As early as the mid-19th century, these historic icons guided ships as they made their way to the famed Manitou Passage a bit further north. Now restored and some even open to the public, you’ve got to explore these picture-perfect lighthouses to experience maritime history in Benzie. If you have the opportunity, climb the steps to the top for awe-inspring views or tour the shores on-board these Great Lakes boat rides.

Point Betsie

This perfectly restored and interpreted 1858 beauty is, understandably, one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. Tour it, climb it, then hit the silken Lake Michigan shore around it. Find Point Betsie Lighthouse four miles north of Frankfort off M-22. $4 adult; $2 child under 12. Open May 25-October 13. Check the web site for hours. POINTBETSIE.ORG.

Plan a day trip to Point Betsie and Frankfort!

Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse

Although this tower, part of which dates to 1912, is closed to the public, strolling to the end of Frankfort’s 500-foot-long pier to watch the sunset is a tradition in this Lake Michigan community. Find the pier at the end of Main Street in downtown Frankfort. FRANKFORTMICH.COM.

Manistee Pierhead Light

Watch the parade of colorful boats as they transition between the channel of the Manistee River and the open waters of Lake Michigan from this 1872 light. The tower, usually closed to the public, opens for tours during Michigan’s West Coast Lighthouse Festival, June 1-2. 231.845.7417, SPLKA.ORG.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Enjoy the nearly two-mile walk to this this beautiful black-and-white light, climb 130 steps to the tower’s top and explore the old keeper’s quarters-turned-gift shop. Owned by Ludington State Park, this is a lovely and historic diversion from the sun. Open daily, May 1- Oct. 31, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. $3 adults; children under 11, $1. VISITLUDINGTONSTATEPARK.COM, SPLKA.ORG.

Ludington North Breakwater Light

Find this circa-1924 lighthouse at the end of a half-mile-long pier at Stearns Park Beach in Ludington. Remember to ask why this steel encased pier light tilts slightly.  Open daily, May 24-Sept. 2, 10 a.m.-5p.m. Adults $3; children under 11, $1. SPLKA.ORG.

Michigan’s 2nd Annual West Coast Lighthouse Festival

June 1-2, Tour six lighthouses along 90 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline from Muskegon to Manistee. Sponsored by the Sable Points Lighthouse Keeper’s Association, 231.845.7417, SPLKA.ORG.

For more summer vacation ideas in Northern Michigan, grab the 2013 MyNorth Vacation Guide!

Your Guide to Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Leelanau, Benzie & More

From the same people who produce Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, this is a colorful, easy-to-use guide to Northern Michigan vacation ideas from Ludington to Traverse City, from Charlevoix to Mackinac Island and everything in between. It is filled with ideas, tips and hundreds of websites that connect you to fun, food, activities, lodging and recreation in every part of Northern Michigan.

  • More than 140, full color pages with stunning photography and travel stories
  • Maps of each region
  • Hundreds of resources

Be sure to also check out our free online area-specific vacation guides!

Traverse City

Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Traverse City, Acme, Fife Lake, Interlochen, Kingsley, and Williamsburg


Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Mackinac Island, and Boyne Country

Charlevoix & Chain of Lakes

Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Charlevoix, Alden, Beaver Island, Bellaire, Central Lake, Easst Jordon, Elk Rapids, and Torch Lake


Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Cedar, Empire, Glen Arbor, Lake Leelanau, Leland, Maple City, Northport, Peshawbestown, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Suttons Bay, and Omena

Benzie & West Shore

Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Benzie, Manistee, West Shore, Beulah, Benzonia, Crystal Lake, Frankfort, Ludington, Onekama, and Pentwater