I have always wanted to both visit and climb the inside of a real lighthouse. Well, The Nomads did just that. We went to the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse near Daytona Beach, Florida. And wow was it amazing.
This is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the 3rd tallest in the entire United States. The Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse is 175 ft (53 m) tall. The 2nd tallest is the Cape Charles Lighthouse in Virginia at 191 ft (58 m) tall. With the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in North Carolina taking the top spot at 207 ft (63 m). Even with 10 feet (3 m) being underground, it is still the tallest.
This lighthouse was built originally in 1835. There are many buildings that surround the lighthouse that housed the main lighthouse keeper and his family as well as the first and second assistant keepers, their families and other support staff.
The place was designated a national historic landmark, one of only ten to achieve this designation, and the surrounding area turned into a museum in 1998. The lighthouse and the buildings have all been restored. And, believe it or not, the lighthouse is actually operational and functional with a rotating third order Fresnel lens.
You can climb the 200 steps on the spiral staircase to get to the top. There are landings along the way as well as little informational plaques on the wall. If you go on a day when it is busy, you can expect to get REAL close to strangers as you pass them going up and going down the stairs.
When you get to the top, the view is simply amazing! You can walk completely around the top and view the ocean side and the river side of the lighthouse. Don’t worry about falling, there are cables to stop you from doing so. I will say though, on a windy day, you could lose a hat through the cables if you wear one.
The lighthouse is only about a mile or so from the beach. One note, I really am not attracted to the water here. It is known as the shark attack capital of the world! So, I will just admire the beauty from the beach or from the lighthouse.
This lighthouse was used as a place of military operations during World War II. As such, there is a Veterans Memorial right outside the lighthouse grounds and a part of the museum is dedicated to this time period.
Also, there is a building filled with different lenses used in various lighthouses. You do not understand how big they are until you stand next to them.
This old lighthouse has seen a lot of action from the time it was built until present day. If you like history, lighthouses, or both, this is worth the trip. Just remember to bring your tennis shoes if you plan on climbing the stairs!