visitors can take their pets, bicycles, horses, and kayak there. Parent supervision is required as the park is full of poisonous plants.
- Alcoholic beverages are allowed in the park.
- Wheelchair service is available.
- The most popular activities in the park are surfing, scuba diving, fishing, bicycle riding, picnics, and hiking.
- As camping is not allowed, visitors with special night permits should go to the Judge’s Shack on the beach.
2. The Long Beach Island
Long Beach Island is a popular destination for astrophotographers and casual stargazing in the USA. This beach is best for shooting the Milky Way above the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s situated along the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean in Ocean County, New Jersey, and 62 miles southeast of Philadelphia. Many hotels, lodges, and camping grounds are available near the beach and city—the best winter stargazing season. The sky is unaffected by artificial light during winter.
LBI is also home to the famous Barnegat Lighthouse, popularly known as “Old Barney.” During Summertime, the Island turns into a renowned vacation destination for families.
Important things about Long Beach Island
- The area is always open, and entry is free.
- Many hotels and campgrounds are available for visitors.
- Pets are allowed.
- Winter is the best season for stargazing.
- The Island is close to New Jersey.
- LBI is famous for amusement parks, picnics, fishing, water activities, biking, museum hopping, and surfing.
3. The Sea Isle City and Avalon
Sea Isle City and Avalon are best known for their magnificent stargazing views and beaches. The night sky gets cleared up on the beaches. These are two consecutive small towns near Atlanta City, and the beach is famous for dogs in New Jersey.
Finding the rising Milky Way can sometimes be difficult due to the town’s artificial lights. Many lifeguards are standing on the beach, and Astrophotographers and buffs use them for photography at night.
The city is a popular tourist attraction with many amusement parks, playgrounds, and fun activity grounds. The famous Ludlam’s Beach Lighthouse is near the town, and the Colonnade Inn is the oldest establishment here.
Important things about Sea Isle City and Avalon
- Entry is free.
- The popular activities here are beach parties, beach biking, and surfing.
- Nighttime during summer and spring is full of movie nights and beach concerts.
- The places are Hurricane prone, so weather telecast before a trip is essential.
- Free wheelchair services are available.
- Many hotels and family lodges are available.
4. The East Point Lighthouse
The East Point Lighthouse is a prominent place for stargazing in New Jersey among celestial photographers. The two-story lighthouse stands in the beautiful backdrop of the Southern Bayshore of Cumberland County, New Jersey.
The lighthouse in the forefront of the night sky makes a perfect picture near the Maurice River. The river and Delaware Bay look heavenly from here. The old lighthouse is renovated and reintroduced as a tourist lodge.
Important things about The East Point Lighthouse
- The ground of the lighthouse and beach are open every day.
- January to April The lighthouse and gift shop are open every 1st and 3rd weekend – 1:00 pm-4:00 pm. These are open every weekend from May to February – 11:00 am-4:00 pm.
- Leashed pets are allowed.
- The authorities organize tours of nearby areas.
- The nearby beach is perfect for family picnics.
5. The Batsto Village
The Batsto Village is a well-preserved historic village and dates back to the 17th century. West Jersey Astronomical Society offers the celestial exploration of the night sky here.
They use the open space near the historic Batsto Village to set up telescopes and other instruments. Every Saturday, they offer a free stargazing day. The Batsto Village offers the best night sky.
Important things about The Batsto Village
- Tour is limited to 10 people per hour.
- Tour timing is every day from 9 am to 4 pm.
- Night ventures required special permissions.
- Eateries and lodges are available in Batsto village.
- Entry fees to the Batsto village tour are $3 for adults and $1 for children aged 6-11.
6. Wharton State Forest
The Wharton State Forest is the largest in the state and is famous for hiking, tracking, cycling, fishing, kayaking, and horse riding. The renowned Atsion Recreation Area is great for swimming during the Summertime. However, all these places are off-limit during nighttime. Astronomy photographers and tourists need to be very careful.
Important things about the Wharton State Forest
- Wharton State Forest is the single largest land track in New Jersey.
- This forest is part of the Batona Trail.
- It’s famous for hiking cross border skiing. Mountain biking, horseback riding, bird and wild animal watching, fishing, boating, kayaking in Mullica River, and motorized biking are favorite activities.
- Recreational use of motorized vehicles is forbidden in the park.
- Smoking and alcoholic beverage serving are prohibited in the park.
- Leashed pets are allowed in the park.
- Feeding wild animals like bears is prohibited.
- Launching trailered motorboats in Mullica River requires fees on weekends and special days.
- The Atsion Recreation Area is open from 9 am to 8 pm.
- Favorite campsites and cabins are available here, like Atsion campsite, Godfrey bridge, Primitive campsites, and Pet-friendly campsites. The closing one is priced at $5 for one night.
7. The Cape May Lighthouse
The Cape May lighthouse with 199 stairs is restored by the Cape May MAC (Museum+Arts+Culture). The 160-year-old lighthouse is open for stargazing on selected nights, and it’s called the “Stairway to the Stars.”
Artificial lights in the city mainly illuminate the night sky. The view of the night sky is blissful from the top of the lighthouse. It makes an excellent place to stargaze in New Jersey.
The lighthouse is in Southern New Jersey, Cape May Peninsula in Cape May city. It’s a tourist destination with resorts, amusement parks, museums, galleries, and cafes. Nearly 2.5 million visitors have climbed the lighthouse for the grand view.
Important things about The Cape May Lighthouse
- The lighthouse is inside Cape May Point State Park.
- The operating time for Cape May Lighthouse is 11 am to 3 pm.
- Members are allowed free entrance. Otherwise, it is $12 for adults and $8 for children between 3-12 years.
- A museum and a visitor’s orientation center are accessible for all in the oil house. The oil house is on the grounds of the lighthouse.
- The lighthouse is open for stargazing on April 16, 30, and May 16, 30, from 7 pm till 9 pm. On June 14, 28, July 13, 28, and Aug 11, 27, it’s open from 8 pm till 10 pm.
- Summer and spring are the best seasons for night sky photography.
- There are many hotels and resorts and many tourist attractions nearby.
- It’s an active lighthouse still used for naval aid.
8. The High Point State Park
The High Point State Park on the summit of the Kittatinny Ridge is 1803 miles above sea level. The place offers a magnificent night sky view, and the milky way makes it the perfect place for stargazing in New Jersey. It’s a favorite place for astrophotographers and adventure lovers.
The park is perfect for hiking, tracking, picnics, skiing, and snowboarding. Camping grounds are available for $20 per night and $25 for non-members. The High Point Monument is dedicated to war veterans, and the place is full of unusual plants and animals.
Important things about The High Point State Park
- The park is open from 8 am till 8 pm during summer and from 8 am till 4:30 pm in winter.
- Entry fees are $5 for residents and $10 for non-residents.
- Night stay requires special permission and campground rental.
- There are many campsites available. Some of these are pet friendly. A non-refundable $5 charge is applicable for a rental above $50 and $2 for a rental less than it.
- All kinds of outdoor activities are available in the park-like fishing, hunting, swimming, kayaking, boating, dog sledding, snowshoeing, biking, hiking, and horseback riding.
- Drones are not allowed in the area.
- Picnic grounds are available for $55 plus parking for residents of NJ and $65 plus Non-residents.
- Any smoking substance is forbidden here, and even Electronic cigars are prohibited. The same applies to alcoholic beverages.
- Drones are disallowed here.
- Park officials emphasize cleanliness; make sure to take out all your trash.
- Feeding wild animals like bears are barred.
- The area is tick-infested, and visitors must carry insect repellents and maintain personal hygiene.
9. The Horseshoe Bend Park
The remote location of the Horseshoe Bend Park is perfect for stargazing. Most people come here to watch the sunset. Within an hour of it, the sky lits up with twinkling stars. The reflection of those in the Colorado River makes it heavenly. It makes it a beautiful place to stargaze in New Jersey.
The entrance to the park is a 2.4 kilometers round trek from the spot. The place is situated off US Highway 89. Visitors need to park their car in the city, and the night stay in the park is restrained.
Important things about The Horseshoe Bend Park
- The park is open from 9 am to 11 am and from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.
- Visitors need to pay parking fees in the city parking area, and the costs vary based on the type of vehicle.
- During summer, tourists must carry enough water and sun protection.
- Leaving pets and kids in the car is a punishable offense here.
- Adventure lovers and astrophotographers require a special permit to stay late.
- There are three best ways to visit Horseshoe Bend Park. Tourists can either take a guided tour of Horseshoe Bend Park, Lake Powel, and Secret Antelope Canyon or ride horseback to the Horseshoe Bend Trails. Some visitors rent a helicopter or a fixed-wing airplane to enjoy the park’s beautiful scenery.
- Tourists need to make prior reservations for guided tours and flights.
