Our GPS is set for home, but as we say goodbye to our sweet friends in Melbourne, Florida (and thank them for opening their home to us these past few weeks), there is still a lot of country to see before we land in our beds in North Dakota.
Three girls on a road trip, so many possibilities for things to see! We started out with some Google searches – National Parks, historical sites, roadside marvels – scribbled down some notes, and then set off on the road home.
Our first stop was Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, near Daytona Beach. This 175-foot-tall tower has the distinction of being the tallest lighthouse in Florida. The beacon’s light can be seen up to 18 miles out to sea!
As soon as we saw it, we knew we definitely had to climb it. The lady who sold us our tickets promised five-year-old Bria a sticker if she made it to the top, and then we started up. There are 213 very steep steps to the top, and I’m not sure if I thought that sounded like a lot or not, but whoah! That’s a lot of steps up!
We were around halfway when it started to feel like a serious project. Ella (14) and I were both thankful for a sign we had read aloud at the bottom saying kids had to be able to make the steps (up and down) themselves and couldn’t be carried – that would have been a lot of steps to lug an extra 30 pounds up.
There were a few places along the way to stop and check out the view, catch your breath, and let people pass you going up or down (the steps are narrow and only passable by one person at a time). Once you reach the top, there is a door that leads outside, giving a fantastic panoramic view of the beautiful little point the lighthouse is located on. We walked around it a few times, but didn’t spend a lot of time, because a storm was coming, and we didn’t want to be rushed down in a crowd if and when they closed the tower.
The trip down was, of course, much easier than the trip up, and soon we were resting on the benches outside. The lighthouse is surrounded by a small museum, which is made up of a series of buildings that once housed lighthouse employees and offices, each filled with assorted artifacts representing the 128-year history of the site. Ponce Inlet is one of 12 lighthouses in the country that have been designated as National Historic Landmarks, sitting at third tallest.
We looked into a few of them, then caught part of a movie about the lighthouse before going inside to check out the gift shop. Just as we stepped inside, an alert came over the radio that it was time to close the lighthouse down due to the impending thunder and lightning.
Pleased with our timing, we continued on our adventure. There is a scavenger hunt available for the site (pick one up in the gift shop), but we didn’t notice it until after the closure. It looked like fun, and would be a good way to engage young ones while exploring the tower and museum.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is open at 10 a.m., 7 days a week. Closing time is 9 p.m. in the summer months and 6 p.m. the rest of the year. It is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Ticket sales stop one hour before closing to allow for ample time to visit the landmark. Admission is $6.95 for adults and $1.95 for children. Visit their website for additional details.