make the climb of a lifetime when you visit the Oak Island Lighthouse, the last lighthouse to be built in the entire state of North Carolina. But make sure you wear your sunglasses! Among its numerous claims to fame, this lighthouse is one of the brightest in the United States with a beacon that reaches about 16 nautical miles offshore. The Oak Island Lighthouse is also one of the only lighthouses in the country that use a series of ship’s ladders instead of the typical spiral staircase. To access the top, you’ll want to trade in your flip flops for some tennis shoes, to climb the 131-step ship’s ladder to the balcony at the top. When you reach the top at 158 feet, you’ll be rewarded with a 360-degree bird’s eye-view of the Cape Fear River and surrounding barrier islands. Oak Island Lighthouse and Bald Head Island Lighthouse, also known as “Old Baldy,” are both accessible to all adventurous spirits. Tours to the popular top level of the Oak Island Lighthouse are available year round by appointment for climbers 9 years of age or older. You can make an appointment through their website at least two weeks in advance. The lighthouse is also open for tours to the second level Wed. and Sat. from Memorial Day to Labor Day from 10 am – 2 pm for ages 7 or older. Built in 1817, Old Baldy is North Carolina’s oldest standing lighthouse. Ticket information and hours of operation may be found at http://www.oldbaldy.org/. Insider Tip: Tying the knot anytime soon? Old Baldy towers above the majestic, moss-draped, southern live oaks and is bordered by tidal estuaries and meandering creeks – perfect for special occasions, such as weddings.