Florida lighthouses are both historic and encompass a wonderful trip around the state. This peninsula, after all, has 1,350 miles of coastline. That's the second-most of all the states in the United States.2
European explorers seeking riches for their homelands began arriving to Florida in the early 1500s. Thus Spanish ships were the first to come to these coastal waters.1 The Florida coast doesn't have towering rocky submersions by towering cliffs to worry about. Instead it has two geographical features which can pose shipping dangers: 1) The north-flow of the Gulf Stream parallels near the coast, and 2) Reefs line the Florida coast.3
Thirty lighthouses are now located throughout the Sunshine State. (Historically, there were up to 65, at one time! So many are gone now, due to weathering elements' attacks.)3 Why is it worth planning to see Florida lighthouses?
You can plan a great trip through Florida by traveling a Lighthouse Trail. What a way to tour the state, as well as these wonderful light towers!
Many lighthouses are open to the public for touring. Those you especially don't want to miss.
The history of Florida Lighthouses. An example is St. Augustine. There was first constructed a light tower, a wooden watchtower in 1589. Replaced in 1731 with a more sturdy structure. Then heightened in 1763. By 1780, an actual Lighthouse had been constructed. Through the years this Florida lighthouse was winding its way through Florida's Colonial History>
Florida Lighthouses to Tour
You'd probably like to know which Florida lighthouses you can actually enter. So you can take a tour, climb the tower, look around. Here they are, traveling in an orderly fashion.
Driving South on Florida's Atlantic Coast:
St. Augustine Lighthouse - 100 Red Cox Drive in St. Augustine. Tickets very reasonable for your tour, plus discounts available. Tons of kid-fun activities included. Great reviews. Open 9am to 6pm except Thanksgiving & Christmas holidays. Further details: (904) 829-0745
Ready to Climb? St. Augustine Lighthouse Stairs - 219 Steps to the Top!
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse - Distinctively Red
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum - 4931 S. Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet. Get there easily from I-95 and A1A. Tickets very reasonable for the tallest Florida lighthouse. Surrounded by a wonderful Lighthouse Park (separate admission). Learn how author Steven Crane is connected! Open 10am to 6pm. Summer until 9pm. Further details: (386) 761-1821
Cape Canaveral Lighthouse - Take a 4 Hour Tour on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday. Advance reservations required to enable time for security clearance: 2 days for citizens, or 4 days for foreign visitors. Further details: (321) 307-2900 or ContactUs@Canaveral.Tours
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse - Plus Museum. At 500 Captain Armour's Way, Jupiter. Via A1A/Beach Rd & US Rt. 1. Tickets $12, 1/2 price for kids. Discounts available. Wed.-Fri.: 10am to 5pm. Weekends to 2pm. Closed most major Holidays. More details: (561) 747-8380 x101
Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse - A unique circumstance requires a boat trip to see this Florida Lighthouse. Surrounded by private property of the fancy-schmancy Hillsboro Club, you'll have to secure a Tour Reservation to get the shuttle boat from the Sands Harbor Resort boat dock in Pompano Beach. Cost: $35, or Free with Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society membership. When open, maybe first visit the museum at Hillsboro Inlet Park, A1A at 2700 N. Ocean Blvd. For all details call: (954) 942-2102 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Cape Florida Lighthouse - What's nice here, it's in a State Park: Bill Baggs Cape. 1200 South Crandon Blvd. in Key Biscayne. Your tour is included in your park admission: only $8/vehicle. The lighthouse is closed Tues. & Wed., but otherwise you can tour at 10am or 1pm. Park open 8am til sundown all year. Further details: (305) 361-8779
Touring the Florida Keys - Taking Hwy. 1 to Key West:
The Key West Lighthouse
Key West Lighthouse - At 938 Whitehead St. Tickets start at $17 for adults. Prices lower from there by age & with discounts, including online purchase. Military Free. Keeper's cottage included. For more details: (305) 294-0012
Garden Key Fort Jefferson Lighthouse - Now named the Tortugas Harbor Lighthouse. At Fort Jefferson National Park, it sits atop the wall of the Fort. To tour you must take a 70 mile ferry ride on the The Yankee Freedom III. We took this trip back when the park was still a National Monument, around 1990. Well worth it! Find the ticket booth at 240 Margaret St., Key West. More details: (305) 242-7700
Loggerhead Lighthouse - On Loggerhead Key, 3 miles from Garden Key. The Lighthouse cannot be entered. You must make your own arrangements to go to this island. Private boats must check in and file a boat permit with the park service. Then be sure to know all other park requirements. If you go - you'll have a more exclusive visit, as not a lot of people want to go through the trouble!
