Michigan Bucket List: 6 Lighthouses Perfect For An Adventure

Michigan Bucket List: 6 Lighthouses Perfect For An Adventure

1. Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse

Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse - the awesome mitten
Beaver Island Harbor Lighthouse, photo by Kent Blackmer

Year built: 1856

Location: Beaver Island

Maybe I’m biased on this one, but every summer of my childhood (and still today) I make it a mission to come to this lighthouse and hug it. It’s different from most lighthouses in Michigan because it’s located in St. James, Beaver Island, 27 miles off the coast of Charlevoix. You can sit at the lighthouse and watch the Emerald Isle Ferry come and go from the harbor filled with the smiles of people visiting the island. Also, located just down the street is the famous Beaver Island Toy Museum, it’s a small shop filled with antiques, beads, toys, jewelry, and an art gallery.

2. Port Austin Lighthouse

Year built: 1878

Location: Port Austin  

Port Austin Lighthouse - the awesome mitten
Port Austin Lighthouse, photo by Shalee Blackmer

On the other side of Michigan is the Port Austin Lighthouse. It is located three miles off the coast of Port Austin, so the best way to see it is by kayak or boat. It’s very difficult to access the lighthouse, but if you are able to make your way up a large cement wall, you will find a logbook inside filled with names of other adventurers who have explored it. While you’re out exploring the lighthouse, don’t forget to make a pit stop to see Turnip Rock on your way back to shore – it’s one of Michigan’s most iconic natural wonders.

3. Big Bay Point Lighthouse

Year built: 1896

Location: Michigamme

The journey to this one will be quiet a drive, but incredibly beautiful. Located northwest of Marquette, this lighthouse serves as a bed and breakfast…which means you don’t only visit it—you sleep in it. There’s nothing better than waking up in the morning to the sound of Lake Superior waves outside your lighthouse window. Marquette is located close by, so if you’re looking for even more adventure on your trip, visit the Black Rocks and jump off thirty-foot cliffs into the frigid waters.

4. Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Big Sable Point Lighthouse - the awesome mitten
Big Sable Point Lighthouse, photo by Shalee Blackmer

Year built: 1867

Location: Ludington

What I like about Big Sable Point is that it’s secluded. One lone dirt road leads out to it, which is normally closed to public vehicles. That means you must walk on a trail for two miles in order to visit. It’s an absolutely unreal setting to watch the sunset; there have been many times where I have visited and no other group was there! It’s the perfect place to go and find relaxation and bliss. Did you know Ludington is also home to House of Flavors ice cream? So once you’re finished relaxing, treat yourself to their downtown ice cream shop where my recommendation is the Chocolate Malt Sundae. Yummmm!

5. East Channel Lighthouse

Year built: 1868

Location: Grand Island, Munising

East Channel Lighthouse - the awesome mitten
East Channel Lighthouse, photo by Shalee Blackmer

This lighthouse is truly unique! Although it is abandoned, it is majestic. During the winter, it is located right next to the world famous Grand Island Ice Caves. In summer, it is the perfect kayaking and hiking destination. One of the best naps of my life was taken laying in front of the building. I could hear no signs of human life, just nature in its raw unfiltered beauty. The island’s numerous coves and pebble beaches are like a scene from a movie. The best part is that you can explore and know that there will be no crowds, no cars, and no problems.

6. South Manitou Island Lighthouse

Year built: 1840

Location: South Manitou Island

Another island lighthouse that includes not only a visit, but an adventure as well, is the South Manitou Island that is located six miles off the coast of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The only way to the island is by ferry! Most people venture to the island to go camping because there is nothing located on land but a small campground – this includes no fancy bathrooms, restaurants, or luxuries. (Keep this in mind when packing for your visit.) Off the coast of the small island is also a beach shipwreck frozen in time, it’s great for snorkeling and underwater exploring.

Where are your favorite lighthouses in Michigan? How do you celebrate those adventures?