For hundreds of years, lighthouses up and down the Atlantic coast have served as a beacon to mariners on the darkest nights and a warning away from shoals and reefs. Many are still in use today, and all are worth a visit. Many are also open to the public, but you can still tour the grounds and photograph those that aren’t. Here are 12 that everyone should see.
West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Maine
What distinguishes this lighthouse from every other one on this list is that it sits on the easternmost point of land in the United States, so it’s the first place in the country to be touched by the sun each day. It’s in Quoddy Head State Park, which you can visit all year.
Portland Head Light, Maine
This beautiful lighthouse is the most photographed lighthouse in the country. Commissioned by George Washington, it was built in 1791 and is Maine’s oldest lighthouse.
Nauset Lighthouse, Massachusetts
If you’ve ever bought a bag of Cape Cod potato chips, you’ve seen this lighthouse because it’s the one featured on the packaging. Free tours of this active lighthouse are available. Like many other East Coast lighthouses, it’s been moved to protect it from coastal erosion.
Southeast Light, Rhode Island
Twenty-one lighthouses grace the rocky shores of tiny Rhode Island. This one has a twist: it has a resident ghost named Mad Maggie, and when the lighthouse was moved, she moved with it!
Montauk Point Lighthouse, New York
Windswept Montauk Point is perhaps the most dramatic location on the New York shoreline. The lighthouse there is New York’s oldest.
Fire Island Lighthouse, New York
With wide black and white horizontal stripes, this is one of America’s most beautiful lighthouses. The lighthouse is open to visitors daily, and 182 steps get you to the top.
Cape May Lighthouse, New Jersey
Still operational, this lighthouse is open every day and has 199 steps to its top. A special opportunity is the chance to climb the lighthouse from 8-10 P.M. on nights when there’s a full moon.
Assateague Lighthouse, Virginia
Located on the namesake island in the namesake National Seashore, this lighthouse is open to the public. It has sweeping views of the coast and of Chincoteague Island, and its top is a good place from which to spot the island’s storied ponies. Plus, going inside is free.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, North Carolina
This black-and-white candy-striped lighthouse is visible from miles away, and it’s the tallest brick lighthouse in the country and the second-tallest in the world. Since 1870, it has helped guide ships safely through one of the most dangerous spots on the East Coast, an area known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic for all the ships it has claimed. Admission is free.
Cape Lookout Lighthouse, North Carolina
Flashing every 15 seconds, this lighthouse is visible from 12 miles out to sea. Getting there is part of the fund since you can only reach Cape Cod National Seashore by ferry. The lighthouse is currently closed to the public, but it’s still worth the trip out to see this beautiful lighthouse in such a spectacular setting that has some of the roughest waters and best shell collecting on the East Coast.
Tybee Island Lighthouse, Georgia
The oldest lighthouse in Georgia, the Tybee Island Lighthouse is also its tallest. It’s open to the public every day of the week except Tuesday. The admission fee also covers admission to the Tybee Museum, which is just across the street from the lighthouse.
St. Augustine Lighthouse, Florida
This impressive lighthouse was built in 1874, but the Spaniards built one on the same site back in the late 1500s. An admission fee gets you into today’s lighthouse, which is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas. For an additional fee, you can enjoy special tours such as the Sunset Moonrise and the Dark of the Moon Ghost Tour.
Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim
If you’re wondering where the best place to see the Grand Canyon sunrise at South Rim is, you’re not alone. With more than six million visitors to the national park each year, there are plenty of people trying to find the best place to see the show.
And what a show it is! Mother Nature does not disappoint. It was easily one of the most memorable sunrises we’ve ever seen! There are some things you should know before you go, though, and we’ll do our best to answer all your questions for you.
I Spent a Week in Mexico on a Small Cruise Ship, and This Is What It Was Like
Sixty-six guests. That’s all this ship holds, so compared to the mammoth cruise ships that carry several thousand vacationers, I wasn’t sure what to expect. However, the thought of a more intimate sailing was so intriguing my curiosity was piqued, and I wanted to know more.
Incredible Tales of Survival and the Movies That Brought Them to Life
These stories feature various aspects of human survival, from braving the elements and enduring isolation to overcoming unexpected disasters. Each of these tales provides a unique perspective on the indomitable human spirit and our will to survive against all odds. So captivating are these true stories that they’ve even inspired filmmakers to bring them to life on the big screen.
Image Credit: Dolores M. Harvey/Shutterstock
Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.