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Ever dreamed of staying in a lighthouse? In America, these coastal guardians have a proud history of keeping ships out of harm’s way, and now a few will harbor you safely beneath their lanterns for the night. There are options for every budget,, from hostel accommodations to renting out an entire keeper's house.
Saugerties, New York
The only light on the Hudson River with overnight accommodations, Saugerties Lighthouse can be accessed one way: by walking a half-mile trail that floods at high tide. Once there, guests can relax in either the West Room, which faces the Catskills Mountains, or the East Room, which looks onto the river. Both rooms, located on the second floor, are furnished with simple, comfortable furniture, much as the house would have been in the early 20th century.
Birders and photographers will especially enjoy the property, according to Keeper Patrick Landewe, as will lighthouse enthusiasts, since guests have access to the light tower during their stay. You can take a tour of the lighthouse (whether you stay or not) on Sunday afternoons or during the summer by appointment.
Rooms cost $200 per night, and include breakfast prepared by the resident keeper. The bed and breakfast is open to guests Thursday through Sunday nights year-round except February, and it's wise to book a year or more in advance.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse Hostel,
Perched at the top of a 35-foot cliff in Pescadero, California, the Pigeon Point Lighthouse is one of the tallest in the nation. Although the tower has been closed to the public since 2002, according to general manager Jeffrey Parry, the lamp room still houses the original first-order Fresnel lens. Today, the four Coast Guard family houses, built in 1959, serve as an international hostel for budget-minded travelers.
Relax in the hostel's cliff-top hot tub after a long day of exploring nearby beaches and redwood forests. In late winter, you can watch the elephant seals mating at Ano Nuevo State Park. Accommodations include gender-specific dorm-style rooms, private single or double rooms, and private family rooms, all with shared bathrooms.
Accommodations range from $23-25 for Hostelling International members in a dorm room and up to $117 for a private family room for non-members. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, on-site parking, baggage storage, and secure lockers.
Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum,
After being decommissioned and closing in 1972, this light station on Lake Michigan stood vacant until the Grand Traverse Lighthouse Museum was formed to give it a new life. The 1858 lighthouse is now open to the public as part of a volunteer program, where you can stay in the old assistant keeper's quarters and perform duties that a keeper would have done, such as cleaning, collecting admissions, painting, and mowing the lawn. "You get to live here and be a part of history," says Keeper Program Coordinator Lisa Drummond.
There are two bedrooms in the quarters, one upstairs and one downstairs, with a shared bathroom and kitchen. During the peak season, accommodations are adults-only, but the off-season program allows families with children to share the space. The other half of the house is dedicated to the museum, which houses artifacts from the 1920s and 1930s that have been donated by the previous keeper's children.
To participate in the Keeper's Program, you must submit an application, and a fee of $195 per person per week (about $33 per night), plus a museum membership of $15-25, covers costs. Rooms may be rented separately. During the off-season, guests can stay a minimum of two nights for a fee of $100 per night for up to four people.
East Brother Light Station,
Lighthouses often conjure up romantic images, and the East Brother Light Station (EBLS) is no exception. To get to the house, you must take a boat to a small island in San Francisco Bay. Once you arrive, you're welcomed with a Champagne and hors d'oeuvres reception, and will learn a little bit about the history of the island and the 1874 lighthouse. After a four-course dinner, feel free to walk up the stairs into the lantern room that guides ships to this day. You can even head outside to the widow's walk, which offers 360-degree views of the bay.
When you're ready to get some sleep, nestle into one of four rooms in the main lighthouse building that are furnished with period furniture, then wake to a full breakfast—including the house special, Lighthouse French Toast Souffle—and a demonstration of the old foghorn operation.
Prices range from $295 to $415 per night and include a Champagne reception, four-course dinner, and breakfast.
Wings Neck Lighthouse,
Just an hour from Boston, this historic lighthouse, built in 1849, has been in owner Christina Stevens' family since the 1940s, when it was decommissioned by the Coast Guard and her grandfather purchased it in an auction. "He retired, and lived in it until my grandmother died in 1999," says Christina. Since then, the family has been renting it out to Cape Cod vacationers. While the lamp is no longer functional, guests still have access to the tower through a breezeway from the main house. Unlike many other lighthouse accommodations, which are often very rustic, this vacation rental's 2003 renovation makes the house "a very comfortable, nicely equipped home with modern creature comforts."
Families will find plenty of room to spread out at Wings Neck, which sleeps eight and has a large eat-in kitchen and one and a half baths. Bicycles, beach chairs, DVDs, and books are all available for guests to use, and summer renters can explore the private beach.
