Shedding Light

Experience lighthouse life during a visit to almost any of Michigan’s 129 historic beacons.Most lighthouses offer public tours, and some invite visitors onto the parapet, the platform that wraps around the lantern room. With 3,200 miles of shoreline and one of the nation's most active waterways, it's no wonder that Michigan claims more lighthouses than any other state in the country.  For visitors willing to spiral up steep stairs and squeeze through a narrow hatch, panoramic views serve as a reward. Check out the list of featured lights below:
 
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 Crisp Point Lighthouse in Paradise | Photo Courtesy of Instagram fan: Caryn Ashley
LAKE HURON
     
Tawas Point Lighthouse, East Tawas
The 45-minute guided tour includes climbs for sweeping looks at Tawas Bay.
     
New Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle
See islands and freighter traffic from the top of this 113-foot tower north of Alpena.
 
LAKE MICHIGAN
     
Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington

Trek 1.5 miles through the state park to climb 130 steps and emerge onto one of the state’s tallest beacons for views of the dunes.
     
Sand Point Lighthouse, Escanaba
At the top of the white tower, watch for a green buoy marking the wreckage of the steamer Nahant, now a popular dive site.
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Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann     

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City
On the Straits of Mackinac, where lakes Huron and Michigan meet, see nearby Mackinac Bridge from this 1889 light.
 
 
LAKE SUPERIOR
 
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, Marquette
This historic, bright red light guards a rocky bluff. 
     
Crisp Point Lighthouse, Newberry
Take an 18-mile dirt-road drive to see this still-active light on a deserted sandy beach.
 
Lighthouse Keepers Program
Guests greet visitors, provide tours and perform light duties—in exchange for room and board—as part of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association’s Volunteer Keepers Program. Each lighthouse charges fees for applications ($30) and the program ($200 and up). Sessions run from a few days to up to two weeks. About 20 lighthouses participate, including:
 
Mission Point Lighthouse, Old Mission Point
Participants staff the gift shop and collect fees for self-guided tours. It’s a much different kind of work from that of the original keepers, who hauled pails of oil to fuel the lamp amplified by the Fresnel lens. Perks include free wine tasting and unlimited views of rolling vineyards.

Detour Reef Light, DeTour
Ride a ferry to this remote lighthouse between the Upper Peninsula and Drummond Island. Keepers greet visitors, provide information, and perform light cleaning and maintenance.
 
LIVE LIKE A KEEPER WITH AN OVERNIGHT STAY
A few Upper Peninsula lighthouses operate as inns or bed-and-breakfasts. For overnights, check into:
   
Big Bay Point Lighthouse, Big Bay
On a rocky cliff midway between the Keweenaw Peninsula and Marquette, this 1896 light now houses seven guest rooms. Follow trails through 6 acres of woods or settle in front of the living room fireplace with a book from the lighthouse’s library.   

Jacobsville Lighthouse Inn, Jacobsville
The three-room inn occupies the eastern shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Overnight guests climb the 50-foot tower for views of Lake Superior and the Keweenaw Bay.
     
Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn, Ahmeek
The state’s northernmost lighthouse B&B sits high on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Guests at the eight-room inn enjoy 3,000 feet of private shoreline and climbs to the top of the 90-foot tower. Some rooms come with a decorative fireplace, balcony and whirlpool tub.
     
Whitefish Point Light Station, Paradise
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum campus includes five theme rooms inside the U.S. Coast Guard Crews Quarters. The surrounding waters, known as the Graveyard of Ships, hold many shipwrecks, including the famed Edmund Fitzgerald.
 
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Big Red Lighthouse, Holland Harbor Light
 
Short and squat, tall and lean, brilliant red or striped black and white, each of Michigan's uniquely beautiful lighthouses play its part in keeping the Great Lakes safe. Come see the lights of Pure Michigan.