Everyone has a bucket list. It doesn’t need to be written down, it’s just a bunch of things that you must see and do at some point of your life. Checking out a lighthouse was on my list. Strangely, I have visited a lot of towns with lighthouses but I have never gone to one or climbed to the top.
So, during a recent trip to Daytona, Florida I wasn’t going to let the opportunity pass when I learned that I was near the second tallest lighthouse in the U.S. (North Carolina has the tallest). Plus in Daytona, climbing to the top of Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is one of the top attractions.
To find it, you will have to go to Ponce Inlet, one of the oldest communities in Daytona. It was founded in 1887. The place is very relaxed and has gorgeous houses with a suburban feel.
What to Do While Visiting the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Although the most fun part of visiting the lighthouse is to climb to the top, there is a lot more to do here.
The beautiful and narrow staircase to climb is 203 steps. Finally getting to the top is a well deserved reward – especially if you are climbing with kids.
NOTE: My boys (3 and 9 years old) had no problem climbing up or on the way down, but some of the kids from other families were a bit scared and went down very slowly. Also if you are scared of heights, this might not be the place for them.
And wind – that can (almost) blow you away. The place is super safe, there is nothing to be worried about, the wind makes it a better experience.
Another fun thing to do is to visit the small village that prospered when the lighthouse was still working.
Facts about Ponce Inlet Lighthouse That You Never Knew
• The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse used to be the Mosquito Inlet Lighthouse. It all started in March 21, 1883 with the purchase of ten acres of land.
• During the construction the Chief Engineer Orville E. Babcock and three others drowned in the inlet.
• The tower was completed three years later, in 1886.
• Keeper William Rowlinski was the first to light the kerosene lamp in the Fresnel lens on 1887.
• The new light could be seen 20 miles to sea.
• Rowlinski, the first keeper was a Russian immigrant and served until 1893. When he retired in 1902 bought a house on the Halifax River right next to his old lighthouse.
• The kerosene lamp was replaced with and an incandescent oil vapor in 1909
• For real estate and tourism purposes the name was changed from Mosquito Inlet to Ponce de Leon Inlet in 1927.
• In August 1933 the tower light was electrified with a 500 watt electric lamp.
• During World War II, the keepers’ families left the Light Station, and the buildings were turned into barracks against enemy submarines.
• The families came back after the war but by 1953, the lighthouse was completely automated and the families had to leave again for a last time.
• 1972, Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Preservation Association was founded as a non-profit, organization to restore and operate the property as a museum.
• That same year the light station was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as one of only a handful of 19th Century Light Stations to have all its original buildings still intact.
• In 1982 a new tower balcony replaced the crumbling one to make it safer. The light in the lantern was also restored to active service.
• Then in 1998 the Light Station was designated a National Historic Landmark.
• In 2003 the original first order lens from the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse was restored and put on display.
• Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is now listed as a operational private aid to navigation.
Information for Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Quick Note – The Ponce de Leon Lighthouse in Daytona is one of the few in the US that permits young kids to climb to the top. Normally the height restriction is 48 inches, but not here. This makes it the perfect place for a family adventure.
Phone: (386) 761-1821
Address: 4931 South Peninsula Drive – Ponce Inlet, FL 32127