Beautiful Lighthouses in Michigan Worth a Visit


Tall and elegant or short and utilitarian, beautifully restored or lying silently forgotten, the dozens of lighthouses standing sentinel along Michigan’s 3,200 miles of shoreline are worth a visit. Many of Michigan’s lighthouses are open for tours, if only seasonally. Others are home to bed and breakfast lodging or museums. Still others are privately owned or otherwise inaccessible, inviting admiration from afar a few souvenir photographs. Want to pay a visit to one of Michigan’s beautiful lighthouses? We’ve compiled many of the noteworthy lights across Michigan’s waterways below.
 

Lighthouses on Lake Superior

Point Iroquois Lighthouse - Brimley
 

Point IroquoisLight
Point Iroquois Light | Photo Courtesy of @jaredemmack


Guarding the entryway to the St. Mary’s River, where Lake Superior flows through Sault Ste. Marie’s locks, Point Iroquois Lighthouse was constructed in 1855. The lovely white light was decommissioned in 1962 in favor of a newer beacon, and visitors love visiting the restored lighthouse to climb its 65-foot tower and take in views of Lake Superior below.

Whitefish Point Light Station - Paradise
 

Whitefish Point Light Station
Whitefish Point Light Station | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


Set along Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast—some 200 wrecks lie offshore—Whitefish Point’s 80-foot lighthouse towers amid a grouping of red-and-white rescue station buildings. The lifesaving station’s 1923 crew’s quarters have been converted into a small hotel. The rest of the buildings, which date back to 1861, include displays about lighthouse keeping and lifesaving in the 20th and early 19th century as well as the excellent Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. Look for the museum’s prized artifact: the salvaged ship’s bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Crisp Point - Paradise
 

Crisp Point Light in Paradise
Crisp Point Light in Paradise | Photo Courtesy of @caryn_ashley


Crisp Point Lighthouse sits near Lake Superior’s ominously-named Shipwreck Alley, where many Great Lakes vessels were lost over the years. Built in 1904, the tall, white light was one of five U.S. Lifesaving stations on the Lake Superior shore. Throughout the summer, visitors may tour the lighthouse and visitors center.

Grand Marais Range Lights - Grand Marais 
The Outer and Inner Range Lights in Grand Marais were both constructed in 1908. Ships entering the harbor would line up the lights on the two lighthouses. When the two appeared to be a single light, the ship’s crew knew they were well positioned to safely sail into port. In the lighthouse keeper’s museum across the street a small museum recounts maritime life on the Great Lakes. Nearby is a monument honoring fishermen who were lost in Lake Superior.

Au Sable Light - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
 

Au Sable Light in the Fall
Au Sable Light | Photo Courtesy of Dan Hammel


It’s a 1½-mile walk along a gravel footpath to access Pictured Rocks’ Au Sable lighthouse. But the walk is lovely, following the edge of the Lake Superior shoreline and occasionally offering views of shipwreck remains at the water’s surface. The 87-foot Au Sable Light has been active since 1874 and includes an original keeper’s house with a small museum. A smaller 1909 building recreates keepers’ living conditions from the early 20th century.

Munising Range Lights - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Built in 1908, the Munising Range lights lit the way for ships heading into port, allowing them to avoid hitting the treacherous Grand Island peninsula called the Thumb. Ceded to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in 2002, the lights still assist navigation within the national park. The old keeper’s quarters have been converted to the lakeshore’s Science and Natural Resources Division.

Grand Island East Channel - Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
 

Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse in Winter
Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


Built in 1870, Grand Island’s East Channel light sits surrounded by the wilderness of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Although the light is privately owned and inaccessible to travelers, its weathered wooden exterior is so attractive that shutterbugs are still drawn to photograph the light on boat cruises through the channel.

Marquette Harbor Light - Marquette
 

Marquette Harbor Light
Marquette Harbor Light | Photo Courtesy of @jibbs02


Set at the end of a lovely walkway just outside the city of Marquette, the brilliant red Marquette Harbor Light was originally lit in 1866 with a second story added in 1909. The Marquette Harbor Light took on vital role in protecting ships entering the city’s coal docks in the 19th century, which, until the opening of Minnesota’s mines in the 1890s, formed the most important iron ore port on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse includes a nice maritime museum and offers public tours.

Granite Island Lighthouse - Marquette
 

Granite Island Lighthouse in Marquette
Granite Island Lighthouse in Marquette | Photo Courtesy of @emmafink


Tiny Granite Island pokes up above the surface of Lake Superior north of the city of Marquette, its rocky promontory topped with the Granite Island Lighthouse. Originally built in 1869, the stone lighthouse fell into horrid repair after its decommissioning. But a complete renovation of the light was completed in 2011. The Granite Island Lighthouse is available to rent for special functions.

Big Bay Point - Big Bay
The red brick Big Bay Point lighthouse stands 60 feet high, its square tower dating from 1896 and topped with a stunning white lantern. Set above Lake Superior atop a sandstone cliff, Big Bay Point has been converted into an inn with 7 guestrooms named for former lighthouse keepers and furnished with period furniture. The light overlooks Lake Superior’s Big Bay, its surrounding hardwood and pine forests and, off in the distance, the towering Huron Mountains. 

Portage River Lighthouse - Jacobsville
Set on the entrance to the Portage River on the eastern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the Portage River Lighthouse was built in 1869. Climb the white brick tower for views of Keweenaw Bay, or stay a while. The light’s brick keeper’s house has been converted into a B&B with two guestrooms.
 
Gull Rock Lighthouse - Copper Harbor
 

Gull Rock Lighthouse in Copper Harbor
Gull Rock Lighthouse in Copper Harbor | Photo Courtesy of @selectivepotential


Constructed in 1868 on a small island off the coast of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Gull Rock’s first lighthouse keeper noted that a full 6 feet of Lake Superior ice formed on the little island in winter. Still, the white-painted, square-towered Gull Rock Lighthouse survived and is currently under renovation. Once full restored, the local keeper’s association plans to open the light to public tours.

Copper Harbor Light - Copper Harbor
 

Sunset at Copper Harbor Light
Copper Harbor Light | Photo Courtesy of Caryn Beatty


Set in the heart of Copper Harbor, gateway to the Keweenaw Peninsula’s best outdoor recreation and departure point for ferries to Isle Royale, the Copper Harbor Light was constructed in 1861. Tour the honey-colored brick lighthouse and its square tower, and view Copper Harbor and its light from the water on a boat tour that departs from the light.

Eagle Harbor Lighthouse - Eagle Harbor
 

Eagle Harbor Light in Winter
Eagle Harbor Light | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan


The octagonal brick tower of Eagle Harbor Lighthouse was constructed in 1851 to warn approaching ships of their proximity to the Keweenaw Peninsula. The light is still active and open to tours, and its quaint lighthouse keeper’s residence houses a small maritime museum.

Ontonagon Lighthouse - Ontonagon
Constructed in 1866, the tidy brick Ontonagon Lighthouse boasts its standing as the oldest standing lighthouse on the Keweenaw mainland. Wander through the lighthouse’s three stories. Climb to the top of its tower and enjoy views of Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountains. Tours include entry to the Ontonagon County Historical Museum.

Menagerie Island Lighthouse - Isle Royale
Built in 1875, the unique rock and red sandstone keeper’s quarters and its white octagonal tower make the Menagerie Island Lighthouse a standout on boat trips around Isle Royale. In fact, the light continues to aid in navigation around the national park. Public visits of the lighthouse are not permitted, although you can walk the grounds. Access is only via private boat.

Rock Harbor Light - Isle Royale
The brick and stone lighthouse on Isle Royale’s Rock Harbor forms a beloved landmark, its white tower and black lantern rising above the rugged shoreline and surrounding pine trees. Visit the Isle Royale’s oldest lighthouse and its maritime exhibits on a guided NPS tour that includes a stop at the nearby Edisen Fishery.

Passage Island Lighthouse - Isle Royale
Built in 1872 near the eastern end of Isle Royale, the Passage Island Lighthouse is part of a popular boat tour out of Rock Harbor. Board the MV Sandy for an 8-mile cruise to Passage Island. From there, an NPS guide leads a 2-mile round-trip hike out to the stone lighthouse.
 

Lighthouses on the Detroit River

Bar Point Shoal - Detroit
 

Bar Point Shoal Light in the Detroit River
Bar Point Shoal Light in the Detroit River | Photo Courtesy of @_spacey_casey_


This Detroit River light was constructed in 1885 and shaped like a ship, its point facing toward the river’s mouth, to help break up approaching ice floes. The 49-foot black-and-white-striped light was prefabricated in Ontario, then set in 22 feet of water where its base was filled with concrete and surrounded by a granite pier. The light remains an active navigational aid and can only be seen by boat.

Grosse Ile North Channel Front Range Light - Grosse Ile
Constructed in 1906 on the Detroit River, the octagonal tower of the Grosse Ile light is striking with its white, clapboard façade. Although the Grosse Ile light is privately owned, tours of the house and its 50-foot light can be arranged through the active lighthouse society.
 
Mariners Memorial Light - River Rouge
One of the nation’s newest lighthouses, this metro Detroit lighthouse was constructed in 2003 as a navigational aid on the Detroit River and has been dedicated to the memory of mariners who lost their lives on the Great Lakes. The lighthouse isn’t open for tours but you can snap pictures at its location in River Rouge’s Belanger Park.
 
William G. Milliken State Park Lighthouse - Detroit
 

Milliken State Park Lighthouse
William G. Milliken State Park Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of @designerguy235


This set on the Detroit River has never been active, although you wouldn’t know it to look at it. The 63-foot elegant white tower was constructed in 2004 as a replica of the Tawas Point Lighthouse on Lake Huron. It’s a favorite landmark at the entrance to William G. Milliken State Park in downtown Detroit.

William Livingstone Light - Detroit
The nation’s only Art Deco lighthouse—and its only marble light—sits within Michigan’s largest city, dedicated to an influential Detroit banker and newspaperman who also spearheaded navigational improvements to the Great Lakes. The 58-foot William Livingstone light was erected on Belle Isle in 1930, designed by Art Deco architect Albert Kahn and crafted by a sculptor, Gaza Moroti. Although visitors can’t climb the Livingstone light, a one-mile walking trail runs alongside the island’s lagoon with views of the lighthouse, Windsor and the mouth of Lake St. Clair.

Windmill Point Lighthouse - Grosse Pointe Park
Built in 1933, the Windmill Point Lighthouse is the fifth light to occupy this location where the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair meet. Entry to the elegant white lighthouse isn’t permitted—the light is still an active navigational aid—but you can see the Windmill Point Lighthouse at its location in Detroit Mariners Park.


Lighthouses on Lake Huron

Huron Lightship - Port Huron
 

Huron Lightship in Port Huron
Huron Lightship in Port Huron | Photo Courtesy of @mrmailmanbrandon


Like a floating lighthouse placed where money or circumstances make a permanent light impractical, Huron Lightship 103, a National Historic Landmark, sits dry docked in Port Huron’s Pine Grove Park. The expertly restored lightship, the last of the Great Lakes lightships and the only lightship that remained on duty during World War II, is open for tours in summer and also features a small museum.

Fort Gratiot Lighthouse - Port Huron
Built in 1825, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse claims a long history. It’s the oldest surviving lighthouse in Michigan, the oldest operating lighthouse in the Great Lakes and the first lighthouse to be built on Lake Huron. Built at the junction of Lake Huron and the St. Clair River, the 86-foot white brick tower is operated by the Port Huron Museum and open for tours.

Port Sanilac Lighthouse - Port Sanilac
 

Port Sanilac Lighthouse
Port Sanilac Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of @calaesthetic


In 1886, the Port Sanilac Lighthouse burned bright for the first time, fueled by kerosene. Electrified in 1929, the white octagonal lighthouse is attached to an attractive brick house with a stepped façade. The lighthouse is privately owned, but the light remains an active navigational aid.

Harbor Beach Lighthouse - Harbor Beach
Developed as a harbor of refuge, an area where ships could escape the wrath of storms on Lake Huron, Harbor Beach erected its lighthouse in 1885. The white cast iron light sits on Michigan’s thumb, on Harbor Beach’s north breakwater. Tours are available on summer Saturdays, but you’ll get great views from many parks throughout town.

Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse - Port Austin
 

Point Aux Barques Lighthouse
Point Aux Barques Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of @calebyoudingus


As ships made their way past Michigan’s thumb, navigating between the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, they passed this point, the Pointe Aux Barques or Point of Boats. Aiding the navigation of this tricky point was the soaring white Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse, which became operational in 1848. The fully-restored lighthouse is open for tours.

Port Austin Reef Light - Port Austin
 

Port AustIn Reef Lighthouse
Port AustIn Reef Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of @michiganskymedia


Built in 1878, the striking six-story Port Austin Reef Light sits in a shallow area of Saginaw Bay nearly 2 miles from the mainland. The six-story tower and its adjoining keeper’s house were crafted of a tough, buff-colored brick meant to withstand the most severe weather conditions. The lovely Queen Anne “Castle on the Lake” isn’t open to tours but can be viewed up close via boat.

Tawas Point Lighthouse - East Tawas
 

Tawas Point Light
Tawas Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of @sywhitford


Since 1876 the Tawas Point lighthouse has lit up Lake Huron on a shoreline that continually evolves and moves. A predecessor lighthouse took its turn guarding the shore, until shifting sand built up the point and rendered the light too far inland to be useful. The current Tawas Port sits elegantly along the Lake Huron shore with its 67-foot white tower and red roof. Visitors can climb the tower and visit a keeper’s house museum.

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse - Harrisville
 

Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Gerald Spencer


The white and red tower of the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse is difficult to miss. Standing sentinel on the Lake Huron shore just north of Harrisville, the 1870 light is still maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard. Visitors may climb to the top of the 70-foot tower and visit a nice maritime museum inside the former keeper’s quarters.

Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse - Alpena
 

Thunder Bay Island Light
Thunder Bay Island Light | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan


The white tower and former keeper’s quarters and their brilliant red roofs stand out on Thunder Bay Island, a 215-acre limestone island set three miles east of Thunder Bay. The outermost island in a collection of Lake Huron Islands, Thunder Bay Island had a reputation for destroying ships, which was why this lighthouse was constructed in 1832. Access to the island and the lighthouse are only by boat.  

Middle Island Lighthouse - Alpena
 

Middle Island Lighthouse
Middle Island Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Judy Dostal


Located between Thunder Bay and Alpena, the 71-foot red-and-white-striped Middle Island Lighthouse sits on an island of the same name. The light was constructed in 1905 and continues to aid navigation in Lake Huron’s Thunder Bay. Visit Middle Island and its Lighthouse via Middle Island Boat Tours, which includes a tour of the restoration progress at the light.

Old and New Presque Isle Lighthouses - Presque Isle
On windy evenings, a madwoman screams from the tower of Old Presque Isle light, the ghost of a keeper’s wife who was locked in the tower until she went mad. So goes the legend at this Port Huron lighthouse, a place where dramatic—even tragic—Great Lakes stories run rampant. The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was constructed in 1840 and operated only 31 years before being replaced by the taller, more elegant New Presque Isle Lighthouse just a short distance away. Both lighthouses are open for tours.

Forty Mile Point - Rogers City
The square white lighthouse at Forty Mile Point has guided mariners through northwest Lake Huron since its construction in 1896. A spiral staircase leads up the 62-foot tower, which, along with a lighthouse museum and pilot house, are open to the public. But the most interesting sight at Forty Mile Point may well lay half-buried in the sand 200 yards from the lighthouse: a shipwreck dating from October, 1905.

Cheboygan Crib Light - Cheboygan
 

Cheboygan Crib Light
Cheboygan Crib Light | Photo Courtesy of Jasmine Ghastin


Originally built offshore, in the waters of Lake Huron, the Cheboygan Crib Light of 1882 helped ships navigate toward the Cheboygan River. Over time the light’s foundation settled, causing the Cheboygan Crib to tip over. Now located in Cheboygan’s Gordon Turner Park, the lighthouse is open to the public for tours. 

Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse - Cheboygan
Intended to guide mariners from Lake Huron into the Cheboygan River, the Cheboygan Front Range light was constructed in 1880. The wooden lighthouse, which resembles a schoolhouse with a tall bell tower, is painted red and white and has been fully restored to look as it would have in 1920. Its tower and gift shop are open to the public.

