What do we mean by ‘near’? 10 miles or 10 minutes away or less!
We compiled this particular list of 19 B&Bs near Michigan lighthouses to highlight — with three exceptions — those you can easily drive, bike or stroll to from your B&B to watch a sunrise, sunset, boats, lake storm a-brewing, or to simply admire these beloved icons of our past.
And starting with the above photo of Holland’s Big Red Lighthouse by Nicholas Klein, we’re also highlighting the work of several professional or talented hobbyist photographers who have a soft spot for Michigan lighthouses.
Book a quality-assured Michigan B&B anywhere near the shores of lakes Michigan, Huron or Superior, and you’ll be in a good position to check multiple lighthouses off your list if you make a day or half-day out of it.
Dedicated lighthouse collectors are advised to plan their trips using the Michigan Lighthouse Guide, available online or as a folded map, in combination with this website for accommodations. Michigan has more than 120 lighthouses, more than any other state. You’ll need more than one trip to photograph them all.
Planning to climb a lighthouse? Many require closed-toe shoes — no flip-flops — because the stairs are narrow and steep. Check hours and closure dates in advance online or by calling. Many lighthouse museums and gift shops are staffed by knowledgeable, unpaid volunteers. Pay entrance fees cheerfully; they help fund ongoing restoration and visitor amenities.
The following tour of 18 B&Bs near Michigan lighthouses starts at East Tawas (where Saginaw Bay meets Lake Huron), and goes counter-clockwise north to the Upper Peninsula and then south toward the bottom of Lake Michigan.
Numerous other quality-assured bed and breakfasts found here are close to great lighthouses, but for this article the lighthouses needed to be within 10 miles or 10 minutes of the B&Bs.
Tawas Point Lighthouse, East Tawas
Stay: Always a Holiday! Bed and Breakfast, East Tawas. Three guest rooms. Walk to downtown. Recent five-star review: “You might expect an old house to have thin walls, but I’m pleased to report that we didn’t overhear any other rooms. Being a healthcare worker, I’d also like to thank Brenda for keeping up with the Covid protocols at the time. This place is a gem!”
Proximity to lighthouse: 4.6 miles. A 10-minute drive; 23 minutes by bike
About the lighthouse: Tower and museum not open in 2021, but well-informed volunteers are providing interpretative talks and answering questions on Tuesday afternoons. Reviewers comment favorably on the quality of the restoration, trails, beautiful lakeshore scenes, variety of birds, and the chance of seeing small wildlife. Lighthouse is within Tawas Point State Park, so cars need a pass or paid entrance fee.
Au Sable Pierhead Light, Oscoda
Stay: Huron House, one of Michigan’s best-known romantic destinations, located on a Lake Huron beach. 14 king-bed rooms. A straight-shooting five-star review: “This place is amazing, but stay away if you don’t want class at a high level. Food is gourmet quality, services are first rate, and the location is prime. If you are a cheapskate, keep it moving; you get what you pay for here.”
Proximity to light: 3.6 miles. Five-minute drive; 17 minutes to bike along North US-23.
About the lighthouse: Unlike most Michigan lighthouses, the Au Sable Pierhead Light has been moved, more than once, from its original location at the mouth of the 138-mile Au Sable River. Unlike most Michigan lighthouses, this one never had on-site housing for its keepers. It also started life in 1873 as an open-framework, square-based wooden structure and later was replaced by a similar metal one. Civic-minded citizens rescued it from an uncertain fate, had it refurbished and repainted, and it was installed in its downtown Oscoda location in 2018. See it lighted at night. Before or after, take a stroll on the nearby 450-foot observation and fishing pier jutting out over Lake Huron.
Old and New Presque Isle Lighthouses, Presque Isle
Stay: Presque Isle Lodge Bed and Breakfast Inn, Presque Isle. Eight rooms. Seasonal. Located between Lake Huron and Grand Lake, a 5,660-acre lake with 16 islands. Can accommodate up to 200 people for events, such as the reception for the bridal-attired couple in photo. Review excerpt: “Spent a fabulous night in the Honeymoose suite, canoed Grand Lake the next day, and had great conversations with Robin. The lodge is really, really cool and the lake is gorgeous. Huron waters are amazing too—color and landscape plus lighthouses are wonderful!”
