Experience lighthouse life during a visit to almost any of Michigan’s 129 historic beacons. Some even let you live like a keeper with an overnight stay!

By Kristin Bienert
New Presque Isle Lighthouse

Tower-Top Tours

Most lighthouses offer public tours, and some invite visitors onto the parapet, the platform that wraps around the lantern room. For visitors willing to spiral up stairs and squeeze through a narrow hatch, panoramic views serve as a reward. Check out:

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.

New Presque Isle Lighthouse, Presque Isle. Photo: Andy Wakeman

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.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington. Photo: Bob Stefko

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.

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.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse, Marquette. Photo: Aaron Peterson

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.

Overnight

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.

Whitefish Point Light Station, Paradise. Photo: Jason Lindsey

Did You Know?

You'll find more lighthouses in Michigan than in any other state.

For more information about travel in Michigan, visit Pure Michigan.

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