There are more than 100 lighthouses in the USA. These picks are beautiful, easy to visit and make for picturesque road trip adventures, from the Florida Keys to the Oregon Coast. Of all of our road trips up and down the west and east coasts, these are some of the most beautiful lighthouses in the USA, and for sure the easiest to visit.
Here you’ll find a collection of the lighthouses we’ve visited around the USA. For more information, be sure to check out each lighthouse’s article, as most do have links. And we’re always adding more, so watch for future posts building on our love of these awesome coastal icons. We’re always adding more to our lighthouses in the USA series so stay tuned!
Be sure to check out this great New England road trip or our sister site MaineExplored.com for more lighthouses we don’t cover in this article (they’re cool, but not as wow-ing).
Beautiful Lighthouses in the Pacific Northwest
The coasts of Washington and Oregon are peppered with lighthouses. Some of way off in the sea, alone on a rock and others are nestled in nautical neighborhoods. Add this lighthouses to your Washington State or Oregon Coast road trip plans.
Point Wilson Lighthouse, Port Townsend, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Located at Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, the Point Wilson Lighthouse is more than 100 years old. It can be toured during the summer with hosts from the US Coast Guard Auxiliary. There’s not a cost to tour the lighthouse itself, but there is a fee for the overall entry to the State Park. It’s one of the prettiest octagonal lighthouses on the West Coast of the USA and our favorite on the Olympic Peninsula.
Fun fact: besides touring the lighthouse area, there are pre-WWII bunkers and a marine science center to explore, which add to the history side of visiting Fort Worden.
Point No Point Light, Hansville, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington
The Point No Point Light is the lighthouse closest to our home. It’s a common morning visit for us and a great place to take visitors who stay with us. It’s about an hour from Seattle, which does include a ferry ride. The lighthouse is randomly open for tours, but you cannot go up into the lantern area. This is one of the oldest original lighthouses in the USA and it’s really cute too because it’s so short. It is the oldest lighthouse on Puget Sound.
Fun fact: at crazy high tides or wild windstorms, the driftwood accumulation is so great that it gets scattered around the lighthouse, not just on the beach. It’s a great spot to find interesting wood and shells for small souvenirs.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Washington
Located on Whidbey Island, the Admiralty Head Lighthouse is a really fascinating building to see. It’s got an unusual shape with attached keepers’ quarters. You can tour it… but there isn’t a lens in it anymore (sadface). This is a part of Fort Casey State Park near Deception Pass and Anacortes, WA.
Fun fact: the Admiralty Head Lighthouse is located almost directly across the water from the Point Wilson Lighthouse.
Another fun fact: Admiralty Head is made of brick and stucco and has arches and a red roof… but it’s totally not Spanish. It just has Spanish style architectural elements.
Lime Kiln Light, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
If you venture into the San Juan Islands, there are many lighthouses to visit. The lighthouses in the USA really vary in style, but they seem to be consistent in accessibility. There are only a few lighthouses in the USA that you can’t actually get to and luckily, the Lime Kiln Light is super easy to access. It’s located on a rocky point not far from Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. It’s the most picturesque of all of the Puget Sound lighthouses. It reminds me so much of the Bass Harbor Lighthouse in Acadia National Park in Maine.
Disclaimer: the Lime Kilm Light no longer has its original, beautiful fresnel lens. It, like many of the lighthouses in the USA, has been automated and runs on electricity.
Cape Flattery Light, Neah Bay, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
Okay, here’s one that’s completely opposite in accessibility from Lime Kilm or Point No Point as it’s one you have to view from the . The Cape Flattery Light is only accessible by boat by a few select coast guard folks. Its location is at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is on a tiny barrier island on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. There is an awesome to hike though that will get your to the westernmost tip of the contiguous USA, so that makes trying to snap a picture of the Cape Flattery Light well worth it!
Tip: if you’re going to be on the Olympic Peninsula, it’ll take a little more than a half day to get to Cape Flattery, do the hike, have lunch and then drive back. If you’re staying in Port Angeles (loved Domaine Madeleine B&B) it’s a great day trip. It’s very much worth it and you might even spy puffins and whales.
Westport Lighthouse, Grays Harbor County, Washington
Located just outside the adorable fishing village of Westport, Washington (a favorite weekend getaway for us) is the very tall Westport Lighthouse, also known as the Grays Harbor Light. It’s actually the tallest lighthouse in Washington. Originally, the Westport Lighthouse was much closer to the beach, but over time the process of erosion and soil displacement has made the distance from the lighthouse to the beach much further, at more than a half mile away now. Enjoy the nearby dunes and boardwalk when you visit.
