Lighthouses were created to safely signal to incoming boats and once were found throughout the Southeast. Few remain today because of erosion and hurricanes, but Florida is blessed with over sixteen that travelers can visit.
We’ve left out the ones that are in open water and not easily accessible. Some are also temporarily closed. You’ll find the majority clustered around the islands.
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Editor’s Note: Obviously, a lot of places are closed during the Coronavirus pandemic. We are aware that the situation is continuously changing and all are encouraged to stay home. But we will continue to write stories to inspire you for when places are open again.
Amelia Island Light, Amelia Island
While it’s hard to see through the trees, the Amelia Island Light is the oldest existing lighthouse in the state of Florida. Located on the northern end of Amelia Island, it was built in 1838 using materials from the Little Cumberland Light in Georgia.
The light was automated in 1970. Today it’s managed by the United States Coast Guard. It’s not open to the public but visitors can explore the grounds for three hours on Saturday tours.
Cape Canaveral Light, Cape Canaveral
As the second lighthouse built along this stretch of coast, the Cape Canaveral Light was built near Cocoa Beach in 1868. It was built of brick and had an all-white design until the black stripes were added in 1873.
Erosion along the shoreline required the lighthouse to be moved in the late 1800s. In 1949, the site became used for missile training and it became automated in 1960. In 2000, the lighthouse was transferred to the United States Air Force. Weekly tours are offered.
Cape Florida Light, Key Biscayne
Built in 1825, the Cape Florida Light was built in Key Biscayne, off the coast of Miami. It operated until 1878 when it was replaced by another light. But in 1978, it was brought back into service by the Coast Guard.
But in 1990, the light was retired for good. It was restored and re-lit in 1996 but no longer serves as a navigational aid. It’s accessible within Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. There’s a museum in the keeper’s cottage.
Visit on a Private Lighthouse/Stiltsville Sailboat Tour.
Cape San Blas Light, Port St. Joe
The first Cape San Blas Light in Port St. Joe dates back to 1849 but was destroyed. Subsequent versions were hit by hurricanes and damaged during the Civil War.
The current version is a skeletal design that began in 1883. Storms and erosion threatened the light so it was moved inland. The light was decommissioned in 1996.
In 2014, the lighthouse and two keepers’ quarters were relocated to Core Park. St. Joseph Point Lighthouse is also nearby.
Cape St. George Light, St. George Island
Repeated hurricanes in the 1990s and 2000s led the light to collapse in 2005. A salvage company retrieved the bricks from the ocean and volunteers helped to rebuild it. Today it is open as a museum.
Crooked River Lighthouse, Carabelle
Set in the town of Carabelle, the Crooked River Lighthouse was built in 1895 to replace the one on Dog Island that was destroyed by a hurricane. It was electrified in 1933 and automated in 1952.
In 1999, a local organization restored the two-toned lighthouse and keeper’s house. Today the museum is free to visit and the lighthouse is open to those who want to climb the 128 stairs.
Egmont Key Lighthouse, Tierra Verde
The island and lighthouse are accessible by a ferry from a marina in Tierra Verde. Visitors can only climb the lighthouse once a year during a festival but it can be viewed from the ground.
Visit on an Egmont Key Full-Day Excursion.
Garden Key Lighthouse, Dry Tortugas
The Garden Key Light was built at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas in 1824 from brick. In 1858, another lighthouse was built nearby and the previous one was decommissioned.
Visit on a Dry Tortugas Catamaran Day Trip.
Hillsboro Inlet Light, Hillsboro Beach
It stands 132 feet tall and is a steel skeleton style. Tours are offered monthly and include the ferry ride from across the harbor in Pompano Beach.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, Jupiter
Built in 1860, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and stands 105 feet tall. It is painted a unique shade of red to prevent discoloration from the seawater and humidity.
In 1939, the Coast Guard took over operations and it was fully automated in 1987. Public tours began in 1994 and the lighthouse continues to be a popular attraction.
Visit with the Jupiter Island Sunset Cruise.
Key West Lighthouse, Key West
The first lighthouse in Key West was built in 1825 but the current version wasn’t built until 1848. It stands 73 feet tall after being added to over the years.
The light was decommissioned in 1969. The lighthouse and keeper’s quarters now operate as a museum, run by the Key West Art & Historical Society.
Visit with the Key West Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley Tour.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Light, Ponce Inlet
The lighthouse is also the tallest in the state and one of the tallest in the United States. It became the property of the Coast Guard in 1939 and was restored in 1982 to open as a museum.
Port Boca Grande Lighthouse, Boca Grande
The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse was built in 1890 and resembles a cottage. It was decommissioned in 1966 and opened as a museum in 1999.
Sanibel Island Light, Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island, off the coast of Fort Myers, is home to the Sanibel Island Light. The rust-colored skeletal frame light was first lit in 1884 and was automated in 1949.
It was finally taken over by the city of Sanibel in 2004. The 98-foot tall lighthouse is not open for climbing, but the Sanibel Historic Museum and Village has a number of artifacts, including the original lens.
St. Augustine Light, St. Augustine
Built on Anastasia Island outside of St. Augustine in 1874, the St. Augustine Light was the first in Florida. It was electrified in 1936 and decommissioned by 1960.
In 1980, a group of locals raised funds to restore the swirl-design structure to its former glory. Today it operates as a museum and allows visitors to climb to the top.
St. Marks Lighthouse, Crawfordville
Located in the remote St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, St. Marks Lighthouse was built in the 1820s as a beacon for the then-bustling town. When erosion threatened the first lighthouse, a second was built in 1842.
Keepers managed it until 1949 and the lighthouse was automated in 1960. It’s now run by the Fish & Wildlife Service. The lighthouse isn’t open for climbing but the keeper’s house is open for tours three days per month.