Of the many perks to living in the San Francisco Bay Area, lighthouse access seems forgotten.
Indeed, the Bay and Pacific coastlines are both rimmed with myriad lighthouses, once used to prevent mermaids from crashing into rocks. These lighthouses have the best seat in the house for ocean views, whale watching, and aquatic wildlife.
In addition to their scenic amenities, several lighthouses have on-site lodging accommodations for overnight stays, ideal for a relaxing weekend retreat.
We have sifted through the long list of local lighthouses to pinpoint those that provide overnight accommodations. These locations run the gamut from budget to bougie, so there is something for everyone. In all cases, these offer a beautiful getaway at world-class locations where you may fall asleep to the sound of waves and wake up to a picturesque waterfront landscape. This is also a great activity for your fellow history buffs, as each lighthouse has a unique story.
And, obviously, this will produce peak-level Instagram posts. Imagine, the envy…
If you’re seeking an intimate getaway for two, a friend gathering, or family bonding, a lighthouse getaway is a terrific idea certain to be memorable. Take advantage of these California coastline marvels with the 49 Miles guide to local lighthouse getaways:
Pigeon Point Light Station, State Historic Park
The Pigeon Point Light Station is near plenty of attractions, including the only mainland breeding colony of the Northern Elephant Seal at Año Nuevo State Reserve off the iconic Highway One. The majestic Redwood Forests at Butano State Park is also in proximity, in addition to other nearby parks. At this location, you can explore tidepools and countess beaches, watch for migrating whales, and visit landmarks like Whalers Cove and Pescadero Marsh. The lodging options on the grounds include private rooms, as well as dorm-style bunks to scratch your collegiate nostalgia. There is a hot tub available for guests, where you can soak while observing pelicans, Pacific harbor seals, and whales. You may also reside at their campsite. Weather permitting, 30 minute history walks around the grounds are guided by State Parks Docents on Fridays through Mondays from 10AM – 4PM.
Map & Directions: www.google.com/maps
East Brother Lighthouse
The historic East Brother Lighthouse, or Light Station, is a restored California Victorian Lighthouse with a Dinner, Bed & Breakfast Inn. It rests beautifully perched atop an island in the strait between the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. Their overnight accommodations boast five rooms on East Brother Island, four of which are former keeper’s quarters in the historic lighthouse itself. The rooms are named after their respective views, overlooking the scenes of Mount Tamalpias, the Sisters and West Brother Islands, the San Francisco Skyline, and more. A stay at the lighthouse includes champagne and hors d’oeuvres upon arrival, a multi-course dinner with wine, and a full gourmet breakfast the next morning. Guests are provided with a full tour of the historic island.
Map & Directions: www.ebls.org/map-a-directions
Lodging Information: www.ebls.org/accommodations
Point Arena Lighthouse
The tallest lighthouse on the Pacific Coast, Point Arena is an ideal location to watch the North bound migration of gray whale moms and calves. With 23 acres of oceanfront grounds on this historic landmark, there are plenty of attractions to occupy you, such as the harbor seal rookeries and Shell Beach on The Sea Ranch. Guests are allowed unlimited Museum & Tower Tours during their stay. The staff welcomes guests with a bottle of Husch Vineyards wine and chocolates from Mendocino Chocolate Company. Mendocino County is known for the towns of Mendocino and Fort Bragg, which have artful landscapes and historic architecture. You can participate on a guided hike with Unbeaten Path Hiking Tours, designed to give tour-goers a sense of the area’s incredible history. Additional nearby attractions include Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Bowling Ball Beach, and the famous Skunk Train, which is a must-do for train enthusiasts. Another popular attraction is the B. Bryan Preserve, Point Arena’s own wildlife preserve, which offers animal feedings and guided tours of the grounds where they have been breeding and preserving African hoof Stock for over a decade. You may also enjoy a horse ride on the beach with Ross Ranch Horseback Tours. Given the vast space of this land, there are many lodging options, where you may rent a room, apartment, or a house.
Map : www.bit.ly/2os4HVc
Point Bonita Lighthouse
Located at Fort Barry in Sausalito, this active lighthouse can be accessed by a half-mile trail, which is steep at times. The tunnel halfway to the Point Bonita Lighthouse is open only during visiting hours Saturday through Monday from 12:30PM to 3:30PM. This is the third lighthouse built on the West Coast, completed in 1855. Highlights include Battery Wallace near the Point Bonita trailhead, which is one of the best scenic picnic spots in the parklands. Explore the wild landscape, gorgeous geology, and history with a guided tour. For an idyllic view of the lighthouse away from the grounds, go to Bird Island Overlook. The Lighthouse does not provide on-site overnight accommodations, but there are two nearby campsites: Kirby Cove and the Bicentennial. The closest hostel, which includes private rooms, is the Marin Headlands Hostel, a National Park retreat with meadows, hillsides, beaches, and coastal bluffs. These lodgings offer dramatic views of the Golden Gate Bridge in addition to stunning natural scenery. Check out Point Bonita’s brochure for more detailed information.
Map & Directions: http://bit.ly/2nKvf75
Lodging: Check hyperlinks to Kirby Cove, the Bicentennial, and Headlands Hostel
Point Montara Lighthouse
Located 25 miles south of San Francisco, the lodgings at Point Montara Lighthouse offer a relaxing retreat and a convenient base to explore the idyllic beach town of nearby Half Moon Bay. This dreamy station has easy access to a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, water sports, horseback riding, whale watching, or a simple beach stroll. Guests are accommodated in both shared and private rooms in former Coast Guard quarters and the historic fog signal building. Here, you’ll enjoy cozy lounges, a secluded beach cove, tide pools, and landscaped native plant gardens. There is also free parking and an espresso bar. This primo location is an excellent center point to explore the endless local attractions, like the Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Pillar Point Harbor and Marsh, the Devil’s Slide Coastal Trail, Mount Montara, and Half Moon Bay’s many amenities.
Map & Directions: www.norcalhostels.org/montara/directions
Point Reyes Lighthouse
The lodging options within the Point Reyes National Seashore include backcountry camping, dormitory style accommodations, and private rooms where you may enjoy a rustic retreat along the stunning seashore. Point Reyes National Seashore was established to protect and preserve the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem along the coastline. In addition to the jaw-dropping landscapes, there are several historical structures, three visitor centers, and numerous beaches. There is also a plentitude of hiking options.
Map & Directions: www.nps.gov
Lodging: check hyperlinks to backcountry camping and private and shared rooms
Point Cabrillo Light Station
Along the the Mendocino coast, the Point Cabrillo Light Station boasts two larger houses and two smaller cottages available for overnight stays. This California State Historic Park includes the 30 acre 1909 Light Station, resting on 270 acres of undeveloped coastal bluffs and prairie. It is trailed by numerous coves, including Frolic Cove, the site of the shipwreck Frolic. You may find harbor seals lounging on offshore rocks, sea lions swimming around, and a variety of birds. If you spot plumes of condensed breath rising into the air from the ocean, whales are present as they are common in this area and visible from the shore from December into April. Blue and humpback whales make random appearances during the summer and fall. Dolphins and porpoises of many species also make surprise appearances sporadically through the year. The hiking trails across the point wind through coastal prairie and coastal bluff habitats. There are historic museums, like the lighthouse museum and the marine science exhibit.
Map & Directions: www.pointcabrillo.org/visit/find-us
Note from 49 Miles: You will be near wildlife, amidst the natural elements and the homes of animals. Please be courteous and conscious of the footprint you leave and leave no trace. Don’t be a Dolores Park Bro! Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Don’t litter, just glitter.