i am a sucker for lighthouses. i have been fascinated by them since i was a child, and whenever there is even the slightest chance to see a lighthouse up close, i am right there. when i read about the point arena lighthouse while planning our trip, i knew we would have to make a stop.
our drive from santa cruz up to fort bragg took longer than we anticipated, so instead of rushing through the lighthouse tour as it was getting ready to close, we decided to table our visit until the next morning. even with the backtrack and the early start, i am so glad we did, because it was beautiful and empty on the morning we visited, and we practically had the place to ourselves.
our tour began with a brief history of the lighthouse itself where we learned that point arena is so named because it is the exact point where the california coast line turns from running northwest to running directly north. we also learned that every lighthouse has a signature beam so that mariners would know exactly which lighthouse they were seeing; point arena’s signature was two beams every six seconds, signaling to those at sea that they needed to turn in order to stay on course. the last thing our tour guide touched on was the 1906 earthquake and how it impacted the lighthouse and surrounding area.
after learning the history of point arena, it was time for my favorite part of the day: climbing to the top of the lighthouse. point arena is the tallest lighthouse in north america that allows the public to climb to the top, and it was so much fun to climb those spiral stairs and walk out on the ledge to see the views. i know breathtaking is a cliche, but it really did take my breath away.
the lighthouse manager spoke to us some more about what we were seeing from the lighthouse and touched on the erosion the area has been facing in recent years. after that we were free to wander the top and take as many photos as we wanted.
good things to know:
- the lighthouse is open every day except thanksgiving and christmas
- it is open 10am-4.30pm memorial day through labor day // 10am-3.30pm labor day through memorial day [last tour is 4.15pm // 3.15pm]
- general admission without a tower tour is $5 for adults, $1 for children age 5-12 // with a tower tour is $7.50 for adults, $1 for children age 5-12
- there are 4 lodging units on site that used to be the keepers’ quarters but which are now open to the public to book. my father geeked out a little when he heard about those
- i can’t remember how many steps it is to the top, but it will take the wind out of you. pace yourself on the way up, and use the benches on the landings if you need to rest
- it’s pretty cool and windy once you get up to the top ledge, so carry some layers with you for when you get up there
this was one of my favorite stops on our trip and furthered my lighthouse obsession.