North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park, Ilwaco, WA
We love Cape Disappointment State Park for its many trails and beautiful views, but it also is home to two lighthouses. The state park is actually a part of Lewis and Clark National Park which includes this area as well as sites along the Columbia River and down into Oregon.
The first is the North Head Lighthouse, which is very easily accessible. Park near the lighthouse keeper’s quarters and walk a quarter mile to this adorable, picture perfect Pacific Northwest lighthouse.
Cape Disappointment Light, Ilwaco, Washington
Also located within Cape Disappointment State Park, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is more of a hike to get to than the North Head light. The trail is 1.1 miles and take you past the gorgeous Dead Man’s Cove and up past some long forgotten bunkers. The view from the lighthouse is incredible, stretching down the Oregon Coast.
Oregon Coast Lighthouses Not to Miss
Planning an Oregon Coast road trip is something I’ve done so many times, and I always love it. Whether we’re camping on the Oregon Coast or staying in hotels along the way, we always have a great time and get to visit so many lighthouses. From Cannon Beach to the California Border, there are 11 lighthouses in Oregon, and many you can visit!
Tillamook Head Lighthouse, Cannon Beach, Oregon
The northern Oregon Coast has some really cool lighthouses. It’s what the Peoples’ Coast is known for. The Tillamook Rock Lighthouse is visible from Cannon Beach up on the bluff, but you cannot go visit it. It’s been out of commission for some time but still is a pretty sight, best viewed with binoculars.
Cape Meares Lighthouse, Tillamook, Oregon
The lighthouse that you CAN visit that’s nearby is, um… really tiny. The Cape Meares Light is adorbs and you can get right up to it. It’s octagonal, like the Point Wilson Lighthouse, but sooooooooo tiny. It houses my favorite type of lens: the fresnel lens, just like the one in the St Augustine Lighthouse. It’s beautiful and of all of the lighthouses in the USA, this one’s lens is the most fascinating to stare into.
Visiting Yaquina Head Lighthouse and Maritime Museum
Located just north of Newport, Oregon the Yaquina Head Lighthouse is a must-visit. Besides being able to tour the lighthouse and climb it, the grounds all around have hikes and viewpoints. Hang out above the coves to watch sea lions and then head into the museum to learn all about whales and the nautical history of the Oregon Coast.
Haceta Head Lighthouse: the Most Beautiful View in Oregon
The Haceta Head lighthouse in Florence, Oregon is the most beautiful of all the west coast lighthouses. Set above the jagged rocks but near a gorgeous cove, the Haceta Head lighthouse is picture perfect. If you’ve got the time or even just want to do an Oregon Coast weekend getaway from Portland, book a stay at the keepers quarters!
Cape Arago Lighthouse, Coos Bay, Oregon
Cape Arago is the dreamy Oregon Coast lighthouse view you would expect to see gracing the cover of a romance novel. Located quite a ways away from Coos Bay on the way out to Shore Acres State Park. There are a few viewpoints to see it from, including a trek along slippery rocks out to the point if you really want. It’s best visited in the late afternoon for the best lighting.
Coquille River Lighthouse, Bandon, Oregon
I love the Coquille River Lighthouse. It’s beautiful, cute and easily accessible. Located within Bullards Beach State Park, the Coquille River Lighthouse is the perfect spot for a picnic and beach day. Spend time here as a part of a Southern Oregon road trip or an extension of a trip to Florence.
The Distant Cape Blanco Lighthouse, Port Orford, Oregon
The day we set out to visit the Cape Blanco Lighthouse was one of the windiest days I’ve ever experience. A very remote lighthouse, Cape Blanco is still active so has restricted access. For the best view, visit on a calm, clear day during the golden hour. The light will be beautiful and it’ll be the perfect lighthouse visit to end your trek to the Oregon Coast lighthouses.
Most Beautiful California Lighthouses
California has a lot of lighthouses. If you’re doing a California Coast road trip from tip to tip, you’ll be able to visit at least ten. These lighthouses on the California Coast are our top picks for their beauty and how easy they are to get to.
Battery Point Lighthouse, Crescent City, California
As you drive through the Redwoods and come down to the coast, Crescent City is one of your stops. The Battery Point Lighthouse is quite beautiful, particularly in spring when it’s covered in flowers. To get to it, you do have to cross a tidal area, so during high tide, you may not be able to access the lighthouse and stay dry.
Trinidad Head Lighthouse, Trinidad, California
Just north of the Victorian town of Eureka is a small, sleepy spot called Trinidad. Here you’ll find two lighthouses: the functioning lighthouse and the memorial one. The memorial lighthouse is on the bluff in the town of Trinidad, but the working lighthouse is out on the head. You actually have to hike out to Trinidad Head Lighthouse to see it, and even then it’s a bit obstructed, so enjoying the secondary lighthouse is a good way to relax for the afternoon.
