Updated: May 19, 2022
How does a neighboring town even try to compare to stately Spring Lake? Spring Lake's neighbor to the south, Sea Girt, shines with a walkway along the ocean with the best landscaping at the Jersey Shore. Sea Girt's boardwalk sits in what feels like the middle of a large sand dune. To the west, visitors see homes above one dune and over the other dune is the sandy beach with waves crashing.
Wreck Pond and how Sea Girt got its name
Along the northern part of the Jersey Shore, not only does one see the ocean but numerous ponds and lakes that often separate one town from another. Between Spring Lake and Sea Girt is one of my favorites -- Wreck Pond. Why the name? At times, there has been an inlet large enough for sailors to mistake it for Manasquan Inlet to the south. They often wrecked their ships in the narrow pond. Today, the inlet is closed, but a state-built tunnel connects it to the ocean so fish can move behind the bodies of water and to improve the water quality of the pond by regularly allowing ocean water to enter.
During the 19th century, what now comprises Sea Girt was originally farmland owned by Dr. Charles Montrose Graham and Mr. John Sherman. In 1853, Commodore Robert F. Stockton acquired the large tract of land and built a lavish summer estate in the area between Stockton Lake and Wreck Pond. Stockton named it Sea Girt because it was surrounded by water on all three sides, referencing one definition of girt (or girded) as encircling.
Since the late 1970s, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Parker House is one of the hottest spots on the Jersey Shore is an historic structure tucked in a largely stately residential neighborhood. The VIP card holder list for the Parker House has more than 1,400 names. And there's a waiting list of more than 1,000 people hoping some day to purchase a VIP card to allow them to skip the line.
The Parker House logo has become so well known that part of the restaurant has been converted
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into a gift shop with shirts, hats and gifts. All you have to say is "God's Basement" and generations of visitors to the Jersey Shore will know what you mean.
The Parker House has soldiered on as a family-run business, owned by three families who see themselves more as curators more than owners of an 1878 building. Shane Matthews, manager and representative of one of the families, is pictured above with Paul Higgins, who often visited the bar in 1950 when he worked as a bartender at the grand Stockton Hotel in south Sea Girt and the Tremont Hotel.
On the main level, an older crowd will enjoy lunch and dinner served on the outdoor terrace, or they can find their way through the house to the raw bar in the back.
Sea Girt Lighthouse tucked away
The Sea Girt Lighthouse location makes it hard to imagine ships being provided guidance. It's tucked away on the beachfront but hidden on two sides by houses. But more than 100 years, the lighthouse illuminated a blind spot midway between Navesink Lighthouse in Highlands at the New York Bay and Barnegat Lighthouse to the south. With the inlet was wide, it was a landmark for ships enter the pond from the ocean.
After being closed for several year, the Lighthouse has re-opened for tours from 2-4pm on Sundays except holiday weekends from now through the Sunday before Thanksgiving. But, this has been on the website since April 25, the day after it opened: "Unfortunately, due to a maintenance issue, the Sea Girt Lighthouse will be temporarily closed. All group use and tours must be suspended. Once resolved, we will post on Facebook and our website of our re-opening. Sorry for the inconvenience."
Tips for Visiting Sea Girt
What's New: Beach badges are no longer available on Community Pass. See below. No limited on seasonal badges. Daily beach badges increased by 98 cents! Sea Girt Memorial Day Parade is at 8:45am, Monday, May 30. Free Sentimental Journey Big Band concert at 6:30 pm at the Plaza on June 18. Sea Girt 5K race is Saturday, August 6.
Access and Parking: The main road into town is Route 71 or via the 1st Avenue Bridge from Spring Lake. Along 1st Avenue, drivers do not have direct access from Sea Girt to Manasquan because of the the National Guard Training Center which separates the towns near the ocean. Parking is free.
Amenities: There are restrooms at the Pavilion on the boardwalk. There's a small shopping district on Washington Boulevard starting at 7th Avenue.
Beaches: Beach badges are required weekends from May 28 through June 18 and then daily from June 19 to September 5. Daily beach badges for people 12 and older are $11.98 and can be purchased through a link (TBD) on the Borough website or in person at the Pavilion. Seasonal beach badges are $110 for people 12 and older and $65 for seniors 65 or older and are only available at seagirtbadges.com .
Follow Jersey Shore author and expert R.C. Staab as he recounts his 2021 walk of every beach along the 139 miles of the Jersey Shore coastline from Sandy Hook to Cape May. Read all updated stories at www.JerseyShoreWalk.com.
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