Michigan’s Most Underrated Lighthouses

Michigan’s Most Underrated Lighthouses

Michigan is home to many well-known, beautiful and fascinating lighthouses thanks to more than 3,000 miles of shoreline. But if you’re interested in searching beyond the most popular destinations along our Great Lakes, Michigan holds some truly spectacular underrated lighthouses that will take you, sometimes quite literally, off the beaten path! Here are some of our favorite lesser-known, underrated lighthouses to explore this summer.

Big Bay Point Lighthouse and B&B

Big Bay Point Lighthouse in Big Bay near Marquette. Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette
Big Bay Point Lighthouse in Big Bay near Marquette. Photo courtesy of Travel Marquette

Located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Big Bay Point Lighthouse is the only operational lighthouse with a bed and breakfast inside. If you only have a day, make a quick trip to see the beautiful view overlooking Lake Superior. If you have time for a longer stay at the B&B, the breakfast is to die for… or at least that’s what the lightkeeper’s ghost might tell you! Either way, the building is about 20 miles from Marquette, and it is perfect for a quiet getaway in the U.P.

South Manitou Island Lighthouse

A closer look at the Fresnel lens on South Manitou Island Light. Photo courtesy of Jordan Fuller
A closer look at the Fresnel lens on South Manitou Island Light. Photo courtesy of Jordan Fuller

However you choose to make the mile and a half hike, drive or ride from the dock to South Manitou Island Lighthouse, you will find your breath taken away by the gorgeous view. The top of the lighthouse is the perfect spot to marvel at the expansive Lake Michigan, and on clear days you can peer back into Great Lakes history by viewing the shipwrecks along the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve.

Au Sable Light

Underrated Lighthouses in Michigan
Au Sable Light peeking through the trees on Au Sable Point. Photo by Samantha Ward

Au Sable Light, on Au Sable Point, is a mile and a half hike from Hurricane River Campground along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. You can take a tour of the bottom of the lighthouse, which currently serves as a small museum, or you can make the 87-foot climb to take in spectacular sights and enjoy the serenity of the dunes and waves.

Beaver Island Head Lighthouse

Beaver Island Head Lighthouse sits on the southern end of Beaver Island. Photo courtesy of Allen Lloyd
Beaver Island Head Lighthouse sits on the southern end of Beaver Island. Photo courtesy of Allen Lloyd

Beaver Island Head Lighthouse is kind of an isolated destination — Beaver Island is roughly 15 miles from both the Lower and Upper Peninsulas in Lake Michigan — that can only be reached by a plane or ferry from Charlevoix. The trip is worth it though, as the 46-foot tower provides an entirely unique view of an island covered by thick forests and inland lakes. A quick climb down a wooden walkway also leads you to the beach below the tower to explore the old Fog House.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Big Sable Point Lighthouse is a great place to catch a Ludington sunset. Photo courtesy of Cody Shanely
Big Sable Point Lighthouse is a great place to catch a Ludington sunset. Photo courtesy of Cody Shanely

About halfway between Muskegon and Traverse City you’ll find the beach town of Ludington, itself an underrated gem, and Big Sable Point Lighthouse. Although it is a mile and a half walk down the beach from the nearest parking, this unique lighthouse is regarded by those in the know as one of the most beautiful. Originally made of porous Cream City Brick in 1867, the facade deteriorated quickly and was covered with the familiar brick-shaped pieces of sheet steel in 1900.

William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse

The William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse is the only one in the country to be made of marble. Photo courtesy of Mike Pawloski
The William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse is the only one in the country to be made of marble. Photo courtesy of Mike Pawloski

Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse is perhaps the most unique lighthouse in Michigan. Standing on a man-made piece of land on Detroit’s Belle Isle Park, it is the only lighthouse in the United States made of marble. Befitting its location along the Detroit River, the Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse was designed by Albert Kahn, considered the “Architect of Detroit,” whose work includes the Fisher Building, Cadillac Place, Belle Isle Aquarium, and several other notable landmarks. The historical site serves as a reminder of the accomplishments of William Livingstone, a key figure in the growth of shipping along the Detroit River channel and across the Great Lakes.

 

Did we forget any other spectacular Michigan lighthouses? Let us know what we missed in the comments!