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse - Mackinaw City
 

Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


In the 19th century, the narrow Straits of Mackinac were no tourist attraction. They ranked among the most treacherous stretches of water for mariners. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, the unusual Norman Revival “Castle of the Straits,” began illuminating the shipping lane in 1889. The light served an immensely important role until 1957, when the Mackinac Bridge and its superior navigational aids rendered the lighthouse obsolete. Costumed interpreters guide visitors through the lighthouse tower, a restored keeper’s quarters as well as the Straits Shipwreck Museum.

Round Island Lighthouse - Mackinac Island
 

Kayaking near Round Island Lighthouse
Kayaking near Round Island Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of @mackinackayak


Built to guide mariners around the shoals near Mackinac Island, Round Island Lighthouse was constructed in 1895, a squat, square light painted vividly red and white, topped with a black lantern and surrounded by the turquoise waters of the Straits of Mackinac. Although the light is not open to the public, it remains a beloved photo op and landmark for travelers ferrying past en route to Mackinac Island. Visitors can access the grounds by boat.

Bois Blanc Lighthouse - Mackinac Island
 

Bois Blanc Light @katielx
Bois Blanc Light | Photo Courtesy of @katielx


Set on an island neighboring Mackinac Island, the Bois Blanc Lighthouse stands out from its wooded backdrop, its tower and keeper’s quarters of sand-colored brick, the lantern atop its 38-foot tower a vivid white. The light was constructed in 1867 and operated along the Lake Huron shoreline until the mid-1920s. Today the light is privately owned and can only be enjoyed from a distance, by boat.

DeTour Reef Lighthouse - Drummond Island
The eye-catching white DeTour Reef Lighthouse sits offshore within Lake Huron and near Drummond Island. Built in 1931 of reinforced concrete and steel, which sits atop a massive concrete pier, the 83-foot light has been lovingly restored and is open to visitors for tours. Catch a boat to the DeTour Reef Lighthouse at Fort Drummond Marine on Drummond Island or consider the light’s weekend keeper program.

Lighthouses on Lake Michigan

Waugoshance Lighthouse - Mackinaw City
Located on a treacherous stretch of water leading into the Straits of Mackinac, the Waugoshance Lighthouse marks the location of the first lightship, a beacon on a boat once floated in waters deemed too treacherous or cost-prohibitive for a permanent light. In 1851, the existing Waugoshance light was constructed. The buff-colored brick light was decommissioned in 1912 and is visible only from a boat. The large split in the light’s tower offers evidence that Waugoshance is considered one of the world’s most threatened lighthouses.

McGulpin Point Lighthouse - Mackinaw City
 

McGulpin Point Lighthouse
McGulpin Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


Two miles west of Mackinaw City, the McGulpin Lighthouse was part of a dozen or more lighthouses established to keep the Straits of Mackinac safe for shipping traffic. Constructed in 1869, the yellow brick light has been fully restored and is open for tours.

White Shoal Lighthouse - Mackinaw City
First lit in 1910, this 121-foot terra cotta and steel lighthouse sits right off the shore of Wilderness State Park near Mackinaw City. The light’s isolated location of the light made its construction an engineering feat in its day. Originally the tower was painted solid white, but in an effort to improve visibility a red-and-white spiral strip pattern was added in later years, making the tower resemble a candy cane or a barber’s pole. White Shoal Lighthouse is the only American lighthouse painted with this pattern. The light is accessible only by boat.

Gray’s Reef Lighthouse - St. Ignace
 

Gray's Reef Light
Gray's Reef Light | Photo Courtesy of @_zanfardino


Standing in the Straits of Mackinac like a white rocket ship ready for launch, Gray’s Reef Lighthouse was first lit in 1936 and joins the ranks of many other lights built to secure the Straits. The striking lighthouse is still operational, accessible only by boat and a frequent landmark on Shepler’s Ferry’s lighthouse tours.

St. Helena Island Lighthouse - St. Ignace
 

St Helena Island Lighthouse
St Helena Island Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


The tiny island of St. Helena just west of St. Ignace is home to this lighthouse, recognizable for its brilliant white 71-foot tower topped by a similarly eye-catching red lantern. The light was activated in 1873 and is a frequent landmark on Shepler’s Ferry’s lighthouse tours.

