For those smart enough not to cancel their reservation along the Florida Gulf this summer – they were in for a treat. Most of the summer saw warm temps, sunny days and plenty to do without a lot of crowds!
One of the things we enjoyed doing the last several weeks is visit some of the “forgotten” lighthouses along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Within an 80-mile stretch off of Highway 98, you can visit four spectacular lighthouses. Starting westward at Port St. Joe, there is Cape San Blas lighthouse. There is a fee if you would like to climb it.
After returning to Highway 98 and heading eastward, you are in for a treat on your journey to Cape St. George lighthouse on St. George Island. This lighthouse is visible from the bridge and has a wonderful park and keeper’s cottage. There is also a fee to climb this lighthouse.
Heading eastward on Highway 98 once again (okay, maybe after we had ice cream cones across the street from the Cape St. George lighthouse), we found ourselves enjoying the view so much we actually drove by the Crooked River lighthouse just west of Carrabelle. So make sure you pay attention to the historic signs and banners as you approach Carrabelle. This lighthouse has a cute little museum and a wonderful gift shop. There is a fee to climb it, however you can only climb it on certain days.
After Crooked River lighthouse, continue eastward to the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The lighthouse is actually inside the refuge and the main road actually dead-ends at the lighthouse. There is day-use fee for admission through the refuge. You can only climb the lighthouse during special events. However, there is an observation deck which gives you an amazing view of the area and great photos ops (like the photo I took above).
If planning to visit all these amazing lighthouses in one day, I recommend you leave early in the morning so you have ample time to visit the lighthouse gift shops and museums. If you intend to climb, wear sturdy walking shoes or sneakers. Most lighthouses have strict policies regarding open-toed shoes and sandals.
This is Florida and even folks in the best shape will find themselves breathless on a lighthouse climb. Take your time and if anyone in your party is not climbing, give them your purse or backpack to help lighten your load. Stopping at windows (especially open ones), can give you a nice rest stop. Just be mindful of the rules regarding right-of-way for stairwell traffic.
If you are staying west of Port. St. Joe, don’t forget that all these lighthouses are in the Eastern Standard Time Zone.
PLEASE NOTE: There is no parking at any of these locations to handle a RV. You could take a smaller motor home to St. Marks and Cape St. George, however, you may find parking and turn-around space limited during busy times.
Detailed information and driving directions to these lighthouses can be found at a great website called Lighthouse Friends. http://www.lighthousefriends.com/
ADDITIONAL NOTE: Originally posted Summer 2010 during the Gulf Oil Spill, moved to new page Summer 2011.