About an hour south of Vero Beach and 30 minutes north of West Palm Beach is the small city of Jupiter, Florida. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful landscapes, Jupiter is also home to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse.
Congress authorized the building of the lighthouse on Jupiter Inlet in 1853. However, storms, malaria, and the eruption of the Third Seminole War all delayed the start of construction. When the project was finally able to get started, most of the construction was completed within six months. The lighthouse was lit for the first time on July 10, 1860.
Jupiter Lighthouse History
When the Civil War began, Confederate sympathizers disabled the light and it remained dark throughout the war. Once it was over, it was relit and has since then been a working lighthouse with over 70 different lighthouse keepers. In 1939, the Coast Guard took over caring for the lighthouse and then in 1987 it became automated.
The building where the museum is currently housed, at one point, was a building used by the Navy. The secret naval station was known as Station J and during World War II it intercepted signals from German submarines off the coast. Their efforts helped to sink many submarines and end the superiority that the Germans had in the Atlantic.
After WWII, the Navy transferred Station J to the Coast Guard. In 1972, the Loxahatchee River Historical Society was founded and in 1973 the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then, in 1994 the historical society got permission from the Coast Guard to start conducting regular public tours of the lighthouse and created a small visitor center in the last Station J building still standing.
Jupiter Lighthouse Museum
Inside the Jupiter Lighthouse museum, visitors will find galleries and exhibits that showcase the history of the lighthouse as well as the surrounding area. There is Native American history that goes back 5,000 years, a video about the lighthouse, and early pioneer history. Surrounding the museum and lighthouse are outdoor exhibits like a restored Keeper’s Workshop, an authentic Seminole Chickee hut, and an interpretive area focusing on the lighthouse’s many keepers.
Visitors can choose to join a guided tour at 11 am or 2 pm, or do a self-guided tour through a smartphone app. With the app visitors can choose between English, French, or Spanish. Once visitors arrive at the lighthouse, a line will form to climb the 105 steps to the top.
Note: Children must be a minimum of 48″ tall to climb the Jupiter Lighthouse.
Hours and Admission
Regular hours are 10 am to 5 pm, every day between December 26 and April 30. From May 1 to December 24 they are closed on Mondays. Entrance to the grounds end at 4 pm. They are closed most major holidays and sometimes close early for special events, so double check the Jupiter Lighthouse website before your visit.
Admission for adults is $12 and children between the ages of 6 and 18 pay $6. Seniors (60+) and Veterans pay $10, although Veterans get in for free between November 11 and December 7.
The Jupiter Lighthouse also hosts many special events throughout the year. It’s a popular wedding venue, but they also offer Lighthouse Sunset & Moonrise Tours and Twilight Yoga. Annual events include Sea Fest for Kids, Wild & Scenic Film Festival, Rendezvous and Autism Family Nights at the Light, and the Veterans Fishing Classic.
Final Thoughts on the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse has been an iconic structure in South Florida for 160 years. We highly recommend a visit to learn more about its history and to get some great views of the inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.
Article written by Vicky Sosa of is Buddy The Traveling Monkey.
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