When you say “New Jersey,” it’s likely some things come to mind: Casinos. Beaches, including some made famous on TV. Casinos on beaches, also made famous on TV. American history. Sports teams. Being near New York City. Nowhere in the list does “stargazing” or “dark skies” come up – but don’t let that deter you.
Despite being a small state along the Eastern Seaboard, New Jersey has some surprisingly good stargazing spots, especially if you’re willing to head inland away from the city lights and reflected urban glow of the big cities in and near New Jersey’s shore.
In this post, I’ll share over a dozen of the best spots I’ve found for stargazing in New Jersey, though I welcome your feedback in the comments if you know of better places, or if these places aren’t as dark as necessary for a truly great stargazing experience.
So whether you’re visiting New Jersey for work or fun, or you call the Garden State home, let this list of stargazing destinations around the state inspire you to head out and enjoy a night under the wonders of the galaxy.
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Lenapehoking (Lenni-Lenape) people, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Map of Where to Go Stargazing in New Jersey
By popular request, I’ve added a map to this post to help make it easier to understand where each of the best spots for stargazing in New Jersey can be found. I hope this helps you plan the ultimate stargazing trip!
Bass River State Forest
Nestled in Ocean Township, Bass River State Forest is a 100-year old park in the middle of nowhere – it has a serious remote feel to it. Thanks to the park’s isolation and lack of nearby urban centers, this location is one of the best for stargazing in New Jersey.
You’ll find a good diversity of people here, from experienced stargazers looking to get a glimpse of the cosmos to curious hikers who want to catch a shooting star or two. The park surrounds Lake Absegami and has plenty of trails bordering it. However, it’s the beach area where you want to set up your telescope, where there’ll be no trees to hamper your views.
Batsto Village, once a company town, is hands-down once of the most magical New Jersey stargazing destinations. Though inhabited, the historic site has preserved around 30 buildings from the 19th Century, back when woodcutters and other South Jersey’s forest people called it home. There’s an old mansion, iron forge, gristmill, a Post Office that’s still in operation, and even a milk house. Talk about a nice location for astrophotography, huh?
The West Jersey Astronomical Society holds public night sky explorations throughout the year at Batsto Village. Make sure to check their website for more info.
Cape May Lighthouse
Whether they are in the middle of a tropical beach or in the coastline of a picturesque town in Andalusia, lighthouses are beautiful attractions in their own right. For stargazers, these towering structures prove to be fabulous places to wander the stars as well.
Cape May Lighthouse sits on the top of Cape May and is a popular place to go stargazing in New Jersey. You’ll need a bit more preparation since the lighthouse is open for stargazing on selected nights. The event is called Stairway to the Stars and is held every spring and summer.
East Point Lighthouse
Even if you can’t climb them, lighthouses still are great locations for stargazing, especially for the photo ops they offer. East Point Lighthouse is a lovely lighthouse in Southern Bayshore. The scenery is breathtaking, with the lighthouse and the backdrop of Delaware Bay and Maurice River composing the perfect shot.
High Point State Park
Perched on the summit of the Kittatinny Ridge, High Point State Park honors its name sitting 1,803 feet above sea level. The place is a favorite among stargazers for a multitude of reasons. There’s not the slightest sign of light pollution, very few crowds, and sunning sky views against the lush forest and rolling hills. The summit also offers great views of the surrounding countryside of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York.
Horseshoe Bend Park
Horseshoe Bend Park is a 736-acre park located next to the Delaware River. The remoteness and lack of crowds is what makes this location one of the best New Jersey stargazing spots. But, there’s one downside. While the park boasts numerous trails and expansive fields to set up a telescope, it closes at sunset and there’s no camping allowed. You can still enjoy a view of the sky from from the Orange Trail ridge or the exit.
Island Beach State Park
Island Beach State Park has everything you need for a perfect stargazing experience. Miles of sandy beach, maritime forests, rolling sand dunes, tidal marshes, and a gorgeous view of Barnegat Lighthouse.
There’s no camping in Island Beach State Park, but you can find tons of campsites near it, which still benefit from the wonderful sky above. Some people park the car in the lot and then walk to the beach. However, this is not the best alternative as the area is heavily patrolled and you’ll be most likely removed.
Jenny Jump State Forest
A gem among astronomy buffs, Jenny Jump State Forest has a night sky that never disappoints. The park grounds are home to the Greenwood Observatory, which is open for public stargazing on Saturday nights April through October. Jenny Jump has many other observatories, too, like the Ted Baker Observatory with an eight-inch solar telescope, and the Kevin Brady Observatory, which houses a seven-inch Astro-Physics refractor.
Long Beach Island
The word stargazing doesn’t mean the same for everyone. For some, it is synonymous with sitting quietly and simply marveling at the vastness of the universe wrapped in a blanket. If that’s you, Long Beach Island is a perfect place to go stargazing in New Jersey. The location is slightly affected by light pollution, so you may not see the stars in all their glory. However, the sky conditions are perfectly decent for some casual gazing.
Penn State Forest
Penn State Forest doesn’t receive the praise it deserves as the marvelous location to go stargazing that it is. The park is famous for offering excellent landscape photography, thanks to its Pine Barrens. While the park is open from sunrise to sunset, you can pitch a tent or stay in one of the cabins next to the Oswego Lake. At night, head out to explore the sky above your head.
Sea Isle City and Avalon
Sea Isle City and Avalon are excellent alternatives for stargazing. These consecutive towns sit about 20 miles south of Atlantic City. While the artificial lights can definitely overshadow the stars, astronomy buffs and photographers keep coming for the astounding visuals these locations offer. Sea Isle City is further from Atlantic City, which makes it better for seeing the Milky Way.
Wawayanda State Park
Some stargazers love to combine their stargazing sesh with some daylight outdoor fun. Wawayanda State Park is a wonderful place to spend the day, whether that’s sunbathing on the beach, hiking, or eating a BBQ. When the night comes, explore the beautiful Lake Wawayanda and beachfront for a view of the shiny stars reflected on the water.
The Rockland Astronomy Club organizes stargazing events in the Wawayanda Observing site, however, it’s for members only.
Wharton State Forest
Sprawling over 100,000 acres of land, Wharton State Forest is the largest state forest in New Jersey. The park screams nature, with gorgeous views of its lakes, ponds, and fields wherever you look. Thanks to the preservation of the landscape, the property offers pristine views of the dark sky. No wonder it has become a haven for stargazers who want to ponder the cosmos in the Atlantic City area.
Do you know of any other stargazing spots in the Garden State, or have questions about these places for stargazing in New Jersey? Let me know in the comments below!