St. James Harbor Lighthouse - Beaver Island
First lit in 1870, Beaver Island’s second lighthouse stands near the island’s only town, St. James. The light has seen better days—the white 41-foot tower stands alone without its keeper’s quarters, which were dismantled in World War II—but the St. James Harbor Lighthouse serves as a beloved landmark to travelers arriving via ferry for a visit to Beaver Island. The lighthouse isn’t open to the public.

Beaver Head Lighthouse - Beaver Island
 

Beaver Head Lighthouse on Beaver Island
Beaver Head Lighthouse on Beaver Island | Photo Courtesy of @lexiebryce


Set on the southern end of Beaver Island—a quiet stretch of land overlooking Lake Michigan—the honey-colored brick of Beaver Head Lighthouse, which dates from 1858, glows with the last rays of the sun. You’ll need a car to reach this lighthouse—unlike other parts of Beaver Island—but once you reach the light visitors are permitted to climb the tower and admire the view.

Mission Point Lighthouse - Traverse City
 

Mission Point Lighthouse
Mission Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


Near the tip of Old Mission Peninsula, at the end of vineyard-strewn M-37, visitors discover Mission Point Lighthouse, a white clap-board light built in 1870. Standing only 45 feet tall, the light sends a beacon farther than you might think, perched as it is atop a sand dune. Visitors can climb the tower. A small museum which recounts the light’s history, including that of its rare female keeper, Sarah Lane. Mission Point’s two-week keeper program is very popular.

Grand Traverse Lighthouse - Northport
 

Grand Traverse Lighthouse Trevor Mahlmann
Grand Traverse Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


Set at the end of the Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City, the 1858 Grand Traverse Lighthouse stands vividly white and red against the deep green pine forests and turquoise waters of Lake Michigan. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse tower and explore the keeper’s quarters, which have been restored to their 1920s and ‘30s appearance.

South Manitou Island Light - Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Travel by ferry from Leland for a visit to the Sleeping Bear Dunes’ Manitou Islands. Once the ferry reaches South Manitou, the island’s 100-foot tall white light stands out as its most distinctive feature. The tower is open to visitors who want to climb the circular staircase to the light’s black, wrought-iron observation deck for a view of all Lake Michigan.

Point Betsie Lighthouse - Frankfort
 


The 1858 Point Betsie Lighthouse sits at a bulge in the West Michigan shoreline, a spot that once threatened ships en route to the Straits of Mackinac. The bright white tower and its keeper’s house are topped by a red roof and black lantern. They’re both open for tours and sit alongside a beautiful sugar sand beach, also open to the public.

 
Big Sable Point Lighthouse - Ludington
 
Big Sable Lighthouse Trevor Mahlmann
Big Sable Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann

The black-and-white-striped Big Sable Point Lighthouse sits along a lovely stretch of golden Lake Michigan beach surrounded by Ludington State Park. Commissioned in 1867, the light remained active until 2002. Originally built of Milwaukee Cream City brick, the light suffered from Lake Michigan’s fierce winds. In 1905 a protective layer of steel was added and painted with the light’s now distinctive stripes. Big Sable Point Light is open for tours. Take the pleasant 1.8-mile walk from the visitors center or wait for the occasional “Bus Days,” when free transport is available to all.

Ludington North Breakwater Light - Ludington
 
Ludington North Breakwater Light
Ludington North Breakwater Light | Photo Courtesy of Mark Miller Photography

The white, bullet-shaped Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse sits at the end of a pleasant pier in the heart of Ludington, surrounded by the beach and playground facility at Stearns Park. Built in 1924, the light is open to tower climbs all summer long.

Little Sable Lighthouse - Mears
 
Little Sable Point
Little Sable Point | Photo Courtesy of Diane Warner

Once painted white and paired with a lighthouse keeper’s quarters, the 1874 Little Sable lighthouse stands all alone, 107 feet tall and cinnamon-colored on the Lake Michigan shore. The light is part of Michigan’s Silver Lake Sand Dunes State Park, popular for boaters, RVers and swimmers. Visitors may climb the tower for sweeping views of Lake Michigan and the dunes.

