United States Lighthouses

The U.S. has 2,069 miles of Atlantic coast and 2,043 along the Pacific Ocean (exclusive of Alaska) with about 1,000 lighthouses. There are five more lights in the state with the most shoreline: Minnesota. Here is a sample of some of the most picturesque lighthouses.

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1 Lighthouse Mural on Art & Antique Mall in Carlsbad, California

I love lighthouses so I could not resist this painted version on the façade of the Art & Antique Mall in Carlsbad Village. This artistic marquee only hints at the countless collectables found in the 110 booths across 15,000 square feet of treasure hunting.

2752 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
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Crescent City Lighthouse Wall Mural in Crescent City, California

On an islet 200 feet from Battery Point in Crescent City, California, stands a small, cape-cod style lighthouse that was commissioned in 1855. It was managed by one keeper for forty years before becoming automated in 1953. It stood firm during a major tsunami that resulted from the Alaskan 9.2 earthquake in 1964 but was decommissioned the following year. Today, the lighthouse is a museum that is only accessible during low tides. This navigational beauty is portrayed in a mural on a building wall in Crescent City.


2 Harbor House Store on Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey, California

Harbor House Gifts is an example of the type of souvenir and clothing store you will find along Old Fisherman’s Wharf. You will also discover candy shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars. It is a bit touristy but worth visiting during your vacation to Monterey, California.

1 Fishermans Wharf #1, Monterey, CA 93940
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3 Lighthouse at Italian Restaurant in Oakland, California

This lighthouse was part of the nautical theme at the former Il Pescatore Ristorante which is now closed. As of 2017, the building is vacant. Some entrepreneur will snap it up because every window in this waterfront property shows the Oakland Estuary’s beautiful scenery.

31 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607
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4 Lighthouse and Waterfront Hotel in Oakland, California

An attractive alternative to booking an overnight room in downtown Oakland is the Waterfront Hotel. It has great views of the harbor and it is surrounded by all of the entertainment offered by Jack London Square. No wonder this 143 room hotel consistently earns excellent ratings.

1 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607
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5 Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego, California

On a clear day, plan a visit to the Cabrillo National Monument for a spectacular view of San Diego Bay, Coronado Island and the downtown skyline. The park is named after the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who discovered the area in 1542. Also explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Assistant Keeper’s Quarters. They provide a wonderful glimpse of what it must have been like for a keeper to work 365 days a year to help ships navigate between 1855 and 1891.

Point Loma, Humphreys Rd San Diego, CA 92106
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6 Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California

Most people know Alcatraz as the federal penitentiary that operated from 1934 until 1963. What they are surprised to learn is this was a U.S. Army fort starting in 1853. The military post was equipped with over 100 canons, 10,000 muskets and 150,000 cartridges of ammunition. The lighthouse was the first one located along the Pacific coast when it became functional in 1854. “The Rock” is now a major tourist attraction managed by the National Park Service.

[37.825862, -122.421393]
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7 Forbes Island Restaurant in San Francisco, California

If you are eccentric and rich, why not build your own floating island as a residence? That’s what Forbes Kiddoo did in 1980. But then it spent years at different dock locations before mooring between Pier 39 and 41 in 1999. Since then, it has been renovated from his home with three state rooms and a waterfall hot tub to a gourmet, underwater restaurant with its own 40 foot lighthouse, sandy beach and palm trees outside.

2 Beach St, San Francisco, CA 94133
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8 Walton Lighthouse on Breakwater in Santa Cruz, California

The Walton Lighthouse stands 60 feet above the waters of Monterey Bay at the mouth of the Small Craft Harbor in Santa Cruz. It was named after its major benefactor, Charles Walton. He donated the construction money in memory of his brother Derek who died at sea during WWII. This is the fourth light that has aided marine navigation at the Santa Cruz Harbor since 1964.

