Point Vicente Lighthouse Visitor Guide

Point Vicente Lighthouse
Betsy Malloy Photography

Local storytellers claim the Point Vicente Light Tower is home to a lady ghost who lost her lover at sea. Realists give a technical explanation. The shadowy images that look like a woman are just reflections from the third order Fresnel lens atop the 67-foot tower.

We will leave it up to you to decide. Here are some tips to help you plan your adventure (perhaps paranormal) to a Los Angeles lighthouse with an interesting story.

Things to Do

The breathtaking views from the Point Vicente Lighthouse and the Palos Verdes Peninsula are hard to hate. If you're looking for a romantic destination or relaxing surroundings, the Point Vicente Lighthouse location offers both. If you're offshore, the beam from Point Vicente Lighthouse's powerful lens can be seen up to 20 miles at sea. 

Aside from enjoying the sunset from the lighthouse, many people walk their dogs nearby or go for a jog on nearby trails. Trained docents also lead hikes in nearby areas. 

The view from the nearby cliffs is superb. The nearby park offers excellent opportunities for enthusiastic whale watchers. You can join them from December through Mid-May at the Interpretive Center's 150-seat outdoor amphitheater. Take binoculars to catch a closer glimpse of the migrating gray whales. 

Point Vicente Lighthouse is also well-liked by Los Angeles locals. It's the perfect destination to get away from the concrete jungle and enjoy a more natural setting without having to travel too far.

The Lighthouse’s Dramatic Story

Ship's masters who sailed this dangerous stretch of shoreline in the 1920s petitioned for a light at Point Vicente. In 1926, it was one of the brightest landmarks along the coast. The original lens came from France, manufactured by Barbier & Bernard. It came to Point Vicente from Alaska where it had been in use for 40 years. It remains 185 feet atop the structure but is now automated. It was listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites in 1979.

In 1939, the Coast Guard made Point Vicente their primary Southern California communication center. It is also the base for many rescue operations. The last light keeper left in 1971 when it was automated.

So big and bright in fact that the light was dimmed during World War II, to keep Japanese submarines from finding land. Even after the war, neighboring residents complained about how bright the light is. To avoid any issues with the neighbors, light keepers painted the landward side of the lantern room a pearly opaque white.

How to Visit

The grounds and lighthouse are closed to the public most of the time. The grounds - and the neighboring Coast Guard Museum - are open on selected dates.

Nearby is the 10,000 square-foot Point Vicente Interpretive Center. It also offers exhibits about the history of the lighthouse. The Center is also home to a theater. Volunteers often lead tours of the museum at the Interpretive Center. Museum admission is free and open daily.

The Lighthouse is located at 31550 Palos Verdes Drive, West Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. It is at the southwestern tip of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, near where Hawthorne Blvd. intersects Palos Verdes Drive. They require visitors 18 years old and up to show a photo ID.

Fires and barbecues are prohibited on park grounds. If you're bringing your pet, please note that dogs must be on leashes at all times.

More California Lighthouses

Pt. Fermin Lighthouse is also in the Los Angeles area and is open to the public. Its unique construction makes it worth a visit.