Being a land of many lakes and great beaches, Michigan is famous for its 120 plus lighthouses along its stunning Great Lakes coastline. It’s not surprising, considering Michigan is uniquely positioned with access to four of the five Great Lakes. These historic structures have guided ships and played a crucial role in maritime trade for over two centuries.
Positioned in scenic locations like sandy beaches and rocky cliffs, Michigan’s lighthouses provide stunning views and photography opportunities. They are closely tied to shipwreck legends, as the area is known as the “Graveyard of the Great Lakes.”
Michigan’s lighthouses truly symbolize maritime heritage, architectural beauty, and the state’s rich maritime past. If you want to explore a few of these iconic statues yourself, here are a few of the most beautiful Michigan lighthouses to put on your list!
Michigan Lighthouses FAQ
Which U.S. state has the most lighthouses?
A fun Michigan fact is that it has more lighthouses than any other state in the US! This is followed by Maine with about 80 lighthouses around the state.
How many Michigan Lighthouses are There?
There are 129 lighthouses within the state of Michigan, you can find a complete list of all these lighthouses here.
What is the most beautiful lighthouse in Michigan?
Of course this is a very subjective question, but many would consider the Tawas Point Lighthouse off Tawas Bay in Lake Huron and St Helena Island Lighthouse in Saint Ignace the most stunning.
What is the oldest lighthouse in Michigan?
Constructed in 1814 amidst the War of 1812, Fort Gratiot was established with the purpose of safeguarding the confluence of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron. It derived its name from Charles Gratiot, the overseeing engineer responsible for its construction. From its inception until 1879, the United States Army intermittently occupied Fort Gratiot. Today it stands as the oldest lighthouse in Michigan.
Are lighthouses still used in Michigan?
Yes, many of the lighthouses in Michigan are still active. The first lighthouse in the state, Fort Gratiot Lighthouses, is even still active. Other notable Michigan lighthouses that are still active include Au Sable Light, Big Sable Point Light, and Granite Island Light.
The Most Beautiful Michigan Lighthouses
1. Sand Hills Lighthouse
- Location: 6029 5 Mile Pt Rd, Ahmeek, MI (GPS)
- Height: 28m
The Sand Hills Lighthouse is nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Superior, in the quaint village of Ahmeek. Originally constructed in 1919, the lighthouse stood as a sentry, warning sailors of the treacherous reef nearby.
During World War II, the Sand Hills Lighthouse assumed a new role as a training facility for the U.S. Coast Guard and was later listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.
Today, the lighthouse has been repurposed into an inn where you can stay the night, have a delicious breakfast, and explore the tower and the surrounding grounds steeped in history.
2. Whitefish Point Light Station
- Location: 18335 N Whitefish Point Rd, Paradise, MI (GPS)
- Height: 23m
In a state that is dotted with more than a hundred lighthouses, Whitefish Point Light Station stands out distinctively for being the oldest operating tower on Lake Superior.
In 1849, the light station was placed at a critical turning point by Congress, where numerous ships could have fallen prey to treacherous waters.
In the latter years, other buildings were constructed around the tower, including the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum. The light station and the museum are now open for the public to share the history of Edmund Fitzgerald’s ship and other vessels that made their sails around the bend.
3. East Channel Lighthouse
- Location: Munising, MI (GPS)
- Height: 14m
The foundation of East Channel Lighthouse was laid down in 1866 at the entrance of Grand Island Bay and harbor. Over the years, it underwent various renovations, with the lights being replaced to effectively guide vessels seeking refuge in Munising Harbor. Despite being abandoned for quite some time, the lighthouse still holds immense allure for visitors.
Located adjacent to the Grand Island Ice Caves, it serves as a gateway to a world of winter wonder. In the summers, the true essence of the lighthouse and the Island’s beauty unfolds. Kayaking along the pristine shoreline allows you to witness nature’s serenity up close. Hiking trails reveal hidden treasures and numerous coves.
4. Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse
- Location: Michigan Ave, Beaver Island, MI (GPS)
Nestled on the largest island in Lake Michigan, Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse stands proudly, far removed from the coast of Charlevoix. Its secluded location provides a unique experience for visitors, allowing them to not only explore the lighthouse itself but also indulge in the captivating sights and sounds of the bustling harbor.
Also located just a stone’s throw away from the lighthouse, is the popular Beaver Island Toy Museum.
5. Rock Harbor Lighthouse
- Location: Rock Harbor Lighthouse, Houghton Township, MI (GPS)
- Height: 15m
Rock Harbor Lighthouse, a beloved Michigan attraction, draws countless tourists yearning to immerse themselves in its rich history. Erected in 1855, this impressive fifty-foot tower, constructed from sturdy stone and brick, stopped its operation in 1879.
Surprisingly, its allure and popularity have only grown in the following years. Now serving as a captivating museum, the lighthouse’s keeper’s house showcases the renowned fourth-order Fresnel lens, which once illuminated an impressive fifteen-mile stretch of the lake. To access this site, visitors had to take a boat from Rock Harbor.
6. Eagle Harbor Light Station and Museum Complex
- Location: 670 Lighthouse Rd, Eagle Harbor, MI (GPS)
In 1851, the Eagle Harbor Light Station was born out of the turbulent era of the copper mining industry in the Keweenaw Peninsula. This wooden tower, housing a fourth-order Fresnel lens, illuminated the pathway with an oil lamp, warning the approaching vessels of the rugged edges of the peninsula.
The tower was reconstructed in 1871 and the wooden structure was replaced by the red bricks that we see today. A fog signal was also added and the Fresnel Lens was replaced by the aviation beacon-type white and red lights that stretched 20 miles offshore. The lighthouse is active to this day, and the attached keeper’s house serves as a quaint marine museum
7. Crisp Point Lighthouse
- Location: 1944 Co Hwy 412, Newberry, MI (GPS)
- Height: 18m
Nestled near the foreboding Shipwreck Alley of Lake Superior, where numerous vessels met their demise, Crisp Point Lighthouse formed one of the five U.S. Lifesaving stations dotting the shoreline. This lighthouse was named after one of its keepers, an iron-willed boatman, Christopher Crisp, who was admired and respected for his tenacity.
During the summer months, visitors have the opportunity to explore both the lighthouse and the adjoining visitor center, immersing themselves in a captivating journey through time.
8. Sand Point Lighthouse and Delta County Historical Museum
- Location: 2-20 Water Plant Rd, Escanaba, MI (GPS)
With a history dating back to 1867, Sand Point Lighthouse has faithfully steered ships through tempestuous storms and treacherous shallows. However, a devastating fire in 1886 burned the structure to the ground. The lighthouse was reconstructed and resumed operations until its decommissioning in 1939.
Today, the restored beacon has been named the Delta County Historical Museum. It allows the visitors to come face to face with an antique boat, a blacksmith shop, and a massive collection of vintage costumes collected over 50 years.
9. Big Bay Point Lighthouse
- Location: 4674 Co Rd KCB, Big Bay, MI (GPS)
- Height: 20m
The Big Bay Point Lighthouse is a timeless red-brick structure to the north of Marquette. Constructed in 1986, this magnificent lighthouse can be spotted from a distance, thanks to its commanding presence atop a sandstone cliff.
In present times, the lighthouse has been converted into a 7-room bed and breakfast, offering guests the extraordinary opportunity to reside within a legendary edifice. From their windows, visitors can relish the breathtaking views of the Lake and the majestic Huron Mountains.
The carefully chosen period furniture, decor, and architectural design enhance a profound sense of reverence in the inn. The tower is also a gateway to the great outdoors, surrounded by enchanting pinewood forests.
10. Point Iroquois Lighthouse
- Location: Point Iroquois, 13042-13260 W Lakeshore Dr, Brimley (GPS)
- Height: 20m
Point Iroquois Lighthouse stands tall at the junction where Lake Superior flows into St. Mary’s River. It is the same spot where the local Ojibwa defeated the invading Iroquois war party in 1662, hence the name.
