Maritime Museum Lighthouse

Lighthouses are wed to the sea. A maritime museum lighthouse takes you into all the facets of the world surrounding that life. You get a feel for the rugged adventure of going to sea, those who ensured the safety of the mariners, and the scenes of their daily lives. Which wasn't necessarily so adventurous! Probably a lot of tedium involved. 

What is the fascination? Do you think? We sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a job like those we read about in a maritime museum lighthouse. 

Lighthouse at the end of the breakwater on Lake Michigan on a windy day.

To be a lighthouse keeper, or a keeper's wife of time's past (I feel for some of them!). How about the stress of an emergency situation at a life-saving station! What about a sailor's life aboard one of the ships on the Great Lakes? Or one of the legendary seven seas!

Do you think of all this, when you view artifacts and stories in a maritime museum lighthouse. We sometimes do. Other times we just marvel at the experiences or hardships they endured. 

But one things's for sure - we enjoy visiting these lighthouses that also incorporate some type of authentic maritime museum. It enhances the lighthouse visit itself. It also makes visiting the local area so much more unforgettably complete.

We have some super suggestions for you here. We hope you'll get a chance to visit some of them.


Maritime Museum Lighthouse Trips


United States Lighthouse Museums

With lots of coastline, both on the East and Western parts of the country there was - and is a need for many lighthouses. But don't forget the Great Lakes! Plus the Gulf of Mexico - over half of Florida's coast is along that shore. How many of these areas have lighthouses to visit? And so many have those fabulous maritime museum lighthouses.


East Coast Maritime Lighthouse Museums

  • National Lighthouse Museum - In N.Y., Staten Island's North Shore. On former property of the U.S. Lighthouse Service Depot. (Historically prior to that it was a Quarantine Hospital.) In use from 1862 by the USLHS for needs of lighthouses on the U.S. Northeast coast.
  1. So much to see & do there! Closed Mondays & Legal Holidays. Open 11am. Call 718-390-0040 for more details.
  • Stonington Lighthouse Museum - Right now this Connecticut lighthouse museum is a work in progress, managed by Stonington's Historical Society. A very important structure, as the very first historic beacon in the U.S. to become a Maritime Museum Lighthouse. On the National Register, it's now closed for this Restoration Process.
  • Montauk Lighthouse Museum - What a gem, you'll want to see this one! Quite a history here. Enter the 1860 Keeper's House to start viewing these treasures. Signed documents from George Washington and Thomas Jefferson authorize this lighthouse. Wander through more rooms: the parlor, keepers' bedrooms, communications and oil rooms. Then enter the tower where 128 steps take you to the top. 
  1. At the furthest point out on Long Island. NY Hwy. 27 East (Sunrise Hwy.) gets you there. Further details: 631-668-2544.
  • Tybee Island Light Station & Museum - All the way down the coast to Georgia. This light is the state's tallest, it's also the oldest in the state of Georgia. First built in 1736 to guide entry to the Savannah River. Damaged in the Civil War, it was rebuilt afterwards, as you see it today. The museum is housed in 1899's Battery Garland building. It had been used for coastal defense, with cannon mounted on its roof and gunpowder storage inside.
  1. Tickets include all public areas of Tybee Island Light Station. Fees: Adults - $10; Seniors/Military/Children ages 6-17 - $8; Children 5 & under/Coast Guard - Free.
  2. 30 Meddin Dr., Tybee Island. Open 10am to 3pm, Closed Tuesdays. Further details: (912) 786-5801
  • Beavertail Lighthouse Museum - At the southern tip of Jamestown, Rhode Island, focusing on the 3rd oldest lighthouse in North America. Adjacent to Beavertail State Park & nearby to Fort Getty Park, all on Conanicut Island. 49 steps take you to the ladder access to the lighthouse gallery viewpoint (must be 4' tall). The assistant keeper's historic home is now the museum. 
  1. For more details: (401) 423 3270, or info@beavertaillight.org
Aerial view of Beavertail light station when the Coast Guard managed itCoast Guard Photo of Beavertail Lighthouse Complex with Keeper's Home