Driving South on the Gulf Coat - Beginning West of Gainesville:
Cedar Key Lighthouse - Only had a brief moment in history. But its legacy remains for you to visit four times a year. Actually situated on Seahorse Key, 3 miles from Cedar, accessed by boat. Typically they hold an Open House for visitors from 9am to 3pm, and they announce the dates. For latest schedule, boat rentals & tour-boat info, call the Cedar Key Chamber: (352) 543-5600
Anclote Key Lighthouse - Within Anclote Key Preserve State Park. This 1887 Florida lighthouse is at the island's most southern tip. But it's only accessible to visitors during special events. Open 8am to sunset. To get there, take a ferry from Tarpon Springs, park entry is free. Further details: (727) 241-6106
Barrier Island Parks Society oversees the preservation and conservation of the lighthouses on Gasparilla Island.
Port Boca Grande Lighthouse & Museum - Open Tues.-Sat.: 11am to 3pm. This 1890 light has wood-frame styling on an iron screw pile. One of two lighthouses on this 7-mile long island. Entry via Gasparilla Island State Park, 880 Belcher Rd., Boca Grande. $3/vehicle fee. Park open 8am to sundown.
Boca Grande Entrance Rear Range Light - This cylindrical skeleton tower lighthouse is also known as Gasparilla Island Lighthouse. Watch for touring schedule, which may come around again.
Heading West along the Gulf Coast - From South of Tallahassee:
St. Mark's Lighthouse - Located on same-name National Wildlife Refuge. From Coastal Hwy., U.S. 98, turn left to 1255 Lighthouse Rd. Open daylight hours. Refuge Entry: $5/motor vehicle, $1/pedestrians-bicycles, active Military Free, Federal Recreation Passes accepted. Lighthouse Tour: $2 for Age 12+
Crooked River Lighthouse - At 1975 Hwy 98 in W. Carrabelle. Open Wed.-Fri., 11am to 5pm. Saturdays opens 9am, Sundays opens 1pm. Keeper's Quarters is a museum, free entry. Fee to climb the tower. Further details: (850) 697-2732
Cape St. George Lighthouse - Located at 2B East Gulf Beach Dr., on St. George Island. Fee to climb, discounts available. Free museum. March thru Oct. open 10am-5pm. ALL Sundays & Nov. thru Feb. open Noon-5pm. Closed Thursdays. More details: (850) 927-7745 OR email@example.com
Cape San Blas Lighthouse - An amazing story: been through the civil war, storms & an amazing move to Port St. Joe. Relocated there in George Core Park. Generally open these hours: Thurs. to Sat. 11am - 6pm. But can vary, so they ask a call before coming: (850) 229-1151 or (850) 229-8261
Pensacola Lighthouse - Situated on the Pensacola Naval Air Station. Security procedures required: Have proper ID including vehicle, NO weapons, enter via Public Gate on Blue Angel Parkway, No bags or purses on the tour. Closed major holidays. Fee required. The Keeper's House is the Maritime Museum. Tickets include tower climb, and museum. You can add special events like ghost hunting, or see the Blue Angels practice. For further details/help: (850) 393-1561
1 Peck, D.T. (2008, April 9). Misconceptions and myths related to the Fountain of Youth and Juan Ponce de Leon’s 1513 exploration voyage. Retrieved from web.archive.org/web/20080409062720/http://www.newworldexplorersinc.org/FountainofYouth.pdf
2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (1975). The coastline of the United States. NOAA, U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Retrieved from shoreline.noaa.gov/_pdf/Coastline_of_the_US_1975.pdf
3 Florida Lighthouse Association (n.d.) Florida lighthouses. Preserving, Restoring, Protecting & Defending Florida's Lighthouse Towers, Florida Lighthouse Assoc. Inc. Retrieved from floridalighthouses.org/page-1096052