I am a little embarrassed to admit that I have lived in Pacific Grove for over two years and have not yet visited one of the town’s most treasured landmarks. On a particularly gorgeous day last week I made it my priority to visit the Point Pinos Lighthouse that stands high and mighty along the shores of Asilomar Beach.
Welcome to Point Pinos Lighthouse

Getting to the lighthouse is easy; just follow Lighthouse Avenue! Once you come to the split in the road turn right onto Asilomar and voilà, a beautiful Cape Cod-esque lighthouse appears, perched right on the edge of Pacific Grove Golf Links. Pull in the driveway and take pleasure in the free parking available to lighthouse guests – just keep an eye out for golfers searching for that ball in the deepest rough! Point Pinos Lighthouse
Walking up to the lighthouse is a treat in itself. Every step closer gives you a better appreciation for the oldest continuously operating lighthouse on the West Coast and its amazing views! I wasn’t sure what to expect once inside but I was pleasantly surprised by its cozy and homey vibe. I was immediately greeted by a friendly docent and given a brief history lesson on the structure and the tenants that once occupied it.
Kitchen in the Point Pinos Lighthouse
I guess I never really put the “house” part together with the word “lighthouse.” This lower and upper level of this place is fully furnished with two bedrooms, a bathroom, a parlor and a kitchen! When this lighthouse was built, Pacific Grove was barely settled and its location was positively remote, almost an hour’s horseback ride from Monterey. All lighthouse keepers were expected to live in the building. Living Room in the Point Pinos Lighthouse
One lighthouse keeper, Emily Fish, was quite the party thrower. She brought in luxurious furnishings and French poodles and thoroughly landscaped the area, turning the lighthouse into something that could have landed on the pages of that era’s version of House Beautiful. Then she invited artists, authors and Naval officers to visit her, earning her the nickname “The Socialite Keeper.” Harry Powell talks about the fog horn
After heading through the lower living room I stopped off at the basement where some of the lighthouse’s memorabilia is held. Here you will find a fog horn, a Fresnel lens, a flash panel from a revolving lens and other interesting relics and historical tidbits. Docent Harry Powell spoke about the fog signals once heard on Pacific Grove's coastline which were in operation from 1925 to 1993. He even demonstrated what the fog horn once sounded like. The original fog horn could be heard up to 15 miles away; thankfully the one Mr. Powell sounded was at a much lower decibel level. Docent Nancy McDowell educating guests about the Fresnel lens
Docent Nancy McDowell was kind enough to explain the different types of Fresnel lenses and how they worked. Point Pinos utilizes a fixed Fresnel lens (rather than a revolving lens) which uses an on-off signal pattern produced by an electric light and timer. The present light source is still used for ship navigation and produces a 50,000 candlepower beam which can be seen up to 17 miles away! A room with a view
Did I mention that this piece of real estate comes equipped with stunning views of the Monterey Peninsula? I stood in amazement and visualized myself as the next “Socialite Lightkeeper” but then I remembered that the lighthouse has been automated since 1975. Oh, well. If I can’t live there, I can visit for a few hours, admire the views, and pretend. Point Pinos Lighthouse view from Ocean View Blvd.
Point Pinos Lighthouse is open Thursday-Monday from 1pm-4pm each day. Admission fees are $2 for adults and $1 for children. Proceeds are used to support the lighthouse’s preservation efforts.