Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Travel Guide

  • Marker at sunset near Cape Florida
    Marker at sunset near Cape Florida
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  • Marker to channel outside Miami
    Marker to channel outside Miami
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  • Beach
    Beach
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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Things to Do

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    by grandmaR Updated Aug 24, 2008

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    The original 1825 lighthouse and cottage were burned in 1836 by Seminoles. The keepers climbed up to the light and one of them was killed and the other was wounded in the feet. He flung a keg of gunpowder down the stairs hoping to kill himself and avoid capture and torture by the Indians. The wooden stairs burned down, but he was not killed.

    This man, named Thompson, was rescued the next day by the crew of a U.S. Navy schooner. The sailors fired a ramrod with a piece of string tied to it over the top of the lighthouse. Thompson caught the string and was able to haul a heavier rope to the tower's top. Two seaman hoisted to the top hauled the injured Thompson down. It was later reported that the top of the lighthouse had more than 200 bullet holes in it

    The light was extinguished from 1836-1846. There were complaints that it was too short, so in 1855 the tower was made 40 feet higher (up to 95 feet) and wooden stairs were replaced with 119 spiraling iron steps to the top and a second order fresnel lens was installed.

    The light was damaged in the Civil War, and was extinguished in 1878 when Fowley Rocks light was built.

    In the 60s, the state of Florida saved the area around the lighthouse from developers by establishing Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and they restored the lighthouse and keeper's dwelling. On June 15, 1978, 100 years after it was extinguished, the U.S. Coast Guard reestablished the light.

    Volunteer guides take visitors through lighthouse and the replica of the 1846 furnished keeper's cottage and the cook house. There's also an outhouse and cistern. The tours are Thursday through Monday, at 10:00 AM and 1 PM. Arrive at least a half hour early. Access to the tower is limited to groups of about 20 people at a time.

    There is a short narrative film in the reconstructed Keeper's kitchen building, exhibits in the reconstructed dwelling, visitors over 8 years old can climb the tower to the top.

    Door of the lighthouse with a child Looking up at the lighthouse Looking down from the lighthouse at the beach Stairs in the lighthouse Looking out of the lighthouse door
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    • Museum Visits

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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Restaurants

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    by grandmaR Updated Aug 24, 2008

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    We ate lunch here in this trailer shaped restaurant overlooking the anchorage. In the first picture one of the boaters has come in to shore in his kayak. If you anchor here, you will have to either have a dinghy to get in to eat or maybe you can tie up to the seawall (photo 3)

    Favorite Dish: They have a limited menu which they cook to order and bring to your table after you order at the counter.

    I had the seafood soup and Bob had a hamburger (photo 4 and 5)

    Bob walking past a kayaker to the restaurant Sign with hours Heliocoopter over Boater's Grill Hamburger Seafood Soup
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    • Sailing and Boating

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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Sports & Outdoors

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    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    These four wheeled pedal vehicles looked like fun, and we saw folks renting them to move around the park. The Lighthouse Cafe was closed for renouvation when we were there.

    Equipment: The park website says: " "The Lighthouse Cafe" offers visitors casual oceanfront dining in a relaxed open-air setting. The concession offers a variety of rentals including bicycles, Hydrobikes, rollerblades, ocean kayaks, windsurfers, beach chairs and umbrellas"

    pedal carriages from the car
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    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There are 18 covered pavilions that provide shaded picnicking overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay, and they may be reserved up to one day in advance by paying the required fee at the park entrance station. Plus there are grills and picnic tables.

    Equipment: There are 15 pavilions with 6 picnic tables that accommodate 40 people. These rent for $100.00 plus tax per day.

    There are 3 large pavilions with 10 tables that accommodate 80 people. These rent for $150.00 plus tax per day. Electricity is available for $15.00 per day, only at the large shelters.

    The park website says: "There is a $50.00 cleaning fee that may be assessed if the shelter and immediate vicinity is not cleaned prior to the group leaving. The group is responsible for leaving the pavilion and grounds in the same condition as it was when received."

    Picnic tables
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    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    There were a large number of families enjoying the beach on this spring break weekend, even though there was considereable surf due to a sustained northeast wind of about 20 knots.

    Equipment: Rickenbacker Causeway is a toll road. In addition the fee for the park is $5.00 per vehicle, including up to 8 visitors. Single occupant vehicle = $3.00. $1.00 each per bicycle/individual walk-in.

    Beach umbrellas and chairs can be rented from the concessionaire.

    North side beach from the lighthouse
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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Favorites

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    by grandmaR Updated Aug 24, 2008

    Favorite thing: My grandfather wrote this postcard to my grandmother in July 1925. His comment is that it was "Some warm". That at least has not changed!!

    The legend on the back of the card says:

    "Years ago the Florida reefs were feared by all vessels sailing the south Atlantic. The Government [constructed] many light houses and a particularly tall and staunch one of brick was built at Cape Florida on an island jutting out at a particularly dangerous spot. This light has been replaced by a new modern structure standing on the very edge of the Gulf Stream"

    Fondest memory: I did not realize that my grandfather was such a traveler. I do not know what he was doing in Florida in 1925 - my mother would have been just seven days from her 16th birthday when this was written.

    Lighthouse in 2004 Marker to channel outside Miami Marker at sunset near Cape Florida
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