At over 65 feet tall, over a century old, with big eyes and a cartoonish stature, Lucy the Elephant in Margate is one of those NJ attractions you must visit at least once. The iconic elephant is more than a fascinating curiosity—it’s part of NJ history and one of the oldest roadside tourist attractions in America that has captivated families for generations. After a long rest and multi-million dollar renovation, Lucy is officially open again, with a new restaurant and a renovated climb to see the sweeping 360 views offering a peek back in time to the shore’s earliest days. And after visiting this Margate attraction, don’t forget to stop at the nearby Absecon Lighthouse and other shore lighthouses on your way home. (featured photo taken at Lucy the Elephant)
Take an adventure to see Lucy the Elephant
Visiting Lucy the Elephant will give you an insider’s view as you climb the stairs up top for a sky-high look at the shore. Along the way, your guide will teach you about Lucy’s history, design, and architecture and how she’s made of wood and tin sheeting, dating back to 1881. Back then, a Philadelphia inventor designed Lucy to attract prospective real estate buyers to the area. In the last century, she’s been a restaurant, business office, and tavern before being badly damaged by storms and age. In 1970, she was donated to the Save Lucy Committee, Inc, which is committed to restoring and preserving this unique landmark.
A designated National Landmark
This “Elephant House,” as it was once called, has joined the ranks of the Hoover Dam, the Statue of Liberty, and Mt. Rushmore. In 1976, The Save Lucy Committee, headed by co-founder and President Josephine L. Harron, helped designate Lucy as a National Historic Landmark. Eventually, they added a gift shop and the “Lucy Beach Grille” to generate more income, and the exterior and interior were restored recently.
Lucy the Elephant has sleepovers (yes, really!)
It’s true—Lucy hosted her stays way back in 1902, and she was also one of the first National Historic Landmarks listed on Airbnb. Although the Airbrb isn’t happening again (you never know though), they do group overnights for troops, birthday parties, and school groups. The overnights include perks like a night climb into Lucy’s howdah, private after-hours access to the gift shop, and even an optional story-time. Those lucky enough to score an overnight stay in this gigantic elephant can be transported back to a time when Lucy served as a summer vacation home in the early 20th century. The interior is decorated in a Victorian style reminiscent of those days decades ago.
Fun facts about Lucy the Elephant
During the guided tour, you can look out of Lucy’s “eyes,” see 360-degree views of Margate from the howdah, and view artifacts and fabric from Lucy’s original construction. And here’s a fun fact—Lucy gets a pretty painted elephant “Pedi” on her toes once a year on a Saturday closest to July 20, celebrating when she was moved from Cedar Grove Avenue to Decatur Avenue. Other things to note while you’re there—Lucy’s original name was “Elephant Bazaar” until she was called “Lucy” by her future owner, Sophia Gertzen. It’s also believed that Lucy is a male elephant since she resembles an Asian elephant, and only male Asian elephants have tusks. Lastly, look for the “J” on Lucy’s toenail. Two theories floating around about the significance of the letter “J”—some say it’s a tribute to her builder, James Lafferty, or it honors Josephine Harron, who helped save Lucy from demolition in 1970 (or maybe both).
The Other Lucy
If you are going to see Lucy, why not stop for a treat at The Other Lucy? The Other Lucy Beach Grille serves breakfast, lunch, cold drinks, and frozen treats, all under $10. This is the perfect place to enjoy ice cream or Philadelphia Water Ice while admiring Lucy in the background. Or it’s a great spot to have a quick breakfast before hitting the nearby beach. The restaurant also works with H.O.P.E., a non-profit that helps individuals with learning disabilities.
What to know before you visit Lucy in Margate
When you visit Lucy the Elephant, plan to stop at the beach since it’s in Josephine Harron Park next to the shoreline. You can also bring a picnic lunch and let the kids run around—the park is fenced-in, and picnic tables are available for relaxing or eating outside. Visiting the grounds and gift shop is free, but expect to pay an entry fee and more for a guided tour (offered every 45 minutes). Looking for more to do after you visit this monumental elephant? A Longport, NJ playground is nearby and listed on our Best Beach Playgrounds in New Jersey. Or take a 20-minute ride out to Storybook Land, a spot featured on our guide of NJ Attractions to Do in NJ. In July, save the date for Lucy’s birthday with an all-day festival. If you can’t make it out to this monumental elephant, you can shop online for Lucy goodies like pottery, t-shirts, and Lucy collectibles. Lucy also loves extra help, sign up to volunteer, donate or even host a private event at this historical site.
Cost: Adults – $8.50, Kids (ages 3-12) – $4, Under 2 and military with ID – free
Lucy the Elephant
1 Lucy Plaza, 9200 Atlantic Ave
Margate, NJ 08402
Has your family seen Lucy the Elephant?
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