by Bella DiMascio
Michigan Lighthouses Guide
With over 115 lighthouses, Michigan is home to more lighthouses than any other state, and they’re all found on the fresh water of the Great Lakes coast. This Michigan Travel Guide will walk you through all the best lighthouses in Michigan from the southernmost Lake Michigan coasts to Mackinaw City and beyond into the Upper Peninsula.
Be sure to scroll down to use the Interactive Michigan Lighthouse Map to help you plan your visit!
Lake Michigan Lighthouses
Around half of Michigan’s lighthouses are on Lake Michigan. Here you’ll find bold red pierhead lights, tall columns that tower over the sandy beaches they guard, and even ones with keeper quarters attached (some of which are available for stays).
St. Joseph North Pierhead Lighthouses
The North Pier in St. Joe is home to an iconic pair of lighthouses. The pier inner light is a round structure in the middle of the pier, while the pier outer light is a 35 foot tower at the end of the pier. The two are connected by an elevated catwalk and together they mark the mouth of the St. Joseph River. The St. Joseph North Pier is accessed at Tiscornia Park.
Holland Harbor Lighthouse
One of the most popular tourist destinations in west Michigan, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse has such an unforgettable and unique shape that we couldn’t possibly skip it. Affectionately called “Big Red,” Holland’s lighthouse looks remarkably like a big red house and is the single most photographed lighthouse in Michigan. See the lighthouse from Holland State Park’s boardwalk, or climb Mr. Pisgah for a view from 157 feet above sea level.
South Haven South Pierhead Lighthouse
The South Haven South Pierhead Light stands proudly in Michigan, positioned at the gateway of the Black River where it meets Lake Michigan. Initially illuminated in 1872, this lighthouse continues to serve its purpose diligently. Its tower, a compact rendition of the Muskegon South Pierhead Light, was erected to replace the original wooden structure dating back to 1872.
Grand Haven Lighthouse
The west Michigan lighthouses at South Haven and Grand Haven stand as a sort of mirror to each other across about 50 miles of Lake Michigan coastline. Together they act as symbols of Michigan’s maritime culture with their bright red paint and classic designs. In Grand Haven, the inner light is cylindrical like South Haven’s, but the outer pier looks more like a little red house.
Big and Little Sable Point Lighthouses
Near Ludington, the Big and Little Sable Point Lighthouses sit along a wildly beautiful stretch of lake Michigan. These are some of the tallest lighthouses in the state, with the Big Sable Point Lighthouse standing at 110 feet tall, and the Little Sable Point Lighthouse just a few feet shorter. Both stand tall over swathes of untouched Michigan shoreline, creating the perfect summer escape or eerie winter exploration site.
Muskegon South Pierhead Lighthouse & South Breakwater Light
Both of Muskegon’s iconic lighthouses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The South Pierhead Light is 48 feet tall and located in the harbor, accessible by a pedestrian walkway. You can even climb the spiral staircase for stellar views.
The South Breakwater Light, however, is located at the end of the breakwater surrounding the mouth of the Muskegon Channel. Its unique boxy shape stands out against the traditional look of the Pierhead light. You can walk the path atop the breakwater to see it up close.
White River Light Station
This 150-year-old lighthouse is located in Whitehall. The light-colored bricks used in its construction create a homey atmosphere and the trees all around make this isolated beacon a must-see destination without the crowds that other lighthouses can draw in. Allegedly haunted by the original keeper and his family, make this a destination during the Halloween season.
Point Betsie Lighthouse
In Frankfort, the Point Betsie Lighthouse delivers an unrivaled charm. This northwest Michigan lighthouse is situated on the shore and the tower itself is connected to a cozy white house where the lighthouse keeper would reside. The quaint keeper’s quarters are available to the public for rent, offering an opportunity for a stay in Frankfort like no other all year round.
South Manitou Island Lighthouse
Located within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Leelanau County, it’s one of northern Michigan’s most remote lights. The island light is visible from the mainland, some 20 miles away. This most identifiable landmark on the island is over 100 feet tall, and visiting the island for a closer look is well worth it.
From the dock, a half-mile walk through the village and to the boardwalk will take you over the dunes to the lighthouse where you can get a tour and see the breathtaking view from the top.
The North Manitou Shoal Light is located a mile offshore of North Manitou Island.
Old Mission Point Lighthouse
At the end of Traverse City’s picturesque Old Mission Peninsula, sits a lighthouse that’s over 150 years old. The drive to the light through seemingly endless cherry orchards and vineyards leads to a cute little house with a light on top which offers picturesque views of Lake Michigan. Though it’s no longer active, visitors can still peer into the life of those who kept the light during its heyday.
Seul Choix Point Lighthouse
Located along the northern shore of Lake Michigan, the Seul Choix Lighthouse is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The Seul Choix Point Lighthouse guards the southern Lake Michigan coast of the Upper Peninsula in Gulliver.
Much like the White River Light Station, stories of unexplainable occurrences and spooky happenings make their way out of this destination, making it a favorite for those who take interest in the paranormal. However, even those uninterested in ghost stories can appreciate the classic nautical style of the stark white light tower, and the lovely little brick home attached is where the keepers live.
More Michigan Lighthouses Worth Exploring
- Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse
- Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse
- Grand Traverse Lighthouse
- South Fox Island Lighthouse
Lake Huron Lighthouses
If you’re looking for your very own pure Michigan getaway featuring a towering lighthouse standing proud on a windswept coast, Lake Huron lighthouses are your answer. Some of these lighthouses are still active and operational, and some of these buildings stand testament to the rich nautical history of the Great Lakes State.
DeTour Reef Lighthouse
Located a mile offshore in northern Lake Huron, this exceptional lighthouse built on a crib is the perfect lighthouse touring destination for families with and without kids. This historic lighthouse is open for tours, and it’s well worth the price to take a ferry from Drummond Island out to the lighthouses, where you can strap into a safety harness and climb the tower.
Mackinac Point Lighthouse
This Mackinac Island Lighthouse was built in 1892 and marks Mackinaw Point, the spot where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. Located within Michilimackinac State Park, this 49’ limestone lighthouses have guided shops through the Straits of Mackinac for almost 130 years. Both the lighthouse tower and original buildings have been restored and are open for daily tours in season. While you’re here, be sure to check out the rest of what Mackinac Island has to offer.
Round Island Lighthouse
You’ve seen this lighthouse before: in photographs; on postcards and calendars; on television and in the movies. The iconic red and white Round Island lighthouse is familiar to anyone who has ridden the Mackinac Island ferry: you pass right by on your way to docks.
The Round Island Lighthouse has endured some of the fiercest storms on the Great Lakes, with high winds and winter ice flows that resemble glaciers. Next time you’re heading to Mackinac Island, be vigilant and catch the view from the water as you pass by on the ferry ride.
Bois Blanc Island Lighthouse
This unique light is located on Bois Blanc Island near Mackinac Island is privately owner and has been restored. It is not open to the public; however, you can see it quite clearly from a boat on the lake.
Cheboygan Crib Light (Cheboygan River Front Range Lighthouse)
This uniquely shaped lighthouse built in 1880 and restored in 2004 is one of the more unique lighthouses of the area. With its square build and bright red accents, the Cheboygan River Front Range Light is open to the public, from Memorial Day to Labor Day on weekends.
Poe Reef Lighthouse
Built in 1928 to guide ships through a dangerous passage, this 71-foot tall white-and-black square tower sits on Poe Reef off the coast of Cheboygan. The only way to truly see this light up close and personal is in a private boat, as the crib is closed to visitors.
40 Mile Point Lighthouse
Positioned on the northern shoreline of Lake Huron, the Forty Mile Point Lighthouse is located in Presque Isle County’s Lighthouse Park. This is a unique lighthouse because it is not located at the mouth of a river or in a harbor: it is located at a point 40 miles south of Mackinac. While the park this picturesque lighthouse is in is open year-round from 8 am to sunset, most of the tour programs, as well as museums, are open from Memorial Day through mid-October, so plan accordingly.
Old and New Presque Isle Lighthouses
As far as dreamy, romantic lighthouses go, this set is one for the books. Set up on opposing sides of a peninsula that helps to shape Presque Isle Harbor, these beautiful lighthouses are a Michigan-must. Built in 1840, the Old Presque Isle lighthouse is one of the oldest in Michigan and is said to be haunted. The New Presque Isle Lighthouse, however, is only a few decades younger than the old one, and is one of the tallest accessible lighthouses on the Great Lakes.
Middle Island Lighthouse
Located 10 miles offshore, on an Alpena island exactly between Thunder Bay Island and Presque Isle Harbor in Lake Huron, the Middle Island Light is a Michigan must-see.
Built in 1905, the lighthouse is now owned by the Coast Guard, but the grounds surrounding the lighthouse (and the entire island for that matter) are privately owned, so it’s best to admire it from the water.
Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse
One of Michigan’s oldest running lighthouses, this historic structure was built in 1832, using all locally sourced limestone. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is adjacent to the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve. Thunder Bay Island Lighthouse is still operational and tours are not offered, so the best way to see this lighthouse is by boat.
Sturgeon Point Lighthouse
The Sturgeon Point Lighthouse and the surrounding grounds are one of the best-kept secrets in Michigan. Located just north of Harrisville, a tiny harbor town that’s big on charm, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse is worth a road trip.
Still maintained by the US Coast Guard, the Sturgeon Point Lighthouse grounds are open all year round for visitors and the keepers house now turned into a Maritime Museum is open from Memorial Day through September.
Pointe Aux Barques Lighthouse
Located near Port Austin at the tip of Michigan’s Thumb, the Pointe Aux Barques light is one of the oldest lightouses in Michigan. Built of stone that was pulled directly from Lake Huron, both the lighthouse and keeper’s house, set on three acres, have been completely restored and are open for visitors to tour.
Tawas Point Lighthouse
A must-see destination in Michigan, Tawas Point lighthouse has been in commission since 1876. Located in Tawas State Park, the Tawas Point Lighthouse serves as the sole representative of a true Victorian-era style station on the Great Lakes, and a very active group of volunteers keep tours and outdoor activities running smoothly.
PRO-TIP: Tawas Point is a popular spot for birdwatchers, too.
Fort Gratiot Lighthouse
Built in 1814 to keep watch over the conjunction of the St. Clair River and Lake Huron, the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in all of Michigan. Although Fort Gratiot is the oldest lighthouse, it is also one of the only lighthouses that still allow you to climb all the way to the tippy top. The view once you’re up there is none other than a view of Port Huron and the international Blue Water Bridge to Canada.
More Lake Huron Lighthouses
- McGulpin Point Lighthouse in Emmet County
- Port Sanilac Lighthouse
- Harbor Beach Light
Lake Superior Lighthouses
Lake Superior Lighthouses are built to be tough and stand tall to the fierce waves and winds of one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world. Of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior has the most lighthouses on its shores, so it’s no surprise that Michigan’s northernmost coasts have plenty to see for lighthouse enthusiasts.
Point Iroquois Lighthouse
Point Iroquois Lighthouse marks the division between Whitefish Bay and the western end of the St. Mary’s River, home to the Soo Locks. First built in 1855 and standing at 65 feet tall, the Point Iroquois Lighthouse is one of the tallest in the state and offers phenomenal views of Lake Superior, Canada, the St. Mary’s River, and more.
Whitefish Point Light Station
Located in Chippewa County, the Whitefish Point Light is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior. This picturesque lighthouse is located on windswept cape jutting out into Lake Superior. Here, you’ll also find the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, a bird observatory and an underwater preserve.
Interwoven with the stunning natural beauty of the area is the dramatic history of the Great Lakes shipping industry along Michigan’s Shipwreck Coast, where evidence still remains of the fierce capabilities of Lake Superior. It’s here where you’ll learn the facts of the tragic Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck, where 29 crew members lost their lives, and see artifacts from the ship, too.
Crisp Point Lighthouse
Hidden on a deserted shore of Lake Superior just north of Newberry, Michigan, Crisp Point Lighthouse is widely considered one of the Upper Peninsula’s most inaccessible and lonely lighthouses on the mainland.
Originally built in 1903 with the intention of being a Life Saving Station, “Storm Warriors” stayed here, ready to battle the violence of Lake Superior to rescue shipwrecked sailors and bring them back to dry land.