Proximity to Old Presque Isle Lighthouse: 3.3 miles. Five minutes to drive; 16 minutes to bike.
New Presque Isle Lighthouse: 4.3 miles. Seven minutes to drive; 20 minutes to bike.
About the lighthouses: The 30-foot-high Old Presque Isle lighthouse served for 30 years starting in 1840 and marks the entrance to one of the best natural harbors of refuge on the Michigan shore of Lake Huron.
By 1868, the keeper’s house was deteriorating, leading to discussions that ended with a decision to build a taller lighthouse — the New Presque Isle Lighthouse — on the north side of the peninsula. It remains an active aid to navigation. Its original 3rd order Fresnel (fray-NELL) lens is on display. What’s special about a lens? In a time before electrification, the size and design of these glass marvels greatly magnified the light from oil-fired lamp atop the tower, thus helping to make the lakes safer for mariners.
You can climb both lighthouses. The views from the top of especially the newer lighthouses come highly recommended in Google reviews, as do the interpretive history displays and gift shop.
Round Island Lighthouse and Passage Light
Stay: Bay View Bed and Breakfast, Mackinac Island. 20 guest rooms overlook the harbor and the Straits of Mackinac. Open May through October. Recent review: “The staff are so kind and it’s in the perfect location. The breakfast is wonderful, but the dessert every evening is the best on the island!”
Proximity to lights: A little over a mile away, but the only way to get near them is by water, and the water is deep.
About the lights: On ferries taking them to Mackinac Island (pronounced MACK-in-aw), about a million people a year pass by both the Round Island Lighthouse and the Round Island Passage Light. The 71-foot-high Passage Light, also called the Mackinac Island Crib light, marks the north end of the narrow shipping channel between Mackinac and Round islands and the turn into Mackinac Island Harbor. Preservationists have lavished their attention on the picturesque and oft-photographed Round Island Light over the years. In 2020, as high water on the Great Lakes ate away the rocky island on which the lighthouse sits, an anonymous donor came forward with $250,000, permits were expedited, and by late fall, the island was shored up.
Big Bay Point Lighthouse, Big Bay
Stay: Right there! Big Bay Point Lighthouse IS a quality-assured B&B. Only guests can go inside or climb the tower, but other visitors can view the lighthouse and Lake Superior from the expansive lawn — outside of a fenced area reserved for guests — or explore trails on the 40-acre wooded property between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Birders especially enjoy the property. Review excerpt: “Nick has given attention to every inch of detail of this splendid place to make our stay cozy and unforgettable! He’s been a pleasure to talk to and has a great amount of knowledge about lighthouses.”
About the lighthouse: Outfitted with a 1940s-era rotating beacon whose light is visible for 20 nautical miles, Big Bay Point Lighthouse remains an active, U.S. Coast Guard-monitored aid to mariners. The lighthouse’s original 3rd order Fresnel lens, built in 1895, has been returned to the inn after a stint in a museum. It’s the star of a second-floor room displaying marine navigation artifacts. Exploring the room is a perk for B&B guests. Public tours for groups of up to six persons, ages 10 and over, were suspended because of Covid, but watch this page for news of their resumption.
Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor lighthouses
Stay: Dapple-Gray Bed and Breakfast, Eagle Harbor Township. Four rooms. Sits on a hill overlooking Lake Superior. Review snippet: “A very unique B&B with positive vibes and happy customers. Spacious, clean rooms on great property for viewing northern lights or watching gnarly storms blow through. 2 miles outside Copper Harbor. Loved the innkeepers and the breakfast! The perfect place to read a book — or write one!”
Close, but…: Copper Harbor Lighthouse is 5.2 miles away and would be a 13-minute drive — IF you could drive all the way there. Alas, although the lighthouse itself is owned by the State of Michigan and considered to be part of Fort Wilkins State Park, the road leading from the main part of the park to the lighthouse is private. Organized privately run boat tours not available in 2021.
Almost as close: Eagle Harbor Lighthouse: 12 miles, 21 minutes
About the lighthouses: Copper Harbor Light occupies the most northerly point of land in Michigan. Google reviewers who go there in kayaks or private boats say the grounds are interesting to explore and to photograph.
The best alternative vantage points for photographers are Hunter’s Point Park or a parking area off US-41 next to where Fanny Hooe Creek flows into the bay.
