For many coastal towns the lighthouse is one of those historical landmarks that can bring a point of pride to locals. Although not as popular (or needed) now, in the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s lighthouses were incredibly important. They helped guide ships away from rocky and dangerous shorelines and into safe passage.
In fact, they were so important that each lighthouse had someone, a lighthouse keeper, who lived either in the lighthouse itself or more often, the attached home, and kept track of the light 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Now, virtually all lighthouses are monitored electronically and don’t need the intense monitoring they used to.
What that does mean is that it gives you an opportunity to go visit certain lighthouses and explore them. They can offer not only a look back into the past, but also incredible water vistas, so be sure to bring your camera!
Here are some of our favorites.
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse | Rhode Island
Tiny Block Island is just a quick ferry ride away from mainland Rhode Island and while there is plenty to enjoy there during the summer, you don’t want to miss out on the lighthouse. At almost 150 years old, the Block Island Southeast Lighthouse sits on a cliff 200 feet above the rocky coastline. Not only can you climb the lighthouse steps, but it also has a museum too.
Heceta Head Lighthouse | Oregon
The Oregon coastline is some of the most beautiful in the country, so it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Heceta Head Lighthouse in Florence is one of the top draws for visitors and locals alike. The area around the lighthouse is perfect for a day trip offering short hiking trails, a picnic area, and tide pools to explore.
Cape Hatteras Light Station | North Carolina
The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been taking a beating from hurricanes for centuries, and many ships have been guided safely by Cape Hatteras Light. At just about 200 feet tall it’s also the biggest lighthouse in the US. If you want to climb the 248 steps to the top, be prepared it can be quite a workout, but the views are worth it!
Split Rock Lighthouse | Minnesota
While lighthouses aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Minnesota, you need to think again. Built in the 1920s (which makes it young for a lighthouse) Split Rock Light is sits right on the edge of a 130 foot ledge on Lake Superior, offering second to none views of the lake and even 25 miles to Wisconsin on clear days.
Boston Light | Massachusetts
Boston Light was the first lighthouse built in the United States, before it even became a country, in 1716. It was later demolished by the British during the Revolutionary War and rebuilt not long after. The lighthouse sits on Little Brewster Island, so you will need to take a ferry out of Boston Harbor in order to get there and visit.
These are just a few of our favorite lighthouses around the country that you can actively explore. Have you been to any of these? What’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments!