What makes the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse so special, is that it is the only fully-operational lighthouse owned by the U.S. Air Force. Access is very limited as it is on an active military base. There are bus tours going to the lighthouse, but you have to make a reservation in advance for security purposes.
The 151 ft. tall Cape Canaveral Lighthouse was constructed in 1868 and located on the Cape Canaveral beach. Due to shoreline erosion, the lighthouse got dismantled and relocated 1.5 miles inland in the early 1890s. In July 1894, the light was relit again. 1939 the U.S. Coast Guard took ownership and in 2000 stewardship was transferred to the 45th Space Wing.
The original top of the lighthouse can now be found at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum. After it was dismantled it got rejuvenated as a gazebo at the missile museum.
The lighthouse is open to the public but only on certain dates. You have to book the tour at least 48 hours (US citizens) in advance as the lighthouse is located on an active military installation and the tour operator has to provide a manifest to the Air Force for security clearance. Foreigners need to book at least 4 days in advance. Bear in mind that the tour can be canceled at any time due to the location of the lighthouse on an Air Force Base.
Book your tour at Canaveral Lighthouse Tours.
The air-conditioned tour buses depart from the Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral and will transport you to the lighthouse. Visitors will have one hour at the lighthouse to enjoy the grounds and talk to the volunteers on-site. You can climb the lighthouse only to the fifth level and must wear flat closed-toe shoes and be at least 48 inches tall. The inside of the lighthouse shows some memorabilia and the history of the lighthouse.
The fully narrated tour will pass many historic Launch Complexes on its way. During your tour, you will stop at Space Launch Complex 14 (SLC-14) including the Mercury program memorial, Space Launch Complex 34 (SLC-34), and the Sands History Museum. Overall the tour takes about 3.5 hours of which you spend one hour at the lighthouse. Photos can be taken even while riding the bus to the different stops of the tour, except for the security gates. These are the only locations you are not allowed to photograph.
Admission to the Exploration Tower is included with your tour ticket. Enjoy the stunning views of Port Canaveral and the surrounding areas from the observation decks while learning more about the history of the port. Don’t forget to stop at the Sands Space History Center. It is located outside the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station South Gate. You can drive your own car all the way to the museum. Just follow the signs along the road. Once you approach the south gate, you will first pass a fence that has no guard station. It’s ok to pass this fence until you get to a traffic light where you have to make a right followed by an immediate left and you will end up at the parking lot of the History Center. The Sands History Center is located behind the SpaceX building.
The price of the tour is now $49.95 per person. Save $5 if you enter promo code “light” during your checkout process. Visit the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation website for tour schedules and more information. The tour lasts about 3.5 hours and visitors will spend about one hour at the lighthouse.
Since the beginning of 2019 new tour dates were introduced and tours run now pretty much every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. There are some exclusions and some special dates for tours. Check the calendar on the website for availability. Please remember the booking deadline: 2 days for US citizens and 4 days for foreigners. Don’t forget to bring your ID.
Lighthouse Passport Stamp
This tour gives you the option to have your Lighthouse Passport stamped. The only other way to get a stamp for the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is to request a passport stamp via mail.
Alternatively, you can take the Cape Canaveral Early Space Tour, which departs from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. This 3-hour tour main stop is at the Air Force Space & Missile Museum. Besides that, you will drive by the lighthouse and are able to snap some pictures but you won’t be able to get out or have your passport stamped.
The Cape Canaveral Lighthouse Foundation (CCLF) is currently constructing the Head Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage. It will house a gift shop and various displays pertaining to life at the lighthouse. Artifacts from different time periods will teach you about life as it was from when the Ais Indians first inhabited these shores. An additional building behind the Head Keeper’s Cottage will house modern restrooms for staff and visitors.
Two more cottages will be built over time which will further extend the experience.
- First Assistant’s Cottage: Walk-through tour showcasing the architecture of the period and how lighthouse keepers and their families lived
- Second Assistant’s Cottage: Will house an Education Center with various interactive displays.
These three Keeper’s cottages surrounded the lighthouse but got destroyed after 76 years of existence. The original plans from 1942 were used to rebuild these houses. The period furniture will help to further promote the history of this place and what it was like to live here as a lighthouse keeper family.
The Mysterious Hangar Next Door
During your visit to the lighthouse, I am sure you have noticed the big hangar next door. The official designation is Hangar C and it’s part of the Air Force Space and Missile Museum.
Inside you will find about a dozen different rockets. All in very good shape and restored to its original glory. When you look at them, you think they were just built recently. Showcasing anything man-made outside in Florida takes a huge toll on these objects. Just look at the rockets displayed at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum. Hurricanes, rain, and salt got to these objects and some of them are in a very bad condition. They require constant maintenance, where it is easier to protect them indoors. Unfortunately, Hangar C is only open for special events.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
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