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The North Carolina Coast Sights

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

Updated 10/09/2012

Fodor's Review

When the original red-and-white-striped 1812 lighthouse proved too short and unstable, the 1859 structure was built to replace it. The double walls allow the tower to rise as tall as required—169 feet—without making the building unstable. This lighthouse on Core Banks island withstood retreating Confederate troops' attempts to blow it up to keep it out of Union hands (they stole the lens instead). With its white-and-black diamond markings, the beacon continues to function

as a navigational aid. A small museum inside the Cape Lookout Visitor Center on Harkers Island tells the story of the lighthouse from its first incarnation in 1812. From there, you must take a private ferry to get to the lighthouse. Anyone 44 inches or taller may climb the tower's 207 steps (12 stories) from mid-May to mid-September, but reservations are highly recommended. The climb is worth it for an incomparable view of Cape Lookout's wild shores.

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Sight Information


Cape Lookout Visitor Center:, 131 Charles St., Harkers Island, North Carolina, 28531, USA

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252-728–0708-for lighthouse ticket reservations, purchase tickets at the visitor center; 252-728–2250


Sight Details:

  • $8 to climb tower
  • mid-May–mid-Sept., Wed.-Sat. 10–3:45

Updated 10/09/2012


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