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Explore the Lights of the West Michigan Lakeshore

Explore over 100 lighthouses along the shore of  West Michigan with tours, tower climbs, museums, and more. Get an up-close look at the lamps and lenses, and enjoy the beauty of the lakeshore from a unique point of view.

Learn more about each one, as well as the Lake Michigan Circle Tour, through WMTA’s Lake Michigan Lighthouse Map. The 2021 edition of the map will be out later this spring, and you can request one here.  

 

Lights of the Upper Peninsula 


Photo: Keweenaw Adventure Company

From the pit of your kayak, capture an exquisite shot of the Copper Harbor lighthouse, a Michigan State Historic Site listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Part of Fort Wilkins Historic State Park, the lighthouse is accessible by boat only. Consider a Porter’s Island Paddle with the Keweenaw Adventure Company to get not only the perfect view, but perhaps a chance to get out to tour about the property, too! Book your kayak tour online or or call 906.289.4303.


Photo: Marquette County Visitors Bureau

Situated on Lake Superior within Lighthouse Park in Marquette, the 1866 Marquette Harbor Lighthouse is the city’s oldest significant building and an iconic landmark. While the lighthouse and Marquette Maritime Museum are closed during the winter, the park is still open, allowing visitors to enjoy stunning views of the famed red lighthouse. Big Bay Point Lighthouse is a laid-back bed and breakfast housed in a 100-year-old active lighthouse. Visit Thomas Rock while there for an easy, handicapped-accessible hike offering expansive views over Lake Superior spanning as far as the Keweenaw Peninsula.

 

North West Michigan Lighthouses 


Photo: Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry

Looking for a VIP experience? Shepler’s Mackinac Island Ferry in Mackinaw City offers five Lighthouse Ccruises for closer looks at almost 20 “Guardians of the Great Lakes” throughout Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. This year’s lighthouse cruise schedule begins on the evening of May 27th with an Extended Eastbound Cruise and wraps on September 12th with the ever popular Les Cheneaux Lighthouse Cruise. Narrated by members of the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association, each cruise takes guests on a remarkable journey over the open water offering a unique look at these lakeside landmarks. 


Photo: Mackinac State Historic Parks

Mackinac State Historic Parks’ Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City was known as the ‘Castle on the Straits’ when it was finished, and it’s not hard to see why. The house itself is so unlike many others in the area, and today is restored to its 1910s luster. Inside, guests will find a hands-on exhibit detailing the science and technology used in lighthouses, the original Fresnel lens, and exhibit spaces, as well as period settings. The second floor, open to the public for the first time, showcases the Marshall family (the original keeper and family at the house), and has amazing views of the Mackinac Bridge. Elsewhere on the grounds, the Straits of Mackinac Shipwreck Museum explores 10 famous wrecks in the straits, while the barn is home to a movie on the wrecks. The Fog Signal Building offers unique shopping. Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse is open for the 2021 season May 6 – October 10. 


Photo: Visit Charlevoix

The Charlevoix Lighthouse overlooks Lake Michigan, nestled along the shores of Lake Michigan and the Pine River Channel. This historic lighthouse has been guiding sailors home for a hundred years. 


Photo: Point Betsie Lighthouse courtesy Traverse City Tourism

Thanks to the area’s history as a major port and its location on Grand Traverse Bay near the once-bustling Manitou Passage, Traverse City is a convenient base for exploring five historic lighthouses: Mission Point, Grand Traverse, South Manitou, North Manitou, and Point Betsie.

 

Lights along the Central West Michigan Lakeshore 


Photo: Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association

Two iconic lighthouses welcome visitors to Ludington while keeping the harbor safe. Take a short pier walk to see the North Breakwater Light up close, and don’t forget to snap some photos for Instagram. This landmark is located at Stearns Park Beach, where an evening stroll to watch the sunset is a favorite activity. The historic Big Sable Lighthouse can be found at the Ludington State Park, where you can take a 1.8-mile walk to view it. This famous black and white tower will open to visitors on May 6. 


Photo: Visit Muskegon

Muskegon’s South Pierhead and South Breakwater lighthouses are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are proud participants in the USLHS Passport Program.


Photo: Holland Area Visitors Bureau

Don’t miss one of Michigan’s most photographed lighthouses, and Holland favorite, “Big Red.” For a great view of Big Red, visit Holland State Park and walk along the boardwalk to the north pier (wheelchair accessible). You can also view Big Red from Mt. Pisgah, where the dune staircase takes you 157 feet above sea level.

 

South West Michigan Lights 


Photo: South Haven/Van Buren County Convention & Visitors Bureau

For over 100 years, South Haven’s lighthouse has guarded the entrance of the Black River. This iconic sentry, with its red base and 1,200 foot catwalk, provides immediate recognition for people who have lived in or visited South Haven. The public is welcome to stroll out on the pier and marvel at the views, or take in a beautiful sunset. 

Photo by Molly Pate

Whether you see the St. Joseph North Pier range lights from the bluff, high above the water in St. Joseph, or from the beach at Tiscornia Park, the two structures stand as beacons at the mouth of the St. Joseph River as it empties into Lake Michigan. Both lights have been on the pier since 1907, guiding boats safely to harbor. If the weather is good, you can walk down the pier and take a closer look at the structures. 

 

Nearby Lighthouses 


Photo: Old Lighthouse Museum

Tour the historic 1858 Michigan City Lighthouse, climb the tower into the lantern room, and learn about the three Michigan City Lighthouses at the Old Lighthouse Museum Michigan City, IN.