The Ponce de Leon lighthouse is the largest in Florida

If you are traveling for spring break, this would be a great place to visit


Krista Olson-Lehman

The observation deck on the Ponce de Leon lighthouse offers stunning views of the inlet and the ocean.

Krista Olson-Lehman, Social Media Editor

With spring break coming up, people think of warmer locales. For many students who venture to Florida, thoughts of places like theme parks and Daytona Beach probably come to mind. Recently I visited Florida and decided to visit a piece of Florida history, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse.
Constructed over a period of four years in 1883, the towering lighthouse stands 176 feet tall, the tallest in the entire state. It has been meticulously restored, and you can climb the lighthouse staircase. Views from the observation deck on the lighthouse are breathtaking. You can see the ocean, the inlet and much of the surrounding town and landscape.

The Ponce de Leon lighthouse is currently in service and its 1,000 watt beacon shines into the night sky once it automatically activates at dusk.
The Ponce de Leon lighthouse is currently in service and its 1,000 watt beacon shines into the night sky once it automatically activates at dusk. (Krista Olson-Lehman)

The lighthouse grounds and property are a working museum, with original buildings preserved and displays covering all aspects of lighthouse operations, from 1883 until the light was ordered extinguished by the Coast Guard on Jan. 1, 1970.
The lighthouse started as a kerosene wick system with chandelier-style lights to an electrified 1000-watt bulb system in its first working career. The lighthouse was put back into service in 1982, as high-rise buildings were affecting the view of the Coast Guard’s other light on the opposite side of the inlet. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1998.
For additional historical value, many older style lighthouse lamps, lenses and other equipment are on display with signs explaining much of the purpose and history of each. The museum goes into detail about how each different lighting element and lens was a technological feat for the time, and how it affected lighthouse operations. There is also lots of information about Coast Guard lighting and what colors are designated for the smaller shoreline and waterway lights.
The newer building designated for the various lights and lenses gives you an up close view of the inner workings of many different types of lamps that have helped keep ships safe for centuries. The grounds offer a nice walk and view as well as the neighboring Ponce de Leon Park.
The surrounding city of Ponce Inlet offers the usual tourist amenities like local restaurants and souvenir shops. With so many nearby attractions as well as New Smyrna Beach a short drive around the inlet, the area offers more ways to fill your day.
The lighthouse and grounds were salvaged from vandals and disrepair by the efforts of the Lighthouse Preservation Association that formed in 1972 and still cares for and preserves the land.
If you find yourself on Florida’s East Coast during break, check out this historical treasure! Ponce Inlet isn’t too far from Daytona Beach and right next door to New Smyrna Beach.