Maine Maritime Museum Lighthouses

  • Portland Head Lighthouse and Museum - Visit 1891, the Keepers' house when you take this maritime museum lighthouse trip. What's excellent is the way they guide you with a timeline, taking you through the exhibits through the years. Live with them through history! To visit, go to Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth. There is no entry fee (they appreciate donations, though).
  1. Museum Open 10am to 4pm, Memorial Day through October. Then Only weekends in May & November. Other info: (207) 799-2661
  2. Entry fee - Adults: $2 / Ages 6-18: $1 / 5 & under: Free


Florida Maritime Museum Lighthouses

  • Key West Lighthouse Museum - Set inland, blocks from water, but it's a very low island after all. Open every day but Christmas, 9:30am to 4:30pm. The first Keeper was a woman. Come view her home here, see its historic place still standing through ravages of storms.
  1. Find them at 938 Whitehead St. More details: (305) 294-0012
  2. The local USCGC Ingham Maritime Museum is a few blocks away, docked on the wharf.
  • Port Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum - The only publicly tourable Florida West Coast lighthouse. From 1890 it guided boats into Charlotte Harbor. Now this family-friendly museum features maritime items, plus historical Gasparilla Island icons. Closed all of August & on major Holidays.
  1. Managed by Barrier Island Parks Society, as part of Gasparilla Island State Park. More details: 941-964-0060
  • Pensacola Maritime Museum Lighthouse - On the Naval Air Station. You must be prepared for their Security to Visit> 
  1. Keeper's Quarters serve as the Maritime Museum, built in 1869. The lighthouse tower had already been there 10 years.
  • Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Museum - The lighthouse and adjunct buildings were completed in 1860. The beacon was unlit during the Civil War, and not relit until 5 years after it ended. During WWII the Navy secretly used its weather station on the Lighthouse Property to monitor German U-boat transmissions. This is now the maritime museum lighthouse building.
    1. Have a View From The Lighthouse Top>
    2. Visiting details: Closed Major Holidays, Admittance Hours: 10am – 3pm. Find them at Lighthouse Park, 500 Capt Armour’s Way, from Alt.A1A/Beach Rd.
    3. More info call 561-747-8380 x101

  • Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum - You'll be at the tallest lighthouse in the state! You can climb it if you want. The museum offers guided tours with a group of 10/+. Otherwise, you'll guide yourself with a helpful brochure. They offer Special Events, too - watch for them! All the original buildings are still here. Three Keepers were on-board here, you'll learn of their history. So much to see & take in. Wow! Spend a whole day, easily.
  1. 4931 So. Peninsula Dr. in Ponce Inlet
  2. For further questions:  info@ponceinlet.org 
  3. OR (386) 210-3660
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Museum entrancePhoto credit: ErgoSum88


Great Lakes Maritime Museums

What a fabulous area for planning maritime museum lighthouse trips. Learn lighthouse lore, sailing history, about legendary seafarers, the ships and their disasters. We'll see what these acclaimed lakes offer up for us.


New York Lighthouse Museum

  • Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum - In Wayne County, Sodus Point, on Lake Ontario. The maritime museum for the lighthouse is the residence for the keepers assigned to this historic site. The first 1869 tower deteriorated so much, it was replaced with the one presently on-site from 1871. The Sodus Bay Historical Society has charge of the museum.
  1. For visiting details: info @ sodusbaylighthouse.org OR (315) 483-4936


Michigan Lighthouse Museums

  • Port Huron Maritime Museums - An impressive area, because there's so much to add to the historic experience, right along St. Clair River just before it flows into Lake Huron. Where to go?
  1. Fort Gratiot Lighthouse - Michigan's oldest, from 1829, replacing an older one which collapsed in a storm. Still used today, you can climb the 94 steps to the tower's gallery. The Keeper's home adjacent is still in restoration mode.
  2. Huron Lightship Museum - Not often is there an opportunity to see a historic lightship, so here you go! She was nicknamed "Old B.O." from the sound of her fog horn! A working ship until 1970, serving 50 years. Board her to experience her story.
  3. Carnegie Center - Built by the steel tycoon as the city main library, it was saved from demolition to become this multi-focus Arts & History Museum. But we all know what our main interest is! The maritime museum section with lighthouse features, of course. And it has that! For instance, they feature exhibits on legendary storms of the area, etc. Their James C. Acheson Marine Gallery has a huge unit with ship models.
  4. Other interesting additions to your visit may be the Thomas Edison Depot Museum, and the historic Fort Gratiot Hospital Building. You have a choice of how to arrange your visit these interconnected Port Huron Museums. Choose individual sites, or try A Value Package>


  • Whitefish Point Shipwreck Museum - This phenomenal maritime museum and lighthouse experience will give you lasting heartfelt memories. Described as "world class" it surely is one of a kind. When you view Lake Superior's beautiful cyan waves, they might seem deceptively harmless. But many mariners sailing here tell you differently. Visit to hear their unforgettable stories.
  1. With your Admission experience: 1) Shipwreck Museum shows you exhibits with vestiges that bring tragedies alive, 2) Shipwreck Theatre with features like Mystery of the Edmund Fitzgerald, 3) 1861 restored Keeper's Quarters with tour guide to show you the tower's access, 4) Surfboat House from 1923 gives a glimpse of those skilled tasks, 5) Boardwalk provides barrier-free access to Lake Superior without disturbing dunes, 6) Whitefish Light Tower from 1861 outside access for fabulous photo shots, 7) Shipwreck Coast Museum Store's comfort amenities and gifts.
  2. Find them on the far East end of the Upper Peninsula, about an hour north of the Mackinac Bridge. Access via M-123 to Paradise, then north on Whitefish Point Rd for 11 miles. More details call toll free: (888)492-3747.


Indiana Lighthouse Museum

  • Old Lighthouse Museum - In Michigan City, on Lake Michigan. Historic, from 1858. The Michigan City Historical Society was granted a lease from the city in 1965 to create the museum from the old Keeper's home, unused since 1940. There are eight rooms with displays.
  1. Generally open from April through October.
  2. Find them in Washington Park, 100 Heisman Harbor Rd. More details, contact them: mchistorical@att.net OR (219) 872-6133


Minnesota Lighthouse Museum

  • Two Harbors Lighthouse Museum - This unique structure seems connected, but they're separate in the way they're built. Privately owned, still in use to aid navigation. And the oldest on Minnesota's Lake Superior North Shore. Lake County runs the station, as well as a Bed & Breakfast within, helping finance navigational expenses. Very different, worth a visit!


West Coast Maritime Museums

  • Battery Point Lighthouse and Museum1 - Crescent City, at California's top end. What's different about this tour: access only when the tide is right (low). So be prepared!! Cape Cod Style, with the museum right in the lighthouse. No cameras/photos allowed inside. Want to try?
  1. Maritime museum lighthouse open Wed. thru Sun., April thru Sept. possibly open weekends. From 10am to 4pm. Call first (707) 464-3089 OR (707) 464-3922 to confirm and organize your visit around tides.
  2. Follow Front St. to the end, at A St. Go left to the parking lot. Public restroom here, none at maritime museum lighthouse. You walk across a sandy, rocky beach. Use caution, watch for rogue waves, allowing lots of time for traveling to the island and back.
Battery Point Lighthouse and Museum on a small Island in Crescent City CaliforniaBattery Point Maritime Museum Lighthouse in Crescent City, CA
  • Umpqua River Lighthouse Museum - Just down the road from the Lighthouse of the same name, this maritime museum is within the historic 1939 U.S. Coast Guard Station. Located at 1020 Lighthouse Rd, Winchester Bay, Oregon. Also nearby is Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. Open 10am to 5pm daily, Ages 5-17: $4, Adults: $8. Contact them at (541) 271-4631.
  • Point Arena Lighthouse Museums - Yes, it's museums - there's an indoor and outdoor maritime museum. In California, north of San Francisco, south of Mendocino. Managed by nonprofit Point Arena Lighthouse Keepers. Six Keeper's units for stays. For both museums, very reasonable $5 entry for all ages 12/+.
  1. INDOOR - Go inside the 1896 Fog Signal Building, the oldest there. Relive the light's history, while even stopping for sightings in their Whale Watch room!
  2. OUTDOOR - 23 acres of the light station take you through pathways and labyrinths to view native plants, interpretive panels, historic & memorial plaques and viewing benches. Nice!
  3. Further info/details: (877) 725-4448 x1 OR (707) 882-2809 x1 OR info.palight@gmail.com
Pt. Arena Historic Light photograph by the Coast Guard ServicePhoto from The Coast Guard Service of the Point Arena Lighthouse and Keeper's Home


More Maritime Museum
Lighthouse Choices to Visit


New Orleans, U.S.

