Top 20 Monterey attractions

Point Pinos Lighthouse

Point Pinos Lighthouse

The Point Pinos Lighthouse is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast.

It's located on the Monterey Peninsula, near the townships of Carmel and Monterey.

You can do a self guided tour of the Point Pinos Lighthouse (check hours).

The interior includes a parlor, kitchen and bathroom on the main floor, and two bedrooms upstairs.  The basement has an informative visitor video, and a fresnel lens and foghorn. There's also a viewing room that peers up the base of the lighthouse tower, however visitors are unable to climb the tower.

10 best things about Point Pinos Lighthouse

1. You can do a self guided tour of the Point Pinos Lighthouse.

There are also plenty of docents on hand to answer questions. 

2. This was once a wild landscape of sand-dunes and coastal scrub.  

The grass and Monterey Pines were planted by lighthouse keeper, Emily Fish, who resided here from 1893 to 1914.

3. The parlor, kitchen and bathroom with original claw foot tub is on the main floor, and the two bedrooms are upstairs. 

4. Unlike other lighthouses, the living quarters were integrated directly into the lighthouse, so the lighthouse keeper never had to step outside at night!

5. The Point Pinos Lighthouse opened in 1855, just after California became part of the United States.

It was one of eight lighthouses commissioned along the California Coast, to guide travelers along California's rocky coastline during the Gold Rush years. The Point Pinos Lighthouse was the second lighthouse lit on the California coast, after Alcatraz Island Lighthouse.  

6.  It's the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast of America.

7.  It’s most notable occupant was the “Socialite Keeper” Emily Fish, who lived there from 1893 to 1914.  

Emily was a widower, and successfully applied for the role as Lighthouse Keeper.  She brought great changes to the lighthouse, adorning the rooms with sophisticated furnishings, and entertaining writers, artists and politicians at the lighthouse.  She also transformed the sand dunes into lush grounds, planting a lawn encircled with monterey pines.

8. The Point Pinos Lighthouse has only gone dark twice.

The first time was in 1906 after the San Francisco earthquake destroyed the lighthouse’s tower.  The second time was during WWII when all lighthouses fell dark to avoid detection by the enemy.

9.  During WWII, a sophisticated communications network was set up along the US coast between lighthouses and life guard stations, to warn of any enemy threats.  

The Point Pinos unit had 120 men stationed there by 1943, with temporary dwellings constructed near the Point Pinos Lighthouse.  They patrolled America's coastline with dogs, rifles, and portable receiver transmitter sets. This is a portable transmitter set, used by the guards patrolling the coast.

10. In December 1941, Japanese submarines attacked off the coast of Point Pinos Lighthouse, but there were no casualties.

Know before you go 

  • Address: 80 Asilomar Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950.
  • Hours: Check here
  • Admission: Free, but donation is appreciated.

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