U.S. lighthouses to spend the night

illustration by Jessy Scarpone

lighthouse map

Lighthouses have a timeless appeal. They draw us in with their contradicting characteristics: function and beauty, isolation and communication, lightness and dark. They evoke a sense of adventure and romance and speak volumes about the nautical history of their surroundings. As lighthouses in North America became less essential to navigation, many of their historic structures faced demolition or fell into disrepair. In the U.S., the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act was passed in 2000 to provide for the transfer of lighthouse structures to local governments and private non-profit groups. This important act has allowed for some iconic beacons of the past to be converted into idyllic getaways of the present. Here’s our roundup of the most awe inspiring lighthouses you can spend the night at. 

A half-mile boat ride from Boothbay Harbor, Maine lies Cuckold’s Lighthouse. Situated on a small, rocky island, the beautifully restored 1892 lighthouse is the perfect summer escape. Guests may rent out a suite or, if they’re in search of total isolation, the whole island. Guests are shuttled to Cuckolds Island by Launch Captains in a restored Navy motor whaleboat and upon arrival are pampered by the luxurious amenities and innkeepers. Cuckolds Island, ME. innatcuckoldslighthouse.com.

Although East Brother Light Station is just a ten-minute boat ride from San Francisco, it feels worlds away. The beautiful victorian building sits on a tiny island in the San Pablo Straight.  Built in 1874 and automated in 1969, the lighthouse was designed in the American Stick style by Paul Pelz, and has been operating as a bed and breakfast for the past three decades. Visit in the colder months when you can watch the fog roll in and relax by a warm fire. East Brother, CA. ebls.org.                     

Sitting atop a windblown cliff overlooking the Pacific, Heceta Head Lighthouse is the brightest light on the Oregon Coast and it’s said to be one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. The lightkeepers house is a picturesque Queen Anne-style building with breathtaking views of the sea. Come for the views and stay for the gourmet seven-course breakfast. Yachats, OR. hecetalighthouse.com.

On the very tip of Cape Cod, jutting out into the Atlantic, lies Race Point Lighthouse. The 1816 lighthouse and 1950’s era Keepers House now offer rustic and eco-friendly accommodations for New England vacationers. Race Point Lighthouse is not situated on an island but it is certainly isolated from its surroundings - you must take a 2 mile ride across the sand dunes to get there. The Keepers House can accommodate 11 guests and features great amenities including a grill and outdoor shower. Provincetown, MA. racepointlighthouse.org.

The 17-acre stretch of Rose Island lies a mile offshore in Narragansett Bay and includes a wildlife refuge, the Fort Hamilton Barracks and Rose Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1869 and was restored to its 1912 appearance in the ‘80s by a group of volunteers. You can now spend the night in the peaceful and quaint lighthouse which runs on wind-powered electricity and is only accessible by boat. Rose Island, RI. roseisland.org.                

Saugerties Lighthouse, just 100 miles from New York City, offers welcome respite to city dwellers with breathtaking views of The Hudson River Valley and the Catskills Mountains. The iconic red brick lighthouse was built in 1869 and rescued from destruction in the ‘80s by a not-for-profit group.  The lighthouse is open year round and is especially captivating during a full moon when the whole building is lit up with the silvery moonlight. Saugerties, NY. saugertieslighthouse.com.

West Point Lighthouse was built in 1875 and at 67 feet, is Prince Edward's tallest lighthouse. June through September, you can stay at the West Point Lighthouse Inn which features 13 rooms, each with a breathtaking view of the Northumberland Strait. Opt for the Keeper’s Quarters or the The Tower Room for an extra special experience. Once there, explore pristine beaches and the Cedar Dunes and dine on local seafood while you watch the fishing boats bring in their daily catch. Prince Edward Island, BC, CA. westpointlighthouse.com.

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