Completed in 1855, the lighthouse gave out a beautiful bright white light to guide the ships entering the river through the narrow channel. In 1975 the lighthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The white light was later replaced by a new and more modern beacon, which can now be seen by the public after they climb the 65-foot tower. The view of Lake Superior alone is worth the long ascend.
11. Grand Marais Range Lights
- Location: Lake Superior, Grand Marais, MI (GPS)
- Height: 10m
The Grand Marais Range Lights were installed in 1908 to guide ships into the port. One light was situated near the pier, while the other was placed further inland. The careful alignment of the Outer and Inner Range Lights ensured that once the lights were in line, the crew would know they were in the correct position to enter the port.
The keeper’s house across the street now serves as a museum, offering a glimpse of the captivating maritime life on the Great Lakes. A nearby monument pays tribute to the lost fishermen of Lake Superior and the picnic grove behind it is just the place to admire nature and the rich history that envelops it.
12. Granite Island Lighthouse
- Location: Marquette (GPS)
- Height: 12m
Situated to the north of Marquette, Granite Island is a small rocky landmass jutting out from the serene waters of Lake Superior. In 1869, a 40-foot lighthouse was built on one of its many rocky protrusions. It was fitted with a fourth-order Fresnel lens to caution the approaching vessels of the rough and craggy shoreline, one that would otherwise go unnoticed and lead to horrible shipwrecks.
After the lights were decommissioned, the original granite structure of the lighthouse fell into disrepair. The tower and the outbuildings that we see today were reconstructed 11 years later, in 2011, and are now used as an event venue, available to all.
13. Portage River Lighthouse
- Location: 38741 Jacobs St, Lake Linden, MI (GPS)
- Height: 11m
Portage River Lighthouse stands on the eastern edge of the Keweenaw Peninsula, where the vessels used to enter the Portage River. The original tower built in 1869 was a 39-foot rubblestone structure with a lantern room that contained a fifth-order, Henry-Lepaute Fresnel lens, and two flash panels. A keeper’s house with a summer kitchen was also built adjacent to the lighthouse.
Today, visitors can climb the renovated tower to enjoy the breathtaking view of the river below. Those who fall in love with the serene surroundings can stay at the keeper’s house, which has been converted into a two-guest room B&B.
14. Menagerie Island Lighthouse
- Location: Houghton Township, MI (GPS)
- Height: 19m
Boat trips around Isle Royale become a lot more interesting when the tourists spot the sixty-one-foot-tall octagonal tower and a unique keeper’s house next to it. The latter was constructed from rock and red sandstone, which gives it a fascinating appearance.
Although the lights of the Menagerie Island Lighthouse are no longer needed to guard the rocky shores of Siskiwit Bay, it is plenty aidful in navigating the massive National Park surrounding the structure. The island and the lighthouse can only be accessed through a private boat.
15. William Livingstone Memorial Light
- Location: William Livingstone Memorial Light, Detroit, MI (GPS)
- Height: 18m
William Livingstone Light in Detroit is the first of its kind. It is the only lighthouse in the world made entirely from marble. It is also the only Art Deco lighthouse in the United States and was designed by the legendary duo of Detroit architect, Albert Kahn and Hungarian sculptor, Geza Maroti.
Erected in 1930, the 58-foot marble column was built to honor William Livingstone, for his contribution to improving the navigational system of the Great Lakes.
While the interior remains inaccessible, tourists can marvel at the majestic tower by strolling along the mile-long walking trail that winds alongside the island’s lagoon.
16. Tawas Point Lighthouse
- Location: 583-1199 Tawas Beach and Point Rd, East Tawas, MI 48730 (GPS)
- Height: 20m
Despite the notorious shifting shores of Lake Huron, Tawas Point Lighthouse has remained steadfast since 1879 and is one of the best places to visit in Michigan. Standing tall, it has diligently watched over ships by sending out beacons of light and providing a protected anchorage.
