Point Pinos Lighthouse

Experience a piece of American maritime history with a tour of one of the oldest lighthouses on the West Coast. 

Point Pinos Lighthouse, built in 1854, is the oldest lighthouse in continuous use on the West Coast of the U.S. The site is at the edge of beautiful Monterey Bay, surrounded by a picturesque and sometimes dramatic shoreline and is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

This charming cottage-style lighthouse was one of seven built by Congress in California after it was annexed by the U.S. in 1848. The bright beacon was first fueled by burning whale oil and changed to electricity in 1919.

Take a tour of the lighthouse grounds with one of the volunteer docents. Step inside the keeper’s living quarters, including a Victorian parlor, and climb the stairs. The lookout tower sits 89 feet (27 meters) high. An original Fresnel lens focuses light and turn it into a powerful beam that can be seen up to 17 miles (27 kilometers) off the coast.

Just as fascinating as the building is the stories of the lighthouse keepers. For instance, the first keeper, Charles Layton, was gunned down in 1855 while serving on a sheriff’s posse in pursuit of a notorious outlaw.

The shoreline below the lighthouse is part of the Asilomar State Marine Reserve and is laced with trails, rock formations, tide pools and small beaches perfect for watching the sunset.

The Point Pinos Lighthouse is located on the headland at Pacific Grove, 15 minutes by car from Monterey. You can catch a bus from Monterey to close by the lighthouse. The closest option for a meal or drinks is at the Pacific Grove Golf Links, just across the road from the lighthouse. Public restrooms are located 15 minutes’ walk away at Lovers Point, a great spot for a picnic.

The lighthouse is open Thursday through Monday, and a small donation is requested but not mandatory for admission.