616 Atlantic Ave Santa Cruz, CA 95062
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9 Cape Florida Light at Key Biscayne, Florida

The Cape Florida Light had a rich history before becoming part of the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park in 1966. The lighthouse was built in 1825, attacked and burned by Seminole Indians in 1836 and was rebuilt in 1847. The beacon for helping ships to navigate the coral reefs was operated by a keeper until 1878. This 95 foot, white brick conical tower is now a popular attraction among tourists to Key Biscayne, Florida.

1200 S Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149
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10 Key West Lighthouse in Key West, Florida

The first lighthouse at Key West was erected in 1825. A devastating hurricane destroyed it in 1846. Two years later, it was replaced by the current light and then extended to a height of 73 feet in 1894. The widow of the first keeper, Barbara Mabrity, maintained the light for 38 years. She was fired at the age of 82 for her outspoken opinions about the Civil War. Members of the Mabrity family worked here for over 85 years! The Key West Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1969 and is now a museum. Walking up its 88 steps provides a wonderful view of the historic district.

938 Whitehead St, Key West, FL 33040
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11 Pharos Lighthouse at Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

When you are standing beside the Pharos Lighthouse you have arrived at the Port of Entry for Universal’s Islands of Adventure. The theme park, which opened in 1999, has six sections with different themes. Most of the rides, attractions and shows portray scenes and characters from movies but not necessarily those made or distributed by Universal Studios. Its slogan is “Live the Adventure.” You will have so much fun that when you pass this lighthouse on the way out you’ll be exhausted from all the adventures.

Island of Adventure Tower, Orlando, FL 32819
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12 Kīlauea Light near Kīlauea on Kaua’i, Hawaii

Standing proudly on a steep, rocky bluff on Kaua’i is the Kīlauea Light. It was built in 1913 and, together with the keeper, the lighthouse faithfully protected sea navigation along the Hawaiian island’s northern coastline until it was automated over sixty years later. The 52 foot, concrete lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. It is now part of the Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge.

3500 Kilauea Rd, Kilauea, HI 96754
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13 Kīlauea Point near Kīlauea on Kaua’i, Hawaii

Waves pound, crash and swirl against Kīlauea Point, a peninsula on the northern coast of Kaua’i in Hawaii. This steep, rocky bluff is a haven for huge colonies of migratory seabirds including the Hawaiian goose and albatross. The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge also has an active plant management program to protect endangered species of native vegetation.

3716 Kilauea Rd Kilauea, HI 96754
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14 Lahaina Lighthouse at Lahaina Harbor on Maui, Hawaii

In 1840, King Kamehameha III commissioned the first lighthouse on the Pacific coast. This is the fifth light to be built on the same spot at Lahaina Harbor on Maui Island in Hawaii. This white-washed, concrete, 39 foot tower began operations in 1917. It was converted to solar power in 2009. Today it is managed by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation.

675 Wharf St, Lahaina, HI 96761
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15 Aloha Tower Lighthouse in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The most common Hawaiian phrase is “Aloha.” Visitors to any of the eight islands will hear this greeting for “hello” or “goodbye” several times daily, but it can also be an expression for love and compassion. The 50th state’s nickname is shown here on the Aloha Tower. This landmark lighthouse is located at the mouth of the Honolulu Harbor.

1 Aloha Tower Dr # 257, Honolulu, HI 96813
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16 Chicago Harbor Light and Sailboat in Chicago, Illinois

The Chicago Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1893 and then moved in 1919 to its current location along the northern breakwater near the Navy Pier. It has been a beacon for ships big and small sailing in Lake Michigan, the only Great Lake entirely within the United States.

840 E Grand Ave, Chicago, IL 60611
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17 Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine

There are over 150 lighthouses along 6,000 miles of New England’s coast. Ship’s navigation technology has made most of them obsolete. However, they are still busy as beacons to tourists with cameras. Maine has 66 lights. The oldest is Portland Head. It can be found in Williams Park. This is a suburb of Portland called Cape Elizabeth. George Washington commissioned the light in 1787. It began shining four years later.

12 Captain Strout Cir, Cape Elizabeth, ME 04107
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18 Light Tower at Searsport, Maine

Although this is not a functional lighthouse, it is a tribute to Searsport’s 17 shipyards and their claim of producing 10% of the nation’s deep water captains. That is a remarkable accomplishment for a town of less than 2,700 residences. However, Searsport is also Maine’s second largest port.

