Although each lighthouse has its own story and unique markings—known as its daymark—together they weave a narrative of Florida’s maritime history. They are beacons of the dedication of local preservationists and educators, offering amazing views and unique adventures.
Cape Florida Lighthouse towers over the waters off Key Biscayne at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. In place for nearly 200 years, it is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade. After ascending 109 spiral steps, visitors are treated to a view of Miami Beach to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to east, the unique homes of the renowned Stiltsville to the south (now part of the Biscayne National Park) and Cape Florida and Key Biscayne to the west. Free tours are offered with park admission.
Cape St. George Lighthouse, on the white sand beaches of the Panhandle, is a shining example of resilience. Built in 1833 on Little St. George Island, it had to be rebuilt in 1848 and 1852. In 2005, the lighthouse collapsed into the Gulf, succumbing to beach erosion. The St. George Lighthouse Association spearheaded an effort to rebuild the tower and, along with state and federal government agencies, salvaged pieces of the destroyed structure and cleaned up thousands of recovered bricks. With the original lighthouse plans in hand, the lighthouse was reconstructed on St. George Island, using as much of the original materials as possible.It opened to the public in 2008. On the grounds are a replica of the original keeper’s house—now a museum—visitors center and playground.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum is centered around the 108-foot lighthouse that shines over the inlet at the confluence of the Indian and Loxahatchee rivers. It has a Fresnel lens that was installed in 1860. The museum features exhibits depicting a lighthouse keepers’ life, and native and homesteader homes. This is also the site of the nationally designated 120-acre Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area. Considered nationally significant, the area includes hiking trails through three Florida habitats.
Loggerhead Lighthouse, originally named the Dry Tortugas Light, was built in 1858. It is said this iconic structure became America’s most powerful lighthouse when it was electrified in 1931. Located in the Dry Tortugas National Park, 70 miles west of Key West, the grounds can only be reached by private boat. The tower is not open to the public. Neither is Garden Key Lighthouse, adjacent to nearby Fort Jefferson.
Pensacola Lighthouse is on Naval Air Station Pensacola. Completed in 1824, it was the second lighthouse in Florida and the first on the Gulf of Mexico. In addition to maritime history, visitors can take in the U.S. Museum of Naval Aviation, home to the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, who regularly hold practice flights there. At the base of the 159-foot-tall tower is the Keepers Quarters, built in 1869. It has served as a museum since 1995.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is Florida’s tallest lighthouse, and one of the tallest in the country, standing 751 feet, with 203 steps to its top. It was completed in 1887. When the first-order fixed Fresnel lens was lit, it could be seen nearly 20 miles offshore. Today, the view from the top of this iconic red landmark includes the popular Daytona beaches during the day and amazing sky views during full-moon climbing events. The grounds include a museum and nature trails.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum guards Florida’s oldest port and has claimed the title of St. Augustine’s front porch light. Its first lighthouse was built in 1824. The present one was built in 1876, and is the 10th tallest in the United States. The lighthouse’s 219 steps can be climbed daily and during special nighttime events. Exhibits at the museum and Maritime Education Center, demonstrations by volunteer boatbuilders working in the Museum Heritage Boatworks and a walk on the grounds’ nature trails offer plenty of reasons to spend more time here.
Lighthouse access may be reduced due to COVID-19. Please check before planning a visit.