Beauty & History at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival

Michigan lighthouses bring history, beauty, and uniqueness to our coastline. Each year, visitors can take an in-depth tour of some of these lighthouses at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival.

Visiting the coastline of Lake Huron and stopping at a Michigan state park, fond memories can be made so easily. Although modern navigational technology has made lighthouses nearly obsolete, some still do serve as a guiding light for ships on the Great Lakes. More than 115 lighthouses dot Michigan’s Great Lakes coastline providing unique opportunities for visitors to learn about our maritime history.

Tawas Point State Park and Lighthouse in East Tawas invite you to experience the sights of Michigan. This fall, Oct. 10-13, brings the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival to the sunrise side of Michigan. Visitors can explore many lighthouses from short to tall, white to stripes, all found along the great Lake Huron up to the Mighty Mackinac Bridge.

Headquarters for the 18th Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival is in Alpena. At the APLEX Event Center, there will be over 100 maritime vendors, artists, authors, and more. This halfway point allows you to rest up, listen to presenters and talk with other lighthouse enthusiasts. There is plenty to do and see for every family member.

When traveling north on US-23, your autumn view is spectacular, with painted foliage and pristine water guiding your way past several historic lighthouses.

Stopping at Tawas Point is a highlight. The land curves out into the blue water as the lighthouse nestles between Lake Huron and Tawas Bay. This allows a majestic view of Michigan’s sunrises and sunsets, with plenty of wildlife along the way.

This festival is the only time during the year that visitors will be able to tour the Guest Keeper Quarters above the museum. Guest Keepers themselves will be able to show you around the entire lighthouse and give you the inside scoop on staying in the lighthouse and becoming a guest keeper yourself.

Entering the park, Tawas Point Lighthouse will guide your way. The gift store is a historical landmark itself and was built in 1906. There you can purchase unique souvenirs to mark your visit, as well as your ticket to the Michigans’ lighthouse.

At the lighthouse itself, you will experience the history that helped make Michigan. You can learn about past keepers, their family lives, the trials of keeping the light burning, and the reasons why there are so many lighthouses on the Great Lakes. You are welcome to walk in and explore the space, where you can touch as well as look as you learn about life at the lighthouse.

You may also climb the 85 steps up to the lens room and see the original 4th-order Fresnel lens that still guides ships today. The 360-degree view from the top reveals the beauty of this point. The significance of our lighthouses in years past can be discovered over many visits – the importance of keeping lighthouses in our future can be found in just one.

For more information on the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival, including tours, the lightkeeper program and upcoming events, go to

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About the author
Growing up in Detroit, Lindsey is a Michigan State University alumnus. She feels incredibly lucky to live in Detroit, and much more, to spend her days promoting the Detroit area as a travel destination.