Lucy the Elephant: A Gigantic Adventure in New Jersey

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At more than 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 have to 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—and has captivated families for generations. Climb the 6-story spiral staircase, and you’ll be rewarded with sweeping 360 views and a peek back in time to the shore’s earliest days. After a long rest and renovation, Lucy is officially open again, and currently, you can still participate in construction guided tours. And after visiting this Margate attraction, don’t forget to stop at the nearby Absecon Lighthouse and other shore lighthouses on your way home.

Take an #NJMOM Adventure to see Lucy the Elephant

You and the family can currently do a construction-guided tour of Lucy the Elephant for an insider’s view as you climb the stairs up top for a sky-high look at the shore. During the current construction, you won’t be able to see Lucy from the outside or go onto her howdah, but guests will be able to climb the spiral staircases in her legs and tour the inside of the World’s Largest Elephant. 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.

lucy the elephant

Lucy gets a painted “pedi” every year. Can you spot the “J”? Photo taken at Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant was an Airbnb (yes, really!)

It’s true—Lucy hosted her stays way back in 1902, and she is also one of the first National Historic Landmarks listed on Airbnb. Those lucky enough to score an overnight stay in this gigantic elephant (they released the last dates on Valentine’s Day 2021) were 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 and is suited for a romantic couples’ getaway. We’re keeping our fingers crossed they offer it again after the restoration is complete.

A designated National Landmark

This “Elephant House,” as it was once called, has joined the ranks of the Hoover Dam, 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 around 20 years ago.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy The Elephant stands 65 feet tall in Margate, New Jersey.

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 (when this part reopens) 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 float 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).

What to know before you visit Lucy in Margate

When you visit Lucy the Elephant, plan for a 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. It’s free to visit the grounds and gift shop, but expect to pay an entry fee and more for a guided tour (offered every 45 minutes). During construction, it’s best to check ahead for hours as all hours of operation are subject to change. 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.

For more information, visit Lucy the Elephant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Cost: Adults – $8.50, Kids (ages 3-12) – $4, Under 2 – free

Lucy the Elephant
9200 Atlantic Ave
Margate, NJ 08402
(609) 823-6473

Has your family seen Lucy the Elephant? Let us know!

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