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May 23, 2024

Margate: Everything you need to know about the beaches and things to do there this summer

Do you need a beach tag? When is Beachstock? And answers to other questions about the home of Lucy the Elephant.

Travel Jersey Shore
Margate Beach Guide Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Lucy the Elephant is Margate's most famous landmark. She is six stories tall and listed on the National Park Registry of Historical Landmarks. Tours are available.

The quirky charms of Margate City stem from a 19th century Philadelphia land speculator who wanted to attract prospective buyers to Absecon Island, then a desolate marsh about 5 miles south of Atlantic City.

In 1881, James V. Laffety commissioned the construction of a 90-ton, six-story high elephant made of wood and tin to serve as a beacon for his properties as ships navigated the Atlantic coast. He named his elephant Lucy and garnered press from the reports of bemused seafarers who spotted the beckoning pachyderm in the distance. Through 143 years of the elements — and with help from dedicated preservationists — Lucy stands today as a National Historic Landmark and the enduring image behind countless memories at the shore town.

Today, Margate offers the best of both worlds at the Jersey Shore. Its mix of outdoor recreation and shopping give a natural balance to the pace of a beach trip. From the stores along Ventnor Avenue to the quaint tradition of Margate Farmers Market on Amherst Avenue, it's one of the Jersey Shore's most enjoyable retreats.

What are some things to do in Margate this summer?

Visitors looking for activities should check out the calendar of events published by the Margate Business Association. The summer season begins on Memorial Day weekend with the Margate Mothers Memorial Day Parade at 10 a.m. on Monday, May 27, at the city's War Memorial Park.

The main draw in Margate is the shore town's annual Beachstock event on Saturday, June 29, from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Described as "the planet's biggest beach party," this free, 14-hour celebration has all kinds of food vendors, a beer garden, activities for kids, and sporting competitions like cornhole, volleyball and, new this year, an obstacle course. It also will have live music, and Beachstock After Dark activities, including a large bonfire, performances and a movie screening.

Thrilling Thursdays are another yearly tradition in Margate, running weekly from July 4 through August 29. Each week has activities, a farmers market and a family-friendly movie screening at the Huntington Avenue beach.

Margate's Duck Derby raffle is on Sunday, Aug. 25. Rubber ducks will be dropped into the bay between Scott's Dock and the Washington Avenue Pier. Spectators watch as the ducks make their way through a closed course. The person with the raffle ticket matching the number on the winning duck claims the top prize: a $1,000 pre-paid gift card.

It's almost inconceivable to go to Margate without paying a visit to Lucy the Elephant, who has had many purposes over the years — business offices, a hotel, a tavern. Today, she's mainly a historic attraction that can be viewed for free from around the site on the beach side of the intersection of Atlantic and Decatur avenues, where she was moved in 1970 from her original home on Cedar Grove Avenue.

Guided tours inside the elephant cost $8.50 for people 12 and older and $4.00 for children under 12. All kids must be accompanied by an adult. The landmark was recently nominated by USA Today to be in the running for the nation's best roadside attraction.

The Margate Community Farmers Market is another fun stop to buy locally-sourced food and wares from food vendors and artisans. The market is in a parking lot at the corner of Monroe and Amherst Avenues, outside restaurant Steve & Cookie's By the Bay.

Do you need a beach tag in Margate?

Beach badges are required for everyone 12 and older and can be purchased using several methods in Margate. They're sold at the Martin Bloom Pavilion at Granville Avenue and the beach Monday through Friday from 9 a.m to 3 p.m, excluding holidays, and on weekends from 10 a.m, to 3 p.m.

The preseason rate for beach badges (through May 31) is $10. The senior rate for people 65 and older is $3.50 during the preseason. Starting in June, all badges cost $20.

Beach tags can also be order online and shipped via mail, reserved for pickup, or purchased digitally using the MyBeach Mobile app. Digital tags cannot be transferred to other people. Those who plan to buy and distribute them can select the physical badge option on the app and pick their badges up at the Martin Bloom Pavilion by presenting a receipt.

When are Margate's lifeguards on duty?

Margate's beaches are lifeguard protected by the Margate City Beach Patrol from Memorial Day through Labor Day, with regular hours of operation between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

For additional information about lifeguard schedules and which beaches are guarded during the summer, consult Margate's beach lists or contact the Margate City Beach Patrol (609) 822-2370.

What are the rules on Margate's beaches?

For sporting types, kayaking and surfing are only permitted at select beaches. Those interested in doing either are encouraged to contact the Margate City Beach Patrol.

Hobie Cat sailing is allowed by permit only. Animals are prohibited from entering the beach, and visitors are advised to never enter the water at unprotected beaches.