When you’re in northwest Florida you’re going to want to stop in at one or more of these lighthouses that stretch along the coast from St. Marks to Pensacola. You’ll find both conical brick towers and “skeletal” iron and steel structures.
All of these lighthouses are open to climb in accordance with the posted rules and hours. There is usually a small fee to climb each lighthouse, but it’s well worth it for the views from the top.
Saint Marks Lighthouse
The Saint Marks Lighthouse is a whitewashed conical brick tower with a black lantern. That design is one of my favorite because of its iconic look. Located on the East end of Florida’s panhandle it was a beacon for sailors making their way in the Apalachee Bay and up the St. Marks River,
The lighthouse was completed in 1831 and provided guidance until 2016 when it’s light was extinguished by the Coast Guard. However, the lighthouse is still open to visitors. There are 85 steps to the top and you can still see the original Fresnel lens that is on display in the visitor center.
The lighthouse is located 10 miles south of US 98 in St. Marks and is part of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and requires a park
Cape St George Lighthouse
The Cape St. George Light, which stands at the center of St. George Island, is the fourth reconstruction of this historic lighthouse that was originally built on what is now Little St. George Island.
The first lighthouse was erected in 1833 near West Pass but was difficult for maritime traffic approaching from the east to see, a new tower was completed in 1848 on Cape St. George but fell during a hurricane and the third in 1852.
Lighthouse along the coast seems to be savaged by storms, but they are rebuilt time and again to provide a guiding light to passing ships. Today, the current lighthouse and museum is open and has been welcoming visitors since 2008.
Crooked River Lighthouse and Keeper’s House
The Crooked River Lighthouse has been a guiding light for those navigating the difficult pass between Dog and St. George Islands for over 100 years.
The 103-foot tall skeletal lighthouse, red at the top and white at the bottom, stands on the mainland where it was originally built in 1895. Today, visitors can climb the 128 inside steps to the top for magnificent views.
The lighthouse museum has recently come back into possession of the original Fresnal lens that used to light the pass. For years the lens lived at the Coast Guard Eighth District headquarters in New Orleans. Interestingly enough, a lampist from Michigan was in charge of moving the lens to its original home in Carrabelle.
Cape San Blas Lighthouse
Built well over a 100 years ago the Cape San Blas lighthouse ensured the safe journey for many ships along the cape.
It survived vicious storms, Union troops, and salty weather all while being a beacon to passing vessels. In 2012, Mother Nature reclaimed the remaining shoreline forcing the lighthouse to close.
However, a community group came together to save this important part of the Cape’s story. In 2014 the lighthouse and its two Keepers’ Quarters and Oil House was moved from its location on the cape inland to Port St. Joe for preservation purposes.
Today, visitors can explore the houses, view exhibits and the brave can climb the 100+ steps to the top of this skeletal lighthouse. The views allow you to see for miles and it’s completely worth the climb. I made the climb to the top of Cape San Blas lighthouse that you can read about here.
Last, but definitely not least, on our list of Lighthouses of Northwest Florida, is the Pensacola lighthouse. 177 steps will take you to the top of this conical black and white structure for incredible views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Built in 1859 it is still standing strong and is located at the Naval Air Station so you’ll want to have appropriate identification and your vehicle insurance handy. To visit you’ll want to use the public gate located at 1878 South Blue Angel Parkway. You’ll also need to provide proper i.d. to gain access to the base. (A photo id is generally required like a drivers license, state id, passport, etc)
This is the same base that the Blue Angles train and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to catch some practices while you’re at the top of the lighthouse. Which gives me all the reason I need to visit this lighthouse.
Are The Lighthouses Haunted?
I already love lighthouses, toss in a really good ghost story and I’m game on for a visit. The Pensacola Lighthouse goes so far as to offer ghost tours (yes,please!). According to the tour website many think that the lighthouse is haunted:
The Travel Channel and SciFi’s Ghost Hunters think so! Several psychics and clairvoyants agree; we’ve been called one of the most haunted lighthouses in America. However, only you can answer the question for yourself! Join us for a ghost hunt in the historic 1869 Keeper’s Quarters and see if our ghosts are willing to meet you.
I spoke to a docent at the Crooked River Lighthouse that shared a couple of ghost stories with me. I didn’t have any experience there, but I loved the stories. I couldn’t find any mentions about hauntings at Cape San Blas or St Marks Lighthouses, but I did find mention of a ghost ship off the coast of Cape St George lighthouse which is quite intriguing.
I’ll leave it up to you to decide, but it definitely worth asking a docent about ghost stories when you visit.