Know before you go: Want to visit the places recommended in this article? With local regulations changing frequently, it’s a good idea to check the web site of any attraction or business to make sure it’s open before you go.
There’s something magical about lighthouses. They’re cool to look at and feel safe because of the work they do, and of course it doesn’t hurt that they usually happen to be in beautiful surroundings. With so much coastal land, the U.S. has plenty of picture-perfect lighthouses that are definitely worth traveling to. In fact, a few of our favorite hostels are close to a beautiful beacon, and there are even two locations where you can sleep right beside them!
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California
Sitting pretty on a bluff about 50 miles from San Francisco, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the tallest on the West Coast (tied with Point Arena Lighthouse in Mendocino, a couple hundred miles north), and is also a designated California Historical Landmark. For the folks who travel near and far to see it, it’s an excellent place to take a good photo, and many stay the night at HI Pigeon Point Lighthouse hostel to get images of the night skies. The hostel limits its artificial outdoor lighting, so it’s also perfect for stargazing.
Point Montara Lighthouse, California
The coolest thing about this little lighthouse is that it’s the only one in the country known to have shone on both coasts. Many years ago, Point Montara Lighthouse was on the east coast and somehow, it got moved all the way across the country to its current perch overlooking the Pacific. Today it’s a sweet spot to stop on your way down the California coast, and it’s worth an overnight stay HI Point Montara Lighthouse hostel so you can explore the beaches and cute coastal towns nearby.
Point Bonita Lighthouse, California
This is one of the more underrated lighthouses on the list, mainly because it has to compete with the nearby Golden Gate Bridge and the splendor of trails and coastline along the Marin Headlands. Point Bonita Lighthouse, which is just a quick drive or short hike from HI Marin Headlands hostel, is the only one in the country that can only be reached by crossing a suspension bridge. It’s open only on Sundays and Mondays, when docents are also available to share information about the lighthouse. The views here are fantastic.
Point Reyes Lighthouse, California
There are so many wonderful things to explore within the Point Reyes National Park, including this little lighthouse at the end of a long set of steps. On a clear day, you can see for miles out into the glassy sea, making this an excellent place to catch the annual gray whale migration. Stay at HI Point Reyes hostel, the only non-camping accommodation within the park, and take the scenic drive to the lighthouse within this gorgeous coastal wonderland.