By Jill Martin
It’s the tallest lighthouse in Florida and it is spectacular. Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, just 10 miles south of Daytona Beach, has a striking, red brick exterior that soars vertically for 176 feet. It can be seen from 17 to 20 nautical miles offshore. When you pull into the parking lot and lay eyes on this majestic beauty for the first time, you won't be able to get your camera out fast enough!
Enter through the gift shop to purchase your tour tickets but don't be distracted by all the fabulous memorabilia, at least not just yet. Get your wristbands and see what's out there. Start with the lighthouse itself and climb its 203 steps up a winding staircase. You'll need energy for this one, but you'll be rewarded with panoramic views of the coast and marshlands that are postcard perfect.
I was excited to learn the lighthouse is also open in the evenings, 'til 9 p.m. (be there by 8 p.m. to purchase your ticket). What an idyllic place to watch the sunset! Hours vary by season so be sure to check. They even have a “Climb to the Moon” event where you can watch the full moon rise over the Atlantic from atop the lighthouse. Only 25 guests can register so check the lunar calendar and make your reservation. (There's an extra cost involved).
You'll find several houses, museums and other attractions on the property as well – including a small theater and a nature trail – which feature lots of info about the history, the keepers and the lenses. Fascinating for sure.
Ponce Inlet is a very family-friendly Florida lighthouse, so bring the kids. Who knows, you may just plant the seed and grow a pharologist. (A pharologis is a person who studies lighthouses. I learned that word during our visit!)
Fantastic seaside shops and restaurants within walking distance as well.