25 Guiding Lights
We shine a spotlight on our favorite lighthouses from coast to coast.
Towering over the rocks at the western end of Cape Cod, Wings Neck Lighthouse stands tall. Constructed in 1890 and deactivated in 1945, it remains a landmark on the Massachusetts coast. Today, the historic light has been meticulously restored and now houses overnight guests. The keeper’s cottage sleeps eight, and includes a living room with stone fireplace and a crisp, white, eat-in kitchen.
The Pointe à la Renommée Light is a bright, cast-iron addition to the coast of Canada. The current tower was built in 1907 near L'Anse―Valleau on Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula. It stands at 49 feet with an adjacent museum/gift shop.
You can walk, bike, or drive to Block Island's two lighthouses, North Light and Southeast Light (shown here), both open to visitors seasonally. The island, accessible by ferry, is part of Rhode Island.
The owners of this sunny lighthouse on Michigan’s Grand Island modernized the 19th-century structure without compromising its historic charm. Although strikingly beautiful with spectacular views of Lake Superior, the property isn’t easy to reach and remains closed to the public.
The 1857-vintage New Dungeness Light Station is at the tip of the Dungeness Spit near Sequim, Washington. Although this light is one of the oldest in the Northwest, it's still active as a navigational aid.
Little Brewster Island, in the outer reaches of Boston Harbor, consists of only about 1.5 acres of land―just enough for the 89-foot Boston Light and its support buildings. At the top of the tower, visitors can enjoy views of the Boston skyline, a close look at the lens, and a deep appreciation for the only Coast Guard lighthouse stations still staffed.
The automated beacon on Heceta Head’s 56-foot tower casts the strongest light on this stretch of Oregon coastline. For optimal views of this stunning sight, drive south from Yachats at dusk, head toward the mouth of Cape Creek, then just follow the glow.
Split Rock Lighthouse stands at dawn on its cliff-top home along Lake Superior near Beaver Bay, Minnesota. The lighthouse, completed in 1910, has been dark since 1969―except for an annual lighting on November 10 to commemorate sailors lost in Great Lakes shipwrecks.
This New Brunswick lighthouse sports the colors of the Acadian flag. Now used as a tourism center, it stands on the edge of the Bay of Chaleur on Route 11 in Grand-Anse.
This stunning black-and-white spiral lighthouse, 165 feet tall, was established in 1874. Located on Florida's Anastasia Island, St. Augustine Light doubles as a museum.
Yaquina Head ranks high among destinations for understanding how a lighthouse works, and accessible walkways and exhibits draw throngs of visitors to this spot on the Oregon shore. Visitors can climb 93 feet to the lantern and watch the 1,000-watt electric bulb switch on and off.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, opened in 1846, stands 117 feet tall and, counting the hill, 362 feet above sea level. The beam can be seen 40 miles out to sea. Those who climb the tower get spectacular views of Bermuda.
North Light keeps a lonely vigil on Block Island’s northernmost tip. The Rhode Island lighthouse is open to visitors seasonally.
The Umpqua River Light stands on a hill 165 feet above sea level at Winchester Bay, Oregon. The 61-foot tower has a unique Fresnel lens that casts red and white lights out to sea.
Cap-des-Rosiers Lighthouse, Canada's tallest (112 feet), has stood near the tip of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula since 1858.
Visitors to Nantucket will find the coastline dotted with historic lighthouses, including Brant Point, the second-oldest light station in America. Existing structures include the circa-1856 lighthouse and keeper’s house, two range light towers (1908), oil house, storage building, garage, and boathouse (1936). It remains an active U.S. Coast Guard navigational aid.
Stornetta Public Lands borders one of California’s most scenic peninsulas, site of the Point Arena Lighthouse. Both the lighthouse and museum are open daily and allow visitors to climb the 115 feet to the top for scenic views of the Pacific Ocean.
Maine's official state quarter displays a schooner passing this structure―the Pemaquid Point Light. The tower, 38 feet tall, has been deemed Maine's "prettiest lighthouse."
Washington’s privately owned Dimick House is a replica of the 1906 MukilteoLighthouse on Puget Sound. Although it doesn’t have a beacon, this relatively young light (circa 1990) still has a 50-foot tower accessible by spiral staircase. The glassed-in viewing platform with wraparound outdoor deck provides sweeping views of Port Townsend and the mountains, water, and island beyond.
On 4-mile-long Quirpon (kar-POON) Island on the tip of Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula, the working Quirpon Island lighthouse (1922) and other support structures compose a cozy inn. In spring, the setting makes an ideal viewpoint for both icebergs and whales that glide past and is one that “Captain Ahab would give his other leg for,” one visitor wrote.
Along its 300 miles of rugged shoreline, Wisconsin’s Door County is home to 12 lighthouses, not all open to the public but easily admired by land or water. Cana Island Lighthouse (shown) near Baileys Harbor shines for location, accessibility, and year-round photo ops.
Curtis Island Light, a modest 25 feet tall, has stood at the entrance to Maine’s Camden Harbor since 1896. The light is not open to the public but is visible from shore.
Capes Meares Lighthouse is Oregon’s shortest at just 38 feet tall. But the small landmark provides big whale-watching views during the great Pacific Ocean migration.
On the easternmost point in the U.S., the West Quoddy Head Light in Lubec, Maine, still shines bright. At 49 feet, its third-order Fresnel lens (1858) beckons to boats in the Bay of Fundy. Just a short walk from the entrance of West Quoddy State Park, a visitors center/museum in the keeper’s house is open to the public; it’s just a short stroll from the entrance of West Quoddy State Park.
One of Nova Scotia’s biggest tourist attractions, Peggy’s Point claims to be the most photographed lighthouse in Canada. The red-and-white beacon makes up one of several dozen lighthouses along a nearly 200-mile trail the Canadian government has marked with road signs.