Standing tall and proud along the shores of Lake Michigan, Point Betsie marks the southern entrance to the Manitou Passage.
Photo by: Todd & Brad Reed Photography
Lighthouses symbolize safety, a fascinating maritime history — and have a romantic nature about them. Our area of West Michigan along the Lake Michigan shoreline has its share of these wonderful structures, from Manistee’s North Pierhead Lighthouse down to Little Sable Point Lighthouse at Silver Lake.
Most were constructed in the late 1800s, when the lumber industry was at its peak. The lighthouses were especially useful in the mid-1900s, when Ludington’s Lake Michigan harbor was home to a large carferry fleet.
Today, thanks to organizations that are dedicated to preserving these lighthouses, they proudly stand on the shores of a sometimes turbulent Lake Michigan, opening their doors to visitors, and continue to guide vessels into port.
Ludington’s North Breakwater Light has been ranked as the #1 lighthouse to visit in Michigan. This iconic lighthouse, located at the end of Ludington Avenue, is accessible from the Stearns Park. It’s a focal point within the community, and a great place to watch the sunset! Visitors and locals enjoy walking the long outer break wall (a mile-long round trip) leading out to the light. This location provides a close look at the S.S. Badger carferry as it cruises from its home port to cross Lake Michigan, from Ludington to Manitowoc, and back. During open hours, visitors can climb the 53 steps to the top of the North Breakwater Light.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm May 23-September 3, 2023.
The black-and-white striped, 112 foot Big Sable Point Lighthouse at the Ludington State Park stands proudly on the shores of Lake Michigan and remains a testament to lighthouse keepers of the past. The Big Sable Point Lighthouse is listed on both the state and national registers of historic places. From May-October, visitors can hike the 1.5 miles from the parking lot to the beach and climb the 130 steps to the top of the tower, which offers a spectacular view of the Lake Michigan waters. The original keeper’s quarters houses a gift shop, where you can pick up a memento of your visit.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm May 9-October 22, 2023.
The Pierhead Lights of Pentwater serve as beacons to guide pleasure boats into Pentwater’s Lake Michigan harbor during the busy summer season. Pentwater’s Pierhead Lights aren’t technically lighthouses, but rather two lights. The current South Pierhead Light stands 25 feet tall, with the North Pierhead Light at 17 feet tall. Each is considered one of the few remaining pier range light systems located on the Great Lakes.
The most symbolic icon of the Victorian Port City is the North Pierhead Lighthouse, located between the 1st Street and 5th Avenue beaches of Manistee. Many Michigan lighthouses demolished their catwalks when the lights became electrified, so Manistee’s catwalk is a rare sight. In the late 1920s, after extensive pier renovations, the old fog signal building was replaced by the present structure. Standing watch over Lake Michigan waters, Manistee’s North Pierhead Lighthouse welcomes boaters into its harbor, and is a reminder of Manistee’s great maritime history.
Built in 1875, the White River Light Station is one of four lights operated by Sable Points Lighthouse Keepers Association. Located in Whitehall, Michigan (about 40 minutes south of Ludington), the Light Station is situated between Lake Michigan and White Lake. The light station was decommissioned in 1960 and became a museum in 1970. Here, you can climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower or view the original Fourth Order Fresnel lens. There is a $8 donation for adults and $5 for youth 17 & under to climb the tower.
Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, May 19-September 30, 2023; AND October 1-29 from 11am-4pm.
A series of lights draped like holiday lights run along the pier, only broken in the middle by the sight of the Grand Haven Lighthouse. This inner lighthouse, built in 1905, has a round tower looks elegant in its vivid red with lights stringing out on either side. As we follow the lights towards the lake we come to the breakwater’s second lighthouse. This outer light, built in 1875, has its own charm and resembles a small barn in appearance. At one time the outer light was equipped with a fog horn which could warn ships in harm’s way when the light could not be seen. The west side of the light sports a structure similar to the bow of a ship. This protects the light from the heavy swells so common on Lake Michigan.
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The Manistee Riverwalk follows the Manistee River from Jones Street, under the US-31 bridge, behind downtown, and ends at First Street beach.
The Traverse City Opera House has a 700-seat theater which offers a place for quality arts and cultural entertainment.
Scottville Riverside Park, along the Pere Marquette River, has over 50 modern sites and is popular for camping and fishing.
Winter in Manistee County includes great outdoor activities like skiing, snow shoeing, hiking, ice skating, and more.
Take a tour on the Historic S.S. City of Milwaukee car ferry and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Acacia docked in Manistee, Michigan.
The historical Vogue Theatre in Manistee, renovated as a modern-day movie theater, shows current movies, classic films, and family movies.
Pet live animals, enjoy fresh produce and dairy products, and more! Lots of experiences are available for the family when you visit the farm!
Created in 1980, this trail has 1,000 miles running through Michigan, which also runs through the Huron-Manistee National Forest.
Find artifacts, photographs, and lots of information and stories about the rich history of Pentwater at this historic museum!
The spring/fall runs of steelhead and salmon, the resident brown trout and “brookies” make the PM River extremely popular for fishing.