Muskegon South Pierhead Light - Muskegon
The brilliant red tower of Muskegon’s South Pierhead Light draws shutterbugs to this magnificent strand of beach. Located near the Muskegon State Park, the light was first lit in 1903 and helped guide ships from Lake Michigan and up the Muskegon River. The tower is not yet open to the public, although visitors may explore the grounds.

Grand Haven South Pier Inner and Outer Lights - Grand Haven
 

Grand Haven Lighthouse
Grand Haven Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Joe Holley Photography


Grand Haven’s South Pier is synonymous with the city itself, a pleasant breakwater that stretches out into Lake Michigan alongside a beautiful golden beach. Two cherry-red lighthouses, both lit in 1905, sit atop the pier: a round, 51 foot-tall inner light; and a house-shaped fog and lighthouse at the pier’s outer reaches, about half as tall. Grand Haven’s catwalk was no rarity in its day—the elevated walkway allowed access to the lights from land even when many feet of snow and ice buried the pier below. Few of the catwalks remain, destroyed by the elements over time. Grand Haven’s catwalk is one of those few, recently restored and lit after hours with twinkling white lights. There is no public access to the lights themselves, although thousands enjoy walking and boating past the lights along the pier.

Holland Harbor Lighthouse - Holland
 

Holland Harbor Lighthouse
Holland Harbor Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Brian Hammond


Referred to merely as Big Red by locals, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse dates from 1907. Fire engine-red against the blue waters of Lake Michigan, the lighthouse sits at the end of the city’s southern pier, which in turn leads to Lake Macatawa and Holland’s working docks. Entrance to the lighthouse tower is rare, and to its grounds through a gated community. It is best to enjoy Big Red from the beach at Holland State Park, just across the channel.

South Haven South Pierhead Light - South Haven
 

South Haven Lighthouse
South Haven Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


Constructed in 1903, the South Haven Lighthouse sits at the end of a boardwalk that leads from the town of South Haven all along the south pier and into Lake Michigan. The red cylindrical tower is topped by a black lantern and still maintains its catwalk, a reminder of the many feet of ice and snow that can cover this landscape in winter. Access to the tower is not open to the public, but visitors enjoy strolling the pier and shooting photographs from both North and South Beaches.

St. Joseph North Pier Inner and Outer Lights - St. Joseph
 

St. Joseph North Pier Outer Lighthouse
St. Joseph North Pier Outer Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan


In 1907 St. Joseph extended its pier by 1,000 feet, rendering its 1859 lighthouse obsolete. In its place were built the North Pier Inner and Outer Lights that you see today. The white lights rank as a beloved landmark in St. Joseph, the lights are still joined by their original catwalk. Access to the lights themselves is prohibited, but visitors and locals enjoy walking the pier to see the lights up close. Good photo opportunities can be had at Tiscornia and Silver Beach Parks.

Sand Point Lighthouse - Escanaba
 

Sand Point Lighthouse
Sand Point Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Leslie Gagnon


The lovingly-restored white lighthouse at Sand Point was constructed in 1867 and, for a time, kept by Mary Terry, one of the Great Lakes’ first female lighthouse keepers. In fact, rumor has it that her spirit still returns every now and again. The light sits across the street from the Escanaba Municipal Marina and is open for tours and tower climbs.

Peninsula Point Lighthouse - Stonington
Its lighthouse keeper’s house since destroyed by fire, the 1866 fawn-colored brick tower of the Peninsula Point Lighthouse stands alone on the Stonington Peninsula. An interpretive trail highlights the history of the light as well as explaining the geology of this Lake Michigan peninsula and the migratory Monarch butterflies that pass this way every autumn. Visitors can climb the tower for sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.

Seul Choix Point Lighthouse - Gulliver
 

Seul Choix Lighthouse
Seul Choix Lighthouse | Photo Courtesy of Trevor Mahlmann


First lit in 1895, the light at Seul Choix Point (French for Only Choice) stands tall, its white tower topped by an intricate black wrought iron rail and capped with a red roof. A red brick keeper’s quarters remains, and both are open to the public in warm weather.