Illuminate Your Vacation: East Coast Lighthouses

It has been my pleasure to have visited many lighthouses in my travels up and down the East Coast. There is something majestic, mysterious and awe-inspiring about the sight of a lighthouse perched high above the water. No matter what the color scheme or design, each separate tower seems beautiful to those who love the sea. If you’re taking a trip along America’s Atlantic coastline, you’ll be surprised at how many lighthouses you will encounter. This is just a small smattering of the structures that light the coast, but in my opinion are some of the most beautiful.

Cape May Lighthouse in New Jersey is an off-white tower soaring to the skies. It reaches a height of over 150 feet. The stunning lighthouse, built in the mid-1800s, is still used to help sea-farers find their way home. You can visit the Cape May Lighthouse and take a tour if you think you can weather the climb! The view would be well worth it, but it seems a daunting task to many.

Along the coast of New Jersey there is a place once named Anglesey that is situated near the tourist resort of Wildwood. The lighthouse in question is called Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and is certainly one of the most beautiful buildings of its kind. Instead of sporting a huge tower that reaches to the clouds, Hereford Inlet is a short Victorian-style building with a handsome red roof and a squat tower that houses the all-important light. It sits high up, near a cliff, and so doesn’t need to stretch tall to guide ships at sea.

The Hereford Inlet Lighthouse is as mysterious on the inside as it is on the outside; while media boasts of the lighthouse’s hauntings, visitors take a tour through the place that was also once the keeper’s home. Staircases are hidden behind walls, and narrow iron steps take you higher and higher until you reach the light tower. From here you can see the bleak, choppy waves.

For a bit of history, the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse was originally built in the 1800s in a gothic style but moved to its current spot at a later date. When I visited, gardens and walkways tapered off in a lovely fashion to a cliff where you could see miles out to sea. It was a wonderful experience and helped to further my knowledge of the lives of those who depended on the ocean for their livelihood.

Heading down further south to Georgia, you may wish to stop off at the quaint and romantic St. Simons Island. Although you can’t see the original (you can thank soldiers during the Civil War for that!) you can stop by the newest version of the 19th century lighthouse. St. Simons Island Lighthouse is a tall, white tower stretching over the narrow sandy beaches and St. Simons’ rustic pier. A children’s play area and a sort of family-friendly park stretch below its tower, and tours are available. Once you enter the lighthouse grounds you will see a picturesque brick building at its base; this was the keeper’s quarters. The admission to tour the lighthouse is very reasonable, ranging from $5.00 for adults to $2.50 for children (over the age of 6 and under 12). If you are traveling with children younger than 6 they will be admitted free.

When you reach Florida you will see one lighthouse that stands out from the rest if only by virtue of the historic city it watches over: quaint St. Augustine, Florida. The St. Augustine Lighthouse, rebuilt and renovated throughout the years since its 19th century construction has more than its fair share of treachery and legend. The current lighthouse is a beautiful black-and-white tower located on Anastasia Island.

Although the island (located across from St. Augustine) is very commercial and tourist-oriented, the lighthouse seems to be on the quieter, more unspoiled end of the island. You can see the brick keeper’s house and visit a spacious gift shop. For the admission price of $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for kids, you can visit the grounds and the museum. The admission to the tower itself is a bit different, ranging from $7.75 adult to $5.00 for a child’s admission. You should know which parts of the complex you will want to visit before you arrive. Don’t be afraid to climb the tower. The view of the city from the top of the tower will be one you won’t soon forget.

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