The Iconic Point Arena Lighthouse, Point Arena, California
It’s a bit of a drive off the Pacific Coast Highway to get to the Point Arena Lighthouse but the views all around are awesome. You can climb the Point Arena Light for a fee, or you can just picnic on the bluffs below. Either way, it’s worth the trip. Lighthouses are some of the most magical things to do in Northern California.
Pigeon Point Light Station, Pescedero / Santa Cruz, California
Visiting Pigeon Point Light Station is an easy day trip out of San Francisco. We made the stop here on our drive down to the Central Coast area. It’s got some nice spots to relax and is visible from down the coast too, if you’re looking to get away from people. There are plenty of beaches to hang out at or you can do a quick stop to read the exhibits and then hit the road down to Santa Cruz.
Tip: the Pigeon Point Light Station can be toured, as it’s a part of California State Parks, but you cannot go up into the lighthouse itself.
Old Point Loma Light, Cabrillo Nat’l Monument, San Diego, Southern Coast, California
Cabrillo National Monument has some pretty awesome things to do there. Not only is there the cutest little California lighthouse (and one of the first on the west coast), which is probably the most quaint of all of the lighthouses in the USA, but there is a visitors center where you can get behind the lens and make awesome faces. We visited with the kids and they loved walking the trails and experiencing the grounds, the lighthouse, the lens and the tide pools. Perfect addition to a San Diego trip.
Tip: Cabrillo National Monument is part of the National Parks Service and there is an entry fee to the entire area. If you bring your National Parks pass, your vehicle and passengers are covered. Oh, and don’t forget your National Parks Passport to get a stamp.
New Point Loma Light, Point Loma NAS, San Diego, Southern Coast, California
The New Point Loma Lighthouse is also within Cabrillo National Monument but you cannot access the immediate grounds around it. It’s still operational and is an active US Coast Guard station, but you can see it from the road and it’s really cool looking with its metal structure. Of all of the lighthouses in the USA, the New Point Loma Light is unusual, as there are only a few others with a similar structure. It’s the only one on the west coast of its kind. We stayed nearby at the BW Plus Island Palms Resort and were able to get to Cabrillo very quickly to catch sunset here.
Tip: for best viewing and photography, head down the bluff in your vehicle and pull over to get some cool shots. Take the time to get out of your car, please.
Favorite Florida Lighthouses to Visit
Florida has many lighthouses because is has 1,350 miles of coastline (that’s 500 more than California!). Over time the lighthouses of Florida have been beaten and battered by hurricanes, but most are still standing and active. These lighthouses are the easiest to access, and most are on the eastern coast and Florida Keys. The Florida Gulf Coast has a few lighthouses too, but the east coast ones are more grand.
St Augustine Lighthouse, St Augustine, Florida
The St Augustine Lighthouse is one of our favorites we’ve ever visited and now we live nearby in Butler Beach, FL. True, it’s got some height restrictions that prevent little people from going up to the top, but it’s pretty awesome. There are 219 steps to the top and by the time you get there you’re tired. The view of the town of Saint Augustine is incredible, the lighthouse itself is very photogenic, and the grounds are set up perfectly for family travel. There is a comprehensive museum in the lighthouse keepers’ quarters and a really cool playground for kids. It’s an incredible stop on any Florida road trip itinerary. The lighthouses in the USA are almost all family friendly, so keep supporting them so they keep being there for us!
Tip: if you’re stopping here, you might as well also pop down to Fort Matanzas or the Castillo de San Marcos for some more historical goodness. It’s not a lighthouse but it is an awesome old fort/tower and one of the first sites to get Federal funding for its protection and restoration.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, Daytona Beach, Florida
Located just south of Daytona Beach on a small peninsula called the Ponce Inlet, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful and unique lights we’ve visited. Painted red, you’ll not find many other lighthouses around the world like the Ponce Inlet Light. The whole complex is a maritime museum, so there is a few for the exhibits and to climb the lighthouse.
Tip: for a cool experience, try bioluminescent kayaking near Daytona Beach. It’s magical!
Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida Keys, Florida
The southernmost of the lighthouses in the USA, the Key West Lighthouse is your idyllic lantern in the Caribbean. It is available for tours and is a great way to stretch your legs after you’ve made the long drive through all of the Keys. There are also some beautiful art installations on the grounds that show the vibrant culture that’s overtaken the island. See what else is awesome about the Florida Keys and beyond (Dry Tortugas National Park has two lighthouses!).
Far Out Florida Keys Lighthouses to See
There are a few reef lighthouses and distant outposts in the Florida Keys you can see from boats (or even visit). The Sombrero Key lighthouse is just off Marathon and is in the middle of a conservation area. You cannot climb the lighthouse, but you can boat past it. Watch for masked boobies and magnificent frigate birds.
