Lighthouses of Central and South Florida

Central and South Florida
May 9 - 12, 2006


My wife and I decided it was time to get away for a little bit. After checking airfare to Florida, we decided that we would go there.

May 9, 2006

We flew into Orlando and arrived at just before 10am. We grabbed our luggage and headed to the Hertz counter to get our car. Before we had even left, we had decided to spend a little time at one of the Disney Parks. One we got to Florida, we decided it would be Disney's Animal Kingdom. By the time we got our car, and arrived at the park, it was still a little before noon. We spent the better part of the day at the park, and left there around 5pm.

After that, we got onto I-4 and headed east towards the Atlantic Coast. The original trip that I had planned was going to take us all the way up to Jacksonville, but after spending a day at the park, the decision was made to not rush the trip, and use more time to relax. We stopped around DeLand, Florida and grabbed some dinner, after that, it was back onto I4 heading towards the Atlantic Coast.

Once we hit I95, it was north up to St. Augustine.We got off of I95 at Route 207, and took that into the City of St. Augustine. The 207 ended at Route 1 where we continued north on 1. We then took Route 214 east to A1A. From here, we followed A1A until Busam Street. We followed Busam Street to Lighthouse Ave. From here we parked in the lot and took a bunch of photos of the St. Augustine Lighthouse. The lighthouse is open for climbing, but since we arrived after hours, it was closed. Given our tight schedule, we decided that photos would be fine rather than waiting until the next morning for climbing.

By the time we finished taking photos, it was already getting dark. From here, we followed the same path back to I95, and headed south. Once near Daytona Beach, we exited off of the 95 at Route 421. We followed 421, until it turned into A1A right as you cross over Route 1. A1A takes you over to Daytona Beach Shores. Since it was after 9pm, we decided it was time to get a place for the night. We ended up staying at the Days Inn - Tropical Seas.

May 10, 2006

We got up, got ready, and then checked out. Right up the road was a Denny's Restaurant, so we had some breakfast there. From here, it was a short six-mile ride down Route 4075 to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. We ended up spending well over an hour at this light. The lighthouse is open for climbing, as well as many of the buildings are open for visitation. Not to mention that the lightstation is largely well intact retaining all of the original buildings. If you visit this lighthouse, make sure you do so when it is open. It is worth it.

From here, we followed 4075 back north to the A1A Causeway to cross back over to the mainland. Once again, we followed 421 back to I95 south. Due to wild fires in the area, we were diverted off of I95, and had to utilize our GPS system to navigate around the area. Once we were down several additional exits, we were able to get back onto I95, and continue south.

The next lighthouse we had planned to visit was Cape Canaveral. Given that it is on an active Air Force Base, visitation is limited. However, due to poor planning, we had missed the only tour that day and would have had to wait until noon the following day. So we chalked this up as a missed opportunity, and headed back towards I95.

Once back on I95, the next lighthouse was over one hundred miles to the south. During the drive, we had stopped and grabbed an early dinner. Once near the town of Jupiter, we got off at route 706 heading east, and followed that to Route 1. We took Route 1 north to Route 707 / A1A. Once on 707, we took a quick right onto Captain Armours Way. This leads you to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Once again, we arrived too late, and the lighthouse was closed. The lighthouse was visible from the parking lot, but the photo opportunities weren't that great. We headed to the other side of the inlet, at the end of Yarborough Street to get some better shots. I had to use a 500mm telephoto lens, but was very pleased with the shots that I was able to take.

From Yarborough Street, we took Route 1 back to Route 706. And then took 706 back to I95. Once on I95, it was a long trip down to the Sawgrass Expressway. We followed the Sawgrass Expressway to I75 (Alligator Alley) as we were heading to my aunt's house in Naples. We made it to Naples by a little after 9pm.

May 12, 2006

We left our hotel room, which was on Route 41 in Naples, and headed north to Pine Ridge Road (Route 896). From there, we headed north on I75. We took I75 north for about 77 miles to North Toledo Blade Blvd. From there, we headed south to Route 776. We then followed 776 west where it eventually turned into 771 and headed onto Gasparilla Island. Once on the island, we found the Boca Grande Rear Range, and the Port Boca Grande Lighthouses. There was a $6.00 toll to get onto the island, and then a small fee for the lighthouses. The Port Boca Grande lighthouse was open when we visited. There is a small museum inside, but you cannot climb the tower.

After visiting the Gasparilla lighthouses, we reversed our directions back to I75, and then headed south. We got off at Daniel's Parkway and followed that west to Highway 869. We then followed 869 to Highway 867 across the cuaseway to Sanibel Island. Once on Sanibel, we took a left onto Periwinkle Way and took that to the end. Once at Lighthouse Point Park, we were able to park, and walk the short distance to the Sanibel Island Lighthouse.

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