156 E Main St, Searsport, ME 04974
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19 Cape Neddick Lighthouse on Nubble Island in York Beach, Maine

The beacon at the top of the 41 foot Cape Neddick Lighthouse was first turned on in 1879. It has been aiding marine navigation along the coast of Maine ever since. Residents of The Yorks call this light The Nubble because it was built on the rocky cliff of Nubble Island. Summer tourists to this group of neighboring resort communities simply call it beautiful.

8 Sohier Park Rd, York, ME 03909
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20 Gay Head Lighthouse at Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts

The original lighthouse at the west end of Martha’s Vineyard was built in 1799. It was replaced in 1856 by this 51 foot, brick tower called the Gay Head Lighthouse. After decades of erosion had eaten away at the Grey Head Cliffs, the Aquinnah Lighthouse was in danger of collapsing. $3.5 million was raised to save this local landmark. In 2015, it was moved 129 feet uphill. The Gay Head Lighthouse should not need to be relocated for another 150 years.

15 Aquinnah Cir, Aquinnah, MA 02535
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21 Hyannis Harbor Lighthouse at Barnstable on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

For eighty years starting in 1849, eight keepers successfully managed this lighthouse in order to safely guide boats into the Hyannis Harbor on Cape Cod. No doubt several of those sailors were members of the Kennedy family whose summer residence was nearby. I could just picture the teenage John F. Kennedy navigating his beloved 26 foot Victura sailboat by the Hyannis Harbor Lighthouse. Today it is a privately owned antique store.

199 Channel Point Rd, Hyannis, MA 02601
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22 Sam Barber Lighthouse Studio at Barnstable on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

A short walk along the Eugenia Fortes Beach from the Kennedy Compound in Hyannis Port is this lighthouse that has been Sam Barber’s art studio for over 35 years. He is a famous American Impressionist on Cape Cod. This setting overlooking Nantucket Sound is so ideal that it is easy to see how he’s been inspired to create such lovely paintings.

10 Hyannis Ave, Hyannis, MA 02601
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23 Chatham Light at Chatham on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

In the Old Village Historic District of Chatham, Massachusetts, stands the 80 foot Chatham Light. It was built in 1808. The red-roofed, white-washed light keeper’s residence was added in 1879. Today, those buildings are occupied by an U.S. Coast Guard Station who not only manage the still functioning lighthouse but provide maritime services and law enforcement along the coast of Cape Cod.

37 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633
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24 Nauset Light in Northern Cape Cod, Eastham, Massachusetts

Technically, Cape Cod is an island on the Atlantic coast of Massachusetts. During its peak fishing and whaling history, the waters became an ocean graveyard to 3000 ships. In order to provide a beacon of safety, lighthouses were erected starting in 1857. Today, about fourteen remain, mostly as tourist attractions. This is Nauset Light in Eastham. Its classic, cast iron and brick structure painted in white, red and black was built in 1877.

120 Nauset Light Beach Rd, Eastham, MA 02642
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25 Nauset Light Lawn Ornament at Eastham on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

There are more than two dozen lighthouses surrounding the shores of Cape Cod so many summer tourists try to visit all of them while also enjoying the gorgeous drive along the Atlantic Ocean. So it seems appropriate that a motel in Eastham, Massachusetts, would decorate their front lawn with an active replica of the Nauset Light which is located nearby.

5200 US-6, Eastham, MA 02642
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26 The Three Sisters Lighthouses at Eastham on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

In 1837, three almost identical lighthouses were built along the northeast shore of Cape Cod but they had to be replaced in 1892 because the advancing erosion of the cliff threatened to plunge them into the Atlantic Ocean. The new wooden lights had a white-washed base and a black lantern which reached 22 feet. Because they resembled women wearing a white dress and bonnet, they became known as the Three Sisters. The sibling lighthouses are now enjoying their retirement in a field near their original location.

697 Cable Rd Eastham, MA 02642
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27 Nobska Light at Woods Hole on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Nobska Point Light and the adjoining keeper’s residence were built in 1876. The latter is now offered as a home to the commanding officer of the Southeastern New England U.S. Coast Guard. When you arrive, a retired officer will greet you and explain the features and history of this 40 foot lighthouse. The automated beacon shines brightly across the Vineyard Sound toward the shore of Martha’s Vineyard.

233 Nobska Rd, Falmouth, MA 02543
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28 Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth, Minnesota

This handsome Aerial Lift Bridge has been a prominent landmark of the Duluth Ship Canal since it was extensively remodeled in 1930. The 390 foot span elevates 135 feet. It is partially raised in this photo. Shipping schedules are available so you can watch a massive freighter pass beneath the bridge. In the background is a conical steel tower called the Breakwater Inner Light. It was built in 1910.

600 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
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29 North Pier Lighthouse in Duluth, Minnesota

In 1871, a canal was created at Minnesota Point that is 245 feet wide and leads into a major commercial harbor. This white lighthouse with its black lantern has aided navigation from the northern pier since it became operational in the early 20th century. It is adjacent to Canal Park, a popular tourist attraction near downtown Duluth. In addition to a visitor’s center and museum, the area features several restaurants and shops, many of which are housed in old warehouses.

600 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
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30 South Pier Lighthouse in Duluth, Minnesota

The South Pier Lighthouse stands 44 feet tall at the end of 1,700 foot breakwater at the mouth of the Duluth-Superior harbor. The red and white brick light was built in 1901 and automated in 1976. It is one of five Minnesota lighthouses that are still active along the shores of Lake Superior.

702 S Lake Ave Duluth, MN 55802
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31 Two Harbors Lighthouse and Museum in Two Harbors, Minnesota

This charming red lighthouse was built in 1892 on the east side of Agate Bay to help ships carrying iron ore to navigate the coastline of Lake Superior. Its 43.5 foot lantern was manually operated by the resident keeper until 1921 when the light was electrified. Since 1999, it has been managed by the Lake County Historical Society as a museum and bed & breakfast. However, it is still an active light, making it Minnesota’s oldest. The statue in the foreground is called, “Boy and Girl with Umbrella.” This wishing fountain was created in 1905 for the home of Thomas Owens, the former superintendent of the DM&IR railroad.

1 LightHouse Point, Two Harbors, MN 55616
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32 Split Rock Lighthouse in Two Harbors, Minnesota

Split Rock Lighthouse is an octagonal, brick light in the Iron Range region of Minnesota. Ralph Russel Tinkham created the picturesque design. It became operational in 1910. For almost 60 years, the rotating beacon could be seen up to 22 miles away in Lake Superior thanks to the vigilant keepers. They had to crank the 6.5 ton lens weights every two hours while also maintaining adequate kerosene levels. In 1940, Split Rock was fitted with a 1000 watt bulb. This scenic lighthouse and ten adjacent buildings are one of the most visited parks in the state.

3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616
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33 Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse in Manteo, North Carolina

In Shallowbag Bay in Manteo, North Carolina, is a 2004 reconstructed lighthouse called Roanoke Marshes Light. Similar to a dozen screwpile lighthouses from the late 1800s, this one has a square, cottage-style construction. This area is also known for the “Lost Colony.” They were a group of 100+ English colonists who landed here in 1587 but disappeared by 1590.

Roanoke Marshes Lighthouse, Queen Elizabeth Ave, Manteo, NC 27954
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34 Lighthouse at El Morro in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s first lighthouse was constructed at Castillo San Felipe del Morro in 1846. The beacon at the mouth of San Juan Bay was replaced twice before the U.S. Coast Guard built the current version in 1908 using a Moorish Revival design. The square, crenellated tower only stands 51 feet. Yet its position on the sixth level of El Morro adds 140 feet of height. Fans of lighthouses will be pleased to learn there are ten more active faros on the island.

El Morro, Calle del Morro, San Juan, 00901, Puerto Rico
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