- Campers travel to lake Powel for a night’s stay.
- Flashlights and google maps are essential for safe travel during the evening in the park.
- Many hotels, motels, and tourist lodges are in the city area.
- Leashed pets are allowed here.
10. The Bass River State Forest
The Bass River State Forest is another popular destination for stargazing and hiking. The forest is nearly 100 years old and is a perfect place for amusement and outdoor sports besides timber preservation.
Adventure lovers can go hiking and do other activities during the daytime. The night sky is unaffected by artificial illumination and perfect for astrophotography. Campers must obtain special permits for night stay from the State Department of Environmental Protection.
Important things about The Bass River State Forest
- For special celestial events, the park is open to all at night stay. Visitors need to get special permission otherwise.
- The park is open every day. The park is open from 8 am to 4 pm on Monday-Saturdays, and on Sundays, it is available from 10 am till 4 pm.
- The lake Absegami, beach area, picnic areas, and hiking trails are open from 8 am till 8 pm.
- There are 176 tent sites and trailer sites in the park.
- Entry fees are $5 for residents and $10 for non-residents.
- Leashed pets are allowed in the park.
- Alcoholic beverages and tobacco are forbidden in the park.
- The park is tick-infested. Tourists must carry insect repellents, tuck pants in socks, and regularly maintain body hygiene.
- Feeding wild animals is prohibited.
- It is perfect for family picnics and outdoor activities like swimming, hiking, tracking, fishing, hunting, and bicycling.
11. The Penn State Forest
The Penn State Forest is another exclusive spot for stargazing and camping for adventurous people. The place is open from sunrise till sunset and comes under the authority of Bass River State Park. The forest is full of beautiful plants and animals.
Important things about The Penn State Forest
- Entry is free.
- The park is open from 8 am till 4 pm on Mondays till Saturdays, and on Sunday it’s available from 10 am till 4 pm.
- Smoking and serving alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the park.
- All-Terrain Vehicles are not recreational inside the park.
- A night permit is required for stargazing.
- There are many campsites. Tourists need to carry essentials for themselves.
- Leashed pets are allowed inside.
- Popular activities in the forest are hiking, Snow skiing, horseback riding, fishing, hunting, bird watching, picnic, and kayaking.
- The forest is tick-infested. Visitors must take preventive actions and maintain hygiene.
- There is a picnic spot with basic amenities near Lake Oswego. Fishing in this lake is permitted.
- Feeding wild animals like bears is forbidden.
- Swimming is prohibited in the water bodies of the park.
12. The Wawayanda State Park
The Rockland Astronomy Club has acquired permission to organize stargazing in the Wawayanda Observing site for members only. It’s inside the park and is near Rockland and New Jersey. The site is open till 9 pm and is under constant police patrol throughout the night.
The park has multiple trails for biking, hiking, and snow trek routes. There are lushly green fields and beaches around Lake Wawayanda, which are best for casual stargazing. There are many campgrounds, and the rent varies from $20 to $70 per person for members.
Important things about The Wawayanda State Park
- The park gates are open from 8 am till 8 pm.
- The entry fee for residents is $5, and for non-residents, it is $10.
- Tourists must carry water bottles and charged batteries from the main building to the campgrounds. There is no electricity connection.
- The most popular activities are hiking, biking, snow trekking, cross-border skiing, fishing, and stargazing.
- Swimming in Wawayanda Lake is permitted on holidays.
- Tourists also need to carry all the gear for outdoor activities by themselves.
- The Wawayanda Observing site does have restroom facilities.
- Stargazing on astronomically significant days is organized by the Rockland Astronomy Club.
- Smoking and consuming alcoholic beverages are prohibited in the park.
- Feeding wild animals is forbidden.
- The park is tick-infested, and it is better to maintain hygiene and take precautions.
- The site is closed after 9 pm. A night stay permit is given only to fishers and tourists renting campgrounds.
13. The Jenny Jump State Forest
The Jenny Jump State Forest is a popular place for stargazing in New Jersey among astronomy buffs. Many observatories like the Greenwood Observatory, Ted Barker Observatory, and Kevin Brady Observatory.
The United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey leases the Greenwood Observatory and organizes lectures and public events every Saturday from April to October from 8 pm to 10:30 pm. Entry to this event is free, and people can use their telescopes or bring their own and camp there for hiking, cross-border skiing, and watching wild birds.
Important things about The Jenny Jump State Forest
- The historic park has many famous observatories with advanced equipment.
- Entry is free in the park.
- There are 22 campsites for camps and trailers. Cabins are also available.
- Basic amenities are available at the campsites.
- Tourists need to get online reservations for camping.
- Tourists need to bring charged batteries.
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages and smoking are prohibited inside.
- Feeding wild animals is forbidden.
- Swimming is barred.
- The forest is tick-infested. Be careful and maintain cleanliness.
- Popular activities in the park are stargazing, wild bird observing, trekking, biking, fishing, hunting, and cross-border skiing.
- Boating is allowed in Ghost Lake and Mountain Lake.
Stargazing is a trendy, fun activity for many astronomy aspirants, and basic knowledge about astronomy is more than enough to nurture this hobby. People observe cosmic events with their naked eyes besides binoculars and telescopes.
They commonly watch celestial objects and events like comets, supernovae, sunspots, double stars, galactic novels, etc. Sometimes these amateur astronomers come across critical astronomical events.
Criteria for the best location for stargazing
A low or no light pollution rate is essential for a great place to stargaze. The sites listed here comply with these characteristics.
The artificial light gets scattered by the pollutant particles of the air and clouds in the atmosphere. As a result, the sky glows in the surrounding areas. If the sky brightens the entire area, it creates a light dome spreading over long distances from the source.
When is the best time for stargazing?
According to the researchers of the New Jersey Astronomical Association and United Astronomy Clubs of New Jersey, the sun and moon positions are crucial for stargazing.
Moonlight also casts a shadow on the twinkling lights of stars. New moon night is the darkest and best for stargazing as they are visible then. Another important time for stargazing is Astronomical twilight when the sun stays way below the Horizons and cannot cast a shadow on the stars during this.
Many mobile applications like The Photographer’s Ephemeris and PhotoPills offer information on the best time, place, and date of months for stargazing and MilkyWay photography. These are best for good photographers and astronomy buffs to understand and choose a great place to stargaze in New Jersey.
How to prepare for a nighttime sky viewing
Even the cheapest binoculars are enough for stargazing if the sky is clear and dark; at least fifteen minutes to set their eyes in the dark. So keep the artificial light sources light, like car lights or flashlights, off or dimmed while stargazing.
Another important thing is that most places to stargaze in New Jersey are off-limits after sunset, and people need special permits for night stays and stargazing.
Most of the spots are either forests or beaches on the list. Stargazing is a nighttime activity. So it is best to go there prepared for camping and trekking. Localities and hotels are far away from these spots. Here is a list of essential items you need to keep in hand for stargazing, camping, and hiking.
- Light clothes and tacking suits.
- Hollow fill jackets and enough woolen garments.
- Proper tracking shoes.
- Tracking gears.
- A light yet sturdy camp for a night’s stay
- Sleeping bags.
- Light pollution measurement meter
- Easy to cook food and simple cooking set.
- Dry fruits and chocolates for tracking.
- Lighters and dry woods for making a campfire.
- Insect repellents.
- Enough water for drinking.
Other options for Stargazing in New Jersey
Besides these outdoor sites, there are many indoor places to stargaze in New Jersey. 3M Observatory, Paul Robinson Observatory, William D. McDowell Observatory, William Miller Sperry Observatory, and John W. H. Simpson Observatory are near me. These famous observatories offer free stargazing and lectures on Astro-Physics every week.
Many amateur communities and clubs in New Jersey lease some of these outdoor sites and observatories for public stargazing events. Like the united Astronomy Club of New Jersey has leased the Greenwood Observatory of Jenny Jump Forest.
What are the best binoculars for both hunting and stargazing?
Any binocular for hunting or stargazing needs an aperture of 35 mm to 60 mm. Popular binoculars for these purposes are – Canon 10*42L IS WP Binoculars, Vortex 10*50 Crossfire HD Binoculars, Celestron Trailseeker 8*42 Binoculars, etc.
Where can I see the Milky Way in New Jersey?
It’s hard to see the Milky Way in New Jersey because of all the dust and pollution, but it’s not impossible. The best places to see the Milky Way in New Jersey are – Island Beach State Park, East Point Lighthouse, Long Beach Island, Strathmere, Sea Isle City, Avalon, Batsto Village, and Wharton State Forest.
Where is the best place to see the clear night sky in NJ
NJ’s best places to see the clear night sky are Wharton State Forest, High Point State Park, Bass River State Forest, Horseshoe Bend Park, and Wawayanda State Park.