9 Lake Michigan lighthouses to visit in 2023

Ludington North Breakwater Light. Photo by Lisa Enos

We have within a few hours’ drive of Grand Rapids some of the most unique scenery on the planet. Where else in the world can one gaze upon beacons protruding from a body of water that, under the right conditions, appears to fade into infinity as the sun dips below the horizon? As the weather warms up and the days get longer, why not make it a goal this year to visit just a few of these majestic marvels? You’ll be glad you did.

St. Joseph North Pier Lighthouses
Year Built: 1907 Height: 57’4″
Tours: Yes Stay at the light? No
GPS Coordinates: 42°06’58.0″N 86°29’36.0″W
Did You Know? The smokestack exhausted the steam-powered fog signal and was removed in the mid- 1940s as technology changed, and was then replicated and replaced during the major restoration project in 2016. StJoeLighthouseTours.org

South Haven South Pierhead Light
Year Built: 1903 Tower Height: 36′ Tours: No Stay at the light? No
GPS Coordinates: 42°24’5.1474″N 86°17’16.7994″W
Did You Know? The South Pier Light was built in 1903, replacing the original 1872 wooden lighthouse. The steel catwalk is one of four that survive in Michigan today.

Holland Harbor Lighthouse, Holland
Year Built: 1872 Tower Height: 32′
Tours: No Stay at the light? No
GPS Coordinates: 42°46’21.7″N 86°12’44.7″W
Did You Know? The first lighthouse keeper was Melgert van Regenmorter, appointed to service in 1870 at an annual salary of $540. He served until just prior to the steam fog signal going into operation. It is said that he wanted no part of the new technology.

Grand Haven Lighthouse, Grand Haven
Year First Built: 1839
Tower Heights: Inner Light: 51′ Outer Light: 36′
Tours: No Stay at the light? No
GPS Coordinates: 43°3’25.92″N 86°15’13.3194″W
Did You Know? Grand Haven’s South Pier has gone through many restorations since 1839, and was finished in 1922 as it stands today. The pier holds two red lighthouses connected by a lighted catwalk: the inner cylindrical light and the outer foghouse light.

Little Sable Point Lighthouse, Silver Lake/Mears
Year Built: 1874 Tower Height: 115′ 
GPS Coordinates: 43°39’05.0″N  86°32’22.6″W
Did You Know? Little Sable Point Lighthouse still has its original third order Fresnel lens, making it one of the  few lighthouses on Lake Michigan to be   able to showcase its original lens. It is the tallest light on the eastern shores of Lake Michigan.

The point where the lake meets the sky is not visible in this 2011 photo of the Ludington North Breakwater Light. Photo by Lisa Enos.

Ludington North Breakwater Light, Ludington (pictured)
Year Built: 1924 Tower Height: 57′
GPS Coordinates: 43°57’16.8″N 86°28’09.4″ W
Did You Know? The Ludington North Breakwater Lighthouse tips 4.5 degrees North-Northeast due to the enlargement of the cement slab that surrounds the tower which took place in 1994, it was never corrected.


Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington State Park
Year Built: 1867 Tower Height: 112′
Tours: Yes Stay at the light? Yes
GPS Coordinates: 44°03’27.5″N 86°30’52.1″W
Did You Know? The Big Sable Tower was built of Milwaukee cream brick, which was so soft that the tower began deteriorating from the sand which blew against it. In 1900 the tower was encased in steel plates and painted its trademark black and white.
Website: SPLKA.org

Point Betsie Lighthouse
Year Built: 1858 Tower Height: 37′ Tours: Yes Stay at the light? Yes
GPS Coordinates: 44°41’28.6794″N 86°15’18.72″W
Did You Know? Point Betsie Lighthouse was the last manned lighthouse on Lake Michigan and was not automated until 1984.

Charlevoix South Pier Lighthouse
Year Built: 1948 Tower Height: 41′
GPS Coordinates: 45°19’12.8″N 85°15’53.7″W
Did You Know? The lighthouse is owned by the City of Charlevoix and maintained and preserved by the Charlevoix Historical Society, while the United States Coast Guard is responsible for the operation of the light itself. The lighthouse also celebrates its 75th year this September!

Lighthouse information provided by West Michigan Tourist Association. Download the official “Lake Michigan Circle Tour” map, with more than 100 Michigan lighthouse locations here.

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