Michigan’s lighthouses are beautiful monuments to her maritime history. Many are also wrapped up in Great Lakes’ legends and lore. Northern Michigan has several lighthouses that are restored and open for tours.
Michigan’s 3,200 miles of shoreline are home to more lighthouses than any other state in the country. At one time as many as 247 lighthouses stood along Michigan’s shores. The Great Lakes played an important role in transportation and shipping before trucks, cars, and airplanes became common. Rocks and shoals and dangerous storms made travel on the Great Lakes treacherous. Lighthouses were placed throughout the region to guide sailors to safety and help them navigate around water hazards.
Today, 124 of Michigan’s lighthouses still keep watch over her waters. The lighthouses draw visitors from all over who are eager to admire their beauty and learn their stories. These unique pieces of architecture stand in some of the most scenic spots along the lakeshore. The lake view from the top of a lighthouse can’t be beaten! These five lighthouses in Northern Michigan are open to the public for tours:
Mission Point Lighthouse – Mission Point Light is at the tip of Old Mission Peninsula. The peninsula juts out into Grand Traverse Bay, north of Traverse City. This lighthouse looks like a regular two-story clapboard house, but a light tower rises above the roofline. Inside the lighthouse, museum displays tell the story of the light and keepers who lived there. You can climb the tower and look out over Grand Traverse Bay. You can also explore the lighthouse grounds and outbuildings.
Grand Traverse Lighthouse – This lighthouse sits at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, also north of Traverse City, marking the entrance to Grand Traverse Bay. Grand Traverse Light is located inside Leelanau State Park. This two-story whitewashed brick lighthouse offers sweeping views of Lake Michigan from the top of the tower. After you tour the lighthouse enjoy the park’s picnic area and hiking trails.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse – Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is in Mackinaw City and sits very close to the south end of the Mackinac Bridge. This brick lighthouse features a tall, cylindrical tower and is almost castle-like in appearance. The lighthouse is part of Mackinac State Historic Parks. A pass is available for purchase that grants you access to nearby Fort Michilimackinac and Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park as well as the lighthouse.
McGulpin Point Lighthouse – Not only can you tour this lighthouse in Emmet County, but you can also spend the night! The cottage next to the lighthouse is available for overnight stays. Imagine waking up next to a gorgeous lighthouse just steps away from Lake Michigan. McGulpin Point Lighthouse also welcomes visitors for tours. While on the lighthouse grounds you can take a short hike through the woods to McGulpin Point Rock. This huge rock that sits just offshore was used by French explorers to gauge water levels when they traveled the Straits of Mackinac by canoe.
40 Mile Point Light – 40 Mile Point Lighthouse is near Rogers City on the sunrise side of the state. It’s located inside Presque Isle County’s Lighthouse Park. This Lake Huron lighthouse has a more uncommon rectangular tower attached to a brick 2-story house. The restored pilothouse from the Steamer Calcite is also located at the park.