  • New Canal Lighthouse Museum - In New Orleans, on Lake Pontchartrain. An 1839 original lighthouse was built guiding entrance into the New Basin Canal from this epic Lake. Reconstructions and renovations through the years. It couldn't stand up to destruction from 2005 Hurricane Katrina. The following year restoration began, incorporating wood from the original lighthouse into a museum and education center. That's what you'll see/visit today via Docent Tour. An important point you'd learn: more woman Keepers here than any other lighthouse in American History! Hours: 10am-4pm, closed Sundays. More details: kate@saveourlake.org OR (504) 836-2215.2
New Canal Lighthouse Educational Museum on Lake PontchartrainNew Basin Lighthouse: Circa 1940s - early 1950s
  • Milneburg/Port Pontchartrain Light - Maybe a museum to be?! Mentioning it because of its curiosity, history and possible good intentions. If in New Orleans area, Get A Glimpse! The 1832 light replaced in 1855. Three Keepers were women. Coast Guard Cutter Madge Norvell was named for one. The light was out in 1929. It suffered, while left on its own, during area land reclamation. In the 1950s, it was integrated into Pontchartrain Beach Amusement Park. The University of New Orleans acquired the property, now on Technology Park campus. With EPA grant, UNO stabilized the lighthouse, planning future development to attract visitors.3
Vintage photo in  Milneburg area of New Orleans of the Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse, before land reclamation.Port Pontchartrain Lighthouse Prior to Land Reclamation, Leaving it Land-locked


Scotland Maritime Museum Lighthouses
+ Others in Europe & Asia


Scotland/England

  • Museum of Scottish Lighthouses - One of a kind. Began as a castle, then turned lighthouse (their first/oldest: Kinnaird Head Lighthouse), summing up for its history: becoming a museum. Tea room within. If in Scotland, a must-see!
  1. April to Oct.: 10am - 5pm daily / Nov. to March: 10am - 4:30pm. Closed Mon. & Tues.
  2. Location: Kinnaird Head, Stevenson Rd., Fraserburgh
  3. Contact them: Phone +44 (01346) 511022 OR manager@lighthousemuseum.org.uk
  • Sumburgh Head Lighthouse Visitor Centre & Nature Reserve - The maximum experience. An interactive experience you & the whole family will love! They keep you busy, on your toes, and involved. No boredom to be found. Ticket purchase valid for a full season: April to Sept. Keeper's Cottage revamped into accommodations for visitors.
  1. Just some things to do: 1) Kids activity sheets specially for guiding them, 2) In the working engine room hear the foghorn blast + get close-up view seeing how it works, 3) Press buttons working horn & light while learning lightkeeper tasks, 4) Marine Life Centre views life above & below the waves.
  2. Getting There: in the Shetland Islands archipelago, the southernmost point of mainland Shetland. Where the Atlantic Ocean turns into the North Sea. You can fly into Sumburgh Airport, or take the Northlink Ferry Terminal into Lerwick from Aberdeen Scotland.
  3. More details, contact them: info@shetlandamenity.org OR (April to Sept.) +44 (0)1950 461966
View of the Sumburgh Head Maritime Museum Lighthouse & Visitor Center on the  Shetland IslandsSumburgh Head Maritime Museum Lighthouse & Visitor Center
  • Lizard Lighthouse Heritage Center - Most southern point of England, with it's double matching 1752 towers, but a matchless treat! Lighthouse automated in 1998, with the museum opening in 2009. Keeper's cottages are available as accommodations, ¼ mile from Lizard village.6
  • Withernsea Lighthouse Museum - In Eastern Yorkshire, set a bit back from England's East coast on the North Sea. The Keeper's two homes hold the maritime museum lighthouse collections and cafe. More details: info@withernsealighthouse.co.uk


European Continent


  • Santa Marta Lighthouse Museum - In Cascais Portugal. A 17th century fort provided the setting for this 1868 lighthouse. Overlooking the Tagus River entry. Its distinctive blue and white design summons you inside for the maritime museum lighthouse historic collections.4 Questions: atl@visitlisboa.com
Santa Marta Lighthouse oversees entry to the Tagus River in Portugal.Santa Marta Lighthouse & Museum - Photo Credit: Tania Dimas