Also, out at Dry Tortugas National Park there are two lighthouses. The Loggerhead Key Light is on a small island three miles north of Garden Key (Fort Jefferson). You can visit via private boat or paddle over to it if you’re camping in Dry Tortugas NP. The other lighthouse here is actually built into Fort Jefferson itself. It’s undergoing renovation (2021) but should be completed by summer 2021.
NOT AWESOME – St Johns River Light, Mayport Village, Florida
The St Johns River Light is an interesting one located on the north side of Jacksonville. Um, the lighthouse is only visible from a distance unless you’ve got naval base clearance to see it up close… which is why we could only see it from the ferry crossing the St Johns River heading north out of Florida. It made a fun peekaboo at us, but just bummed us out that we couldn’t actually visit it. It’s one of the few lighthouses in the USA that is red, similar to the Ponce Inlet Light.
BONUSES: Lighthouses in Georgia and North Carolina
The Southeastern USA has just so many lighthouses that it’s difficult to include them all. The Outer Banks NC lighthouses are beautiful (Hilton Head being the most famous). And the Georgia coasts has several too.
The St Simons Island Lighthouse in southern Georgia is wonderful for a family visit. There are no height restrictions for climbing the tower, the view from the top is awesome, looking out over Jekyll Island and beyond. As a reward for the kids who make the climb, there’s a waterpark and playground next door. We loved our time here at the museum and doing the climb. It’s a must-see if you’re touring the Golden Isles of Georgia!
Tip: the King and Prince Resort is close by and is a great family travel hotel. It’s directly on the beach and caters to families without question. Really, an A+ place!
Tip 2: St Simons Island is a great place for biking, as it’s very flat. We rented bikes from Ocean Motion Surf Co to see the island, and the lighthouse is really close to where you get your bikes, so plan on doing that.
Continue up from St Simons on your Georgia Coast road trip and you’ll pass Sapelo Island (you have to take a boat to that one) and then you’ll get to Tybee Island right outside of Savannah. Here you’ll find both the Tybee Island Lighthouse and the Cockspur Lighthouse at Fort Pulaski National Monument. So many!
As you can see, we love visiting the lighthouses in the USA and seeing how different they all are. We’ll be adding to our grand catalog of lighthouses as we continue to explore the country. At the top of our bucket list is Acadia National Park, more lighthouses of the Great Lakes, and a whole lot of New England. We can’t wait to share our newest stories and adventures!!
And here’s something lovely to pin if you feel so inclined…
Mary Louise Barber
Sunday 28th of August 2022
wish I could have seen the lighthouses in Virginia and also North and South Carolina
Sunday 28th of August 2022
Sounds like you need an east coast road trip! We're planning one for Spring of next year and it's going to be so much fun!
Tuesday 3rd of May 2022
So misleading - another terrible clickbait article where you obviously haven't done your research! I don't think you've visited a lot of lighthouses judging by this list. How can you call this 25 of the most beautiful lighthouses in the USA, when you don't mention some of the best of the best (Split Rock, Bodie Island, Point Reyes, etc). Michigan has the most lighthouses in the USA, many of which are much more picturesque than these top 25 lighthouses on this list (some of these are really bad and not worth a visit). . Plus, hello - MAINE? Maine is missing. Just another blog article that just goes for the cheap SEO tricks and clickbait.
Wednesday 4th of May 2022
Wow, thanks for that review. Everything I've included is unique and I think worth visiting. And I've visited all of these. I'm not going to recommend and include a bunch of lighthouses I've not been to, and I DON'T recommend every light house I have been to. I hope you found value in leaving a rude comment that puts no good into the world. If you would like to create your own list of your favorite lighthouses and take the time to share about each one, I'd invite you to do so.
Tuesday 19th of April 2016
Great post! I love that you are adding to it and also when you find the memory card. LOL. I never understood what attracted people to lighthouses but I like to take pictures of them when I encounter them. Been thinking about doing lighthouses around Florida since we have so many of them. ;)
Tuesday 19th of April 2016
Our next #LoveFL trip is going to include the Ponce Inlet Light. Perhaps we'll drag you along!
Sunday 10th of April 2016
Have you ever visited the lighthouses in Michigan? They are beautiful and should be on your non-complete guide!
Sunday 10th of April 2016
It's our goal to do the Great Lakes in the next few years and there will for sure be stories and pictures following that epic trip.
Wednesday 6th of April 2016
What an incredible compilation of lighthouses in the USA. They are so beautiful and are the perfect photographic subject! I can't believe there are so many lighthouses in Washington. You learn something new every day.