When the sand buildup pushed the original lighthouse too far inland, another was built to take its place along the shores of Lake Huron.
Enthusiastic tourists can enjoy the captivating site by climbing up the 67-foot white tower and exploring the meticulously preserved red-bricked keeper’s house, now transformed into a museum. The tower holds a particular allure for the birdwatching community, and it is a popular spot for witnessing breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
17. McGulpin Point Lighthouse
- Location: 500 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI (GPS)
From 1869 till 1906, McGulpin Point Lighthouse and its keepers looked out for all the vessels that made their way across the Straits of Mackinac. Since then, the tower has been serving as a historic site.
Furthermore, the 10 acres of surrounding grounds have been turned into a public park with cottages that provide overnight accommodations. The entire site has become a popular tourist spot in Mackinaw City and hosts tens of thousands of visitors every year.
McGulpin Point Lighthouse was also the inspiration behind the Eagle Harbor Light in Keweenaw County.
18. Point Betsie Lighthouse
- Location: 3701 Point Betsie Rd, Frankfort, MI (GPS)
- Height: 11m
Nestled between Sleeping Bear Dunes and Frankfurt, Point Betsie Lighthouse holds an extraordinary historic significance. Since commencing operations in 1858, Point Betsie has vigilantly safeguarded vessels navigating Lake Michigan, earning a reputation as one of the most reliable lighthouses in the region. It was even named by the local Native American tribes, further enhancing its cultural significance.
Today, Point Betsie Lighthouse welcomes tourists with a 30-minute tour of the tower. Guests can also explore the gift shop, book the lighthouse for special events, and even indulge in the unique opportunity to spend a night, gaining a glimpse into the lives of the dedicated Coast Guard lighthouse keepers of yesteryears.
19. St. Joseph North Pier Inner and Outer Lighthouses
- Location: St. Joseph, MI (GPS)
- Height: 11m
In 1832, two lighthouses were placed on the mouth of the St. Joseph River, attached by the North Pier. The towers extended farther into Lake Michigan and were fitted with lights in 1906-1907, now famously known as Inner and Outer Lights. The walkway between the towers allowed the keeper to make their way back and forth, looking out for all the vessels that entered the river.
The towers and the catwalk are now open to the public, and if they ever visit in the winter, they can peer at the mesmerizing ice sculptures formed by the splashing water.
20. Copper Harbor Lighthouse
- Location: 9879 Woodland Rd, Mohawk, MI (GPS)
Copper Harbor Lighthouse was erected in 1866 and features a square tower constructed from sturdy stone and brick. Adjacent to the tower stands the keeper’s house, forming an integral part of this historical site.
Hundreds of tourists take a boat tour every year to visit the more than century-old structure of Copper Harbor Lighthouse. A thousand others admire it from the Copper Harbor viewing deck.
21. Au Sable Light Station
- Location: Burt Township, MI 49883 (GPS)
- Height: 27m
Au Sable Light Station is one of the most notable lighthouses on Lake Michigan, standing 86 feet above the ground and extending 23 feet underground.
Every summer, the visitors get to embark on a 40-minute tour of the lighthouse and the adjoining grounds. Since it is on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the site can only be accessed through a half-mile-long gravel pathway. The pathway itself offers an experience as it winds around some of the most majestic views of Lake Superior, and even stumbles upon the remains of shipwrecks on the shores.
READ MORE MICHIGAN TRAVEL TIPS
I hope you enjoyed this list of the best Michigan lighthouses! Here are a few relevant articles for more travel around Michigan.
- 25 Best Things to do in Michigan
- 20 Romantic Getaways in Michigan for a Couples
- 17 Amazing Things to Do in Ludington, Michigan
- 20 Best Michigan Breweries for a Great Craft Beer
- 20 Beautiful Waterfalls in Michigan You Have to See
- 20 Best Things to Do In Lansing, Michigan
- 5 Amazing Lansing Breweries To Try!
- 15 Best Restaurants In Lansing, Michigan
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