Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

Lighthouse Point Park, which can be found in Ponce Inlet, Florida, boasts one of the finest beaches in the state. But that's not all that this attractive and inviting park is known for. It's also home to the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse, which is one of the more interesting historical attractions in the Daytona Beach area. Built in the 1880s, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, as it is also known, is quite old. Thankfully, restorations to the lighthouse and to the Victorian buildings that surround it have done well to keep up appearances. In addition to being quite old, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse is also quite tall. In fact, it is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second-tallest lighthouse in the country. This brick and granite beacon tops out at 175 feet. Only the Cape Hatteras Light, which is found on the North Carolina coast, is taller. It stands 207 feet tall.

In 1998, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse was declared a National Historic Landmark, which gives testament to its historical importance. The first lighthouse that was built on the site was erected in 1835, though it would never come into operation, thanks in part to the fact that the oil for the lighthouse's lamp was never delivered. Not long thereafter, a strong storm significantly weakened the original Ponce de Leon Lighthouse. At this same point in history, the Second Seminole War was picking up steam, and the original lighthouse didn't stand much of a chance when it came to surviving the subsequent attacks by Seminole Indians. Eventually, the first Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse collapsed, and another one wouldn't be built for some time. You can learn all about the original lighthouse when you visit the current one, thanks to the fact that it houses a small museum.

Though numerous shipwrecks were occurring off the Daytona Beach area coast in the 1800s, it wasn't until the 1880s that another lighthouse would be erected at Ponce Inlet. In 1887, the current Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse was completed, and its original lamp burned kerosene. By 1909, the original lamp was replaced with a then state-of-the-art incandescent oil vapor lamp. In 1933, the lamp was electrified and new lenses were put in place, making the beacon brighter than ever. For the next 37 years, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse would help ships find their way to shore. In 1970, it was deactivated by the Coast Guard and a new beacon was established at nearby New Smyrna Beach.

On your visit to Lighthouse Point Park, you'll definitely want to reserve at least an hour for your visit to the lighthouse. Self guided tours of the main areas can be enjoyed, and if you're up for it, you can also climb the 203 steps to the top. If you can manage to handle the relatively arduous climb up the lighthouse stairs, you will be rewarded with some scintillating views of the area. The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse essentially serves as a museum today, and among the exhibit pieces that you can view include some of the old lenses. You can also check out the film of cars racing on the beach in the early days, which is very interesting. Nearby Daytona Beach is a racing Mecca, and it has a lot to do with the early car races on the area beaches. Today, most of the car races are held at the Daytona International Speedway.

In addition to visiting this fascinating lighthouse in Daytona Beach, lighthouse enthusiasts who are exploring the north-central Florida coast can also consider heading to Cape Canaveral or St. Augustine. Both of these destinations boast historic lighthouses of their own. Combining some time at the beach and some time at the lighthouse can make for an excellent day at Lighthouse Point Park. Before or after your lighthouse tour, you might try a little surfing or fishing, which are two of the top things to do at the park.

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