Our Non Complete Guide to Lighthouses in the USA
Why in the world are we making a non complete guide to lighthouses in the USA?? Simple: there are so many lighthouses that one could not possibly hope to visit them all… but we are trying to, so as we add more and more to our roster, we’ll share them too. Having a non complete guide to lighthouses gives us reason to keep on seeking them out and discovering new territory.
Here you’ll find a collection of the lighthouses we’ve visited around the USA. For more information, be sure to check out each lantern’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 (and eventually Great Lakes) lanterns. We’ll be adding a bunch more to our lighthouses in the USA series after we complete our tour of Northern California and Oregon next month. We can’t wait!!!!
What you'll find...
- Lighthouses in the USA (some of them)
- Point Wilson Lighthouse, Port Townsend, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
- Point No Point Light, Hansville, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington
- Admiralty Head Lighthouse, Coupville, Whidbey Island, Washington
- Lime Kiln Light, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
- Cape Flattery Light, Neah Bay, Olympic Peninsula, Washington
- Pigeon Point Light Station, Northern Coast, California
- Old Point Loma Light, Cabrillo Nat’l Monument, San Diego, Southern Coast, California
- New Point Loma Light, Point Loma NAS, San Diego, Southern Coast, California
- Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and Cape Meares Lighthouse, Tillamook, Northern Coast, Oregon
- St Augustine Lighthouse, St Augustine, North Atlantic Coast, Florida
- Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida Keys, Florida
- St Johns River Light, Mayport Village, North Atlantic Coast, Florida
- St Simons Island Lighthouse, St Simons Island, Golden Isles, Georgia
Lighthouses in the USA (some of them)
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 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, Coupville, 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).
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.
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. 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. It’s very much worth it and you might even spy puffins and whales.
Pigeon Point Light Station, Northern Coast, California
We’ll write an article about this really tall lighthouse someday when we find the missing memory card that has the rest of our pictures. In the meantime, here are the surviving shots, including a watercolor I did while we sat in the sun relaxing. 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.
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 without kids and can’t wait to take them back to experience the grounds, the lighthouse, the lens and the tide pools.
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. 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.
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.
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse and Cape Meares Lighthouse, Tillamook, Northern Coast, 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 view with binoculars. 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.
St Augustine Lighthouse, St Augustine, North Atlantic Coast, Florida
The St Augustine Lighthouse is one of our favorites we’ve ever visited. 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 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 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.
Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida Keys, Florida
The southernmost of the lighthouses in the USA, the Key West Lighthouse is your idylic 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 Key West Lighthouse and surrounding area as told by Carmen’s Luxury Travels (she’s great!).
St Johns River Light, Mayport Village, North Atlantic Coast, Florida
The St Johns River Light is an interesting one. 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!
St Simons Island Lighthouse, St Simons Island, Golden Isles, Georgia
We’ve saved the best for last! 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… and 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.
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 after our upcoming California/Oregon road trip. We can’t wait to share our newest stories and adventures!!
And here’s something lovely to pin if you feel so inclined…
Rob Taylor is the founder of 2TravelDads, the original LGBT Family Travel blog. Focusing on ecotourism and education, 2TravelDads inspires LGBT families (and traditional families also) to go beyond their usual getaways and use travel to learn about and be part of a bigger world. “Traveling the globe and giving the kids a broad worldview.”