Even with its vast coastline (1350 miles; second in U.S. only to Alaska), Florida only has 29 lighthouses remaining.
They’re beloved for their history and beauty, and never more than on Florida Lighthouse Day.
In honor of the day, many lighthouses hold open houses or special events on April 20 and 21. (It appears the official day may be Sunday, April 21, but all the events are on Saturday, April 20.)
Most lighthouses require closed-toe flat shoes and some have limits on how old or tall children need to be to climb the towers. Some require reservations, so please check ahead before hopping in your car.
Here’s a sampling of lighthouse events:
Hillsboro Lighthouse, Hillsboro Beach (between Pompano Beach and Boca Raton along A1A) The Hillboro Lighhouse clam-shell lens, 9 feet in diameter, produces the most powerful light of any remaining lighthouse in the United States — visible for 28 miles to sea. This lighthouse is open for tours only on selected occasions, so this is your chance. On Saturday, April 20, you can pay $15 (or for $25, become a member) and take a boat over to the lighthouse. Meet at 125 N. Riverside Drive, on the north side of the Sands Harbor Resort and Marina. Parking is on the east side of the street in the city (pay) parking lot. The boats will leave from Sands pier from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friends of the lighthouse have installed signs at 18 points of interests at this U.S. Coast Guard Light station. Take the walking tour on your own or go with a guide. Climb the lighthouse and enjoy the spectacular view from the observation deck. More details on visiting this lighthouse are here.
Jupiter Lighthouse. This lighthouse is the oldest building in Palm Beach County. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 20, the Jupiter Lighthouse offers two-for-one admission. Regular admission is$9 for adults, $5 children ages 6-18, 5 and under free. Admission includes museum exhibits and lighthouse tour. Lighthouse is located at 500 Capt Armour’s Way (Beach Road & US Hwy 1.) For more information.
Cape Florida, Key Biscayne. This light station is Florida’s oldest; the original tower was gutted by fire during an attack by Seminole Indians in 1836. Note: This lighthouse in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park will be closed Saturday (along with the whole park) for a special event. Generally, tours of the lighthouse are available at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Thursday through Monday. (All may enter the Lighthouse but you must be at least 42 inches tall to ascend the stairs.) The lighthouse, keepers quarters, and kitchen are only open during tour times.Admission to the park is $5 or $8 for two in one vehicle. There’s no extra charge to tour the lighthouse. More information.
CENTRAL EAST COAST
Ponce Inlet, Daytona Beach. This is Florida’s tallest lighthouse, with 203 steps to the top, where you view one of the most gorgeous beaches anywhere. Special family-oriented activities and several workshops designed for kids are planned for April 20, 2013 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Activities are included in the cost of regular admission, which is $5 adults and $1.50 for children 11 and under. See coupon for 10 percent off at lighthouse website. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is located at 4931 South Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet. Advance reservations are not required.
CENTRAL WEST COAST
Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Museum, Boca Grande. Barrier Island Parks Society celebrates Florida Lighthouse Day and Earth Day with cake, lemonade, arts and crafts for the kids, prizes, and once a year official Coast Guard guided tours of the Lamp Room on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m. Admission is $5 for the lamp room tour. The lighthouse is located in Gasparilla Island State Park, 880 Belcher Road, Boca Grande. Port Boca Grande Lighthouse and Barrier Island Park Society website.
Cape St. George, St. George Island. You can climb this lighthouse for free all day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 20. St. George is a notable because on Friday, October 21, 2005, it collapsed into the Gulf of Mexico. Thanks to a major effort including many volunteer hours, the reconstructed lighthouse was opened to the public on Monday, December 1, 2008. More from the St. George Lighthouse Association.