Asia

  • Kannur Lighthouse Museum - In Southwest India, on the Arabian Sea. 1.8 miles (3km) from town, not far from the Western seacoast road National Hwy. 66. Historically this was a prime port city, with an 1843 lighthouse built by the British. Multiple beacons came afterwards, but all are now gone. What's there now is a lighthouse from 1976. The museum only opened in 2015, which goes over the area's maritime history. It's open 10am to 1pm & 2-6pm. Closed Mondays.5


Canada's Maritime Museum Lighthouses

  • Victoria Seaport Museum - In Victoria "By-the-Sea" midway along the South side of Prince Edward Island. Very picturesque town with this small lighthouse. Their exhibit's called "Keepers of the Light." Open July 1 thru Sept. 15. 
  • Kincardine Lighthouse Museum - Cape Cod style, right in downtown, intersection of Harbour St./Huron Terrace. Keeper's quarters below, tower in the center. Both now serve as the museum. In Ontario, on Lake Huron's Bruce Coast, watching entry to Penetangore River. Open July til Labor Day (1st Mon. in Sept.), 11am-5pm. Further details: kyc@bmts.com

  • West Point Lighthouse Museum - On the Western end of Prince Edward Island, with a wonderful view of Northumberland Strait. You won't miss the black and white boxy tapered look. Open mid June thru Sept., 9am to 8:30pm. Lighthouse stays are provided here, too! 13 rooms available in season. Contact them: westpointlighthouse1@gmail.com
West Point Lighthouse Museum and InnWest Point Lighthouse Museum and Inn


Maritime Museum Lighthouses
Down Under the Equator

  • Australian National Maritime Museum - A Gallery Lighthouse features a multi venue in Sydney's Darling Harbour. The museum itself is the featured area revealing the country's sea-going past, showing visitors the narratives, related items, the persons and the locations connected to this maritime history. 
  1. Open 9:30am to 5pm daily/Closed Christmas. More details: info@sea.museum OR +61 2 9298 3777. 
  2. Find them at 2 Murray St. Easily accessed via walking 15 min. from Pyrmont Bridge from the CBD, or 10 minutes from Sydney Fish Market. Train, bus, light rail and ferry can Get You There, too.
  • Narooma Lighthouse Museum - In the Narooma Visitor Centre, Princess Hwy., New South Wales, Australia. Reason being: It relates to the Montague Island Lightstation, which is now automated, and historic relics are currently in this museum. Further details: naroomavisitors@gmail.com
  1. The Montague Lightstation is a Nature Reserve which You Can Visit>

  • Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Museum - At the Southern-most point of South Africa. Further clarification: go to Cape Agulhas Lighthouse, in Agulhus National Park, Cape Agulhas, Western Cape. Unique in all of Africa, they even detail historic maritime activities of indigenous people of the area, like the Khoisan. Don't miss climbing the 71 lighthouse steps! For more visit details: agulhasinfo@sanparks.org
Cape Agulhas Lighthouse Museum at South Africa's most southern pointCape Agulhas Lighthouse & Museum


References

1 Del Norte County Historical Society (n.d.) Lighthouse collections. Battery Point Lighthouse. Retrieved from delnortehistory.org/battery-point-lighthouse/

2 Pontchartrain Conservancy (2017-2020). Guided tours of the lighthouse. Guided Tours. Retrieved from saveourlake.org/lighthouse-museum-2/guided-tours/

3 Boyd, A. (2018, Aug. 16). Port Pontchartrain's Milneburg lighthouse about to get a careful restoration. New Orleans. The New Orleans Advocate. The Times Picayune. Retrieved from nola.com/archive/article_5c1f4e73-8602-5da7-a505-3dd7f3e38c95.html

4 Travel In Portugal (2020) Santa Marta lighthouse and museum. Attractions. 2020 Portugal Travel Guide. Retrieved from travel-in-portugal.com/attractions/santa-marta-lighthouse-and-museum.htm

5 Neotravel (2017, May 26). Kannur lighthouse museum Travel Guide. Neokerala. Retrieved from neokerala.com/kannur/kannur-lighthouse-museum-travel-guide/

6 Trinity House (2016). Lizard lighthouse heritage centre. The Corporation of Trinity House 2016. Retrieved from trinityhouse.co.uk/lighthouse-visitor-centres/lizard-lighthouse-visitor-centre

7 Kendall, K. (2016) Withernsea lighthouse museum. Withernsea Lighthouse. Retrieved from withernsealighthouse.co.uk/