For centuries, lighthouses have offered a beacon for ships seeking safe passage through fog, storms and treacherous waters. Today, many of those towering structures also provide a safe harbor for families interested in sleeping amid seafaring history. Here are five to consider:
1. SAUGERTIES LIGHTHOUSE
Stunning beauty and rich history beckon visitors to this alluring locale where the Catskill Mountains meet the Hudson River. Learn how whale oil lamps kept the beacon burning. Discover what it means to be a modern lighthouse keeper. Wander along nature trails where beaver, eagles and heron make their home. Docent-guided tours are available on Sunday afternoons during summer. A documentary film also illuminates the lighthouse history for visitors.
2. BIG BAY LIGHTHOUSE
Big Bay, Mich.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this lighthouse is run by avid preservationists eager to share local history. Their goal is to maintain the romance of an era when mariners relied on the skill of a light keeper to bring them safely through this challenging stretch of Michigan coastline. Today visitors enjoy the peaceful solitude of the pristine, cliffside location overlooking Lake Superior. Hiking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are available on 40 acres of trails. A full breakfast is included. For safety reasons, children must be 16 or older.
3. PIGEON POINT LIGHTHOUSE
Just 50 miles south of San Francisco, enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean as you and your family learn how mariners once navigated the central California coast with the help of the 115-foot lighthouse. Be on the lookout for whales, wade into tide pools and catch the star show overhead. An affordable seaside option, the unique hostel offers shared and private rooms. Cook your own meals in the fully equipped kitchen. Free history talks are offered on weekends.
4. TWO HARBORS LIGHT STATION
Two Harbors, Minn.
Sleep over in the oldest operating lighthouse in the state, overlooking Lake Superior. Get ready for the day with a full breakfast that includes the station’s signature Scandinavian fruit soup. Constructed in 1892 to provide safe passage into the Agate Bay Harbor, the lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today visitors and overnight guests can learn about modern navigation as well as steep in the region’s seafaring history through the onsite museum.
5. HECETA HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
Spend the night and take family selfies in front of what some say it is the most photographed lighthouse in the U.S. Set high above the Pacific Ocean, the working lighthouse casts a beam 21 miles out to sea. An Interpretive Center, located on the first floor of the Keeper’s House, offers free, docent-led, guided tours during the summer months. The lighthouse offers tours year round. A seven-course breakfast awaits B&B guests.