More than 10,000 voters from across the state weighed in on 101 things they love about Northern Michigan. Their votes determined 303 Red Hot Best winners and 700+ honorable mentions. Here you’ll find the best Northern Michigan lighthouses to visit on your next vacation.
First Place: Point Betsie Lighthouse, Frankfort
From morning’s clear light to the neon orb of sunset, this hipped-roofed queen of the Benzie County shoreline is a beacon of beauty. Bring your camera and a bathing suit—the beach is amazing. Open to tours; $5 for adults and $2 for children ages 6–11.
Second Place: Mission Point Lighthouse, Old Mission Peninsula
This beautiful light stands guard at the tip of the peninsula with a sandy beach out front. Admission to the first-floor museum is free; $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 12 and under to climb the stairs to the top. Be a Mission Point Lighthouse keeper for a week!
Third Place: Grand Traverse Lighthouse, Northport
See the restored keeper’s dwelling and climb the tower for a spectacular view of Lake Michigan, Cathead Bay, Grand Traverse Bay and the Manitou Passage. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 for children ages 6–12. (Ask about the lighthouse treasure hunt!) Before you go, take this video tour of the Grand Traverse Lighthouse and read this ghost story—you never know what you might see.
Enjoy aerial views of the Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse in this video!
Finalists for Most Scenic Northern Michigan Lighthouses
Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse | Frankfort
Take a front-row seat on the Frankfort Pier (at the end of Main Street) for fabulous sunsets. The lighthouse, built in 1932 at the pier’s end, ups the ambiance factor.
Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse | Munising
This lighthouse located north of Munising was constructed of wood when it first opened in 1868. Created to lead boats from Grand Island to the harbor, this lighthouse can easily be seen from many of the Pictured Rocks tours also leaving from Munishing bay. It’s especially a gorgeous view in Fall.
North Manitou Shoal Lighthouse | Lake Michigan
Just a short trip from Fishtown in Leland, you can head over to explore the North Manitou Island Shoal Light. Locally known as The Crib, this lighthouse was the final manned offshore light in the Great Lakes until 1980 when it was automated.
Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse | Mackinaw City
This lighthouse marks the meeting point of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. It was founded in 1889 and was in operation up until 1957, helping guide ships through the Straits of Mackinac.
Round Island Lighthouse | Straits of Mackinac
Also known as the Round Island Light, this Mackinac Island lighthouse was constructed in 1895 and connected Lake Michigan and Lake Huron from the west shore of Round Island. To protect and preserve the lighthouse for the future, the Round Island Lighthouse Preservation Society was formed in 2009.
South Manitou Island Lighthouse | Leelanau County
Located on South Manitou Island, this lighthouse is one of the most famous landmarks on the island. Able to be seen from the mainland, the South Manitou Island Lighthouse was active from 1871 to 1958 and was the only natural harbor between here and Chicago. Ships took refuge here during storms and steamers stopped at the island to refuel with wood for their boilers.
Whitefish Point Lighthouse | Paradise
As the oldest operating lighthouse in the Upper Peninsula, Whitefish Point Lighthouse was first constructed in 1849. It serves as the entrance to Whitefish Bay and has been used as a shelter from storms or bad weather on Lake Superior.