When you visit us here at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum, you will most likely climb to the top of our famous Lighthouse to enjoy the breathtaking views of our beautiful town. Tourists and locals alike all seem to have the same several questions they ask when they get to the top of the Lighthouse.

1. “What are those giant white tents?”

We know what you’re thinking, no it’s not a circus or fair of any sort. It may look a little different from an aerial view but is in fact the St. Augustine Amphitheater!


2. “How many stairs did I just climb?”

This question is usually asked with a lot of huffing and puffing involved. There are 219 stairs from the base of the tower to the top with eight landing areas to rest in between. It may sound like a lot, but we promise it’s not that bad and it is totally worth the view!


3. “How tall is this thing?”

The tower stands tall at 165 feet from the ground. It is 95 feet taller than the Old Spanish Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is the 5th tallest in Florida and is also much wider than most lighthouses. For guests, the highest point you can reach is the gallery deck, which is 140 feet above the ground.


4. “Has anyone ever dropped anything from up here?”

Ask any of our volunteers or staff and they will most likely tell you they’ve seen several phones, hats, scarfs, and sunglasses get swept away on a windy day at the top of the tower. So make sure you hold onto your belongings when you get up there!


5. “Has anyone ever fallen from the top of the Lighthouse?”

No one has ever fallen from the top of the Lighthouse, however, in the early 1900’s, Lighthouse Keeper C.D. Daniels’ son, Cracker, decided to test out a homemade parachute on his sister Wilma’s cat. He dropped the cat from the gallery deck and fortunately his parachute was successful in landing the cat safely on the ground!


6. “Are there any ghosts?”

Guests and the staff of the Lighthouse have experienced some paranormal activity in and around the Lighthouse. We actually offer a Dark of the Moon tour that allows you to tour the 1880 Keepers’ House, climb to the top of tower, and explore six acres of nature trails around the property. Our Dark of the Moon paranormal tours are available every weekend all year long. You can book the tours online or in our gift shop.


7. “Can we climb all the way up to the light?”

The highest you can climb is the observation deck, however, there is a clear window located inside the top of the tower that allows you to see up into the Lens Room. The lens itself is nine and a half feet tall and six feet wide. It weighs nearly two tons and contains a 1000-watt bulb.


8. “When is the last time this was used as a functioning Lighthouse?”

The tower is still a functioning Lighthouse today! Ships located offshore still use the Lighthouse for navigation purposes. During the day, the ships can see the unique black and white barber pole stripes with the bright red top (that’s our daymark) and at night the ships can tell that they are near the coast of St. Augustine by the one, fixed, white flash that occurs every 30 seconds (that’s our nightmark).


9. “Is there an elevator?”

No, unfortunately, there is no elevator, although I guarantee that almost all of our staff, volunteers, and visitors wish there was one! But then you wouldn’t have the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal to climb to the top during your visit!


If you wish to visit us here at the lighthouse and see the beautiful 360-degree view of St. Augustine for yourself, visit our website at staugsutinelighthouse.org or give us a call at 904-829-0745.

Hannah Hussmann is a senior at Flagler College currently interning with the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum.