By Andrea Nordstrom Caughey
Lighthouses haven’t just guided sailors for centuries. They’re also fascinating structures to view and tour. Naturally, they’re nearly always in wonderful coastal settings — oceans, rivers or lakes — and can provide a lot of history about the towns they have served.
Many allow visitors to tour the inside of their tower. However, did you know you can stay overnight in some of them, too? Lodging possibilities vary. A few former lighthouse or keeper’s quarters have been transformed into B&Bs, that also may include dinner. Still others can be booked as vacation rentals, for a night or two or longer, with no keeper responsibilities. Usually such arrangements do not include food, but might offer a kitchen. A few offer shared, affordable hostel lodging. If you’re willing to volunteer with chores or tours, some defray or reduce costs. Check to see if you must join the local lighthouse association to qualify.
For an East Coast sampling, explore these lights from Massachusetts to North Carolina:
Perched atop Wings Neck peninsula in Bourne, Massachusetts, the Wings Neck Light illuminates access to the Cape Cod Canal. On Buzzards Bay between Pocasset Harbor and the Hog Island Channel, the lighthouse affords stunning Atlantic panoramas just a few feet from the shoreline. Guests can stay in the updated, but historic three bedroom keepers home that accommodates eight, with a living room, family room, two baths, kitchen and laundry area. There is a private beach for guests only. WingsNeckLighthouse.org
Located on bustling Narragansett Bay in Newport, Rhode Island, the Rose Island Lighthouse is the centerpiece of an 18 acre island. Dating back to 1869, the lighthouse was built to handle burgeoning freight and passenger traffic in the waters between Newport, New York and Boston. Not only can you stay overnight or even for a week, but you can explore meandering trails intersecting the island. RoseIsland.org
The oldest continuously operating lighthouse on Maryland’s scenic Chesapeake Bay, the lovingly restored Cove Point Lighthouse punctuates a seven-acre slice of the bay. It’s gorgeous keeper’s house is available as a vacation rental and accommodates 16. The public can also tour its serene grounds throughout the summer. CalvertMarineMuseum.com
Modeled after the Hooper Strait Light in St. Michaels, Maryland, the Light at Smithfield Station in Smithfield, Virginia, is an exact replica of a working Chesapeake Bay style lighthouse. Overlooking the Pagan River from scenic wrap around balconies, the Light offers two spacious suites, breakfast (included Monday-Saturday) and docking at the marina. This building was modeled after the old Coast Guard life saving stations that proliferated the coast of Virginia and Outer Banks of North Carolina, hence the name “Station.” SmithfieldStation.com
Blessed with unobstructed views of the Carolina coast, the circa 1912 Kitty Hawk Lifesaving Station #7 guided ships from 1912 until 1946. Today it serves as a year-round Outer Banks vacation rental, complete with five bedrooms and three baths to accommodate up to 20 guests. With a private pool, fully stocked kitchen, two family rooms and multiple decks, the station also includes an old crew quarters that can double as a great kid’s bunk room. Don’t miss the door leading to the original “explosives” room. KittyHawkLifesavingStation.org
Visit AAA.com/Travel for trip planning assistance, travel discounts and other travel resources for a lighthouse road trip!