Ponce Inlet Lighthouse | Daytona Beach

Historic Lighthouse, Ponce Inlet, FloridaExploring the past in the quiet beach village of Ponce Inlet

A few miles south of Daytona Beach, the high rise hotels and flashy restaurants give way to smaller beach houses and mom-and-pop diners. At the southernmost point of the beach peninsula, Ponce Inlet is a laid-back community known for prime fishing and natural beaches. Several historical and nature-based attractions make this a great spot to spend a day during your Daytona vacation.

Head down to the inlet in the morning and stop for breakfast on the way at the Cracked Egg Diner in Daytona Beach Shores. This family-owned local staple serves a variety of diner dishes from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. Breakfast is served all day and is certainly the reason so many regular customers return time and time again. Fresh local eggs and produce are featured in the omelets and other classic breakfast dishes, and there are five kinds of mimosas to choose from if you’re feeling frisky.

The main draw for many to Ponce Inlet is the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station, where the historic 1887 lighthouse and all of its original buildings are fully restored and intact, and open for visitors to explore. Designated as a National Historic Landmark and fully supported by the non-profit organization Ponce de Leon Lighthouse Preservation Association, the lighthouse is still operational as a navigational aid today.

Visitors can explore the lighthouse and grounds on their own, and there’s plenty to see. Climb more than 200 stairs to get the tower’s observation deck, tour the three houses where the lighthouse keepers lived. One of the houses contains original artifacts found and excavated from the site to show what it would have looked like when the family lived there in the early 1900s. The other two have exhibits about the history of the area as well as the history of the lighthouse including the people who lived there, displays of excavated artifacts and details of the restoration of the lighthouse.

Also on the property is the original oil storage house where the kerosene oil that lit the lamp was stored. Each night, the keeper had to carry a 40-pound drum of kerosene from the storage shed to the top of the lighthouse. The Lens Exhibit Building is not an original structure, but it displays lighthouse lenses from around the country of varying sizes. For an additional dose of history, visit the radio and generator building where the original lighthouse generator is housed. The property even includes a walking trail through the coastal hammock behind the lighthouse, where native flora and fauna thrive. You’ll even see the final resting place for many of the lighthouses resident felines, as it’s been a long-standing tradition to have a lighthouse cat. The current cat, Nellie, can usually be found lounging around the gift shop.

For more in-depth information than you could learn from a self-guided tour, check out one of the special interest tours offered by the knowledgeable staff and volunteers. The Climb to the Moon tours on evenings of the full moon are a great way to see the lighthouse when it’s normally not open to the public. Advance reservations are required. If you’re not going to be in the area during a full moon, a Climb with the Keeper tour is another fantastic way to learn more about the history of the lighthouse.

Your tour guide will be in full character and dressed as a keeper from the early 1900s did. They’ll take you to the top of the 175-foot tall tower, and even into the lens room where you’ll get an up close and personal look at the glass lens, which still has some original glass panels. The tour continues with the rest of the grounds and buildings, including places where most other visitors may not go. This tour is perfect for those who want a personal and informative experience of the lighthouse.

After spending time at the lighthouse, visit the nearby Marine Science Center to get in touch with the sea life of the area and learn about the efforts of the dedicated staff in rehabilitating injured sea turtles and birds.

Other landmarks and areas to explore in Ponce Inlet include the Ponce Preserve Park, the Timucuan Oaks Botanical Garden, Ayres Davies Lighthouse Park, Hasty Cottage/Post Office, Meyer-Davis House and the Hasty Cemetery. Visit www.ponce-inlet.org for a self-guided walking or biking tour brochure that includes all of these attractions.

Good to know: Arrive when the lighthouse first opens to beat the tour bus crowds. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes. The lighthouse opens to the public at 10 a.m. every day of the year except for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Admission is $5 for adults and $1.50 for children. Climb to the Moon and Climb with the Keeper tours require advance reservations and an additional fee. Allow about an hour and a half for a self-guided tour and two hours for a Climb with the Keeper tour.

Tower Fact147030276_webs

  • The tower is 175 feet high and took three years to build.
  • The lighthouse beacon can be seen for 17-20 nautical miles.
  • There are 1.25 million bricks in the tower.
  • The tower’s brick foundation is 12 feel deep and 45 feet wide.
  • You must climb 203 steps to get to the gallery deck.

 

Contact
The Cracked Egg Diner
3280 S. Atlantic Ave Suite D
Daytona Beach Shores FL 32118
(386) 788-6772
www.thecrackedeggdiner.com
Hours
Open 7 days a week from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Breakfast served all day.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
4931 South Peninsula Drive
Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
(386) 761-1821

ponceinlet.org

Open 7 days a week at 10 a.m.
Last admission is 1 hour before closing time.
Closing time September 03, 2013 – May 25, 2014 is 6 p.m.
Closing time May 26, 2014 – September 01, 2014 is 9 p.m.
 Marine Science Center
100 Lighthouse Drive
Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
(386) 304-5545
www.marinesciencecenter.com
Tuesday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed Monday
Last admission 3:30 p.m.

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