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 just a fascinating curiosity—it’s part of NJ history and one of the oldest roadside tourist attractions in America—and has been captivating 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. If you’re planning to add this attraction to your NJMOM bucket list this spring (we are), you can, since Lucy is officially open again for 2021. And while you are visiting this Margate attraction, don’t forget to stop at the nearby Absecon Lighthouse and other shore lighthouses on your way home.
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Time for an #NJMOM Adventure to see Lucy the Elephant
You and the family can do a 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. 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 is an Airbnb (yes, really!)
It’s true—Lucy hosted her stays way back in 1902, and now she is one of the first and only National Historic Landmarks listed on Airbnb. If you’re lucky to score an overnight stay in this gigantic elephant, you will 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 and is suited for a romantic couples getaway (kids under 12 aren’t allowed). Currently, Lucy does not have any open dates on Airbnb, but here is the link to keep an eye out for more potential dates in the future.
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.
Fun facts about Lucy the Elephant
During the guided tour, you will be able to 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 really a male elephant since she resembles an Asian elephant and only male Asian elephants have tusks. Lastly, make sure you look for the “J” on Lucy’s toenail. There are two theories for the “J”: It is either a tribute to her builder, James Lafferty, or the initial is meant to honor Josephine Harron, the woman who helped save Lucy from demolition in 1970 (or maybe both).
What to know before you visit Lucy in Margate
When you plan a visit to Lucy the Elephant include 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). Starting April 1, 2021, you can visit Wednesday through Friday, 11 AM to 4 PM (last tour at 3:30 PM) and Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM (last tour at 4:30 PM). The hours change frequently, and it is recommended to check for updates; this calendar is a good resource. Looking for more to do after you visit this monumental elephant? A Longport, NJ playground is nearby, and it is 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 Enjoy This Spring.
Cost: Adults – $8.50, Kids (ages 3-12) – $4, Under 2 – free
Lucy the Elephant
9200 Atlantic Ave
Margate, NJ 08402
Has your family seen Lucy the Elephant? Let us know in the comments or on social media!
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