Fun Things to Do in Brigantine, NJ
Planning a trip to New Jersey? Then you need to make the island of Brigantine, NJ part of your visit – it’s the Jersey Shore’s best-kept secret!
Known as one of the most peaceful cities in south New Jersey, Brigantine is the ideal place for anyone looking to get away from the stresses of daily life. With miles of pristine coastline, soft white sands, and an active and friendly local community, you’ll never run out of things to do in Brigantine, NJ.
If you aren’t sure where to start or what to do in Brigantine, then you’ve come to the right place. In this in-depth traveler’s guide to Brigantine New Jersey, you’ll find that there’s something for everyone – thrill seekers, nature lovers, families, history buffs, food lovers and laid-back vacationers can all find plenty of things to do on this beautiful island.
About Brigantine, NJ
If you’re not familiar with Brigantine, NJ, you’ve probably heard of the city next door – Atlantic City is just a stone’s throw away. In fact, Brigantine used to be called “East Atlantic City” more than 100 years ago.
But the island city of Brigantine has more than enough charm on its own. Clean and quiet beaches, scenic natural parks, and a rich history make the city a truly unique place to live and the perfect place to vacation. And because most of the shore is undeveloped, it’s one of the few places left in New Jersey where you can enjoy a truly natural beach.
Conveniently close to several major cities, Brigantine is only an hour away from Philadelphia, two hours from New York City, and just minutes from Atlantic City. But once you spend a day in Brigantine, you won’t want to leave!
So what exactly is there to do in Brigantine, NJ? To help you plan your trip, we’ve put together a list of the top 15 things to do on this beautiful island.
Visit Brigantine Beach
No trip to Brigantine, NJ is complete without a trip to Brigantine Beach. No matter what part of the island you’re on, north or south, you’ll find spacious and unspoiled shores. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a day of fun in the sun with the whole family, you’ll have no problem finding the space to have your perfect beach day.
As a city that takes great pride in its beaches, Brigantine Beach is always kept clean. It’s a big difference from the often cluttered and crowded Atlantic City beaches just minutes away, yet Brigantine Beach NJ still remains something of a hidden gem.
So what types of things can you do on the beach? If you’re the type of person that likes to get your feet wet, there are plenty of exciting activities to do out on the water, such as:
- Boating: Cruise around our beautiful Brigantine NJ beach and enjoy fishing, crabbing, or just relaxing on the water. If you’re just visiting, there are several fishing boat charters available across the island.
- Jet skiing: Get your adrenaline pumping by hopping on a jet ski and zipping up and down Brigantine Beach NJ! Enjoy the freedom of being able to explore the island with ease, or get your blood pumping with some wave jumping action.
- Kayaking: Rent a kayak from one of the local surf shops and spend the day drifting lazily across the bay or taking on the ocean waves.
- Paddle boarding: Stand-up paddle boarding is an easy and fun way to enjoy the water at Brigantine Beach. All you need is a board, a paddle, and a personal floatation device (PFD), and you’re all set! Paddle boarding offers a truly unique experience – not only do you get to enjoy the sights around you, you also get to see the ocean life below you.
- Surfing: Hang ten at one of Brigantine Beach’s surfing areas – Jetty Beach (4×4 permit required), 9th street south, and the north end beach on 12th Both beginners and pros are welcome to join in the fun. Each beach offers a different experience with different waves, so try them all!
- Swimming: Cool off by going for a swim at one of the many Brigantine NJ beaches where lifeguards are on duty. Whether you want to splash around with the kids or just go for a relaxing float, you shouldn’t have to worry about fighting crowds for space – on our large, quiet beaches, there’s plenty of ocean for everyone!
If you’d rather stay on land, don’t worry – there’s still plenty to do! For all you landlubbers, there’s:
On weekends in the summer (July through September), beachgoers can enjoy gas grill barbecues – just make sure you clean up afterwards! If you have a four-wheel drive permit, you can load up all your BBQ equipment and drive straight onto the beach.
Between October and March, horseback riding is allowed along Brigantine’s North Beach with a permit. With the sun setting beside you and the waves gently rolling onto the shore, horseback riding on the beach is a truly romantic experience every rider should try at least once.
What’s more graceful than a kite soaring in the sky against an ocean backdrop? Luckily for kite enthusiasts, Brigantine NJ beaches have clear, windy weather that’s perfect for flying year-round.
Movies on the beach:
Sit back, relax, and enjoy a free movie night on Brigantine Beach! The majority of summer movie night flicks are kid-friendly, so feel free to bring the whole family along.
And if you just want lie down on a beach towel and watch the sunrise or sunset, Brigantine Beach NJ is perfect for that too. The view will be beautiful from wherever you are, but we recommend viewing the sunset from the beach overlooking the bay on the island’s west coast and viewing the sunrise from the island’s east coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Just don’t forget to bring a camera – you’re going to want to take lots of pictures!
Explore the North Brigantine State Natural Area
Looking for a Brigantine NJ beach with no crowds and abundant wildlife? Then you’ll love the North Brigantine State Natural Area. For locals, this peaceful beach is a like a second home, and visitors never want to leave. As one of the last undeveloped beaches in New Jersey, you won’t find a cleaner or quieter beach in the state.
With a permit from the city, four-wheel drive vehicles can drive directly onto the northern beach. Explore tide pools, collect seashells, see endangered bird species like the piping plover nesting in its natural habitat, and walk along miles and miles of undisturbed beach.
There are many different ways nature lovers can take in the beauty of the State Natural Area:
If you’re looking for the best birdwatching spots in New Jersey, Brigantine is the place to go. Depending on the time of year, you can find species like American black ducks, piping plovers, gull-billed terns, northern pintails, and black skimmers.
The Wildlife Refuge is a photographer’s paradise. With thousands of bird and plant species and stunning landscapes, the photo opportunities are endless. A two-story observation deck offers a great place to snap pictures of seascapes and the wild foxes that roam the northern beaches.
Nowadays, a clear night sky can be hard to come by. Light pollution from nearby cities often makes the stars difficult to see, but the northern beach area offers some of the clearest stargazing in the entire state.
Stop by the Marine Mammal Stranding Center
Stranded marine mammals are a common occurrence on Brigantine NJ beaches, which is why the local Marine Mammal Stranding Center (MMSC) is such an important part of the community. Rescued whales, dolphins, seals, and turtles are rehabilitated here before they’re released back into the ocean.
If you’re an animal lover, you’ll definitely want to stop by Brigantine’s Marine Mammal Stranding Center before you hit the beach. Children and adults alike can learn something new about the local marine life from the friendly staff, and you may even get to see a few adorable gray seal pups up close!
In the summer, educational marine biology programs take kids to the beach to give them a truly hands-on learning experience. The MMSC also holds fundraisers throughout the year, including an annual 5k run, for anyone interested in helping the rescue continue to do the valuable work that it does.
Visit the Brigantine Historical Museum
Right next door to the Marine Mammal Stranding Center is another educational gem, the Brigantine Historical Museum. Here you’ll find photos, maps, and articles on display that reveal facts about the island’s history, as well as artifacts and other relics.
Named for the brigantines (two-masted sailing ships) that sailed in the 1600s and often wrecked off the coast of New Jersey, Brigantine is an island with many stories to tell. From tales of swashbuckling pirates like Captain Kidd and Blackbeard, to the city’s ability to bounce back from tough times, even locals love to come and learn something new about the island they call home.
Go Fishing at the Cove
The southern-most beach in Brigantine, New Jersey is known as the Cove, and it’s one of the hottest fishing spots on the island. In the early morning, before the bikini-clad sunbathers arrive, you’ll find plenty of locals standing on the shore and surf fishing. Boaters will also be casting from out on the Absecon Inlet that connects the island to Atlantic City.
Fishing in Brigantine is a great activity for beginners and experts alike. The summer months are peak fluke season, so expect to find quite a few people trying to snag the biggest flounder. In the fall off-season, you won’t have to deal with as many people crowding the Cove to reel in the striped bass that’s plentiful this time of year.
To get started, you can either buy bait from one of the many bait and tackle shops on the island or catch and make your own. The Cove is home to bait-sized fish like mullets, peanut bunker, and bluefish, which can easily be collected in a bait net.
See the Brigantine Lighthouse
You might be surprised to learn that the Brigantine Lighthouse isn’t really a functioning lighthouse at all. In 1926, it was built by a real estate company to promote the town and attract visitors, not as a navigational aid for boats. Since then, the lighthouse has become a town landmark that’s served as a police station, a museum, and a gift shop.
While visitors today can’t go inside, it’s still worth stopping by the iconic Brigantine Lighthouse to snap a few pictures!
Shop at the Brigantine Farmer’s Market
Liven up your Saturday mornings by visiting the Brigantine Farmer’s Market, located in the heart of the city’s business district. The market runs from May through September, with a special fall market in October.
At the Brigantine Farmer’s Market, you’ll find fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, crafts, handmade jewelry, artwork, food, live music, and much, much more. There are activities for kids, contests to participate in, and you can feel good knowing that you’re supporting local businesses and artisans.
The market starts early in the morning and closes at around noon – why so early? Because that’s when people start hitting the beach! Once you’ve had your fill of delicious food and stocked up on fresh produce, Brigantine Beach is just a short walk away.
Go to Brigantine Art Walk Events
If you love discovering local artists, you’ll love going to events hosted by the Brigantine Art Walk. During the summer months, talented local painters, jewelry makers, and photographers come together to display and sell their artwork. Brigantine Art Walk events are a great way to get involved and support the local community.
