From Ludington to Manistee and Frankfort, these lighthouses stand as picturesque tributes to the coast’s dramatic maritime history. Spend a weekend exploring them all.

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Point Betsie Lighthouse // Frankfort

This famously photogenic white, black and red lighthouse, built in 1858, is open seasonally to the public—as are the keeper’s residence, fog signal building, boathouse museum and gift shop. Grab a bite nearby: Enjoy a wood-fired pizza at Bella Vita Italian Kitchen in Frankfort.

The Stats
Towers: 39 feet
Steps to the top: 37
Trivia: Point Betsie was the last lighthouse on Lake Michigan operated by a lighthouse keeper; the lighthouse didn’t become fully automated until 1983.

Northern Michigan lighthouse

Photo by Dave Weidner

Big Sable Point Lighthouse // Ludington

The payoff for a two-mile sandy hike to get to this lighthouse in Ludington State Park is the black-and-white circa 1867 lighthouse with its inspiring view of Lake Michigan. Open seasonally. Grab a bite nearby: Grab breakfast from the Old Hamlin—the omelets are the best in town—before the trek to the lighthouse.

The Stats
Towers: 112 feet
Steps to the top: 130
Trivia: In 1949, the Big Sable Point Lighthouse became the last of the Great Lakes lighthouses to transition from lantern and wick to electricity.

Big Sable Point Lighthouse

Photo by Taylor Brown

Manistee North Pierhead Lighthouse // Manistee

This pretty piece of white-and-black maritime history has been beaming ships into the Manistee harbor since 1872. The grounds are open to the public but the tower is currently closed. Grab a bite nearby: Treat yourself to the Lake Superior Walley Picatta from Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar while savoring views of the Manistee River.

The Stats
Towers: 39 feet
Trivia: The original lighthouse was built in 1870, but in 1871 burned in a fire. Within a few days of the fire the lighthouse keeper established a temporary light that was used until the lighthouse was rebuilt.

Manistee Lighthouse

Photo by Kris Riley

Little Sable Point Lighthouse // Mears

Finished in 1874, the brick Little Sable Lighthouse is set in the sand dunes of what is now Silver Lake State Park. Open seasonally. Grab a bite nearby: Cool off with a World Famous Turtle Sundae from the Whippy Dip in Silver Lake.

The Stats
Towers: 107 feet
Steps to the Top: 139
Trivia: Public demand for a lighthouse on Little Sable Point was finally heard after a schooner named Pride wrecked in 1866—funding for the light was approved in 1871 but construction didn’t begin until 1874.

Photo of the Week of Little Sable Point Lighthouse

Frankfort North Breakwater Light // Frankfort

Take a front row seat on the Frankfort Pier (at the end of Main Street) for fabulous sunsets. The black and white lighthouse, built in 1932 at the pier’s end, ups the ambiance factor. The light itself is closed to the public. Grab a bite nearby: Share a plate of Stormchos (nachos with pulled pork and house-made queso) from Stormcloud Brewing in Frankfort.

The Stats
Towers: 67 feet
Trivia: A pierhead light, built in 1873 at the outer end of the south pier, preceded the lighthouse and was moved and modified several times before the Frankfort North Breakwater was built in 1932.

Northern Michigan Events August 14

Photo by Lydia Meija

Ludington North Breakwater Light // Ludington

This lovely little white pyramid-shaped 1924 tower with its bright green light and its half-mile long pier is a main attraction in downtown Ludington. Open seasonally. Grab a bite nearby: Try a Lake Perch or Whitefish sandwich from Keepers Fish Shack in Ludington.

The Stats
Towers: 57 feet
Steps to the top: 53
Trivia: The pyramidal shape was designed to deflect Lake Michigan’s powerful waves.

Ludington beach and lighthouse in the background.

Photo by Shelby Soberalski

Photo(s) by Taylor Brown