Lighthouses have been guiding ships safely to shore for centuries. They are also placed in difficult areas, such as small islands or capes to warn ships to steer clear of that piece of land and avoid collision.
The Great Lakes, as navigational channels, make no exception and are dotted with several lighthouses, many of which are captured in wonderfully illustrated nautical prints. Some of them are purely functional, but others are beautiful examples of architecture and are open to the public to climb inside them and explore them.
These are the most iconic lighthouses on the Great Lakes that you should put down on your bucket list:
- Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse, Mackinaw City, Michigan
Looking like a European medieval keep, this lighthouse is strategically placed at the point where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan almost meet. The interior of the lighthouse keeper’s house is preserved the same state since 1910.
The adjacent barn houses a movie theater where you can watch historical videos. And if you feel brave enough, you can climb the 8-foot ladder to reach the top of the lighthouse tower. Because good weather is a must for a safe visit, the Old Mackinac Point lighthouse is open to the public from May to October only.
- Fort Gratiot Lighthouse, Port Huron, Michigan
This historic lighthouse is the oldest one still in operation on the Great Lakes. Its tower is 86 feet tall and shines its bright light over Lake Michigan from the mouth of St. Clair River.
The architecture of the lighthouse is consistent with the traditional build of these edifices and looks almost like a movie prop – but it is the real deal. You can also climb up the tower and get a breathtaking look at the surrounding landscape.
- Devil’s Island Lighthouse, Apostle Islands, Lake Superior, Wisconsin
Lake Superior has a tiny island in its midst, so it has to have a lighthouse built on it to warn ships to change course. You really must be passionate about lighthouses to go visit, because it takes some effort to reach the island.
Once there, though, you will fall in love with the craggy beauty of the natural surroundings, the Queen Anne-style keeper house and the 82-foot lighthouse tower. To prevent accidents due to bad weather, the Devil’s Island lighthouse can be visited only from May to October.
- Grosse Point Lighthouse, Evanston Illinois
The Grosse Point lighthouse is categorized as a National Landmark. Thus, you can visit it free of charge, all year round. After climbing the 141 steps to the top of the tower, you will be rewarded by a breathtaking view of Lake Michigan and Chicago.
- Wind Point Lighthouse, Racine, Wisconsin
A rustic looking lighthouse, Wind Point is open to the public only on the first Sunday of the month from June to October. After climbing the 144 iron steps, you will enjoy an Instagram-worthy view of Lake Michigan. While you are there, you can also visit the Fog Horn Museum, built on the grounds of the lighthouse.
We also recommend you to include the gardens of the lighthouse in your tour – they are a wonderful escape into nature for your entire family.