Play Golf at the Links at Brigantine Beach
The Links at Brigantine Beach is an 18-hole Scottish-style golf course located in the northern part of the island. Brigantine, NJ’s comfortable climate makes it a great place to tee up year-round, which is why golfers from all over the state love coming here.
With the ocean breeze blowing in from the east, no two rounds are the same. If you want to experience authentic Scottish-style golfing without crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the Links at Brigantine Beach is the place to do it.
Visit a Dog Beach
If you’re the type of person who likes to take their furry friends everywhere, you’ll love Brigantine New Jersey. The northern end of the city-owned beach is dog-friendly year-round, while the North Brigantine State Natural Area allows dogs from September until May.
People love bringing their dogs to Brigantine Beach NJ because there’s so much space for them to run, swim, and play with other dogs. Going for a long walk on the beach with your best four-legged friend is a great way to start or end your day.
If you’d rather take your pup somewhere they won’t get sand in their fur, the Natasha and Nikita Weiss Dog Park on 42nd St and Bayshore Ave is also open year-round. Just be sure to fill out a quick application for your pooch at the City Clerk’s office before you go.
Take the Kids to Shark Park
While Brigantine Beach is the most popular place for families with children, it’s not the only place on the island that the kids will love. If you have little ones, you have to visit the newly renovated Shark Park while you’re in Brigantine, New Jersey.
The updated park features a huge fenced-in playground, basketball courts, and a baseball field. The play area has tons of different activities for children of all ages, and you can supervise and relax at the nearby picnic area. An evening at Shark Park is the perfect end to a fun family day at the beach.
Rent a Bike and Explore the Island
As one of the last undeveloped beaches in New Jersey, Brigantine residents are committed to maintaining a clean and healthy environment. That’s why you’ll find so many locals choose to get around by bike rather than by car.
Unless you’ve brought your own bike along, you can rent one from the local shop, All About Bikes N Wheels. Biking around town is a great way to get some exercise and take in more of that fresh ocean air.
Shop Like a Local
When you think of shopping in a beach town, you might think hokey souvenirs and Jimmy Buffet t-shirts. But as you probably know by now, Brigantine Beach NJ is no ordinary beach town.
With more than 150 shops and businesses on the island, you’ll find souvenirs that are way better than custom name keychains shaped like surfboards. Local shops like Salty Seas pride themselves on selling unique, handmade gifts and home décor, and all their merchandise is either locally made or fair trade. The shop’s merchandise is constantly changing week after week, so you never know what treasures you’ll find.
If you need some extra gear before you hit Brigantine Beach, Sea Star is your one-stop shop for swimsuits, hats, and towels. They also have tons of Brigantine-themed swag, so you’ll always have something to remember your favorite island by!
Join in Community Events
Brigantine New Jersey has a year-round population just above 9,000 people – that may not be tiny, but it’s small enough to create a real sense of local community on the island. Even during the summer when the population more than triples for several months, the island is not nearly as touristy as other cities on the Jersey shore.
Whether you’re just visiting for a few days of moving in for the rest of your life, you’ll meet plenty of friendly locals who will make you feel right at home. The best way to get involved in the community is to participate in community events, which are held frequently throughout the year.
In addition to the summer farmer’s market and Art Walk events, there are also beach concerts, golf tournaments, and an annual sand castle building contest on Brigantine Beach. The local newspaper is typically your best bet for staying on top of upcoming events.
Enjoy Regional Attractions
One of the many reasons residents love Brigantine is that it’s the best of both worlds. They get a quiet beach community where they can enjoy nature at its purest, but they’re also conveniently close to large regional attractions. If you’re vacationing, this lets you do things at your own pace.
When you stay in Brigantine, you’re a short drive across the bridge from the Atlantic City Aquarium, the Absecon Lighthouse, the Boardwalk, and more casinos than you can shake a stick at. And at the end of a hectic day visiting Atlantic City’s bustling tourist attractions, you’ll have a peaceful island to return to. In ten minutes, you can go from the crowded Boardwalk to setting up your towel on Brigantine Beach to watch the sunset. What’s better than that?
Be a Respectful Visitor
Now that you know all the fun things to do in Brigantine Beach NJ, there’s just one last thing you need to know before you go. No matter what you end up doing, always remember to be a respectful visitor. Never leave trash on the beach, follow permit rules, and be courteous to the locals. The bottom line – be kind to the island and the island will be kind to you!
Come to The Island You’ll Love for Life
Gorgeous views, peace and quiet, and the freedom to enjoy the beach however you want – that’s what Brigantine is all about. Whether you visit in the active summer season or the quiet off-season, there are so many ways to make memories on this one of a kind island.
Next time you’re in the Atlantic City area, make sure you take the time to get to know Brigantine, NJ. With all its unspoiled natural beauty, there’s really no place like it. And with so many things to do for all ages to enjoy, you’ll want to keep coming back again and again – after all, it is the “island you’ll love for life”!