Cons: Some spots, like Point Cabrillo, are expensive. But the experience is worth it.
California's 1,200 miles of coastline are home to more than 50 beautiful and historic lighthouses, from the state's first lighthouse at Alcatraz Island (1853) to the charming Cape Cod-style beacons along the San Diego coast. For a unique overnight, consider booking a room in one of four California lighthouse hotel accommodations.
The Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel, located 25 miles south of San Francisco near Half Moon Bay, dates back to 1875. Each room, which starts at $23 per night, has both his-and-hers or co-ed dorm rooms, with 3-6 beds per room. Free WiFi is offered in the guest lounge, along with lockers, laundry facilities and an espresso bar. If you want private lighthouse lodging, rates start at $70. Family rates are available, or you can rent the entire lighthouse for groups of 8 or more. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily. Call (650) 728-7177.
The Pigeon Point Lighthouse, which dates back to 1872, also offers lighthouse accommodations in Pescadero, not far from the elephant seal breeding ground at Ano Nuevo State Reserve. Boasting gorgeous ocean views of Pescadero and a killer clifftop hot tub, this lighthouse hostel offers a private family room, private single/double room and shared gender-specific dorm rooms, with up to 6 beds per room. Outside, you can cozy up by the fire pit, take a walk along Whaler's Cove beach, or barbecue on the patio. Amenities include free WiFi, bicycle storage, lockers and full-service kitchen area. Rates start at $23 for shared dorm rooms; $59 for private single rooms, and $69-$111 for private family rooms. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily. Call (650) 879-0633.
For a romantic getaway, check out the Point Arena Lighthouse, where you can stay in one of four historic keeper's homes on the cliffs. Each of the vacation rentals are three bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, complete with wood-burning stoves, kitchen and satellite TV. The lighthouse itself is open from 10-3:30 p.m. in the winter, and 10-4:30 p.m. in the summer. Rates start at $125 for a keeper's room, to $300 for a keeper's house. Some units are pet friendly. For reservations at Point Arena, call (707) 882-2777.
The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse in Mendocino also offers lovely accommodations in the former keeper's house, which dates back to 1909 — complete with period furniture. This is the most expensive of the bunch, starting at $833 for a two-night minimum stay, up to $2,207 per week. The lighthouse rental includes four bedrooms with Queen beds, 4 showers, and a full kitchen with Viking appliances. You can also rent the two adjacent cottages, which provide two extra rooms. For Point Cabrillo lighthouse accommodations, call (707) 937-5033.
Credits: Point Cabrillo photos by Andrionni Ribo; Pigeon Point photo by Marlith.