The lighthouse uses the “schoolhouse” design popular in the 1860s. Since its decommissioning, mariners are guided by an automated light atop the metal tower seen in the photo.
Eagle Harbor Light, another decommissioned lighthouse with an automated navigational beacon maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, is noteworthy for the amount of fascinating, well-told history you’re exposed to in just one visit. The Keweenaw Historical Society operates four museums here. Besides the lighthouse, which sits on a rocky outcropping at the entrance to Eagle Harbor — making you wonder how they ever managed to build it — you can visit a Maritime Museum, a Keweenaw History Museum, and a Commercial Fishing Museum.
Mission Point Lighthouse, Traverse City
Stay: Chateau Chantal, a winery and bed and breakfast offering views over the vineyards of sunrises, sunsets, and both arms of Grand Traverse Bay. 11 guest rooms. Review snippet: “Beautiful inn, rooms are very spacious, neat and clean. Loved breakfast. Staff is very courteous and friendly. Chateau is clean and well organized. They have a good variety of wines, best known for their wine tasting. They have nice cozy igloos for winter for wine tasting.”
Proximity to light: 6.5 miles, a 10-minute drive
About the light: Mission Point Lighthouse is a popular for its relatively uncrowded, sandy beach, its easy walk from the parking area, the Lake Michigan views from the tower, and the pleasant drive through vineyards and orchards to get there. One reviewer wrote: “Fresh air, crystal clear water, and the beautiful scenery. What else do you need?!”
Robert H. Manning Memorial Lighthouse, Empire
Stay: Cottonwood Inn Bed and Breakfast, Empire. Six guest rooms. Empire is the headquarters of Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore, and scenic M-22 goes right through town. Review excerpt: “The owner is so accommodating! The rooms are spacious and thoroughly cleaned. The breakfasts are wonderful! If you let them know about dietary restrictions they go above and beyond to make sure you have a wide variety to choose from. Highly recommend to anyone wanting something different from the average hotel experience.”
Proximity to light: 1.3 miles via M-72 west, a five-minute drive
About the light: Lifelong Empire resident and avid Lake Michigan fisherman Robert H. Manning was said to have often remarked that Empire had no lighthouse to guide small craft to the boat launch. After he died in 1989, friends had a memorial lighthouse built to honor him. One reviewer said it’s “adorable.” Another said “meh.” But most reviewers agree that the surrounding village park offers a great beach and beautiful sunset views. Lake storms with high waves bring Petoskey stone hunters afterward to scan the beach.
Manistee North Pierhead Light, Manistee
Stay: Dempsey Manor Inn, Manistee. Six guest rooms. Former lumber baron mansion. Review snippet: “Dempsey Manor is double-turret, three-story Victorian B&B. This is a must-do experience. From the time it comes into view to the time you leave you will not stop noticing new furniture and features. You are welcomed with genuine kindness that continues throughout your stay. We were privy only to the suite we rented but I must believe all the rooms are just as spectacular. The home houses an eclectic collection of Victorian and Asian antiquity. The well traveled owner has amassed a superior collection from all compass points and displays it impeccably here. Comforts abound. I cannot say enough good things about the beautiful lady who manages. So kind and warm with a great sense of humor.”
Proximity to pier: Two miles, a five-minute drive.
About the light: The Manistee North Pierhead Light, sitting at the end of a quarter-mile-long concrete pier at the mouth of the Manistee River, has been owned and managed by the City of Manistee and the Manistee County Historical Museum since 2011. The exterior has since been extensively renovated, and fundraising to refurbish the interior is ongoing. Reviews mention strolling on the pier, enjoying the nearby beach, and photographing the sunsets.
Big Sable Point Lighthouse, Ludington, AND…
…Ludington North Breakwater Light
Stay: Talk about B&Bs near Michigan lighthouses! You get your choice of two lighthouses and three great B&Bs in Ludington. In alphabetical order:
- Candlelite Inn B&B: 7 guest rooms. Innkeeper Melanie serves a candlelit breakfast every morning. Sample review: “The hospitality that Melanie and her sons, Chris and Kyle, display is remarkable. The flexibility in serving and number of options available for breakfast is absolutely amazing! Also, the quality of presentation and the ingredients of the food and sweets are positively astounding. We have visited numerous bed and breakfasts over a period of twenty years. The Candlelight Inn Bed and Breakfast has reset the bar for excellence and is now our absolute favorite B&B in terms of location and staff service.”
- Lamplighter B&B of Ludington: 5 guest rooms. Voted #1 Red Hot Best in its region by Traverse magazine in 2021. Review snapshot: “The Lamplighter is THE place to stay in Ludington, Michigan. The house is perfectly located, beautifully appointed, and you’ll not find better hosts than Dan and Jen. The rooms are clean, cozy, and comforting, and Jen’s breakfasts are truly top-notch. I’ve stayed at The Lamplighter a handful of times over the last few years, and each time I leave I’m soon longing for my next stay.”
- Ludington House B&B: 8 guest rooms. A one-time lumber baron mansion. First-time-to-a-B&B guest said: “The house was beautiful and breakfast was delicious. We must be used to hotel pillows when traveling, because the pillows at this B&B were Life. Changing.” Another reviewer wrote that owners Bob and Ellen “really made my wife and I feel as though we were old friends back for a visit. The home has loads of character and has a great balance of modern necessities (our bath was spectacular) and historic charm.”
Proximity to lighthouses: To get to Big Sable Point Lighthouse from any of the three B&Bs, it’s about six miles, a 16-minute drive, to the parking area. To get to the North Breakwater Light is about a mile to the parking area, four minutes.
About the lights: The North Breakwater Light marks the exit into Lake Michigan of Pere Marquette Lake and the 46-mile-long Pere Marquette River. French Roman Catholic missionary Jacques Marquette died in 1675 near the mouth of the river and is buried there. Look for a monument to him and his explorations. The pierhead and light, replaced over the years, were essential to Ludington’s lumbering and sawmill industries in the latter half of the 1800s. The SS Badger car ferry to Manitowoc, WI, comes and goes past the North Breakwater Lights. People also walk out on the less-crowded South Breakwater Pier, where there is a lighted aid to navigation but no lighthouse.
It’s estimated that nearly 10,000 ships have sunk in Lake Michigan and nearly 300,000 people have lost their lives. Conditions on the Great Lakes can turn treacherous within minutes, and lighthouses were built to help keep mariners on course in a time before accurate weather forecasting. As Big Sable Point was an important landmark for ship captains along eastern shore of Lake Michigan, a lighthouse was built, opening in November 1867. Its fixed white light could be seen for 19 miles. Until a road was built in the mid-1920s, the keepers would occasionally walk the nine miles to Ludington for supplies.
Today, from the parking area, take a scenic two-mile walk along a trail to view Big Sable Point Lighthouse, which, at more than 100 feet tall, is the undisputed star of Ludington State Park. Big Sable Point Occasional bus tours are available through S.P.L.K.A, Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association, a nonprofit whose website offers educational info about four lighthouses the association maintains between Whitehall and Ludington.
White River Light Station Museum, Whitehall
Stay: Two blocks from downtown Whitehall, book one of four guest rooms at Lewis House B&B. This renovated Victorian sits on a bluff overlooking White Lake. Review snippet: “It takes a certain personality to run a bed and breakfast, and these folks have it all. Customer satisfaction is top of mind, and they attend to every need and every detail. They were gracious and accommodating of dietary restrictions. And, to top it off, we had a great personal experience sharing favorite beverages, and we received a personal saxophone concert by Greg.”
Proximity to light station: 6.5 miles or a 14-minute drive for either B&B
About the light: Lumbering interests promoted the digging of a channel between White Lake and Lake Michigan, completed in 1870. The light station opened five years later. Its first keeper came from England and served for 47 years, along with his wife and 13 children. Climb to the top of the lighthouse, visit the museum, explore the grounds, or time your visit to coincide with a concert.
Grand Haven Inner and Outer Pier Lights, Grand Haven
Stay: Take your pick of two B&Bs in the charming beach town of Grand Haven.
- Looking Glass Beachfront Inn: 5 guest rooms. Large deck overlooks state park beach, Lake Michigan, and the pier lights. Review sample: ” I was looking for a relaxing place with an excellent view that was walkable to town. This bed and breakfast checked all the boxes. The view is spectacular! The inn is set up so that you can sit inside or outside and enjoy the view while drinking wine or coffee. The rooms were very comfortable and a good size. I had everything I needed.”
