For hundreds of years, Lighthouses have been serving as a navigational aid and warning boats and sailors of dangerous areas. The earliest form of lighthouses was probably a bonfire on a beach, before Egypt build the first lighthouse 2000 years ago. The first lighthouse in America was built in 1716 at the Boston Harbor and called the Boston Light. Soon more tall mostly made of wood structures started popping up all over the marshy coast lines from Delaware to the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico, where navigation was difficult and treacherous.
The Pensacola Lighthouse at Pensacola Bay was build in 1859 and is the third iteration of what was originally a lightship moved to Pensacola in 1823 from its previous post at the mouth of the Mississippi River after a lighthouse had been completed there. The conical tower is 190 feet tall and has 177 steps which visitors can climb up and the view at the top is more than worth it.
There are incredible views of the Emerald Coast blue waters, Pensacola, the Navy base, and the three Civil war forts from the top of the light and even better is the view of the Blue Angels buzzing past the tower if you visit at the right time. If you have a chance reserve a spot for one of the Blue Angels tours that are offered most Tuesday and Wednesday mornings during regular season.
We were advised to not bring our baby that we had in a front carrier to the top of the light as the stairs are very narrow and not really suitable for that. So instead we took turns with one of us staying back managing to both get to the top and enjoy the insanely beautiful views.
Inside the tower once you get to the top of the Light you’ll find the original first order Fresnel lens that is still in operation.
The Lighthouse museum is located in the keepers house and is full of information about the lighthouse and the Pensacola area. Here is where you can purchase tickets for their tour and learn what you’ll be seeing as you explore around. The admission is only $5 for adults and $3 for children. Make sure that you are wearing sandals with straps in the back or closed shoes and no pointy shoes per Lighthouse request. If you are not equipped with proper footwear you’ll be asked to leave your shoes at the bottom of the steps and start climbing bare feet.
The living quarter you’ll be visiting while climbing the 15 story tall lighthouse gives examples of what family life used to look like in the historic 1869 Keeper’s Quarters. Downstairs there are artifacts from the civil war battles that broke out from the three surrounding forts.
Pensacola Lighthouse offers the best haunting tour in the State of Florida suggesting that six people are still occupying the Light and not really looking to move out anytime soon. According to Rob Boothe who is the Haunted Night Tour Coordinator the story begins with Ellen Mueller who grew up here and got married at the lighthouse. She died from complications during childbirth more than 100 years ago. In an article he did for News 5 WKRG he said that “There are about 20 ghost hunters and they use two different devices that pick up on electromagnetic energy to communicate with ghosts”. Both the Travel channel and the Scy-FY channel have done haunted specials on the Pensacola Lighthouse and the ghosts that reside within, and they have the videos playing in the museum.
Back outside the Lighthouse you can take the waggling path to the sand beach for some more views of the Gulf and the Lighthouse from the back. You can bring a blanket or a folding chair and sit for awhile enjoying the sunshine and marvelous views. The soft white sand makes for the perfect spot for a picnic with a view.
The Pensacola Lighthouse is open daily from 9 a.m to 5 p.m with last admission at 4.40 p.m. If you are looking to take the tour make sure that you bring an I.D. card and wear proper shoes. Climbers must be 44 inches tall and at least 7 years old. Children 12 & under are not allowed to climb without a ticketed adult. According to their rules no bags or purses are allowed on the property. The Lighthouse offers several different events throughout the year and can be found here: