If you are a lighthouse lover, Florida is the perfect destination for you. There are 30 lighthouses in Florida marking its thousands of miles of coastlines. For hundreds of years, these lighthouses have offered guidance to the boats and ships to safely sail around Florida coasts and protected them from the dangerous coastlines, rocks, and coral reefs.
These iconic lighthouses along Florida are some of the most photographed icons in the Sunshine State. However, only 10 Florida lighthouses are open to visitors and some of them allow you to climb and give you postcard-like views and a memorable experience.
If you are planning for a lighthouse road trip in Florida, it can be difficult for you which one to keep on your list as some lighthouses are located in remote locations and some of them open periodically. Here is our list of the best lighthouses in Florida that you can find several places along the Florida coast.
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History of the Lighthouse in Florida
Florida lighthouses have been serving the sailors since 1824. St. Augustine Lighthouse was first built in 1824 but later the newer version was built in 1876. So, officially the oldest lighthouse in Florida is the Amelia Island Lighthouse which was constructed in 1839.
These historic Florida lighthouses have withstood hurricanes, soil erosion, dangerous sea waves and even the Civil War. You can also see here one of the tallest lighthouses in the US, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse which towers at 176 feet.
How many lighthouses are there in Florida?
There are around 30 lighthouses dotted along the Florida coast. Today, only 6 of these Florida lighthouses are still active while others are turned into museums and historic attractions.
1. Cape Canaveral Lighthouse
Located in the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this 151 feet tall lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Florida. Your tour to Canaveral Lighthouse would be memorable if you get a chance to see this white and black striped lighthouse with a space shuttle launch in the background from the Kennedy Space Center.
Cape Canaveral Lighthouse was built in 1868 and was moved inland in 1898 due to the erosion along the shoreline. It became fully automated in 1960 and in 2000, this brick lighthouse was transferred to the United States Air Force.
Weekly organized tours are available. Although they are expensive($27 per person) but the three-hour tour offers stops at the Air Force Space and Missile History Center, launch sites, and admission to Port Canaveral’s Exploration Tower.
2. St. Augustine Lighthouse
The list of the best lighthouses in Florida is incomplete without adding St. Augustine Lighthouse. This brick-built historical lighthouse is located in the northern part of Anastasia Island.
Built in 1874, St. Augustine is an iconic Florida lighthouse that stands at an incredible 165 feet. St. Augustine is a proud member of the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It has a museum, and a cute gift shop and allows visitors to climb to the top and enjoy the city scenery, the inlet, Salt Run, and the ocean.
Admission fee: $12.95/adult.
3. Key West Lighthouse: A Popular Florida Lighthouse
This traditional lighthouse is one of the best lighthouses in the Florida Keys. With just 73 feet in height, Key West Lighthouse is not that tall but it offers some of the best views of Key West.
Built in 1848, this lighthouse is located in the most scenic place in Key West surrounded by popular tourist spots. What is more unusual is the first keeper who was a woman which was unheard of during that time.
Key West Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 and today the lighthouse and the keeper’s quarters are serving as a museum where visitors can get a glimpse of the keeper’s lives through the old pictures and their personal belongings.
Key West is the perfect place for people who are looking for a romantic getaway in Florida. And while you are in Florida, don’t miss this beautiful Florida lighthouse to keep in your Key West itinerary.
The lighthouse is open for public everyday from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm.
Admission Fee: $10/adult.
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4. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
If you are a lighthouse fan, Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse shouldn’t be missed while visiting Florida. Ponce Inlet itself is a beautiful place to explore and perfect for people looking for affordable vacation spots in Florida. The red-colored lighthouse stands tall at 175 feet, making it the tallest lighthouse in Florida.
This National Historic Landmark is located on the Ponce Inlet between south Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. It is open every day and visitors can climb to the top of it. Please note that you must be fit enough to climb whopping 203 steps. You can enjoy the breathtaking views of the inlet and a glimpse of the nearby Daytona Beach from the top.
Besides the lighthouse, you can explore the museum, the three keepers’ houses, an oil storage house, a pump house, and privies. The museum also offers special exhibits on Fresnel lenses of all sizes. (The Fresnel Lens uses an advanced technology that allowed lighthouses to be visible even from 20 miles away.)
Admission fee: $6.95 per adult.
5. Cape Florida Lighthouse
Want to enjoy the view of a Florida lighthouse as well as a spectacular beach? Sitting inside Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in Mami Dade County, Cape Florida Lighthouse is a perfect place for a weekend vacation in Florida with families.
The 95-feet tall structure is a popular lighthouse in south Florida. It was built in 1846 and witnessed the attack during the 2nd Seminole War and the hurricane Andrew in 1992. Cape Florida lighthouse is not operational in present days but it can be accessed by visitors. From the top of the lighthouse, you can see the jaw-dropping view of Miami’s spectacular skyline. There’s also a museum in the keeper’s cottage, and a gift shop.
