Welcome to Michigan's Upper Peninsula — home to 45 of the most historic and picturesque lighthouses in the United States! This itinerary takes you to the “sentinels of the shore” on Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and adventures into the wilderness and towns in their shadows. Go all five days or break it up to fit your schedule. This trip will be unforgettable for lighthouse lovers!

Day 1: Lighthouses and Les Cheneaux Islands

Travel to the Les Cheneaux Islands

Start your day in Mackinaw City in the Lower Peninsula where all the Shepler’s Ferry Les Cheneaux Lighthouse Cruises depart from and return. Enjoy remarkable views of six spectacular Lake Huron lighthouses plus a tour through the beautiful 36-island Les Cheneaux archipelago off the coast of the Upper Peninsula. An expert from the Great Lakes Lighthouse Keepers Association will narrate this fascinating five-hour cruise. They will serve a box lunch and there is a restroom on board. 


Cross the Mighty Mackinac Bridge

When you return to the Shepler’s Ferry dock, don’t miss one of the greatest thrills of coming to the Upper Peninsula — crossing the Mackinac Bridge from Mackinaw City to St. Ignace. Many consider this engineering marvel the "8th wonder of the world!” It is the longest suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere and towers 552 feet over the Straits of Mackinac. The suspension bridge is 7,400 feet (950 feet longer than the Golden Gate Bridge), with the total bridge measuring over 26,000 feet in total length. The views from the bridge, with Lake Huron to the east and Lake Michigan to the west, are stunning!


See historic St. Ignace and the Chief Wawatam Lighthouse

In St. Ignace, take time to explore Michigan’s second-oldest city. Follow the self-guided, Historic Walking Tour along the waterfront and downtown. Along the way, visit one of Michigan’s youngest lighthouses, Chief Wawatam Park & Lighthouse (circa 1997). Standing 52 feet tall and overlooking both Lake Huron & Mackinac Island, Wawatam Lighthouse’s beacon was first lit on August 20, 2006. Visible for more than 13 miles out over Lake Huron, it is now an official aid-to-navigation. It is even lit in the winter to guide snowmobiles across the frozen lake! 

Plan to book a room at one of the city’s lodging options, many with waterfront views. 

Day 2: St. Ignace to Grand Marais

Morning: Travel to Point Iroquois Lighthouse, Whitefish Point Lighthouse and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum Complex

Start your second day by driving north to Point Iroquois Lighthouse in Brimley. It stands high on a bluff overlooking Lake Superior at the entry of the St. Marys River. Over its history, it has guided from small birch-bark canoes to enormous freighters into the narrow channel. Visit the museum to learn about the Ojibwa, European explorers and the lighthouse’s rich maritime history, then climb the spiral staircase to the top of the 65-foot light tower. The views of Canada, Lake Superior and the freighters coming and going from the distant Soo Locks will take your breath away.

Continue west to Whitefish Point Lighthouse, which marks the entrance to Whitefish Bay. It is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior and is as needed today as it was at its founding in 1849. The water around Whitefish Point is ominously called Lake Superior’s Shipwreck Coast. Of the 550 known major shipwrecks lying on the bottom of the lake, at least 200 are near Whitefish Point, including the legendary S.S. Edmund Fitzgerald which sank in 1975.

Also at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum complex, you can learn about the tragic shipwrecks and the Great Lakes' courageous mariners and rescuers.


Early Afternoon: Crisp Point Lighthouse and Tour

Crisp Point Lighthouse was one of five U.S life-saving service stations along the coast of Lake Superior between Munising and Whitefish Point. Located 14 miles west of Whitefish Point, it is considered one of the loneliest and most challenging to access mainland lighthouses in the Upper Peninsula. Visitors who take the back roads to the lighthouse will be rewarded! They can climb the stairs to the top and out to the observation deck for incredible views of Lake Superior. Visitor Center hours and tours vary based on volunteer availability.


Mid-Afternoon: Take one of the U.P.’s most scenic drives to Grand Marais

From Crisp Point Lighthouse drive west along the shore of Lake Superior to Grand Marais, the beginning of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. The scenery is some of the best in the Upper Peninsula!

Book a room and then drive out the short peninsula that forms West Bay. On the pier are two range lights. The front range light consists of a room perched on a steel skeleton. The rear range light on the shore behind it is similar but with an octagonal lantern. By lining up the lights, vessels are guided into the harbor.

Day 3: Grand Marais to Marquette

Morning: Visit the Au Sable Lighthouse in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

If it fits your travel schedule, enter the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from Grand Marais. The still active Au Sable Light Station is 14 miles west of Grand Marais. It is one of the easiest lighthouses to reach — only a ½-mile walk from the parking lot. 

You can take a free tour seven days a week during the summer. It includes learning why the lighthouse was built and an opportunity to climb to the top of the tower to take in the spectacular views.