Au Sable Point Light Station
Within Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Au Sable Point Lighthouse has stood tall since 1874. The light station includes the lighthouse as well as a brick oil building, a fog signal building, and the keepers house. The Au Sable light station is still in operation, but instead of using the older lighting methods, today it uses a smaller, solar-powered light that shines over Lake Superior automatically.
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse
The Marquette Harbor Lighthouse shares its name and location with the Upper Peninsula’s largest town. Since 1853 this light has served as a navigational beacon, guiding ships to the ore docks of Marquette, Michigan. Now owned by the city of Marquette, visitors can take a tour of the facility through the Marquette Maritime Museum at regularly scheduled times.
Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse
Near Munising, across the bay from Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse marked Munising Harbor as a harbor of refuge for ships on Lake Superior. This wooden lighthouse is located on the southern end of Grand Island and looks especially eerie as it stands alone on the coast.
Grand Island Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse
Also known as the Au Sable Point LighthouseBay Furnace Range Light, Grand Island Harbor Rear Range Lighthouse is located near Christmas, Michigan, west of Munising, in Alger County. Standing 70 feet tall, it was first lit in 1914.
Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Light
Presque Isle Harbor Breakwater Lighthouse is found on the east side of Presque Isle Harbor in Marquette. When compared to its neighbors in the Upper Peninsula, this lighthouse is quite new, having been built in 1941.
So long as the weather is clear and the water is calm, visitors to the lighthouse are welcome to walk the breakwater to the lighthouse. Just be sure to wear sturdy shoes with good grip, since the rocky breakwater can be difficult to traverse.
Copper Harbor Lighthouse
As the name suggests, the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is located on Copper Harbor on the Keweenaw Peninsula. The Copper Harbor Lighthouse was built in the year 1848 with the intention of aiding the transportation of copper ore mined in the Upper Peninsula. Today the Copper Harbor Lighthouse is closed to the public and out of commission.
Rock of Ages Lighthouse
One of the tallest and most powerful beacons of light on the Great Lakes, the Rock of Ages Lighthouse is located five miles off the northwest tip of Isle Royale in Lake Superior. Located on a rocky outcrop near Isle Royale National Park to warn ships of the dangerous Rock of Ages reef, and the Rock Light is one of the most unique lighthouses on the Great Lakes.
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse
At the western entrance to Eagle Harbor, the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse continues to operate, helping to guide ships around the Keweenaw Waterway. Today the lighthouse is now part of the Keweenaw County Historical Society’s Light Station Museum Complex and is open for the public to visit.
Unlike many of its neighbors, the Ontonagon Lighthouse doesn’t sit directly on Lake Superior. Instead, you can find the Ontonagon Lighthouse on the Ontonagon River near its Lake Superior entry.
The purpose of this was to guide ships into the harbor at Ontonagon, which meant heading a little bit upstream into the heart of the town. Today the lighthouse is no longer operational, but is available to tour.
More Lake Superior Lighthouses to Visit
- Grand Marais Lighthouse
- Big Bay Point Lighthouse in Big Bay, MI
- St. Martin Lighthouse on St. Martin Island
More Michigan Lighthouses to See
William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse
Located on Belle Isle in the Detroit River, this historic lighthouse was built by famed Detroit architect Albert Kahn and is worth a visit. Sculpted out of Georgia marble, this 58-foot tall pillar at the north end of the island is the only structure of its kind, and pays tribute to Detroit businessman William Livingstone. an important figure in Great Lakes shipping history.
St. Clair Flats Front and Rear Range Light
These two lighthouses are located on Harsens island, a grassy island in the Lake St. Clair. Both the front light and the rear light are closed to the public.
Explore More Michigan Lighthouses
- Explore These Historic Lake Michigan Lighthouses
- Scenic Lighthouses on Lake Huron
- Michigan’s Frozen Lighthouses: Visit Michigan Lighthouses in the Winter
About the Author-
Bella DiMascio is a Content Editor for mymichiganbeach.com. She grew up in the Detroit suburb of Westland and later attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo where she majored in Communication Studies and minored in English: Writing. Creative writing has been a hobby and interest of Bella’s since she was in elementary school and she is thrilled to be using her talents to highlight the Great Lakes State. Outside of writing, Bella enjoys getting outside with her two Australian Shepherds, playing video games, and binging shows on Netflix.