RV Road Trip: 13 Lighthouses of Lake Michigan

Michigan boasts more lighthouses than any other state in the U.S. As home to over 150 lighthouses, these beaming towers dot the Lake Michigan shoreline gracing visitors and residents alike with a rich collection of maritime history and charm. While these beacons of safety once helped boaters navigate stormy waters, today they stand as an homage to the past and an educational tool for the future. If you fancy yourself a lighthouse enthusiast, then we’ve got the ultimate RV road trip for you! You’ll start your journey at the bottom of the Great Lakes State in St. Joseph and work your way upward to Traverse City, letting these lighthouses of Lake Michigan lead the way!

St. Joseph North Pier | Saint Joseph, MI

Established in 1859 As one of two lighthouses on Lake Michigan that still retain their range lights and catwalks (the other being the Grand Haven Lighthouse), St. Joseph North Pier is a classic sight perfect for anyone who claims to be a lighthouse lover! During your visit, stop into the town’s Heritage Museum and Cultural Center to view the original Fresnel lens used in the tower.

South Haven South Pier | South Haven, MI

Established in 1872 With overwhelming support to maintain and preserve this lighthouse, the exterior of the South Haven South Pier is currently under restoration as of September 2016. The interior was recently restored with the walls being sandblasted and repainted, new glass installed, and deteriorated parts replaced. Once renovations are complete, this site will be a must-see stop along your lighthouse road trip!

Holland Harbor | Holland, MI

Established in 1872 Affectionately known as “Big Red” by local residents, the Holland Harbor Lighthouse is a popular attraction among locals and tourists alike. When “Big Red” faded to more accurately resemble Big Pink, local companies stepped up to repaint it at no charge, proving just how adored this iconic landmark is to its community.

Grand Haven Pier | Grand Haven, MI

Established in 1839 As one of the most photographed lighthouses in all of the Midwest, the Grand Haven Pier is simply a one-of-a-kind sight to behold. Stroll along the boardwalk or down the lighted catwalk and observe this lighthouse with its stunning sunset backdrops. The pier also features great fishing opportunities too!

Muskegon South Pier | Muskegon, MI

Established in 1851 While you can walk the pier anytime you choose, tours of the Muskegon South Pier Lighthouse are offered periodically during the peak summer months, giving you the opportunity to view this stunning site up close and personal! The best photographs are typically taken from the opposing breakwater, and if you’re lucky you’ll snap a picture just as the waves crash against the pier.

White River Light Station | Whitehall, MI

Established in 1875 After being decommissioned in 1960, the White River Lighthouse still stands proud as a museum and gift shop documenting the dignified history of this honored site. During your visit you can view artifacts and information about the lighthouse’s past, and you can also ascend the circular staircase to view the lantern room which overlooks the picturesque White Lake Channel.

Little Sable Point | Mears, MI

Established in 1874 Seeming to resemble a brick smokestack, Little Sable Point has remained relatively untouched since its early construction in the late 1800s. The original Fresnel lens can still be observed by visitors who conquer the 130-step staircase leading to the top. Tours are available to the public during peak seasons.

Big Sable Point | Ludington, MI

Established in 1867 As the 37th tallest lighthouse in the United States and one of the tallest lighthouses in Michigan, Big Sable Point stands proud at 112 feet tall. This iconic black-and-white striped tower was restored in 1987 with the original keeper’s quarters being converted into a gift shop. During peak seasons tour are offered to the public daily.

Manistee North Pierhead | Manistee, MI

Established in 1869 As one of the few lighthouses with an intact catwalk, the Manistee North Pierhead is continually being restored while still preserving its classic charm and historic appeal. The original wooden catwalk was replaced by an iron one around 1900, and today glass, steel, and paint repairs are still taking place.

Frankfort Breakwater | Frankfort, MI

Established in 1873 Your visit to the Frankfort Breakwater will likely be a quiet, picturesque experience. The calm setting is appropriate considering this lighthouse has never been manned. While the catwalk has since been removed, you can still see evidence of its existence with the outline of the original entry door still visible in the white steel walls.

Point Betsie Lighthouse | Frankfort, MI

Established in 1858 With renovations in 2006, Point Betsie Lighthouse stands today donning the historically accurate colors of her heyday. Additionally, the fourth-order Fresnel lens, which was removed and put on display at a local museum, was returned to the lighthouse with support and efforts to make this attraction as authentic as possible. Educational tours are available, and a gift shop is also located on site.

Old Mission Point | Traverse City, MI

Established in 1870 Make the drive down charming roads lined with cherry orchards and vineyards until you reach the Old Mission Point located at the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula. If touring this lighthouse isn’t enough for you, you can apply to be a lighthouse keeper which will give you an intimate look at what it was like to man one of these stations at the turn of the century!

Grand Traverse Lighthouse | Traverse City, MI

Established in 1852 Located at the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula, Grand Traverse Lighthouse is one of the most easily accessible lighthouses in the area. Once inside you’ll find a rich collection of exhibits and period-appropriate furnishings to give you an authentic look at what life would be like living as a keeper. For a more in-depth experience, take advantage of their lighthouse keeper program which lets you spend several weeks staying at the lighthouse! What better way to cap off a lighthouse road trip than by ending your journey with an extended stay living inside of one? We hope you brought your camera along to capture the amazing sights of these stunning lighthouses! Did you have a favorite stop along your RV road trip? Let us know what lighthouse you loved the most by leaving a comment or by sharing a picture of it with us on Facebook!