Mid-Morning: Explore Marquette, the U.P.’s Largest City

An hour-and-a-half from the Au Sable Lighthouse, you will arrive in Marquette, a fun mix of urban chic and outdoor adventure. Choose how you spend your morning, whether it is downtown taking in the lively art scene, unique boutiques and a variety of coffee shops and dining options or hiking, biking or relaxing on pristine beaches. 

Favorite choices include seeing breathtaking views from Sugarloaf Mountain or discovering the city’s rich heritage at the Marquette Maritime Museum. Marquette is one of the premier adventure, relaxation and cultural escapes in Michigan.


Afternoon: Marquette Harbor Lighthouse

Begin your afternoon with a visit to the Marquette Harbor Lighthouse. Established in 1853, this iconic red structure stands proudly on a rocky bluff, offering stunning views of Lake Superior. Take a guided tour to learn about its history and its role in the maritime industry.


 Evening: Presque Isle Park and Trails

In the evening, drive 10 minutes to Presque Isle Park, a 323-acre peninsula offering picturesque views of Lake Superior. The park is renowned for its hiking trails that wind through lush forests, along the rugged coastline and out to Blackrocks. It’s an excellent place for nature walks, fishing, beachcombing, picnicking, birdwatching and photography. Don’t miss Sunset Point, a perfect end to your day.

Day 4: From Marquette to Big Bay

Morning: Travel to Big Bay

Start your day with a hearty breakfast before hitting the road to Big Bay, a scenic 30-mile drive northwest of Marquette. The drive itself is picturesque, with dense forests and glimpses of Lake Superior along the way.


Late Morning: Big Bay Point Lighthouse

Arrive at the Big Bay Point Lighthouse, which also serves as a unique bed-and-breakfast. Perched on a cliff, this lighthouse offers panoramic views of the lake. Take a tour to explore the keeper’s quarters and climb the tower for a bird’s-eye view of the surroundings.


Afternoon: Outdoor Adventures

Spend the afternoon enjoying the great outdoors. Big Bay is a haven for nature lovers, offering activities like hiking, kayaking and fishing. For a unique part of local history, visit the historic Thunder Bay Inn, featured in the film "Anatomy of a Murder."


Evening: Relax at your favorite lodging

Use our lodging finder to pick the perfect spot to stay the night. Enjoy a quiet evening, perhaps with a book or simply gazing at the stars, free from city lights.

Day 5: Journey to Copper Harbor

Morning: Travel to Copper Harbor

After breakfast, embark on a scenic drive to Copper Harbor, located at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula. The drive takes about three hours, so plan for a few rest stops to stretch your legs and enjoy the scenery.


Early Afternoon: Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Arrive in Copper Harbor and head straight to the Copper Harbor Lighthouse. Accessible by a boat tour from Copper Harbor Marina, this lighthouse offers a unique perspective of the peninsula. The tower is closed, but you can tour the grounds.


Mid-Afternoon: Fort Wilkins Historic State Park

After your lighthouse tour, visit Fort Wilkins Historic State Park. This restored 19th-century military outpost offers a glimpse into life during the copper mining boom. Wander through the fort, visit the museum, and enjoy a peaceful walk along the shore of Lake Fanny Hooe.


Evening: Dinner and Relaxation

Return to Copper Harbor for dinner at a local restaurant like The Mariner North, known for its hearty meals and friendly atmosphere. After eating, enjoy Copper Harbor’s quaint shops before taking in a stunning sunset and relaxing in your accommodations in town or a few miles away in Eagle River or Eagle Harbor. Plan to visit the Eagle Harbor Light Station and Museum Complex in the morning.

Bonus Stops for Lighthouse Enthusiasts

If time permits, consider adding these lighthouses to your itinerary:


Ontonagon Lighthouse - This historical landmark was originally built in 1852-1853 and has a light tower that is three stories high. It is open for tours seven days a week from mid-May through mid-October, and in the off-season by appointment.

Rock Harbor Lighthouse – Located on Isle Royale National Park, this lighthouse requires a ferry boat trip from Houghton (about six hours) or from Copper Harbor (roughly 3.5 hours away). Seaplanes, however, can travel from Hancock to Isle Royale in under 60 minutes!

Fourteen Mile Point Lighthouse – This lighthouse is on the shores of Lake Superior near Ontonagon. It demands you hike 12 miles round trip, but seeing this eerie, abandoned and succumbed-to-fire lighthouse is worth every step!

Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse – In Gulliver along the shore of Lake Michigan, Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse is said to be a “haunted lighthouse.” Explore its rich history and possibly experience its ghostly legends.



Whether you’re a lighthouse enthusiast or simply looking for a unique travel experience, the U.P. promises memories that will last a lifetime. To get started, book your stay now!

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