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15 Best Lighthouses to Visit Around the World

Spring is right around the corner, or so moving the clocks an hour ahead for Daylight Savings Time tells us. Time to begin daydreaming about the fresh, breezy spring air and warm sun in our future, no matter how much local temperatures and brewing storms try to defy this fact.

What better way to ward off the persistent winter weather and keep spirits high than planning some fantastic spring adventures? That said, there’s no better spring adventure than visiting picturesque lighthouses.

Washington, Oregon, and California have many lighthouses dotting the coast. While all offer beautiful views unique only to the U.S. Pacific Coast, Northern California provides its special treat for the lighthouse enthusiast.

Many of California’s lighthouses were built shortly after the gold rush of 1849 and mirrored the traditional New England style design original lighthouses were built. Seeing this design, it’s clear how these iconic cliffside lights were given the name “lighthouse,” as it is a small house with a light tower constructed from the roof.

Ironically, however, this traditional “house style” lighthouse is non-existent in New England. The only place this original style still survives is in Northern California. Here are some of the lighthouses to visit on your spring travel.

Most Famous & Best Lighthouses in the World

1. Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Star Studded Sky and Pigeon Point Lighthouse

Located along the Pacific Ocean coast, Pigeon Point Lighthouse in California is among the most picturesque lighthouses in the region. The national historic landmark stands a whopping 115 feet and is the tallest lighthouse on the Californian coastline.

The light station was named after the Carrier Pigeon ship that arrived as a wreck in the Northern California Half Moon Bay. Before that, the region was known as Punta De Las Ballenas, which translates to the point of whales.

To date, it is a beautiful place to go for whale watching, bird watching, and spotting some seals. Although there is no entry to the lighthouse due to repairs, You can enjoy the beach or book a night at the old keeper’s cottage while enjoying the cliffside hot tub.

2. Split Rock Lighthouse

Light House of Split Rock Lighthouse Road on a Cliff

This lighthouse is located on the North shore of Lake Superior in South West Silver Bay, Minnesota. The Split Rock Lighthouse was built after the Mataafa storm of 1905 which caused a vast number of shipwrecks on Lake Superior.

Apart from exploring the lighthouse, the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park has beautiful hiking and biking trails with amazing views during the fall. If you’d rather camp by the lighthouse, there are 46 drive-in campsites for you to spend the night.

It opens daily from 10 am to 6 pm and expect to pay entrance fees when you get there. The charges are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, active military, veterans, and college students, $6 for children between five and 17, and free for kids below four years and MNHS members.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Minnesota

3. Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

Blue and White Paint on Cape Hatteras Lighthouse

It stands on the Hatteras national seashore on Hatteras Island and is the tallest brick lighthouse. The lighthouse guides ships along the dangerous Atlantic waters that have caused at least 2000 shipwrecks.

Although it is currently closed for further renovations, it has beautiful views. Climbing charges are $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens and children under 11. The climbing begins at 9 am up to 4:30 pm.

4. Bodie Island Lighthouse

Path Leading to Bodie Island Lighthouse

Located at the Cape Hatteras national seashore, the Bodie Island light station is north of the Cape Hatteras national shore. Now that the Cape Hatteras lighthouse is closed, you can opt for a climb at the Bodie Island lighthouse instead.

Standing at 148 M tall, it is one of the few remaining tall brick lighthouses in the United States coast guard. Climbing tickets are $ 10 for adults and $ 5 for disabled, children under 11, and senior citizens.

5. Big Sable Point Lighthouse

House Beside the Big Sable Point Lighthouse
Big Sable Point Lighthouse” by rkramer62 is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse stands on the shores of Lake Michigan and has been featured by the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festivals as the lighthouse of the year in 2013. It has been listed as a national historic landmark. Big Sable Point Lighthouse is among the tallest lighthouses in Michigan.

The lighthouse is under the Big Sable Point Lighthouse Association, which preserves this historic landmark. It is open for public visits from 10 am- 5 pm every day from May 27th-October 30th.

There is a 1.8-mile hiking trail before getting to the coastline to get to the light station. Climbing charges are $8 for adults and $5 for children under 17. The keepers’ cottage is now a gift shop you could shop for souvenirs.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Detriot, Michigan

6. Portland Head Lighthouse, Maine

Maine is the epitome of quintessential New England, boasting six lighthouses within a half-hour drive from central Portland, ME. Although many more beautiful lighthouses exist throughout the state, this route makes it possible to get a great lighthouse tour taking only an afternoon.

  • Two Lights State Park: As the name implies, two lighthouses can be viewed here. Both, however, are located on private property, so although one can’t get very close to them, the park offers excellent views of them.
  • Portland Head Lighthouse: It is located in Fort Williams Park, Cape Elizabeth. It is the oldest lighthouse in Maine and one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. Before leaving, check out Ram Island Light at the entrance to Portland Harbor.
  • Spring Point Ledge Light: Located next to the Portland Harbor Museum, visitors can learn more about Portland’s rich history. Unlike other lighthouses, visitors can walk out on the granite breakwater to admire and photograph the lighthouse up close.

7. Toledo Harbor Lighthouse 

Listed on the national register of historic places, the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse is known for its unique architecture and several ghost stories. It is located in North Carolina, where Maumee Bay and Lake Erie meet.

Although the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse is not open to the public for visits, it opens during special occasions like the annual Toledo Lighthouse Waterfront Festival.

See Related: Most Famous Landmark in California to Visit

8. Sandy Hook Lighthouse

Sandy Hook Lighthouse
Image by Diametrik / CC BY 2.0.

Built-in 1764, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse on Rhode Island and in the United States. It is located at the entrance of the New York Harbor and still guides ships using that route.

The lighthouse is run by the National Park Service, which offers free tours every 30 minutes from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. You can enjoy views of the Atlantic Ocean, the New York Skyline, and Sandy Hook Bay.

There are about 21 beautiful lighthouses in Rhode island that you can see before concluding your trip, such as the Block Island Southeast Light.

9. Battery Point Lighthouse

Also known as the Crescent City Lighthouse, Battery Point Lighthouse was one of the first lighthouses built on the Californian coast. It was lit in 1852, ten days earlier than the eight lighthouses made with it.

It is open for public visits every day from April to September, from 10 am to 5 pm. Visitors are recommended to confirm the tides as sometimes the water covers the footbridge to the light station.

10. Diamond Head Lighthouse

Aerial View of the Ocean and Diamond Head Lighthouse
Diamond Head Lighthouse” by hitachiota is marked with CC BY 2.0.

This United States coast guard facility is located in the state of Hawai’i on O’ahu Island. It was used as a watchtower during the yacht races.

The lighthouse is no longer manned, so it is not open to the general public. However, you can take boat tours to take in the beauty of the Diamond Head Lighthouse.

11. Cape Neddick Lighthouse

House and Cape Neddick Lighthouse on a Hill
Cape Neddick Lighthouse” by rickpilot_2000 is marked with CC BY 2.0.

Also known as Nubble Lighthouse to the locals, this picturesque lighthouse is one of Maine’s most famous tourist attractions.

Although not open to the public, there are several things to make your visit to Cape Neddick memorable. From picnics and weddings to water sports activities such as scuba diving and fishing when the tides are right.

12. Cape Henry Lighthouse

The Cape Henry Lighthouse comprises two lighthouses in Virginia Beach. These two lighthouses have guided sailors in and out of the Chesapeake Bay for over a decade!

The second lighthouse was built after the original lighthouse seemed unstable. It is the entry point to four ports, making it an essential channel asset.

Although the new lighthouse is closed to the public, the old light station is open to the general public from 10 am to 5 pm every day. General admission is $10 for adults, $ 9 for military persons and senior citizens, $ 8 for students, and free entry for children under 42 inches.

See Related: Most Beautiful Places in the World

13. Heceta Head Lighthouse

If you want to experience spectacular views, nature, beautiful hiking trails, and ocean life, consider heading to the Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon.

First illuminated in 1894, its keepers’ inn is one of the few remaining in the Pacific Ocean. You can book and spend the night there. The lighthouse is open for tours, although the top floors are closed to the general public.

The hiking trails lead to the viewpoint, which is the best place for whale spotting during their migration. Sea lions are also in plenty, so be sure you will spot some!

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia

14. Louisbourg Lighthouse, Canada

Nova Scotia’s South Shore has lighthouses dotting the entire coast, including tranquil settings and louder wave-crashing bays. The “Lighthouse Route” along the shore offers views and stops at over 20 lighthouses. Louisbourg Lighthouse in Nova Scotia is among the many stunning lighthouses you can explore.

Traveling along the quiet country road, fishers row wooden dories still haul lumber boxes, and fishers row wooden dories still haul lumber out to sea. This route makes an unforgettable trip.

 The other lighthouses you can check out include the Peggys Cove Lighthouse, Sambro Island Lighthouse, and the Maugher Beach Lighthouse.

15. The Palagruza Lighthouse, Croatia

Lighthouse of Palagruzza  on the Top of a Hill
Photo: Adam Sporka

Croatia’s claim to fame is its beautiful, serene cliffsides and breathtaking Dalmatian Coast. One more thing that makes Croatia stand out as a must-see destination location is the architecturally beautiful, historically rich lighthouses along the Adriatic Coast.

The Palagruza Lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the scenic landscape. Nestled in the middle of the Adriatic Sea, this lighthouse is also a historic landmark of Pelagosa Island.

Even better is that many of these lighthouses are not only maintained but can be rented out! Vacationers can enjoy a lighthouse all to themselves for often surprisingly reasonable nightly and weekly rates.

Complete with the tranquility of sitting on a remote island and a personal lighthouse keeper who can share the stories and legends living within the ancient walls of these unique and beautiful lighthouses.

*Note: For those not looking to travel quite as far as Croatia, opportunities to stay in a lighthouse exist all over the U.S., though most are bed-and-breakfast situations. Not quite as exotic as getting an entire lighthouse on a beautiful remote island to yourself!

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