You can access the beach right next to the lighthouse. Families can spend a lovely afternoon on the sandy beach and enjoy a picnic on the beach within Bill Baggs Florida State Park.
Related Post: 11 Unique Souvenirs from Miami
6. Saint George Island Lighthouse
The Saint George Island Lighthouse should always be on the list of top lighthouses in the Florida gulf coast. The lighthouse was collapsed in 2005 after affected by the repeated hurricanes, but it was rebuilt in 2008 and since then this 72-foot brick Florida lighthouse is opened to the public.
You can explore the lighthouse museum which tells the history of the lighthouse and its keepers and a gift shop to take souvenirs from the historic lighthouse.
They also offer unique Sunset and Full Moon Climbs(costs $10) each month to climb to the top of the lighthouse and watch the shimmering sunset and the magnificent full moon.
If you want to see the light, visit between November and April. Rest of the months, it is not lit in support of nesting sea turtles.
Please Note: The lighthouse is closed on Thursday
Climbing Fee: $5/adult(No climbing fee in April)
7. Amelia Island Lighthouse
Built in 1838 in Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in Florida. It was fully automated in 1970 and today this white-colored brick tower is operated by the United States Coast Guard.
If you are taking a road trip along the coast, we will highly recommend visiting this 64-foot tall cone-shaped lighthouse in north Florida. It offers spectacular views of St. Mary’s River and the inlet to the massive Atlantic Ocean. Check out the ultimate road trip essentials.
Lighthouse tours are offered twice a month on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays and the property ground can be visited by the public on Saturdays from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm.
Lighthouse Tour: $5/adult
8. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
The iconic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse stands 105 feet tall along the coast of Florida. The vibrant red color is used to protect the color of the lighthouse from seawater and humidity. To spend a day out with your families, it is an ideal place where visitors can explore the natural hiking area and enjoy the wildlife.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was first lit in 1860 and from 1987 it was fully automated by the US Coast Guard. It has become a popular tourist attraction in this area.
Visitors are allowed to climb 105 steps leading to the black lantern at the top. For the special sunset tours, you have to reserve your seat. Apart from climbing tours, this historical landmark offers exhibits in the waterfront History Museum that includes the Keeper’s Workshop, Tindall Pioneer Homestead & Seminole Chickee.
Hours of Operation: 10am – 5pm from Sun – Sat(January – April) and Tuesday – Sunday(May – December).
Admission Fee: $9/adult
9. Pensacola Lighthouse
Another haunted Florida lighthouse that stands on the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. This 150 feet tall historic structure is one of the best active lighthouses in the Florida panhandle.
Pensacola Lighthouse started its service in 1859 and it was fully automated in 1965. Visitors can climb up 177 steps to enjoy the stunning views on the Gulf Coast. You can also see the Pensacola Pass, Pensacola skyline, three historic forts, and the historic Navy Yard from the top of the lighthouse.
The Pensacola Lighthouse is rumored to be haunted and was featured on several TV shows. Ghost hunts($25/adult) in the Keeper’s Quarters are offered twice a month on Saturdays. We will highly recommend attending the Blue Angels Practice show($25 per person) with your family from the catwalk.
Pensacola lighthouse and museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday and the admission fee is $8 per adult.
Recommended Read: 8 Best & Safest Cities to Live in Florida Panhandle
10. Port Boca Grande Lighthouse
The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse was built in 1890 to guide the ships into Charlotte Harbor. Today, it is one of the lighthouses in west Florida to be open to the public.
Unlike other Florida lighthouses, this is a house-dwelling style lighthouse that is now home to a beautiful museum. Visitors can learn about the lifestyle of Native Americans, and the famous tarpon fishing in the Boca Grande Pass. It also features some local bones, fossils, and shells.
It’s about a 3-hour drive from Orlando, but it’s worth a visit. It is not all about the lighthouse, but also you can enjoy the quiet island with a quaint downtown in Boca Grande.
Please Note: The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse is closed during the month of August.
11. Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse
With a range of approximately 28 nautical miles, Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse has the most powerful light on the east coast. It stands 132 feet tall between Fort Lauderdale(a top-growing metro city in Florida) and Boca Raton since 1903. In 1974, the lighthouse became automated.
Visiting this lighthouse can be a little trickier than the others as it sits on Coast Guard land. It can be accessed on selected dates. Lighthouse tours are available once a month. A 30-minute boat ride will take you to the lighthouse from the Sands Dock. The ferry ride costs $35 per person.
Climb the narrow stairs to the top and enjoy the awe-inspiring view of the Atlantic Ocean and marine life in the ocean below. Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the beach with your partner.
So, this is the list of the most beautiful lighthouses in Florida. You must explore these lighthouses at least once in a lifetime. If you are on a road trip along the east coast, a Florida lighthouses map can help you to plan your journey.