Grand Haven State Park
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Don’t Miss Exploring Frozen Michigan Lighthouses in Winter

Have you ventured out to enjoy any frozen Michigan lighthouses this winter? Exploring Michigan lighthouses in winter is one of the best winter things to do in Michigan, and we’re thankful for so many great Michigan photographers who share their winter lighthouse explorations with us on Instagram!

There are over 100 lighthouses in Michigan – the most in one state in the nation – which tourists flock to each and every summer. Droves of people visit the resort towns and coastline of Lake Michigan every year during the warmer months. Michigan’s Great Lakes have a lot to offer in the winter as well, especially when it comes to lighthouse and shoreline beauty.

As we’ve enjoyed exploring these same Michigan lighthouses during the cold winter months (whether in person or through amazing photos of frozen Michigan lighthouses), we’d like to argue that Michigan lighthouses look better in winter.

Point Betsie Winter
Point Betsie Lighthouse in Frankfort

Fewer Crowds at Frozen Lighthouses in Michigan

One of the perks of exploring frozen lighthouses in Michigan is that the crowds of summer aren’t around. You’ll see mainly the winter in Michigan enthusiasts and Michigan photographers battling the frigid winds coming off the lake, along with large balls of ice, snowdrifts, and slippery roads.

Tips for Michigan Lighthouse Winter Adventures

Awesome Mitten contributor, Aaron Cruz, shared:

“I’ve climbed snow piles to reach the South Haven Light and St. Joseph lighthouses on Lake Michigan in the winter. When the easterly winds pick up on these exposed lighthouses, look out! The waves come crashing onto the pier and into the lighthouse, creating ice on everything it touches when temps are far below freezing. Michigan’s coastline that sits on the windy, east side of Lake Michigan is a reason many people, including myself, flock to its lighthouses in winter.”

During most winters, Aaron suggested visiting early in the season before the lake starts to freeze over, meaning fewer waves, hence less chance of ice on the lighthouses, piers, and other surfaces.

St. Joseph North Pier-Saint Joseph
St. Joseph North Pier | photo via burgerplex

Exploring Michigan Lighthouses in Winter

Aaron Cruz explored Lake Michigan’s coastline to find some frozen lighthouses, and he shared his adventures with us…

Are you looking for a scenic Michigan road trip that you can take no matter the season or weather conditions? Consider the lighthouses and the surrounding beaches, shoreline, and small towns that dot the Lake Michigan coastline: sun, rain, ice, snow, wind – this Great Lakes coastline is always showing off its beauty.

In December, getting anywhere near Lake Michigan can be a challenge, usually bringing feet upon feet of lake-effect snow. An unusually warm start to the season, though, made for an autumn-like feel at times, but nevertheless beautiful.

Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse-Manistee
Pere Marquette Beach | photo via tbonnette007


Before heading to the coastline in the morning, I recommend that you head downtown and grab a pour over coffee at Lumbertown Coffee. If it’s later in the day, grab a pint and listen to some music at the brewery within the same space, Unruly Brewing Company.

Once at the coast, find a place to park at the sandy Pere Marquette Park along Beach Street. Here is your chance to checkout the homes that line the nearby streets with sand dunes instead of grass in their front yards. At times, you might not be able to see the pavement on the road either.

Heading onto the pier, you’ll usually pass fisherman as you’re walking towards the 53-foot tall Muskegon South Pierhead. The lighthouse is located on the south end of the channel connecting Lake Michigan to Muskegon Lake. Signs of winter are present with the pier resembling a skating rink in spots and beautiful ice forming on the lighthouse.

Tip: For a longer adventure, park at Beachwood Park and head onto the boardwalk for a fifteen minute walk to the pier alongside the sand dunes and shoreline.

Grand Haven State Park-Grand Haven
Grand Haven State Park | photo via mittendronemedia

Grand Haven

Hop on US-31 south for about fifteen minutes and you’ll quickly be in the small resort town that was featured in the movie American Pie 2.

The Grand Haven lighthouses sit within Grand Haven State Park and along the Lake Michigan shoreline at the mouth of the Grand River. Be sure you take a walk from downtown to the pier and lighthouse on the one-and-a-half mile boardwalk (Lighthouse Connector Park) that runs alongside the river.

The Grand Haven South Pierhead Entrance Light and Inner Light are connected to the mainland by one of four catwalks left in Michigan. Just off the pier, grab some panoramic views from up-top the sand dunes, as well, some more sandy open road shots await on South Harbor Drive.

Holland Harbor Light
Holland Harbor Light | photo via functionalhumanperson

Holland’s Big Red

Are you still looking for more? Continue your drive south down US-31 for about twenty-five minutes, and you’ll reach the town that’s home to the most photographed lighthouse in Michigan, Big Red. The Holland Harbor Light sits alongside the channel connecting Lake Michigan with Lake Macatawa.

The lighthouse sits on private property, so the ability to get up close is limited. The opposite side of the channel and Holland State Park is the best public viewing spot. While you’re there, be sure to walk the beach, boardwalk, pier and other sandy areas.

Head inland about fifteen minutes into the heart of town, and here you should grab a craft beer and some eats at New Holland Brewery or a coffee at Lemonjello’s. Now is the time to walk the downtown streets and popular shopping area, stopping in at Holland Peanut Store if you have a sweet tooth.

More Photos of Frozen Michigan Lighthouses in Winter

With so many lighthouses in Michigan, there’s no shortage of frozen lighthouses to see! Here are just a few of our favorite photos of Michigan lighthouses in winter…

St Joseph Lighthouse - Lake Michigan
St Joseph Lighthouse after a polar vortex | photo via KDZ.Photo
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse-Eagle Harbor
Eagle Harbor Lighthouse | photo via pinay716252
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse-Marquette
Marquette Harbor Lighthouse | photo via dove_mimi
Little Sable Point Light-Mears
Little Sable Point Light | photo via michiganartist
St. Joseph North Pier-Saint Joseph
St. Joseph North Pier | photo via burgerplex
Big Sable Point Light-Ludington
Big Sable Point Light | photo via hoosier_girl_photography
Muskegon South Pierhead Light-Muskegon
Muskegon South Pierhead Light | photo via davidjruck
Frankfort North Breakwater Light-Frankfort
Frankfort North Breakwater Light | photo via _sovereign_photography_
East Channel Lighthouse-Munising
East Channel Lighthouse | photo via michiganartist
St Joseph South Pier Lighthouse-Saint Joseph
St Joseph South Pier Lighthouse | photo via mmduram
New Presque Isle Light-Presque Isle
New Presque Isle Light | photo via eldonmcgrawmedia

Plan a Visit to See Winter Lighthouses in Michigan

Have you ever visited a Michigan lighthouse in winter? Which Michigan lighthouse frozen by winter’s elements is your favorite to see? What other frozen Michigan lighthouses do you recommend checking out?

There are so many great things to do in Michigan in winter, including romantic winter getaways in Michigan and family-friendly Michigan winter destinations to visit!

Thanks to Aaron Cruz for his contributions to this article.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for the great places to go. I’ve only been to 3 or 4 lighthouses in the winter. I guess we’ll have to do a lot more. Great photos!

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