There’s something especially alluring about a lighthouse. Of course, they’re generally found in beautiful coastal locations, which certainly doesn’t hurt. These, in particular, are not only great for photo-ops, but you’ll also find plenty to do in the surrounding area they’re located in. Read on to discover our top picks for the most beautiful lighthouses in North America.
YOU'RE ALL SET!
Look out for our newsletters in your inbox soon.
Peggy's Point Lighthouse - Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia
One of Canada’s most famous and most photographed lighthouses, Peggy’s sits in St. Margaret’s Bay and was first lit in in 1915. Located in the quaint fishing village of Peggy’s Cove just a short drive from Halifax, the image of the lighthouse on top of the massive rocks with sea waves crashing against it has always been a striking sight. While you’re here you can enjoy the beautiful city of Halifax and its wide range of attractions, including the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. One of its most popular exhibits showcases the city’s role in the Titanic disaster with a reminder of the 150 victims that are buried here where rescue efforts were focused, including a children’s pair of shoes and a deck chair that were on the ship.
Cape Spear Lighthouse - St. Johns, Newfoundland
Cape Spear is the easternmost point in the western hemisphere. It’s home to the Cape Spear Lighthouse which sits atop rugged cliffs, where whales can often be seen passing by in summer months. Typically in May and June, you can see icebergs while gazing out at the spectacular Atlantic view as well. The oldest surviving lighthouse in the province, the Cape Spear Light has been flashing since the mid-19th-century, as an iconic symbol of the province’s mariner history. If you can rise early enough to get here just before dawn on a nice day, you’ll be able to watch one of the world’s most stunning sunrises too.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse - Hatteras Island, North Carolina
Roughly 1.25 million bricks were used to build the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, America’s largest, towering at 200 feet above the sea. This huge structure lights up every seven seconds, overlooking one of the most ominous places in maritime history, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Over the past 500 years, more than 2,000 ships have been wrecked on sandbars in the area known as the Diamond Shoals. The original lighthouse was built in the late 18th century on land that was purchased for just $50. Today’s lighthouse, which was constructed in 1870, has a beacon that can be seen for nearly 20 miles.
Portland Head Light - Cape Elizabeth, Maine
One of the country’s oldest landmarks, the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth near Portland, Maine was built more than 200 years ago. Its first beacon was created with a lamp that burned whale oil. The historic lighthouse sits atop rocky land at the entrance of the primary shipping channel into Portland Harbor. While it’s been altered over the years, much of the original structure remains the same. It’s now automated, with the tower, beacon and foghorn maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard, but the original lightkeeper’s residence now serves as a maritime museum. Climb to the top and you’ll get a breathtaking view of the state’s wild, rugged coastline.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse - Pescadero, California
Located between San Francisco and Santa Cruz on the California coast, Pigeon Point is one of the tallest lighthouses in the United States, standing over the Pacific Ocean at 115 feet high. It sits within a state park, with its lightkeeper’s quarters now used as a hostel. Visitors can also enjoy uncrowded beaches, exploring tide pools and check out the elephant seals in Ano Nuevo State Park.
Eastern Point Lighthouse - Gloucester, Massachusetts
Gloucester’s Eastern Point Lighthouse is one of the most famous lighthouses on the eastern seaboard. It was featured in the 2000 film, “The Perfect Storm,” and was erected to mark the harbor entrance in 1832. The current brick tower was built in 1890 and is 36 feet tall. In addition to the light, there is a lighthouse station which serves as housing for the U.S. Coast Guard.
Yaquina Bay Light - Newport, Oregon
The Yaquina Bay Light was built in 1871 and then replaced just three years later. It sits along the breathtaking central coast of Oregon in Newport and was nearly demolished after being decommissioned, with another new light constructed in the 1940s. The Lincoln County Historical Society saved it by raising money for its preservation and in 1951 it was recognized as a historical site. In 1996 it was re-lit once again and remains one of the only lighthouses on the west coast in which living quarters are housed in the same building as the light. After you visit the lighthouse, make sure to visit other top attractions in Newport.
Fisgard Lighthouse - Vancouver Island, British Columbia
The very first permanent lighthouse on the Pacific coast of Canada, Fisgard Lighthouse was constructed in 1860 on Fisgard Island at the east side of the entrance to Esquimalt Harbour, north of the Juan de Fuca Strait in Colwood near British Columbia’s capital city of Victoria. In 1958 it was officially recognized as a national historic site. This area is a great place for whale watching along with a host of other exciting things to do, such as strolling the beautiful Butchart Gardens.
Cape Bonavista - Newfoundland, Canada
One of the few remaining in the world where you can still climb the stone tower and see the same seal oil-fueled light used in the 19th century, Cape Bonavista is a sight to see. For more than 150 years, this lighthouse has been standing proud in this windswept location in eastern Newfoundland, where explorer John Cabot is believed to be once landed. Here you can even experience what it might have been like to be a lightkeeper back in 1870, a 24-hour job that included filling oil lamps, polishing glass, recording weather patterns and watching the waves at one of Newfoundland’s most rugged points. Depending on the season, this is also an ideal spot for watching puffins, icebergs and whales.