Accommodations range from $2,500 per week during the off-season to $4,500 per week during the peak months (about $52-94 per person per night). Renters who are staying multiple weeks can call or email to receive a discount.
Browns Point Light Station,
Browns Point, Washington
Run by the Points Northeast Historical Society, the Browns Point Light Station is on the National Historic Register, and as such is a living history museum. The unique, art deco style lighthouse was completed in the 1930s, and its unusual obelisk shape makes it stand out from other stations across the country. The light is still operated by the Coast Guard, and stands in a small neighborhood park in Puget Sound.
Renters sleep in the light keeper's cottage, which stands 50 yards away from the lighthouse, and have some duties, including raising the flag, keeping a log, and opening the facilities for visitors for a few hours on Saturdays. The cottage has three bedrooms with a shared bathroom, kitchen, living room, and music parlor. Although the lighthouse itself is closed to the public, you can head down to the basement of the cottage to explore the hands-on museum or ring the original 1903 fog bell in the pump house.
From April to October, only weekly house rentals are accepted at $800 per week (about $22 per person per night for six guests). During the winter, weekly rentals are $500, but two-night minimum stays are available at $124 per night.
Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn,
Set along the shores of Lake Superior in Ahmeek, Michigan, the Sand Hills Lighthouse Inn offers guests plenty of old-fashioned hospitality that will have you feeling right at home. Upon arrival, proprietors Mary Mathews and William Frabotta will take you on a tour of the station, which houses a rare Fresnel lens in the lantern room. The property is located on Keweenaw Peninsula, and you can watch the sun rise or set over the water from the top of the tower, 101 feet above the lake.
Mary and Bill purchased the lighthouse—the largest and last ever built on the Great Lakes—in 1961 and began renovating it in 1992. Today, guests can stay in one of eight Victorian-style rooms, all of which have queen- or king-sized beds, year-round.
Room rates range from $159 to $239 (with taxes) and include a full tour of the lighthouse, dessert, gourmet breakfast, and "lots of hospitality."
Isle Au Haut, Maine
Guests of the Keeper's House can go completely off-the-grid, thanks to owners Jeffery and Judith Burke's commitment to self-sufficiency. The keeper's cottage is powered by solar electricity and wind energy, and the Burkes make their own water from the ocean. Acadia National Park makes up 60 percent of the island, according to Judi, so hikers and bikers will have plenty to explore. The cottage rental even provides bicycles for those interested seeing in the area's natural beauty.
There are two rentals available at the Robinson Point Lighthouse Station: The keeper's cottage, which has four bedrooms, two baths, a large kitchen, and a dining room, and a lighthouse woodshed that sleeps five.
Accommodations are open from May 15 through mid-October. The keeper's house requires weekly rentals, and the lighthouse woodshed requires weekly rentals in July and August and minimum three-night stays otherwise. The cottage (which sleeps eight) costs $5,000 per week (about $104 per person per night); the woodshed costs $1,500 per week (about $50 per person per night) or $225 per night.
Cordova Rose Lodge,
The Odiak Pharos lighthouse in Cordova, Alaska, sits just a couple hundred feet from a landlocked barge, which now serves as the main lodge for the Cordova Rose bed and breakfast. The small tower remains a Coast Guard-registered lighthouse, and is operated by owner Gary McDowell. "It doesn't serve a lot of navigational function anymore," he says, but it's "a pretty cool novelty."
The nautical-themed barge has eight guest rooms, with two separate common areas for guests to socialize. No roads lead to the town, and the only way to get there is by a high-speed ferry or Alaska Airlines flight. If adventure is the name of your game, the owners will help create a customized package with itineraries that include fly-fishing, hiking, and bird-watching.
Stays cost $135 per night without breakfast, or $145 including breakfast. The main lodge is closed during the winter, but cabins on the same property are available.
Race Point Lighthouse,
North Truro, Massachusetts
The Race Point Lighthouse is a summertime escape located right on the beach in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Stay in the original keeper's house, which has been brought back to its 1950s state, according to Reservations Manager Nikki Nunes. Wildlife lovers will enjoy seeing whales and seals right from the beach, depending on the time of year. The lighthouse is still operated as a navigational beacon by the Coast Guard, so you can see its shining light during your stay.
There are two options for accommodations at Race Point; the original keeper's house, which sleeps up to 10, and the Whistle House, which was remodeled in 2007 and holds eight guests. In the keeper's house, you'll share space with the modern-day Keeper, who maintains responsibility for on-site activities.
The Keeper's House can be rented out per room per night, and rates range from $145 to $185. The Whistle House is rented out weekly, and costs between $2,000 and $2,500 per week (about $41-52 per person per night for eight guests). Both houses are open from May through Columbus Day weekend.
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