Lighthouses in California

Roaming the Pacific Coast, you'll see many fine lighthouses in California. And what a coast it is! Some awesome scenery, along with lighthouses showing you their storied pasts.

Montara California with sunset view of lighthouseSun sets in California with lighthouse in View



Northern California Lighthouses

  • Point Arena Lighthouse - Surrounded by the sea on three sides, this rugged coastline Light Station presents hour after hour of wonder. Even getting there takes you along panoramic Hwy. 1, with awe-inspiring coastal views at every turn. There are Keeper's Apartments for stays, plus an indoor & outdoor museum. The lighthouse is 115 ft. tall, one of the two tallest on the Pacific Coast. Location: 45500 Lighthouse Rd., Point Arena, near Manchester. Takes about two to four hours to drive North from the Bay Area or Northwest from Sacramento. More details: 877-725-4448 x1 OR 707-882-2809 x1 OR email - Info.PALight@gmail.com
Wonderful view of Point Arena with the coastal waters and the lighthouse complexPoint Arena Light Station

More California Lighthouse Stops on the Northern Coast

  • Punta Gorda Lighthouse - In Petrolia, on the Humboldt County coast. Not an active beacon, but a wonderful place to design a rugged outdoor adventure. Go to Mattole River Beach for parking. Take the Lost Coast Trail (watch tides). This is a remote site, so be prepared if you plan to visit!
  • St. George Reef Lighthouse - Seven miles off Point St. George in Del Norte County. It sat atop Northwest Seal Rock. Taking 10 years to build in the harsh environment, finished in 1890. The Coast Guard managed this beacon until 1975, when they replaced it with an automated buoy. The St. George Reef Lighthouse Preservation Society Offers Tours on occasion Oct. thru May. 


Central California Lighthouses

  • Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park - Along Hwy. 1. It's 50 miles South of San Francisco at Pescadero State Beach. The grounds are open, free entry. [Inquire about their guided history walk: (650) 879-2120.] Has an indoor & outdoor museum. But the lighthouse is closed, Undergoing Restoration. There's a Hostel for overnight stays.
  • Santa Cruz Lighthouses - In this wonderful beach town, discover two lighthouses! Get there along Hwy. 1, South of San Francisco and Southwest of San Jose.3
  1. Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse attracts many with its iconic surfing museum inside. All at Lighthouse Field State Beach, where surfers love the Eastern side's Steamer Lane. The swimming beach on the West end is fabulous too!
  2. Walton Lighthouse isn't so well known, as it's not obvious when you're at the Santa Cruz Wharf. But your won't regret this swing by. In fact what fabulous views when you go to Seabright Beach at sunset, with Walton Lighthouse as a backdrop! Its job is protection for the entry to Santa Cruz Harbor. For a close-up look, take Seabright Ave. south, turn left on Atlantic Ave., park at the street's end. Find the trail adjacent to the Restaurant leading to the beach & lighthouse.
Walton Lighthouse on the jetty in Santa Cruz CaliforniaWalton Lighthouse - Look for it at Sunset

More Lighthouses in California - Central Coast

  • Point Pinos - This Monterey Lighthouse has the West Coast's oldest still working beacon. And what a setting! At the Monterey peninsula's scenic point. Highly recommended!
  • Point Bonita Lighthouse - In Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco. Work a bit to get here, so be sure to start before 2:30pm. You'll hike a half-mile trail, part of which is steep. The last portion across a suspension bridge. Call for details on conditions: (415) 331-1540.6,7
  • Point Montara Lighthouse - Along Hwy. 1, North of Moss Beach, 25 miles South of San Francisco. Built in 1875 to warn against the heavy fog that can inundate the area. Ships had been running aground. Into the offshore shoal and massive surf scattered boulders. Not very tall, but it's on a 70 ft. cliffside. The military found it useful during WWII. The Keeper's Quarters are now Hostel units.5
Point Montara Lighthouse as the sun sets on the Pacific OceanSunset at the Point Montara Lighthouse
  • Point Reyes Lighthouse - Visit the same named National Seashore. You'd want to Plan Time to get full appreciation for its entire value. Well worth it! Just to get to the lighthouse is a trip. Arrive at the Visitor Center, then stay the trail 900 ft. down to the tower. Best time is prior to 2pm. For great pics go to the viewing platform above the lighthouse.
  • Point Sur Lighthouse - Southwest of San Francisco, it was instrumentally used during the Cold War. It's still used as a guidance beacon. It's had recent renovation, so is looking good. Volunteers lead tours, which must be scheduled. For information call (831) 625-4419 or email info@pointsur.org
  • Alcatraz Lighthouse - Built in 1853 on the island, Cape Cod style. But the famed 1906 earthquake destroyed it. By 1909 a new 84 ft. tower was built. View it with an island tour.7
Alcatraz Island with prison buildings and lighthouseLighthouse on Alcatraz Island