- Washington Street Inn: 5 guest rooms. Craftsman-style. Walk to downtown shops and eateries. Scratch-made breakfasts include farm fresh eggs, home-prepared pastries, and homegrown herbs. Review snippet: “Absolutely fabulous B&B. The owner, Tony, was such a great host. Their home is beautiful and exceptionally clean. The breakfast was excellent and cooked by Tony himself. Highly recommend staying here. We really enjoyed ourselves. First class.”
Proximity to pier: From Looking Glass Beachfront Inn, which has stairs down the bluff, it’s .8 miles to the Lake Michigan end of the pier and 18 minutes to walk. From Washington Street Inn, drive 1.7 miles (6 minutes) to the parking area for Grand Haven State Park, then walk out on the pier.
About the lights: The first lighthouse marking the place where the Grand River meets Lake Michigan was built in 1930. The two current beacons date to the early 1900s and serve one of Michigan’s busiest channels for fishing and recreational boats. The original purpose for the catwalk (also seen attached to the lights at Manistee and South Haven) was to allow the keeper to access and tend the lighthouse even when the pier was awash with waves. As lighthouses were automated, other catwalks were removed, but Grand Haven’s is a point of community pride and was refurbished most recently between 2016 and 2019.
Holland Harbor Light, Holland
Stay: Two B&B choices in Holland.
- Dutch Colonial Inn: 4 guest rooms. Dutch hospitality in a quiet residential neighborhood. Recent review: “This is a beautiful, comfortable, welcoming B&B. The food is fantastic, the ambience peaceful, and the owners are the second to none! If you’re coming to Holland, I highly recommend this as the best place to stay!”
- Inn at Old Orchard Road: 3 guest rooms. A one-time Dutch farmhouse in a neighborhood one block from Lake Macatawa. Large backyard with gazebo. Reviewer wrote: “Betsy is a wonderful hostess! So warm and kind. The breakfast was scrumptious! Will definitely be planning next year’s trip soon.”
Proximity to lighthouse: From Inn on Old Orchard Road, 2.4 miles, seven minutes to drive. From Dutch Colonial Inn, 5.9 miles; 13-minute drive.
About the light: Strikingly unusual in appearance, but you might not be able to get close because adjacent land is privately owned. You could try what reviewer Chris Kopecky posted on Google in late 2020: “This lighthouse is very convenient to photograph or watch the sunset above it from the north riverbank of the Macatawa inlet. However, to actually visit the lighthouse is a little trickier. Coming up S. Shore Drive from the bottom of Lake Macatawa, there is a gatehouse for the private association not cottage owners. If the gatehouse is open, ask them if you can park in their lot (on the right, just behind the gate). It’s a small lot, so depending on if there are spaces available, they will usually let you park here to walk the 10 minutes or so to the lighthouse along the river path. If it’s out of season or after hours, you need to look for parking further east near the yacht club, and your walk will be closer to 15 minutes.”
South Haven South Pierhead Light, South Haven
Stay: Victoria Resort and Bed and Breakfast: 10 rooms. Five hundred feet from Lake Michigan and the very popular Oak Beach. Recent review: “The perfect place for the eight of us to comfortably enjoy one cottage and an additional room in the B&B. The manager was so hospitable. The amenities on the grounds were perfect. The pool, tennis courts and extra amenities we all thoroughly enjoyed for the afternoon. Grounds are well-kept. We all loved the bike riding option as the town and beach are nearby. We got what we paid for and more.”
Proximity to lighthouse: 1.7 miles; seven-minute drive
About the light: By the mid-1800s, sawmills along the Black River were busy processing hemlock, pine and oak into lumber. The problem was getting it from there to market because sandbars at the river’s mouth prevented the goods from getting onto ships. The solution was to build piers on the north and south sides of the river’s mouth and to add lights to aid navigation. Today the pier is popular for walks. It’s close to a beach, pavilion, and downtown shops and eateries. It’s not open for climbing.
Read this if haunted Michigan lighthouses near B&Bs are of interest.
A big, big thank you to the professional and amateur photographers who gave us permission to use their outstanding photos of Michigan lighthouses. (Just because something can be found in search doesn’t mean it’s available to use.) Notice how the pros compose their photos. They choose the best angle of view, even if it means lying on the ground. And they shoot when the light is right.
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