Lighthouses have existed for thousands of years to help guide sailors to safe entry while navigating harbors all over the world. The world’s oldest lighthouse, ancient Egypt’s Pharaohs of Alexandria, is one of the seven wonders of the world.
With modern technological advances in navigation technology, lighthouses have dwindled in number. Still, Florida contains many beautiful, historic lighthouses that teach and celebrate our nation’s rich maritime traditions. There are currently 26 lighthouses standing that people can visit and enjoy.
Lighthouses have not been spared from effects of the COVID-19 pandemic—many rely on visitors to supplement the cost of their upkeep. Therefore, it is more important than ever to celebrate lighthouses on National Lighthouse Day: August 7, 2020.
Many lighthouses have canceled their National Lighthouse Day festivities this year due to COVID-19, but below are some lighthouses that are currently open with precautions (at time of publishing). Because COVID-19 is an ongoing situation, check with an individual lighthouse for the latest updates before you make a trip.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, now in their 160th year, is open to the public with limited access. If you’re looking to get hitched, they are offering a promotion called the “Elopement Special.” Visitors must wear face coverings and observe social distancing. View visiting rules.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Ponce Inlet, Florida
The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and is open daily. Visitors are required to wear masks at all times while onsite, and the lighthouse is restricted to 20 visitors at one time. The museum buildings contain an array of historical artifacts and a lens exhibit that shows the history and technology of lighthouse illumination. See the safety guidelines.
St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
St. Augustine, Florida
The lighthouse and museum are open daily, and they also have spooky “Dark of the Moon Ghost Tours” at night for a special reservation. Face masks are required at all times inside the building, including while climbing the tower. Stop and eat at their WWII-themed snack bar, the Tin Pickle. Make your reservation.
Cape St. George Light
St. George Island, Florida
The original St. George lighthouse stood on the edge of the islandi for more than 153 years before it collapsed into the ocean. Pieces of the light were salvaged, and the lighthouse was rebuilt in the center of the island.
“Working with state and federal government support, the St. George Lighthouse Association spearheaded the effort to salvage the pieces of the Light. Volunteers cleaned the mortar off thousands of the old bricks. The original plans were obtained from the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and the lighthouse was reconstructed on St. George Island, using as much of the original materials as possible.”
Though capacity is limited to the lighthouse, museum, and gift shop, the Cape St. George lighthouse is open for visitors wearing masks or facial coverings. They also offer night climbs during the full moon as well as “virtual moon climbs” on Facebook.
Cape Florida Light
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
The Cape Florida Light, built in 1825, is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade. After climbing to the top, you can walk the wrap-around balcony to see Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, and Cape Florida. The park has a cafe for lunch, and you can enjoy the beautiful beach (but watch out for the sea turtle nests).
The tower is only open twice a day for climbs at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and you will have to follow all state and local orders related to face coverings and social distancing.
When visiting these landmarks, be sure to follow local government health guidelines in order to best protect you and your family from COVID-19. Another way to protect your family is to insure your assets with Florida Farm Bureau Insurance. Find a local agent to start.