Have You Visited These Stately California Lighthouses?

These oceanside icons harken West Coast maritime history.

Estimated at nearly 100, lighthouses scatter the Western US from Washington to Southern California. Once beacons of light for shore-weary ships, these salty lighthouses mostly function as museums, parks and points of interest for travelers, though some still serve the sea as they did in years past. Sunset recently featured some of the most notable lighthouses on our coast, plus a few in Hawaii and Alaska. Here are a handful of Golden State favorites.

Old Point Loma Lighthouse

Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego

“The 1855 lighthouse in San Diego’s Cabrillo National Monument stands as a silent but salient reminder that there can be too much of a good thing. The higher a lighthouse is perched, the farther out to sea it can shine. This station, sitting on a bluff 422 feet above the Pacific, could throw its light 28 nautical miles. But that same light was too frequently obscured by fog and low clouds. The light was turned off in 1891, replaced by a new lighthouse built nearby but only 108 feet above the ocean. Today, the Old Point Loma Light houses a three-room museum, which includes an original fixed Fresnel lens for its sister lighthouse.” From $10; nps.gov/cabr

Point Arena Lighthouse

Point Arena, off State Route 1

“The original Point Arena Lighthouse was flattened by the 1906 earthquake. Less than two years later, the current brick tower made its debut, standing 115 feet tall and employing a first-order Fresnel lens to alert ships to the sandstone headlands that serve as its base. Rent one of four keeper’s homes or the one keeper’s room (from $150; pointarenalighthouse.com/lodging.html) and enjoy a coastal sunset and a lullaby of crashing waves.” $7.50; 10-3:30 daily; pointarenalighthouse.com

Point Pinos Lighthouse

Pacific Grove

“The Point Pinos Lighthouse has illuminated the southern entrance to Monterey Bay since 1855, making it the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast. The original third-order Fresnel lens is still in use, having fared better than the original lightkeeper, Charles Layton, who was shot and killed while riding on a posse in pursuit of outlaw Anastacio Garcia. The lighthouse is surrounded by the Pacific Grove Golf Links, a delightful 18-hole layout with bay views and ocean-front holes that is remarkably affordable.” ($45/player after 2 p.m.pointpinoslighthouse.org

See all the featured lighthouses here.

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