Southern California Lighthouses

  • Point Vicente Lighthouse - Set your sights to 31550 Palos Verdes Dr., West in Rancho Palos Verdes to arrive at this quaint, Hollywood-likable scenic spot. There's limited opening of the grounds & museum: usually 2nd Sat., 10am - 3pm. The tower only on the City's Whale of a Day. If in the area, call (310) 541-0334 for recorded info. The Coast Guard Auxiliary has responsibility for the lighthouse.4,7
  • Oxnard's Port Hueneme Lighthouse - Built in 1940, replacing an 1874 original. A bit different, as its style is Art Moderne. The lighthouse is owned and managed by the U.S. Coastguard. But they don't own the Keeper's Cottages adjacent. You can see the lighthouse in Port Hueneme. Park near Market St. Take Surfside Dr., by the intersection of Ventura Rd. Take the Lighthouse Promenade about 1/2 mile.2
  • La Tour in Laguna Beach - At first glance it looks like a lighthouse. But it's not! Nicknamed the "Pirate Tower" as upon closer look you may think of a fair maiden imprisoned there! But it was only a Senator's enclosed stairway from his home to the beach, built in 1926. It's privately owned, so you can't enter. Get nearby for photos at low tide.1
La Tour Tower, aka the Pirate Tower on the coast in Laguna Beach CaliforniaA Unique Tower - But Can You Find the Light?

More Southern California Lighthouses

  • Lighthouses of Long Beach & Los Angeles Harbors - Long Beach has many seaworthy attractions for us lighthouse loving roamers. That includes a wonderful place to stay for the night, like aboard the Queen Mary! Stay a few nights there - while you...
  1. Grab a meal at Parker's Lighthouse Restaurant! 
  2. Go on by the Lighthouse for Sight sponsored by the local Lion's Club. In Shoreline Aquatic Park. 
  3. Complete your lighthouse extravaganza, by viewing two actual ones: Point Fermin Lighthouse & Los Angeles Harbor Lighthouse. From the Queen Mary take the 710/Seaside Fwy to Hwy. 47. Exit South on Gaffey St. It ends at Pt. Fermin Park. You may be able to view the LA Harbor lighthouse here, also called Angels Gate Lighthouse. If not, drive West over to Cabrillo Beach. There you can get views by going out to the end of the fishing pier.8
Point Fermin Lighthouse historic photo.Historic photo taken by the Coast Guard Service of the Historic Point Fermin Lighthouse. Looks nearly the same today!


References

1 Bramucci, S. (2020). Laguna's hidden history: The Victoria Beach pirate tower. Visit Laguna Beach. Retrieved from visitlagunabeach.com/blog/lagunas-hidden-history-the-victoria-beach-pirate-tower/

2 Coast Guard Film Office Hollywood (n.d.) Point Hueneme Lighthouse. Retrieved from sites.google.com/site/pointhuenemelighthouse/home

3 Santa Cruz Attractions (n.d.) Beach attractions in Santa Cruz. An Elite Cafe Media Travel Publisher. Retrieved from californiabeaches.com/attraction/walton-lighthouse/

4 Palos Verde on the Net (n.d.) Point Vicente Lighthouse. Sights of Palos Verdes. Retrieved from palosverdes.com/pvlight/

5 Anderson, K. (2001-2020). Point Montara Lighthouse. Point Montara, CA. Retrieved from lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=78

6 National Park Service (n.d.) Point Bonita Lighthouse. Golden Gate National Recreation Area California. Retrieved from nps.gov/goga/pobo.htm

7 Jones, R. (2013). The lighthouse encyclopedia. Guilford, Connecticut.: Globe Pequot Publications

8 Heather, K. (2020). Point Fermin Lighthouse. Lighthouse History. San Pedro.com Retrieved from pointferminlighthouse.org/index.html