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Lighthouse Travel

May 24, 2010
by Sarah Amandolare
Lighthouses have the romantic appeal of keepers at home on the sea and cut off from the rest of the world. Visiting or sleeping in lighthouses offers travelers a unique escape, and a chance to experience the ultimate in seclusion. 

The Lighthouse Experience

Some of the mystique surrounding lighthouses is a myth, which is good to keep in mind if you're planning an overnight stay. In an article for The Washington Post, Jennifer Huget describes her arrival at the Rose Island lighthouse on the Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island with her family. She learned that sleeping for a week at the charming beacon requires completion of certain chores, "from stirring the cistern to mowing the grass, from dusting the windowsills to painting the trim," and most importantly, keeping Rose Island's light beaming all night. Huget also notes, however, that in her turn as a so-called temporary keeper, she "felt connected to a rare tradition," one that had her two young children begging to return every year.

The United States Lighthouse Society gives domestic and international tours and lighthouse expeditions. The site's "Resources" section has educational materials for lighthouse enthusiasts, plus advice for those who want to experience the life of a lighthouse keeper. Some articles from the society's magazine, called The Keeper's Log, are also posted on the site.

Visiting Lighthouses

The National Parks Service provides listings of "Lighthouses to Visit" organized by region of the U.S. Explore the classic New England architecture of lighthouses on the North and Mid Atlantic coasts; bask in the sun at lighthouses on the Gulf and South Atlantic coasts; relax at Great Lakes lighthouses or take in the dwarfing Pacific Coast offerings.  The National Parks Service does not link to official lighthouse Web sites, but provides contact information, owner/manager and nearest city.

For more lighthouse listings, organized by state and including photos, detailed driving directions and GPS coordinates, visit The site is led by a North Carolina-based blogger who shares 24 of his own Webmaster Journeys, his detailed accounts of travel to lighthouses in the U.S. and Canada.

Lighthouses With Inns

For a listing of lighthouses with accommodations, use the site New England Lighthouses, A Virtual Guide. Based on the book "Staying at a Lighthouse," the site actually covers lighthouses with overnight lodgings across the U.S. and around the world. Each lighthouse listing on the site links to an official lighthouse Web site for further information and booking.

In an article for Family Travel Forum, Glen Luzong suggests several historic lighthouses that "offer affordable family-friendly lodging" on the East and West Coasts. From upstate New York, to Nantucket, Florida and California, the lighthouses Luzong describes each have their own charms and activities available for families with children. 

Landmark Lighthouses

The National Parks Service lists historic lighthouses by state, including many that are over a century old, such as New York's Bluff Point Light on Valcour Island.

The Tower of Hercules is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. The 180-foot lighthouse has stood at La Coruña harbor in northwestern Spain "since the late 1st century A.D. when the Romans built the Farum Brigantium," according to UNESCO.

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