The city of Jupiter is a small coastal town just north of West Palm Beach, Florida. The town boasts of beaches, high-end shopping and a historic lighthouse. Jupiter loves its lighthouse; I wish that I could say the same about my experience at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.
Here is what I really like about the Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum:
1. Learning: You guys know I love to learn, and this place definitely taught me a lot about Florida‘s history and the history of the immediate area. Your ticket price includes the museum, which is air-conditioned (yay!). You should have time to explore the museum before your tour (more on that below). But, if you do not have time before, make sure to browse a bit after your tour.
2. The Views: 360 degree views of the area are spectacular from a few stories up. While I was short of breath from climbing the stairs and from my slight fear of heights, the most “breath-taking” moment of the day was from high above. Seeing the turquoise blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the flowing waters of the Loxahatchee River and the town of Jupiter to the west was worth the heavy breathing and sweating.
Unfortunately, this is where my “Like” list ends and my “Could Have Been Better” list begins.
1. Waiting for a Tour: I arrived at 10:45. Our tour did not leave until after 11. Fifteen minutes is not a long time to wait – especially with the museum to visit. But, (you knew there was a but coming), at the time, I did not know if the wait would be 2 minutes or 20 minutes. This fact made me a tad frustrated.
You see, tours leave once they are full. What is “full” you might ask? I have no clue. Let’s just say that on busier days, you might only wait for 2 minutes. Slower days means a longer wait. True, I did walk around the museum during this time, but a scheduled start and stop time would be nice. (I’m working on being a more patient person, so maybe this was the universe helping! Who knows!)
2. Time Restraints: The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum webpage suggests that you “allow two hours to visit the site and trail.” While I appreciate this suggestion on their website, I did not know until I attempted to leave (an hour and half into the tour) that guests are not “allowed” to leave early. You see, the lighthouse is on an active U.S. Coast Guard base. For security reasons, guests need to stay with their guides. I get it! I do not want just any Joe Schmoe walking around government bases either.
But (there is another one!), why was I not told this prior to getting a ticket? I can think of plenty of reasons one would need (or want!) to leave a tour early.
Luckily, our tour guide was rational. She hesitated a few moments when I let her know I would be departing. She tried to get me to stay by joking “but you’ll miss all the good stuff.” She then discreetly used a walkie-talkie to let a colleague know that I was leaving the group and that I would be at “the gate.” She asked me to walk directly to the gate. I really did need to leave quickly, so meandering around the base was not on my agenda.
This brings me to #3.
3. Customer Service: As instructed, I walked quickly (and directly) to the gate that my tour guide asked me to go to and waited. And waited. And waited. And, just for fun, I began to time some of my wait. 4 minutes and 25 seconds. Hmm. Seems to me that if the staff does not want people left unaccompanied, they should promptly meet any solo guests, especially when my sweet tour guide notified staff of my departure from the group. (Am I beginning to sound impatient? I told you I was working on it!)
None-the-less, I quickly smiled at the man holding the key (literally) to my freedom and began to offer up “thank you’s” and “I appreciate this so much.” I did this despite my annoyance after standing at the gate for over 5 minutes. Before I was able to finish my pleasantries, the employee abruptly informed me that I could not leave the tour early.
Is anyone else mad right now? Can you imagine paying for a tour, not being able to leave the tour early (when the walking tour takes you a mere 200 yards from the parking lot) and then feel like a scolded when you need to leave?
Despite the employee’s words, he unlocked the gate and let me out. My words did not match my thoughts as I walked through the gate and spoke another “thank you.”
I may not have patience, but I do have self control.
I think the Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum is one of the star attractions in Palm Beach County. I’ve seen other lighthouses and think that the tour guides and grounds of this facility are excellent. I won’t let one employee and one policy deter me from recommending the Jupiter Lighthouse and Museum. But, (and this is my last one), I will say this: Visitors NEED to allow for at least two hours when visiting the lighthouse. Not one hour and thirty minutes, but a solid two hours. The website suggests it – I would make it a requirement for you and your visit. If you do, you will thoroughly enjoy yourself at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum.