With navigation systems and long-range communication devices, the need for lighthouses to guide ships safely into shore has indeed decreased. However, lighthouses still provide both function and aesthetic satisfaction to those who witness them. Below are just a few of the stunning and historically rich lighthouses found in California.

Point Sur Lighthouse

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Located on a particularly dangerous cliffside, this lighthouse has been in service since 1889. Its stone construction is modest but stunning. The original four keepers managed the lighthouse 24 hours a day. This lighthouse was constructed following many shipwrecks, most notably the 1875 wreck of Ventura. During its operation, the lighthouse and its staff witnessed the fatal crash of U.S.S. Macon, an airship that came down in 1935 leaving only two survivors; parts from the wreckage are housed in the lighthouse’s visitor center.

Point Pinos Lighthouse

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The oldest lighthouse on the west coast,  this lighthouse is still in use, primarily by the U.S. Coast Guard. With its basic granite construction and frequent exposure to severe winds and rain, the lighthouse has suffered significant damage in its 163 or more years of operation, but its simple aesthetic beauty remains. In 2006, the City of Pacific Grove took the title of the property and with it the tasks of maintaining and restoring the lighthouse and the grounds that surround it. As it is located roughly a quarter mile inland, the view from the lighthouse is serenely stunning.

Point Vicente Lighthouse

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Among the newer lighthouses on the coast is the Point Vicente lighthouse, constructed in 1926; this lighthouse was to be the brightest beacon in southern California, and the light from its 1000 watt bulb could be seen for twenty miles. There are rumors this lighthouse is haunted by the ghost of the first lighthouse keeper’s wife, but regardless of its supernatural inhabitants, this 67-foot tall pillar of scenic beauty is a sight worth seeing.

Point Reyes Lighthouse

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Located on what is considered to be one of the windiest and foggiest lighthouse stations in the country, this charming lighthouse and its frequent inhabitants have endured harsh winds and difficult conditions to guide ships to safety. The first documented shipwreck on the west coast occurred here in the late 1500s, and in spite of the many wrecks that followed, a lighthouse was not authorized for construction until 1870. Its position low on a craggy cliffside allows visitors to overlook the expansive sea.


There are many other beautiful lighthouses in California, but these are a few of the most stunning, both in appearances and in history. These lighthouses will allow you to witness the sea as you never have before. If you visit, be wary of the fog horns; they may be louder than you think.