Pacific Coast Highway: A Guide to BEST TOP 8 Scenic Lighthouses

Pacific Coast Highway: A Guide to BEST TOP 8 Scenic Lighthouses

The Pacific Coast Highway, also known as California State Route 1, is a mesmerizing coastal road that winds along the edge of the magnificent Pacific Ocean. As you embark on this breathtaking journey, you’ll be greeted by awe-inspiring vistas, majestic cliffs, and the soothing sound of crashing waves. However, amidst this enchanting coastal landscape, there are iconic landmarks that stand tall, silently guiding ships and boats to safety—the lighthouses.

Lighthouses have long held a romantic allure, conjuring images of solitary beacons perched atop rugged cliffs, their light piercing through the misty coastal air. These guardians of the sea have played an essential role in maritime history, ensuring the safe passage of vessels along treacherous coastlines. Today, they continue to captivate visitors with their timeless charm and picturesque settings, offering a glimpse into a bygone era.

In this blog post, I invite you to embark on an unforgettable journey along the Pacific Coast Highway, as we explore the top seven scenic lighthouses that adorn this iconic route. From Southern California’s sun-kissed beaches to the wild and untamed landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, each lighthouse carries its own unique tale and boasts stunning surroundings that will leave you in awe.

1. Cape Disappointment Lighthouse (Pacific County, Washington)

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse - Best lighthouses along the Pacific Coast Highway, Washington.

Despite its somewhat ironic name, Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is a sight to behold. Located at the southwestern tip of Washington State, this historic lighthouse overlooks the powerful confluence of the Pacific Ocean and the Columbia River. Its rugged coastal setting, complete with dramatic cliffs and stunning sunsets, creates a captivating backdrop for exploration and photography enthusiasts.

2. Yaquina Head Lighthouse (Lincoln County, Oregon)

Yaquina Head Lighthouse - another great lighthouse on the Pacific Coast Highway in Oregon.

Located just north of Newport, Oregon, the Yaquina Head Lighthouse stands proudly as Oregon’s tallest lighthouse. Situated on a basalt headland, this majestic structure offers sweeping panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The surrounding area is also home to diverse wildlife, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts.

3. Heceta Head Lighthouse (Lane County, Oregon)

List of the best lighthouses along the scenic road - Pacific Coast Highway.

Nestled on the Oregon Coast, the Heceta Head Lighthouse exudes charm and elegance. Surrounded by lush forests and perched atop towering cliffs, this picturesque lighthouse offers stunning coastal views that will leave you spellbound. The adjacent Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint provides an ideal vantage point for appreciating the sheer beauty of this iconic landmark.

4. Battery Point Lighthouse (Del Norte County, California)

Best lighthouses on the Pacific Coast Highway - Battery Point Lighthouse

The Battery Point Lighthouse stands as a testament to the resilience and determination of its keepers throughout its long history. Dating back to 1856, it is one of California’s oldest lighthouses, guiding mariners through the treacherous waters of the Pacific Ocean. To reach the lighthouse, visitors must time their visit with low tide, as the rocky path leading to the peninsula becomes accessible during this window. The short but scenic journey across the tidal zone adds an adventurous touch to the experience, heightening the anticipation of discovering this hidden gem.

5. Point Cabrillo Lighthouse (Mendocino County, California)

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse - best pacific Coast Highway lighthouses - California Hwy 1

In the heart of Mendocino County, another captivating lighthouse awaits along the Pacific Coast Highway—Point Cabrillo Lighthouse. This historic beacon stands as a testament to California’s rich maritime heritage and serves as a cherished landmark along this scenic coastal route. Located just south of the charming village of Mendocino, Point Cabrillo Lighthouse has been guiding ships since it was first illuminated in 1909. Its striking white tower, perched on a rocky headland, offers sweeping views of the expansive Pacific Ocean and the rugged Mendocino coastline.

6. Point Arena Lighthouse (Mendocino County, California)

PCH - Point Arena Lighthouse - what is the best lighthouse along the Pacific Coast?

Standing proudly on the windswept coastline of Mendocino County, the Point Arena Lighthouse is a remarkable sight to behold. Its white tower, adorned with distinctive black and red bands, rises against the dramatic backdrop of rugged cliffs and crashing waves. Dating back to 1870, the Point Arena Lighthouse is one of the tallest lighthouses on the West Coast, offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding coastline. A visit to this historic landmark provides a unique opportunity to explore its fascinating history and soak in the breathtaking coastal scenery.

7. Pigeon Point Lighthouse (San Mateo County, California)

Pacific Coast Highway - best lighthouses along road - Pigeon Point Lighthouse, California.

One of California’s tallest lighthouses, Pigeon Point Lighthouse stands majestically along the Pacific Coast Highway. The distinctive white tower, adorned with red accents, is a beacon of hope for mariners navigating these treacherous waters. Its dramatic setting, with waves crashing against rocky cliffs, makes it a photographer’s paradise.

8. Point Sur Lighthouse (Monterey County, California)

Best scenic top lighthouses in California West Coast - Point Sur Lighthouse. Get ready for your road along the Pacific Coast Highway.

Nestled atop a volcanic rock, the Point Sur Lighthouse in Monterey County is an architectural gem that transports visitors back in time. Accessible only through guided tours, this well-preserved lighthouse offers a glimpse into the lives of the lightkeepers who once maintained the beacon. The panoramic views from the top are truly awe-inspiring, showcasing the rugged beauty of the Big Sur coastline.


If you would like to discover more great stops, be sure to check out my other blog post about the best stops along the Pacific Coast Highway: Pacific Coast Highway – The 20 BEST STOPS Along the West Coast – Must-see places!

👍 Find out more:

Pacific Coast Highway Travel Guide - 202 Best Stops

Discover the best stops along the PCH Highway in my travel guide, “Pacific Coast Highway Travel Guide – 202 Best Stops”, which is available on Amazon. This is the ultimate travel guide and pocket reference for anyone wishing to experience the adventure and wonder of THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY! MUST-HAVE for all West Coast travelers. Visit 202 places on the PCH with “Scan QR and go” for easy navigation.

Author:

Pacific Coast - Mark Watson

Mark Watson is a California-based member of a Los Angeles motorcycle club and an avid traveler. He has completed seven full journeys along the iconic Pacific Coast Highway on his Harley-Davidson and is passionate about promoting this historic drive to others. Mark has also explored the Alaska Highway and Route 66, and has authored three bestselling travel guides on Amazon: “Route 66 Travel Guide – 202 Amazing Places,” “Alaska Highway Travel Guide – 202 Best Stops,” and “Pacific Coast Highway Travel Guide – 202 Best Stops.”

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